Rachel Alexander has lived in Washington’s Hillcrest neighborhood for two years, but she still pinches herself from time to time when she thinks about the “perfect house” she found tucked away on a tree-lined street there.

Alexander, who has two children, ages 3 and 5, said that she briefly considered looking at one of Washington’s more widely known neighborhoods, such as Capitol Hill, before stumbling on Hillcrest in Southeast.

The community, she discovered, fit her checklist perfectly. And its rolling hills and ample supply of 1950s-era Tudors, Colonials and ramblers that sport manicured lawns and wide sidewalks especially appealed to Alexander, who was looking for a place where her small children could run and play.

“Hillcrest is a pretty nice community with a defined family-friendly feel to it. The neighborhood is so affordable, and you get more square footage for the price. A place like Capitol Hill is too expensive,” said Alexander, as she stood in the doorway recently of her 3,200-square-foot three-bedroom, four-bathroom Georgian-style home.


Peaceful ambiance: Once considered the suburbs of Washington, Hillcrest, with an altitude about 300 feet above sea level, has a nice mix of houses with multigenerational families living next door to newcomers who appreciate discovering the history, said Karen McLaughlin, a broker with MCL Real Estate.

“Hillcrest has remained stable over the years, and I think that’s what attracts people,” said McLaughlin, who’s sold real estate in the neighborhood for more than a decade. “There are many residents who’ve lived here for decades, and they’re eager to welcome young families. That mixture really makes the community and gives it a uniqueness that’s really attractive.”

Hillcrest is a short distance to the Good Hope Marketplace shopping center, which features a grocery store with a Starbucks and other retail options, such as clothing and shoe stores, McLaughlin said. Residents also have access to the Penn Branch Shopping Center.

Hillcrest was home to former mayor Marion Barry and his family and counts D.C. Council member Vincent C. Gray (D-Ward 7) as a resident. It has long been one of the more sought-after communities east of the Anacostia River.

The neighborhood is receiving an increased amount of interest from potential buyers who’ve been priced out of other city neighborhoods, McLaughlin said. But with the increased demand has come a noted jump in real estate prices.

In May, a 4,000-square-foot English Tudor hit the market for nearly $1 million. The newly built house is under contract and raising expectations in Hillcrest, McLaughlin said.

Steven Nesbitt, who’s lived in Hillcrest for five years, finds the community “unexciting,” which is high praise, he assures.

“It’s a good community and it’s conveniently located, but best of all is that it’s safe and not a lot happens around here,” said Nesbitt, who lives in a 2,700-square-foot Colonial.

Nesbitt, whose family has lived in Hillcrest for several generations, said that longtime residents affectionately refer to the community as Washington’s “Silver Coast,” a nod to the 16th Street corridor, which is known as the city’s Gold Coast and was long the home of Washington’s black elite.

“Hillcrest has always been kind of a hidden gem,” Nesbitt said.

The neighborhood is located about three miles from the Capitol, and Loretta Ruffin, who’s lived in Hillcrest for more than 20 years, said that she was originally drawn to it because of its ease of access to points downtown and peaceful ambiance.

“Living here gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling,” Ruffin said. “You can take a walk with your dog, and you have neighbors who speak and get to know you. We’re all about getting to know one another.”


Hillcrest was home to former mayor Marion Barry and his family and counts D.C. Council member Vincent C. Gray (D-Ward 7) as a resident. It has long been one of the more sought-after communities east of the Anacostia River. (Justin T. Gellerson/For The Washington Post)

Living there: The neighborhood is bordered roughly by Pennsylvania Avenue SE to the northeast, Southern Avenue to the southeast and Naylor Road to the west.

In the past 12 months, 86 properties have sold in Hillcrest, ranging from an 846-square-foot two-bedroom, one-bathroom condominium for $65,000 to an eight-bedroom, six-bathroom house for $665,000, said McLaughlin, the broker with MCL Real Estate.

There are 30 houses for sale in Hillcrest, ranging from a 648-square-foot two-bedroom, one-bathroom traditional house for $74,900 to a 1,680-square-foot seven-bedroom, three-bathroom Colonial for $699,000, McLaughlin said.

Schools: Beers Elementary, John Philip Sousa Middle and Anacostia High.

Transit: Hillcrest is about a seven-minute car ride to the Benning Road station on Metro’s Blue and Silver lines and a 13-minute car ride to the Branch Avenue station on Metro’s Green Line. Metrobus’s 30N and 36 lines also serve the neighborhood.

Crime: In the past year, there were 25 reports of stolen vehicles, 20 robberies, 15 assaults and nine burglaries in the police service area that includes Hillcrest, according to D.C. police.