Driving south along the George Washington Memorial Parkway, from near the District toward Mount Vernon, Va., is ho-hum ordinary.
But just past the Capital Beltway, the scene changes as the road curves toward the Potomac. Suddenly you’re in the country, moving through green walls of forest. The fragrant smell of woods and water permeates the air. This is Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve, a 485-acre freshwater wetland of tidal marsh, flood plain and swamp forest.
It’s the entry to Villamay, a neighborhood in Fairfax County about 15 miles from the District. “It’s like a small town here, but it’s not. We’re a close community,” said Emily Siegfried, who’s almost 21 and will be a senior at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va.
The land bordering the Potomac from Villamay down to Mount Vernon was farmland owned by George Washington, said Ken Siegfried, who has lived there since 2000 with his wife, Ellen; daughter, Emily; 13-year-old twin sons, Jack and Tyler; and Sophie, a bichon frisé/Shih Tzu mix.
After World War II, Gene May, an Army civil engineer said, “ ‘I’m going to build upscale homes,’ ” said Siegfried, a loan officer with FitzGerald Financial Group. The May Properties built 278 houses from 1958 to 1966 and named the community Villamay. A sister neighborhood in McLean, Va., is Evermay.
“The houses — Colonials, ramblers, split-levels and bi-levels — are built like fortresses,” Siegfried said. Foundations and walls are cinder block. Bricks were laid on the exterior.
“Bi-levels are unique because your foyer is on the lower level with the garage and basement. You have to walk up a flight of stairs to the main level, where kitchen, dining and living rooms are,” said Marjorie Spires, a real estate agent who has lived there with her husband, David, who is also an agent, since 1996.
Most lots are a quarter-acre to half an acre, and there are a couple of double lots. Some streets end in cul-de-sacs, some curve gently up and down.
“From higher points there are great river views, especially in winter,” Ellen Siegfried said. Stands of century-old oaks cross the community.
“A handful of original owners still remain in their homes,” Marjorie Spires said.
Renovate instead of move: “Part of the appeal when we moved here [in 1998] was that original residents felt such ownership and those feelings transferred to the next owners,” said Talley Fulghum, who lives there with her husband, Chris, and daughter Parker, a recent high school graduate.
“A lot of kids who grew up here returned to buy their parents’ house. Others lived in one house and then moved to a bigger one,” said Ken Siegfried, who is vice president of the community association. “People are realizing the value of the neighborhood, and more are renovating.”
That’s exactly what the Fulghums did.
“Our house was aging. We looked around and decided it made more sense to stay and renovate than move,” Talley Fulghum said.
“None of our children want us to ever sell the house,” Ellen Siegfried said, smiling, as Emily nodded.
The community association asks for $55 per family per year to help fund picnics, wine and cheese soirees, an annual dinner, and children’s events such as an Easter egg hunt and Halloween party.
Open space: The 18-mile Mount Vernon bike trail extends from Theodore Roosevelt Island to Mount Vernon.
“We can get to it without having to cross the [George Washington Memorial] parkway,” Ken Siegfried said.
McCutcheon Park borders Villamay and features 17 acres of woods plus a tot lot and a playground. The site was almost lost to development but was saved when Fairfax County bought the land, he said.
“We enjoy Huntley Meadows Park, and it’s terrific for walking dogs,” Talley Fulghum said.
The Belle View and Hollin Hall shopping centers are grocery destinations and offer shops, banks, a gas station, a post office, hardware stores and restaurants. Route 1 is also a shopping corridor. Old Town Alexandria is popular for stores, strolling, American history, water views and a historic vibe.
Belle Haven and Mount Vernon country clubs and Old Dominion Boat Club are close.
Living there: Villamay in Fairfax County, Zip code 22307, is roughly bounded by Marine Drive on the north, George Washington Memorial Parkway on the east, Belle Vista Drive on the south and Fort Hunt Road on the west.
All the homes are single-family houses.
“Annual turnover rate is fairly consistent between 5 to 6 percent,” said Marjorie Spires, an agent with Partners in Real Estate.
Three homes are for sale, ranging from a five-bedroom, three-bathroom Colonial for $939,000 to a four-bedroom, three-bathroom split-level for $1,149,000.
Two homes are under contract. One is a five-bedroom, four-bathroom split-foyer for $924,900. The other is a four-bedroom, three-bathroom Colonial for $999,000.
In the past year, 16 homes have sold, ranging from a four-bedroom, three-bathroom bi-level for $700,000 to a four-bedroom, four-bathroom restored rambler for $1,180,000.
Schools: Belle View Elementary, Carl Sandburg Middle, West Potomac High.
Transit: The Fairfax Connector 101 bus route along Fort Hunt Road services the Huntington Metro station on the Yellow Line.
The George Washington Memorial Parkway south toward Mount Vernon is the main route to Villamay. Interstate 495 and U.S. Route 1 are close.
It takes Ken Siegfried five minutes to get to his office in Old Town, 10 minutes to get to Reagan National Airport and 20 minutes to reach the District.
Crime: According to LexisNexis’s communitycrimemap.com , there were no crimes in the past year.