The remarkable thing about Hammond Wood, a 15-acre midcentury modern neighborhood in the Silver Spring area of Montgomery County, is that you almost don’t see it.
If not for the kaleidoscope of house colors, including preservation plum, cobalt blue, marigold yellow, cedar, teal and brown, the houses would disappear into the folds of landscape. And that was exactly the intent of architect Charles Goodman in 1951, when he built the community of 58 single-family houses.
Goodman was fascinated by the idea of making good design available to working families using mass-production methods, said Mary Means, a retired planner and eight-year Hammond Wood resident. “It was unusual then for an architect to work with builders, but Goodman did. He broke with the idea of plopping houses down one next to the other. He believed in working within the topography and tree cover so our houses fit into the land,” she said.
The houses are close together but because of the way they’re sited, “we each have privacy,” she said. Many of the houses are one level, but in the two-level homes, the lower level will have a backyard walkout.
Solar community: Midcentury modern style means low-rise houses with walls of glass, wide chimneys, spare design and an open feel inside, said Pam Schaeffer, a local resident and real estate agent. “My house checks all my boxes and then some. I’m in heaven.”
“Goodman was also an early devotee of solar, so the houses are sited to play with the weather rather than against it,” said Means. In fact, Hammond Wood was advertised as a passive solar community.
Gladys Kraft, 95, is one of the original purchasers and has a binder of original newspaper ads and brochures promoting the property. She and her husband, who is deceased, bought a two-level, three-bedroom house on a corner lot in 1951 for $17,000. “That was a lot of money. We could only manage because both our parents contributed $2,000 each to the down payment,” she said.
“The site was really woods at the time. You could drive into the neighborhood in the summer and it would be 10 degrees cooler,” Kraft said.
“For the most part, houses are small and the renovations people make have been sensitive and respectful of the original design,” said Means, who lives in a two-level, two-bedroom house with her wife, Archene Turner.
“So far, there’ve been no teardowns, in part because our area isn’t as prestigious as others in Montgomery County,” she said.
Hammond Wood is listed on the National Register of Historic Places but not on the county list of historic districts, so there’s no design review requirement for architectural changes.
“People who choose to live here are slightly different than people who look elsewhere,” said Means. “Contemporary design seems to appeal to those with progressive values. When we first took a look in 2010, we said immediately, ‘This is us.’”
There’s no speeding because the streets are narrow. There are no sidewalks, driveways or garages. “We’re not set back from the street and don’t go from the car into the garage into the house. For the most part, we do our own yard work. So we see each other outside all year,” said Means.
Everyone helps everyone. In her sunny living room, Kraft receives frequent neighborly visitors bringing groceries and hot meals.
Deer and fox are common. “One 12-point buck and his harem live here,” said Means. “And we live in a virtual bird sanctuary because Debbie and Mike Klein, who run a bird store in Olney, have a dozen feeders in their yard.”
What’s nearby: Westfield Wheaton, better known as the Wheaton Plaza Mall, is a mile away and has nearly 200 shops, restaurants and entertainment venues. Some of the stores include Macy’s, Target, J.C. Penney, Giant Food and Costco. The Town of Kensington draws visitors and residents to its antique stores, bookstores, galleries and restaurants.
The county manages several parks. Connecticut Avenue Neighborhood Park spreads across 1.4 wooded acres. Pleasant View Park covers 3.8 acres and has fields for softball and soccer plus a picnic area. Newport Mill Park has a playground, picnic area, basketball court and fields for baseball and soccer.
Living there: Hammond Wood, Zip code 20902, is roughly bordered by Veirs Mill Road on the northeast, Regnid Drive and Newport Mill Road on the southeast, Mapleview Drive on the southwest and Woodridge Avenue on the southwest. There are only single-family houses.
According to Pam Schaeffer with the Schaeffer-Parmet Team of Compass, no properties are for sale or under contract. In the past year, seven houses sold, ranging from a two-bedroom, one-bathroom single-level home for $340,000 to a four-bedroom, three-bathroom two-level property for $648,000.
Schools: Rock View Elementary, Newport Mill Middle, Albert Einstein High.
Transit: Hammond Wood is just north of Kensington, Md., about eight miles from Connecticut Avenue and Porter Street NW in the District. The Wheaton Metro station on the Red Line is a mile away. Five bus routes cross the corner of Veirs Mill Road and Pendleton Drive. “So you can get to Rockville in one direction or the Metro in the other just like that,” said Means.
Crime: According to communitycrimemap.com , there have been two burglaries and one larceny in the neighborhood since March 1, 2017.
To see more photos of Hammond Wood, go to washingtonpost.com/realestate.