During the Roaring Twenties, when the Shannon and Luchs Inc. development firm broke ground on a tranquil tract just north of Georgetown, about 500 middle-class families grabbed the $7,000 homes, formed a citizens association and settled in. Ever since, Burleith has referred to itself as "a village within the city."

With its summer picnics, Christmas sing-alongs, Halloween parties and Easter egg hunts, Burleith cherishes its coziness while it copes with such city encroachments as increased noise and traffic congestion. Another side effect of its proximity to the city is a staggering, continuous rise in property values.

What residents and real estate brokers will mention first about Burleith is its location: The 16 blocks are bounded by Whitehaven Parkway on the north, Reservoir Road to the south, and 39th and 35th streets to the west and east.

In the area, tucked between Georgetown and Glover Park, the living is easy, with Wisconsin Avenue shopping and bus lines, a large Safeway, the Georgetown public library and parkland all accessible by short walks down Burleith's shady streets.

"You know this area is very conveniently located. It's easy to go uptown, downtown or to Maryland or Virginia," said Janice Hopper, president of the Burleith Citizens Association.

Because the area is so convenientlylocated, there are some traffic problems, such as the vehicles rushing to and from Washington National Airport and Georgetown University Hospital. Also heard are the strains of youthful talent and exuberance.

"We bought into a high school. We didn't buy into the Kennedy Center," said Ted Jacobs, describing his irritation with problems caused by the Duke Ellington School for the Arts, a D.C. public high school with a $2 million, 820-seat auditorium.

Jacobs, a 17-year resident of Burleith, said the school leases its auditorium to outside groups, which exacerbates the parking problem and generates noise at off-beat hours. But he is hopeful that meetings between neighborhood residents and school officials will result in compromise uses and hours for the auditorium.

Other complaints have come from Burleith residents living near houses that have been rented to groups of college students.

"These houses were not designed for parties with 100, 200 or 300 people," Hopper said, noting that most only have one bathroom and perhaps a powder room.

The Burleith Citizens Association's October newsletter featured a list of "Dos and Don'ts" for group houses, and among the latter was the practice of posting open party invitations on university bulletin boards.

"Offenders may easily be arrested, booked and jailed. Neither parents nor the university like to hear of this," the notice warned.

Residents say there is a mixture of retirees and young families in Burleith, which is zoned for row houses and has few rental units.

To maintain peace and ease of movement, the citizens association has asked D.C. police to ticket drivers not adhering to the permit parking restrictions.

Community residents also persuaded the D.C. Board of Zoning Adjustment earlier this year to impose limits on the hours of operation and number of performances allowed for the Levine School of Music at 1690 36th St. NW.

Still, some neighbors find that noise, traffic and general bustle make the area slightly less desirable than it was in recent memory.

"The paradox is that the real estate values are going sky high," said Millington Lockwood, a former citizens association president.

"We bought this house in 1975 for $60,000. Now they are going for $220,000 or $250,000."

Hopper said, "The prices are totally out of range. These were not built as expensive houses."

She said that a recent law cutting property taxes in half for retired District homeowners "was a big help" to people facing rising tax assessments.

Frank Pietranton of Pier Associates, who has lived in the neighborhood for 16 years, said he has sold nine houses in the past year, and that $200,000 is the minimum price for a shell.

"I just sold mine for $330,000, and it wasn't even on the market," Pietranton said.

The standard Burleith house was built with 550 to 600 square feet of space on each of the first and second floors and in an unfinished basement.

Pietranton had finished his basement and included some custom word on his recently sold house, but he believes that other properties in the neighborhood -- with even more thorough restorations -- will soon command up to $400,000.

Part of the price increase, he said, was caused by continued commercial growth on Wisconsin Avenue and the neighboring Cloister and Hillandale town house developments on Reservoir Road, which sell for premium prices.

"In terms of interior style, {renovated Burleith houses} compare quite nicely," he said.

Burleith also appeals to the homeowner who prefers architectural quirks to the regular lines of newer developments.

Even without the blinking lights, candles and holiday wreaths of the Christmas season, Burleith celebrates shapes and shades.

A walk through the gently sloping streets shows row houses of varying designs and differing rooflines.

Houses have stone, stucco and brick exteriors and small front yards, most filled with ivy and shrubs.

The shutters and walls of many houses are painted in lively contrasting colors, notably teal on pink, red on gray and gray on yellow.

In some of the wide alleys, battered sheds of corrugated aluminum list slightly; in others, quaint brick garages with neatly shuttered windows stand solidly.

The rear exteriors indicate high levels of individuality and investment in their elaborate spiral staircases, roof decks, central air conditioning units and large electric grills.

An athletic field and a jogging track are maintained on 38th Street at the stadium once used by Ellington.

Georgetown University's National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health operates in the former field houses.

Those buildings fueled a fight in 1985, when a church group leased them from the city school system to house homeless people.

The neighbors protested vehemently, contending that the operation was unsupervised.

School Superintendent Floretta MacKenzie canceled the arrangement and closed the shelter.

Edgar F. Russell Jr. has lived in the 3700 block of Reservoir Road in Burleith for about 60 years.

His parents moved onto the block in the 1920s; later, when he was stationed with the Navy in Charleston, S.C., he bought his current house, five doors away, over the telephone, knowing it was identical to his parents' place.

"I never saw it," Russell remembered. "I said, 'I know where everything is.' "

Russell also recalled that his father "loved this place with a passion," and arranged for the upkeep of the sidewalk and curb area of his block.

In 1955, his father published "A Short History of Burleith," describing the change in the area since Henry Threlkeld built his Burleith estate there about 1716.

The senior Russell's map is still used by the citizens' association publications, which include an award-winning community newsletter.

In the newsletter's crime chart, the main listings are thefts from cars and house break-ins.

Many homes now are equipped with security systems, and bars guard some basement windows.

But generally, said Hopper, who is also the chief of the Neighborhood Watch program, Burleith is secure, as a village within the city should be.