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In McLean, Va., Evermay offers spacious homes and an international touch

Andrew and Mary Mignatti walk their dog in the Evermay neighborhood in McLean, Va. Beginning in 1966, developer Gene May built Evermay on 85 acres of farmland in McLean. (Craig Hudson for The Washington Post)
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Sonia Schmitt, her husband and their two children lived in the Evermay neighborhood in McLean, Va., for several years before leaving in 2012 for Tampa. But the family missed Evermay so much, that just a year later, they moved back to the same neighborhood.

“Florida was too skewed toward the older generation,” she said. “Here in Evermay we have a great mix of ages and cultures with a great location.”

Paula Doyle also moved away from the community of large houses and expansive yards in the 1990s, relocating to nearby Langley Forest. She and her husband thought often of Evermay, and when her children left home about eight years ago, she also came back to the community.

“Here we have sidewalks that neighbors use, whereas in the other neighborhood, people also live in large houses but you hardly knew your neighbors,” she said. “I missed the friendliness and the walking.”

Driving down Potomac School Road, which intersects the heart of Evermay, solid brick Colonials, split-levels and ranch homes dot half-acre well-groomed lots, leaving open spaces and room to enjoy the landscaping.

“The vistas are wide and open,” said Ron Hutchinson, president of the Evermay Civic Association and an attorney who has only a 15-minute commute by car to his office. “It’s a classic suburban neighborhood and very comfortable to be in.”

Another draw, he said, is the international mix of neighbors. Several foreign embassies have houses for staffers in Evermay, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Chile, bringing a multicultural touch to community events. The area also attracts people who work for international institutions and rent during their stay in the United States, he said.

“We have people from all over the world, which I really like,” said Schmitt, who lives in a four-bedroom Colonial in the Dunaway section of the neighborhood. “My family is a blend of European and Middle Eastern backgrounds, our neighbors are from the Philippines, and others are from Korea, Germany, Greece and India as well as American.”

Beginning in 1966, developer Gene May built Evermay on 85 acres of farmland in McLean. By 1969, enough families had moved into the 166-house neighborhood to start a community association, according to the group’s historical documents. Evermay homes were custom-designed but many were based on May’s basic designs and by 1987, all the houses were complete.

“Gene May had a great reputation,” said Gloria Adams, a real estate agent with TTR Sotheby’s International Realty who’s been selling homes in Evermay for 30 years.

“The homes are all brick or brick and block with cedar shake shingle rooftops,” she wrote in an email. “As a rule, it would take a year from the purchase agreement with May to complete the property.”

She said that 17 original owners still live in the community.

“People really appreciate these well-built homes,” Adams said.

With some of the houses dating back 40 to 50 years, many owners have renovated, sometimes multiple times. Schmitt’s house, a four-bedroom-plus-den Colonial, had a previous owner who was affiliated with HGTV. Over the years, the owner put in a new master bathroom, upgraded the kitchen, altered other bathrooms and put in a whole new section, she said.

“We didn’t have to do the kind of renovation that others have had to do, because our house eventually turned over four times and I think each family did something to the house,” she said.

Evermay’s convenient location is another attraction for residents. Although there are no stores or restaurants within the community, downtown McLean is a mile and a half down Route 123. Hutchinson said he can be at the Kennedy Center in Washington within about 20 minutes. And Tysons Corner and its new Capital One Center are both within a 15-minute drive, he said.

During the pandemic, many Evermay activities were scaled back or held outdoors, said Doyle, who heads up the civic association’s social events committee. Last summer, the group held its first Fourth of July parade for neighborhood children, an outdoor event with social distancing, she said. She said Evermay also held a Halloween parade to keep kids from trick-or-treating door-to-door when coronavirus infections were surging.

“We also did several food drives,” she said, “because we were very concerned about the people who were hurting.” She said they had a large turnout of people donating food.

In a typical year, her group sponsors wine-and-cheese events to which neighbors bring food and drink from their home countries. They also have a dinner group that’s been meeting for several years, as well as a spring festival, summer events, progressive dinners and Christmas get-togethers.

The Potomac School is located off Gravel Road and Potomac School Road in southeast Evermay. Many school families live in the neighborhood, so their children can easily walk to school.

In addition to international neighbors, many CIA employees live in Evermay, with the agency’s main campus just a mile away.

“It makes for such a great mix of neighbors,” Schmitt said. “Plus, I love the fact that we’re close to 495, the GW Parkway and we can get to Georgetown in about 10 minutes.”

Living there: Dunaway Drive, which circles around to Dunaway Court just above Dolley Madison Boulevard (Route 123), makes up the northern boundary of the neighborhood. To the east is Perry William Drive, and Evermay Drive ends in the west.

Housing data reflects the area’s popularity. No homes are on the market right now. Over the past year, 15 houses have sold, Adams said. A five-bedroom, six-bathroom brick Colonial was the highest-priced, at $1.7 million. The lowest-priced home was a four-bedroom, four-bathroom all-brick split-level for $1.2 million.

Schools: Franklin Sherman Elementary, Longfellow Middle, McLean and Langley High.

Transit: The Fairfax Connector 721 bus runs down Dolley Madison Boulevard to downtown McLean, the McLean Metro station on the Silver Line and then to Tysons Corner.

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