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In Northwest D.C.’s Hawthorne enclave, life is just a walk in the national park


Where We Live | Hawthorne in Northwest Washington

Hawthorne is a quiet neighborhood near the District’s uppermost boundary. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

South of Chevy Chase, Md., and northeast of the D.C. neighborhood of Chevy Chase is a leafy oasis that hugs the District’s uppermost boundary. Hawthorne is a tranquil neighborhood in Northwest Washington that boasts proximity to a national park as well as sought-after schools, a diverse population and, keeping true to its namesake, mature trees and expansive greenery.

The style of homes also makes the neighborhood distinct. While much of downtown Washington and the surrounding neighborhoods have colorful rowhomes, Hawthorne’s solidly suburban feel is punctuated by spacious ramblers, Cape Cods and Colonials.

Kate Barnes-Domotor, president of the Chevy Chase Association, is a seven-year Hawthorne resident. Before moving to Hawthorne, she and her husband lived in Brooklyn for five years.

“When we started looking at buying, we realized we could buy a two-bedroom condo that needed work in Brooklyn, or a single-family home that needed work in D.C., and having family and friends in D.C. made that choice even easier,” Barnes-Domotor said.

“We wanted a yard, as well as access to public transportation. The lots in Hawthorne are zoned to be larger than the rest of Chevy Chase, so the potential for expansion of our house long-term also made it really desirable.”

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For many Hawthorne residents, the neighborhood’s shared borders with Rock Creek Park are a huge benefit.

“I grew up in Chevy Chase, D.C., and yet I never really knew how lucky we were to have Rock Creek Park right next to us,” Barnes-Domotor said. “I can’t imagine life without it. Who can say they walk out their door and in five minutes they are engulfed in the trees of a national park?

“Now that we have our daughter, we see it in a whole other light — the favorite spots to throw stones into the creek, watching the fish, identifying the different types of trees and animals. We feel so lucky to be able to teach her about nature and the importance of preserving the environment while living in the city.”

Mary and Abraham Clayman have lived in Hawthorne for five years, after leaving Capitol Hill for a bigger house. They echo Barnes-Domotor’s love of the woody ambience.

“We sometimes feel like we are on vacation here, even though we are 10 to 15 minutes from downtown,” Mary Clayman said. “The entire neighborhood is very green and walkable. When we first moved here, a neighbor told us that it was four degrees cooler in the summer on our street. While not scientific, we believe it!”

Neighbors mingle and look out for one another, as one would expect of a small community. The annual Hawthorne Block Party is the biggest event of the year. There’s an ice cream truck, a fire truck, a police car and barbecue. Every Halloween, parents get together to throw a pizza party for the children before they go trick-or-treating.

“I think being tucked away in this upper northwest corner of the city has its advantages and helps create the community feel,” said Everett Lott, a government employee who has lived in Hawthorne with his wife and son for the past 10 years. “There is a growing group of neighbors that gets together monthly for a friendly game of cards and poker. A different neighbor will host each month. Groups of neighbors will meet up to exercise together. We kind of all serve as each other’s accountability partners when it comes to health and wellness.”

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Although Hawthorne has few retail options within walking distance, it is not far from the restaurants, bars, shopping and grocery stores along Connecticut and Wisconsin Avenues. Clayman likes to walk to Broad Branch Market for dinner and ice cream. The neighborhood spot is also a specialty grocery with beer and wine, prepared foods and coffee. Little Beast offers ricotta pancakes for brunch as well as pizza, including gluten-free and vegan options, near Chevy Chase Circle. Along Connecticut Avenue, Blue 44 serves seasonal New American cuisine, and Bread and Chocolate is a longtime D.C. staple. Silver Spring and Bethesda are short drives away.

Living there: Hawthorne borders Montgomery County, Md., to the north along Western Avenue. Pinehurst Parkway Park is to the south and Rock Creek is on the east side.

Most homes in Hawthorne are single-family, detached houses. In the past year, 12 homes have sold, ranging from a two-bedroom, two-bathroom ranch house for $736,000 to a six-bedroom, seven-bathroom contemporary home for $2.8 million, according to David Shotwell at Compass Real Estate.

The average selling price in the last 12 months is $1.2 million. Most homes sold have at least four bedrooms.

There are two properties on the market: a four-bedroom, four-bathroom ranch house for $979,000 and a four-bedroom, three-bathroom renovated home with a pool for $1.1 million.

Schools: Lafayette Elementary, Alice Deal Middle and Woodrow Wilson High.

Transit: The E6 bus runs throughout the neighborhood. The M4 bus route is a short walk from the neighborhood and travels to the Tenleytown Metro station. The M4 also takes children to Deal Middle and Wilson High schools. The Friendship Heights Metro station is about two miles away. Most residents own a car. Connecticut Avenue and Beach Drive are among major nearby thoroughfares.

Crime: According to, in the last year, there were four reported thefts from automobiles and two automobiles stolen in Hawthorne.