After living in a home built in 1926, Kate and Charlie Gelatt were looking for a new house that was energy-efficient and easy to maintain.
“We had a six-week-old at the time,” Kate Gelatt said of their move last August.
Glen Mar Park, a neighborhood in Bethesda not far from the Glen Echo Firehouse, was a blend of older homes and some new ones. “We fell in love with the mix of offerings here,” she said. “It was just sort of the right mix. We loved the mix of people, houses and architecture. It’s dynamic. It’s not cookie-cutter.”
Now that they have three children, ages 6, 4 and 1, the Gelatts say Glen Mar Park is ideal. “It’s the type of neighborhood where your children go out to play and end up in a neighbor’s yard. It’s just a really strong community here. We felt at home from day one.” She works as a part-time photographer; her husband is a consultant.
Located a few miles from the District line, Glen Mar Park was first developed in the late 1940s and early 1950s. With 238 single-family houses, Glen Mar Park is a mixture of Colonial-style homes, ramblers and new homes built where older ones have been torn down. Most of the original houses don’t have garages. New houses, which tend to be Arts and Crafts style, were built as recently as last year.
“It’s almost like a village,” said Cathy Robinson, a full-time tutor who has lived in the neighborhood since 1996. She and her husband, Sam Nicholson, a systems engineer, have two children, ages 22 and 19. “We share things. We know our neighbors. People really look out for each other.”
International flavor: Neighbors get to know one another through their children and the Glen Mar Park Community Association’s activities. Three major events each year — an ice cream social, a fall picnic and a Halloween parade — bring people together to plan and participate.
If it’s not Norman Rockwell-esque, it’s close. A fire truck from the Glen Echo Fire Department visits during the Halloween parade.
any neighbors have lived in Glen Mar Park for 40 years or more, while others have moved in more recently to raise their children in much the same way as the previous generation did. They like the proximity to the Capital Crescent Trail, the Potomac, the C&O Canal, the Glen Mar Neighborhood Park, the school district and Washington. The area has an international flavor, with diplomats and ambassadors among the neighbors.
Less than one acre, Glen Mar Neighborhood Park, acquired by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, includes a playground, a basketball/play area and a tennis court.
According to the community association’s website, some of the original residents worked for the Office of Strategic Services — the wartime U.S. intelligence service that was the predecessor to the Central Intelligence Agency.
Preserving trees: A concern in the neighborhood is the loss of trees as developers come in and build larger houses in place of original, smaller ones. “When a lot comes on the market people descend on it,” said Nicky Goraya, president of the community association. Sometimes, developers buy the house, demolish it and build a new one. “Some people come for the brick Colonial-type houses.”
Some neighbors want to maintain the original look of the community, she said.
“It’s a big issue in the neighborhood — preserving the character of the neighborhood and the trees. People are very serious about the trees. They value shade and the environment.”
Goraya, a physician with the Department of Veterans Affairs, moved to Glen Mar Park with her husband and two sons, now 8 and 9, in 2012. They had been living in Dupont Circle in the District and were drawn to Glen Mar Park for the schools.
Grocery stories and other shopping outlets and restaurants are convenient, and walkable for those who are comfortable heading by foot for a 15-minute trek to the Shops at Sumner Place, an outdoor/indoor mall at 4701 Sangamore Road. A bit farther are the Westwood Shopping Center at 5450 Westbard Ave. and Kenwood Station at 5241 River Rd.
Living there: Glen Mar Park is roughly bounded by Massachusetts Avenue to the north, Sangamore Road to the west, Madawaska Road, Nahant Street, Overlea Road to the south and Brookeway Drive to the east. According to Susan Sonnesyn Brooks, an agent with Weichert Realtors, in the past year, 13 properties have sold in Glen Mar Park, ranging from a three-bedroom, two-bath house, built in 1948, for $560,000 to a five-bedroom, five-bath 2016 house, built in 2016, for $1.675 million. No properties are for sale in the neighborhood.
Schools: Wood Acres Elementary, Pyle Intermediate, Whitman High.
Transit: The Montgomery County 23 Ride-on bus runs along Massachusetts Avenue and Sangamore Road to and from the Friendship Heights Metro station on the Red Line every day except Sunday. The 29 Ride-on bus runs on Massachusetts Avenue to the Metro station daily, including Sunday.
Crime: According to the LexisNexis Crime map, in the past year, one assault was reported in the neighborhood.