The 17 families of Westgreen in Leesburg hope to make history. They have asked the Town Council to incorporate their well-kept, single-family houses into Leesburg's official Old and Historic District.

The Westgreen subdivision is all of six years old.

"I always assumed a house would have to be 200 years old" to qualify, said Westgreen resident Emma Oprendek. "But they {town officials} said no."

So far, no significant opposition to the proposal has surfaced. Town officials call the plan legal and reasonable, and may approve it next month. It has already cleared the Planning Commission.

For Westgreen residents, who initiated the idea, the allure of being designated historic boils down to three P's: Preservation, Prestige and Prices.

"We don't want anything changed around here . . . . We like it the way it is," Oprendek said. Inclusion in the historic district would require Westgreen residents to gain approval from an architectural review panel before making major changes to their houses' appearance. Although homeowner association rules now in effect are similar, they are less strict, she said.

"I think, too, it would give us a little prestige," Oprendek said. "There's a different breed of people down here."

The existing Leesburg historic district closely follows the town's original borders and includes quaint shops and homes as well as recently built or renovated structures that happen to rub shoulders with 18th- and 19th-century buildings.

Such is the case with most historic districts, including those in Annapolis and Alexandria. However, officials in those communities are much more strict about adding territory to the districts, which were created to block destruction of old buildings and decor that clashes with the traditional look.

No one has sought to add newly built homes to the Annapolis district, and "I can't imagine anybody wanting to do that," said Sandy Doney, an aide to the city Historic District Commission.

Alexandria expanded its historic district slightly along King and Duke streets in the mid-1980s, noted city planner Eleni Silverman, but normally the owners of buildings that are more than 100 years old and lie outside the special district can at best hope to include such structures on an official list of notable properties.

Leesburg's more generous interpretation of what is historic is based in part on the philosophy "beauty before age."

Westgreen's two-story, traditional-looking houses, with bay windows and muted autumn colors, are arguably more appealing than a slightly older convenience store and an abandoned service station that inhabit the current Old and Historic District. And Westgreen's "architecture does blend in" with late 19th century houses elsewhere in Leesburg, even if there is a major difference in age, said Vice Mayor James E. Clem.

"If they want it, fine," said Clem, adding that he has heard of no opposition to the Westgreen proposal.

Westgreen resident Connie Gorman agreed. She said many Westgreen residents are retired. Few children scramble around the sidewalks. The subdivision is "close-knit" and has "regular get-togethers," she said.

"I think it will help" increase home values by guaranteeing the appearance of the neighborhood, said resident Helen Gray, although newly elected homeowners association President Vic Reddle said it is difficult to predict how sale prices will be affected. Some of the homes fetch more than $200,000.

Leesburg was originally called Georgetown, then renamed for Francis Lightfoot Lee. It grew around the commercial crossroads of Routes 7 and 15 to its present size of about 19,000 people.

Maintaining "architectural compatability" is the town's primary reason for supporting the young subdivision's application, said Leesburg preservation planner Kristie Struble. The Westgreen proposal and applications affecting two nearby parcels face a Town Council public hearing on Sept. 12 and could gain final approval that night, she said.

The town has acted favorably on several historic district expansions in recent years, Struble said, but "this will be it unless someone else comes forward."