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In Garrett Park, you’ll find conviviality, foliage and history

The Montgomery County, Md., town was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and designated an arboretum in 1977


In a previous version of this article, a caption misidentified a woman in the photo. She is Henri, not Lily, Keller. This article has been corrected.

Every night for the first two months after Alysia Bone gave birth to her youngest child, a different neighbor brought dinner to her doorstep in Garrett Park, Md.

Such neighborliness is not unusual, Bone said. Parents in the small town are connected through an email list, and they coordinate the same service for any family who brings home a new baby.

“It’s been a huge, huge help,” Bone said. “It’s a great example of the community feel.”

Garrett Park originated in 1898 when the Maryland General Assembly passed a special act allowing it to incorporate. The town has about 400 homes and sits northeast of Bethesda, between Route 355 and Rock Creek Regional Park. For both longtime residents and relative newcomers like Bone, who moved there in 2014, Garrett Park’s appeal lies in its history, its natural aesthetic and the social connection of its neighbors.

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The town was designated an arboretum in 1977 because of its great variety of trees — a designation that allows it to plant a greater variety of species than is normally permitted in Montgomery County. Its quiet, curving streets were laid out to resemble a park. There’s only one road into and out of the town, lending it an insulated atmosphere.

“That means cars aren't as thick as they could be, so it's a great walking town,” said Mayor Kacky Chantry. “People just walk to take in the beauty of the arboretum.”

The structures vary in age and design, from the 1897 chapel — which today serves as a town hall — to homes that were purchased from Sears catalogues in the 1920s. The houses are a mix of architectural styles — Colonial, ranch, bungalow, stone cottage, Cape Cod and Victorian. Garrett Park was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.

“It’s a really beautiful, eclectic neighborhood,” Bone said.

Many aspects of life in Garrett Park reinforce its small community feel, residents said. Mail is delivered to the town post office, rather than to individual homes, and neighbors are often caught up in conversation when they run into one another there.

Residents frequently gather for dinner on one another’s decks and porches, said Bob Luke, who has lived in the town since 2002. There’s an annual Fourth of July parade, an active citizens association and a slate of other groups — like the Garrett Park Film Society, which screens movies at the town hall.

“I’ve just found it to be a very comfortable place,” Luke said. “A retreat from Rockville Pike and Connecticut Avenue and all the urban hubbub — or suburban hubbub — that surrounds us.”

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Many residents take the MARC train downtown for work, Luke said, and take the Metro back home. It takes about 25 minutes to drive into the District from Garrett Park.

The town’s location and reputation for neighborliness make it a desirable spot for buyers, said Todd Harris, a real estate agent with Long & Foster of Bethesda. But there aren’t many homes to choose from and there isn’t much turnover, he said.

Harris, who has lived in Garrett Park for 16 years and raised his family there, said he appreciates the diversity of ages represented in the town. Some residents have lived there for 50-odd years, while new, young families pour in whenever homes come on the market. Many families wait months or years for a house to go up for sale, he said.

“They’re renting other places just waiting for a house to come on the market,” he said. “I have three clients who, any house that comes up in Garrett Park, they’re gonna buy.”

Harris has enjoyed introducing his daughters to some of their older neighbors, he said, and hearing their stories about the town’s past.

“I sell real estate all over the area. And I certainly sell real estate in some parts of the county where everybody's between 38 and 42 years old,” he said. “Everybody's the same. And it's not like that in Garrett Park.”

And as development has gathered pace in the surrounding areas, residents such as Luke are content to stay put.

“When I look at all the high-rises going up around us, I think, gee, I am really glad I don’t live in one of them,” Luke said.

Living there: Strathmore Avenue is the only way in and out of Garrett Park by car. The town is bordered by Kenilworth Avenue to the west, and its southeast edge runs up against Rock Creek.

Eighteen homes sold in Garrett Park in the past year, Harris said. The average sales price was $890,000. The most expensive was a five-bedroom, five-bathroom house that sold for $1.6 million. The least expensive was a fixer-upper that sold for $612,000. No homes are on the market in Garrett Park.

Schools: Garrett Park Elementary, Tilden Middle and Walter Johnson High.

Transit: The Brunswick Line of the MARC train stops in Garrett Park, and the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro station (Red Line) is a five-minute drive away. Several Ride On bus routes serve Garrett Park, with stops along Rockville Pike and Strathmore and Knowles avenues.

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