After a career in academia, with a stint living in the Midwest, William E. “Brit” Kirwan and his wife, Patricia, were looking forward to settling down and finding their dream home.
They had lived briefly, years earlier, in London and dreamed about buying an English Tudor, he said.
The two had even settled on a neighborhood, the Manor Park community in Rockville, about a 30-minute drive from the University of Maryland’s College Park campus, where Kirwan served as president from 1989 to 1998 and where the couple raised their children. Later, he served as the university system’s chancellor.
Their daughter noticed a house for sale that fit the description and quickly forwarded the listing to her parents.
“My wife said if we didn’t buy that house, she wasn’t looking at any more properties. We really fell in love with it,” he said.
They quickly settled in 2013 on the 3,000-square-foot, three-bedroom, three-bathroom English Tudor with unobstructed views of the 10th fairway at the nearby golf course and went to work turning the structure into their dream house.
After extensive renovations that included upgrades to bathrooms and bedrooms and the installation of an elevator to aid his wife, who had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, the couple had finally gotten to the fun part of decorating and hosting family and friends when Patricia’s health further declined, Kirwan said.
She died last month from complications associated with cancer. But rather than serve solely as a reminder of loss, the house and his neighbors have provided a sense of protection and comfort, he said.
“I hadn’t lived here very long when my wife passed away but the outpouring of support from people in this community, some of whom I didn’t know, was deeply touching,” he said.
“On the one hand, living here can be difficult because there are so many memories that cause sadness and grief, but on the other hand I feel so close to her here because it was her dream house. I know that as time goes on, I’ll remain connected to her because of the house.”
Everyone knows each other: Kerry Smith, who has lived in Manor Park since 1992, said that the community is unique for the number of second- and third-generation families who chose to live there.
“Chances are that if a kid in the neighborhood skins his knee while riding a bike and has to go to a neighbor’s house for help, that person would know their name and would certainly know the parents. It’s just such a tightknit neighborhood,” said Smith, who lives in a five-bedroom, seven-bathroom Colonial with a wraparound porch.
A planned community of about 350 homes built around a golf course and country club, Manor Park doesn’t feature “cookie-cutter” homes, said Carole Egloff, a real estate agent with Long & Foster.
The neighborhood features a mix of Tudors, cottages and mid-century modern structures that offer something for everyone, Egloff said.
“Add to that the majestic setting of the wooded lots, golf course views and mature landscaping and you’ve found a community with charm and character.”
Ray Murphy, who has lived in Manor Park for 34 years, said that a recent full renovation of his 6,000-square-foot, four-bedroom, five-bathroom Georgian Colonial is illustrative of the pull that the community has on families.
“It would have been much easier to move to another community and find a turnkey house. We have a grandchild in western New York and a child in New York City and it would have been easy to move closer to them, but Manor Park is where my wife and I want to be.”
Arthur Fuccillo, who moved to the community in 1988, said that having a community center and golf course helps foster neighborliness in a way that’s uncommon for most areas.
“I know 175 of my neighbors and the reason for that is that for 30-plus years I’ve interacted with them at the club. Our children swam together and learned tennis and built relationships. It’s really a jewel in Montgomery County and one of its best-kept secrets.”
Living there: Located in Rockville, Manor Park is roughly bordered by Norbeck Road to the northwest, Bel Pre Road to the south and Georgia Avenue to the east.
In the past 12 months, 14 properties have sold in Manor Park, ranging from a 2,467-square-foot, five-bedroom, three-bathroom Colonial for $485,000 to a 5,556-square-foot, six-bedroom, six-bathroom Colonial for $1,169,000, said Egloff, the agent with Long & Foster.
There are seven houses for sale in Manor Park, ranging from a 4,500-square-foot, five-bedroom, five-bathroom Colonial for $699,000 to a 6,200-square-foot, five-bedroom, four-bathroom Colonial for $1,295,000.
Schools: Lucy V. Barnsley Elementary, Flower Valley Elementary, Earle B. Wood Middle and Rockville High.
Transit: The neighborhood is about three miles from the Glenmont station on Metro’s Red Line and about 5 miles to the Twinbrook station on the Red Line. A number of Metrobus stops are along nearby Norbeck Road and Georgia Avenue.
Crime: In the past six months, there have been two assaults and two burglaries reported in the service area that includes Manor Park, according to Montgomery County police.