When Jessica and Patrick Flynn were house-hunting, they liked that the Hamlet in Chevy Chase was close to Washington, offered large lots and wide streets, and was in a good school district.
The real selling feature: It was a block away from Patrick’s older brother and his family.
“There are three Flynns here now,” said Jessica Flynn, 41, a sales representative for a pharmaceutical company who moved to the Montgomery County, Md., neighborhood in August 2006. “Another brother has moved to the Hamlet since we moved in. You see a lot of families here, whether it’s multiple siblings buying homes here or a grandparent passing down a house to a grandchild. You get the feeling that once people come, they don’t want to leave.”
The Chevy Chase Land Co. developed the Hamlet in the early 1900s. It designed the subdivision of roughly a dozen lots to look like an English village, with a large common “motor court” and English architecture, according to the Hamlet Citizens Association.
In the 1940s and 1950s, the Hamlet grew to a total of 245 houses spanning several blocks around East-West Highway and Connecticut Avenue.
David Landers and his wife, Kara, moved to the Hamlet in March 2002 from nearby Rollingwood, just south of East-West Highway. Their oldest child was 3, and they were rapidly outgrowing their smaller house there. They liked the relatively larger houses and lots in the Hamlet. They also liked that the Hamlet has very little cut-through traffic.
“Our street ends in a cul-de-sac, which makes it very quiet and kid-friendly,” said David Landers, 52, a lobbyist for the hedge-fund industry who serves as president of the Hamlet Citizens Association.
All in the family: Once people move into the Hamlet, they tend to stay. Landers said many families renovate or expand their houses rather than move to a bigger home elsewhere. Landers said his family expanded their house a couple of years ago.
“Many people have lived here much of their lives,” Landers said. “Some people grew up here, left and moved back.”
Flynn said she’s also seen residents buy a larger house within the neighborhood in order to get more space without leaving the community. She’s also seen parents and grandparents pass houses down to children or grandchildren.
“There are a lot of family connections here,” Flynn said. “There are a lot of cousins.”
Alyssa Crilley, whose husband has two siblings living in the neighborhood, said houses don’t go up for sale often.
“Houses do come on the market, but there are a good number of sales within families,” said Crilley, 57, a real estate agent with Washington Fine Properties who has lived in the Hamlet since 2000 and serves on the Hamlet Citizens Association. “You get people who loved growing up here, and who came back to raise their own family here.”
The Hamlet Citizens Association hosts an annual Fourth of July party at a cul-de-sac on Kerry Lane. Kids decorate and ride their bikes, scooters and wagons and follow a local fire engine in a parade through the neighborhood. Families grill hot dogs and hamburgers at a post-parade barbecue, where kids participate in balloon tosses, races and other games.
“It has almost a Midwestern feel,” Flynn said. “It’s really unique.”
Halloween brings loads of trick-or-treaters, Landers said. There’s also a dinner for adults at the Columbia Country Club every January.
“You really do know who your neighbors are, and people really do take care of each other,” Landers said.
Development plans: The Hamlet is not incorporated, unlike some other sections of Chevy Chase, but it does have an active citizens association.
In addition to planning social events, the association monitors issues of interest to residents, including the proposed redevelopment of Chevy Chase Lake, just north of the Hamlet.
Plans call for the small strip mall on Connecticut Avenue to be transformed into a mixed-use development with shops, restaurants and multifamily housing. The project would also incorporate a Purple Line rail station.
“It’s a small development right now, and plans call for it to expand substantially,” Landers said. “Some people are excited. Some worry about the impact on traffic and whether it will increase.”
Living there: Hamlet is bordered by Connecticut Avenue to the west; Chevy Chase Lake Drive to the north; and Jones Mill Road, East-West Highway, Glendale Road and Leland Street to the east and south.
In the past 12 months, 14 houses sold in the Hamlet, ranging from a 1,824-square-foot, four-bedroom Colonial for $855,000 to a 3,836-square-foot, five-bedroom Colonial for $1.6 million, Crilley said. Three houses are on the market, from a four-bedroom Cape Cod with a large kitchen and family room for $1,295,000 to a six-bedroom Colonial for $1,495,000.
Crilley said houses in this section of Chevy Chase are often slightly less expensive than comparable ones south of East-West Highway.
Aside from the dozen English-style houses in the “old Hamlet,” most homes in the neighborhood are brick Colonials built in the 1950s, with some ramblers, Cape Cods and split-levels, Crilley said.
Schools: Rosemary Hills, North Chevy Chase and Chevy Chase elementary schools; Westland Middle; and Bethesda-Chevy Chase High.
Transit: It’s a 10-minute drive or a 30-minute walk to Medical Center and Bethesda stations on Metro’s Red Line.
The Hamlet is also close to the Capital Beltway and Connecticut Avenue, along with Rock Creek Park and the Georgetown Branch Trail.
Crime: There were no homicides or assaults investigated in the past year, and there were “relatively few” recorded incidents of robbery and residential burglary, according to the Montgomery County Police Department, which could not provide exact numbers.
Amy Reinink is a freelance writer.