The Washington Post

Washington’s mid-century modern neighborhoods

Special to The Washington Post

One of Hollin Hills’ iconic mid-century modern homes designed by architect Charles Goodman. (Karl Ericson)

One of Washington’s pre-eminent mid-century modern neighborhoods is Bethesda’s Carderock Springs, which the Post profiled this past Saturday. But if you’re dying to see more homes from that era, you’re in luck: The region has several other distinctive communities that were built around the same time.

To find out more, I talked to Michael Shapiro, a real estate agent who runs the web site Modern Capital DC, a resource featuring news and listings for mid-century modern homes on the market. His interest in modernism extends into his personal life: the home he owns with his wife came in second place in The Post’s 2010 “Mad Men” Look contest .

Shapiro said that Washington has more mid-century modern architecture than casual observers might think. “It’s less obvious stuff”—by this he meant that the collection includes basic split levels, ranches, and ramblers—“but there’s really quite a bit.”

There are certainly some standouts. This region was home to Charles Goodman, one of the modernist movement’s better-known architects, and his work is all over. The best example is Hollin Hills, a community located south of Alexandria’s Old Town. Begun in the 1940s, the development contains some 450 homes and was viewed as a groundbreaking postwar suburban community.

Goodman also designed Hickory Cluster townhouses , located in the woods above Reston’s Lake Anne. That community also contains the lovely Waterview Townhomes, designed by another noted modernist architect, Chloethiel Woodard Smith.

In the District, the largest concentration of mid-century modern buildings is in Southwest, which underwent wholesale “renewal” in the 1950s. Elegant and funky modernist buildings are everywhere. Both Goodman and Smith left their mark here: the former built River Park Cooperative, consists of two high rise buildings joined by several clusters of townhouses; and Smith created Harbour Square apartments and townhomes. Even noted architect I.M. Pei designed some high-rises in the area.

And in Maryland, Goodman built three neighborhoods in eastern Montgomery County that are all on the national register: Rock Creek Woods, Hammond Wood, and a five-house block that lies at the border of Takoma Park and Silver Spring. Prince George’s County, meanwhile, really only has one well-known modernist sample, said Shapiro. That’s Moyaone Reserve , an almost-rural development located near Accokeek in the southern part of the county.

I’ve found that once I look for them, I start seeing modernist communities everywhere. But if you know of some I’ve missed, let us know.

View Photo Gallery: As they renovated their mid-century modern home in Montgomery County, David and Barbara Beers were determined to maintain its clean, modern lines.

Related: Enter The Post’s ‘Mad Men’ Look Contest

Related: Carderock Springs house: A renovation worth it

Amanda Abrams is a freelance writer and one of four judges in The Washington Post’s ‘Mad Men’ Look Contest.



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