And yet, if it weren’t for a fortuitous lake sighting through the trees, Waters, a former homeowners association president and owner of a lakefront house for 25 years, might have missed out.
“We lived in the same Zip code and didn’t know there was a lake here,” he said. “We were taking a bike ride one day and all of a sudden we came across this lake.”
He and his wife, Cindy, were considering a remodel of their Forest Glen kitchen, but started house hunting instead.
“A real estate agent took us out in her boat, and it was like putting a hook in a fish’s mouth,” he said.
The serpentine lake has a perimeter of five miles, with five private beaches. Residents appreciate the sense of community and can-do legacy. Ayako Doi has organized house concerts for 16 years. After her husband died in 2013, she thought about canceling.
“But someone stepped up to help me and I went ahead with it,” she said. “The music was so beautiful that I cried.”
Doi said the neighborhood’s natural beauty complements the music. Years ago, during a concert held in a lakefront home, she recalled: “A lone kayaker came in the view gliding on the water, and a blue heron took off from the shore flying gracefully into the sunset. It was sublime.”
Amanda Karras, a lawyer with two young children, led an effort to build a new playground. The Bethesda native said she had never heard of Lake Barcroft when she and her engineer husband, John, moved from Boston in 2013.
“We had lived on a little pond up there and wanted to try to find something similar,” she said. “I went on Google Maps and zoomed out from D.C.”
She appreciates the open space, especially during the pandemic.
“In the summer, almost every weekend, it was like we stepped into a vacation at the lake,” she said.
Lake Barcroft was founded in 1950 by a partnership led by Col. Joseph V. Barger, who purchased a reservoir from the Alexandria Water Works. Barger approached Walter Gropius, dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Architecture and Design and originator of the Bauhaus style, to help develop the neighborhood. About 25 to 30 percent of the houses are mid-century modern, with a handful by renowned architect Charles Goodman, said Lisa DuBois, a real estate agent and resident.
Notable past residents include Pierre Salinger, Ramsey Clark and Bob Dole. Former U.S. senator Jim Webb (D-Va.) still lives there, as does 92-year-old Cecilia “Cissy” Marshall, the widow of Justice Thurgood Marshall.
Bob Finley lives in his childhood home on the water. His father, Stuart, was a longtime radio announcer and a 40-year president of the community association.
“I tell people I had a deprived childhood,” quipped the retired library professional, who repairs and restores boats for a hobby. “At 8, I had a rowboat. At 11 or 12, I got a sailboat. I have about eight boats now, mostly kayaks and canoes and rowing shells, nothing big or valuable. I like the water.”
Living there: Lake Barcroft is bordered by Beachway Drive to the north and east; Pinetree Terrace and Columbia Pike to the east and southeast; Lakeview Drive and Recreation Lane to the south; and Whispering Lane, Crossroads Drive and Grass Hill Terrace to the west.
Residents pay a yearly fee of $410 to the Lake Barcroft Association, which covers operating expenses for the community and hosts events such as a Fourth of July parade and fireworks, Earth Day, Sand Day, and Labor Day games.
In the past 12 months, 21 homes have sold, at an average price of $1.03 million, according to DuBois. The lowest price was $620,000 for a 1956 fixer-upper with three bedrooms and three bathrooms. The highest price was $1.7 million for a waterfront home with five bedrooms and four bathrooms. There are three houses on the market. The lowest-priced is a three-bedroom, three-bathroom 1956 house for $750,000. The highest-priced is a four-bedroom, three-bathroom house, built in 1962, for $1.1 million.
Schools: Belvedere, Bailey’s and Sleepy Hollow elementaries; Glasgow Middle, Justice High.
Transit: Buses run along Columbia Pike, Leesburg Pike and Castle Road. Lake Barcroft is 4.7 miles from the West Falls Church Metro station on the Orange Line.
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