Montpelier, nestled on the south side of Laurel, Md., about 11 miles northeast of the District, is a community of single-family homes built in the 1960s and early 1970s.
Broad and leafy Montpelier Drive serves as the main travel route. Streets named Cedarbrook and Silverbirch radiate from it like sprawling tree branches. The development offers a mix of models, including Colonials built by William Levitt, who fashioned Levittown on Long Island, which offered affordable housing for many, including soldiers returning from World War II.
One of those models is owned by Carlos Segura. Leaning against his blue Ford pickup one morning, Segura, an electrical contractor, said he moved to the Prince George’s County community from the Los Angeles area in 2001, after his wife, a rocket scientist, took a job at Goddard Space Flight Center in nearby Greenbelt.
The couple paid $180,000 for a four-bedroom Colonial. “I found moving here to be rather pleasant,” he said, scanning the streetscape where neighbors were getting in their walks and runs.
In the late 1960s, Joanne Wolinsky was studying education at the University of Maryland. Part of her academic coursework involved working at James H. Harrison Elementary School in Laurel. “I knew nothing about Laurel,” said the Silver Spring native. “Little did I know we’d end up moving down the street and my kids would go to that school!”
Wolinsky, 67, chose a rancher, paying about $40,000. Today, she estimates she could get around $320,000. “The price was right We couldn’t afford Montgomery or Howard counties.” Laurel was a convenient location and offered what she needed. “I’ve been pretty happy here. I’m only one of two original owners” on the street, she added.
Bradford pear trees: Montpelier features a soothing trove of trees. One of those is the Bradford pear, said Patricia Valentine, an arborist working under contract with the county. Bradfords, she noted, have a reputation as a high-maintenance species. In 2011, she said, the temperamental tree left its calling card after dropping branches in Montpelier, causing many residents to be late for work. In time, the Bradford pear fell out of favor as the official tree of Prince George’s County, replaced by the noble willow oak.
Montpelier takes its name from the Montpelier Mansion, just south of Route 197, nestled on 70 acres close to the Patuxent River. The structure, on the National Register of Historic Places, is an example of Georgian architecture, a style that was common in Maryland in the late 1700s, according to information from its owner, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. The house, built between 1781 and 1785, belonged to Maj. Thomas Snowden and his wife, Anne. The couple hosted luminaries such as George Washington and Abigail Adams.
Adjacent to the mansion is the Arts Center, where individuals can sign up for classes in the visual and performing arts. The annual Festival of Herbs, Tea and the Arts, held in April, is a big draw, Arts Center director Sonya Kitchens said. “We’ve had a large footprint in this area. It’s a destination, not just for the neighborhood.”
In 2012, Brian Scott and his wife, Leslee, moved to a single-family home from an apartment in Laurel. The couple figured that what they were paying in rent was about equal to what they would be paying on a mortgage. They decided to buy a four-bedroom, 2½ -bath model for $249,000. “I got it appraised last year for $320,000. It’s a very quiet neighborhood,” he said, where the neighbors watch out for one another.
“Obviously, living on a main drag, you have your bouts with traffic.”
Scott said his commute to Baltimore is typically uneventful. Meanwhile, his wife commutes to NASA-Goddard. “It’s going to be hard when we expand our family” and need a bigger house, acknowledged Scott, 42, the associate basketball coach at Mount Zion Preparatory School. “I’m not in a rush to move out. I think we got lucky.”
Living there: Montpelier is bordered by Muirkirk Road to the south, Laurel-Bowie Road (State Route 197) to the east, Claxton Drive and Contee Road to the west and Montpelier Drive to the north.
In the past 12 months, 29 properties have sold in Montpelier, said Martha Lopez Elkind, an agent with Keller Williams Capital Properties in Bethesda. They ranged from $260,000 for a four-bedroom, two-bath, 1,980-square-foot model to $435,000 for a 2,393-square-foot rancher with five bedrooms and three baths. There are four houses on the market, ranging from a 1,193-square-foot rambler with four bedrooms and two baths to a 2,414-square-foot Cape Cod with five bedrooms and five baths, she added.
Schools: Montpelier Elementary, Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle and Laurel High.
Transit: The community is served by Metrobus and Regional Transportation Agency of Central Maryland (RTA) bus service. MARC service on the Camden Line is offered at the B&O Station on Main Street in Laurel.
Crime: In the last three months, Zip code 20708, which includes Montpelier, reported 20 vandalisms, 26 thefts, including four stolen vehicles, and one assault, according to real estate website Trulia.website Trulia.