In the first episode of the second season of “House of Cards,” a pivotal scene takes place in the unlikeliest of places.
The scene is set in the Cathedral Heights Metro station — unlikely, because any resident will tell you that it does not exist.
“We don’t have a subway, and getting to the subway is not that easy,” said Alice Tetelman, who has lived in Cathedral Heights since 1980. “It’s a very long walk to Tenleytown or Woodley Park.”
Although the Northwest Washington neighborhood does not have a Metro station, it is home to classic Tudors and Colonials on spacious lots; a thick canopy of mature trees; and proximity to downtown Washington and other destinations, Tetelman said.
“I love to walk through the neighborhood because of the really lovely traditional brick architecture,” said Tetelman, 73, who retired after a career in politics. “There are lovely, tall trees through the whole neighborhood. And it’s sort of in the middle of downtown, Upper Northwest and Bethesda, all of which you can get to easily.”
Distinctive flavor: Cathedral Heights has a unusual character that distinguishes it from other neighborhoods nearby, residents say.
“It’s this little tiny enclave of big, brick single-family homes and duplexes,” said Susan Reilly, an office manager who has lived in Cathedral Heights for 10 years. “Go a little bit south to Glover Park, and you get a much different flavor, with a lot of multifamily units and smaller, semi-detached houses. Go north, and you’re right smack in the middle of Cleveland Park and Tenleytown, where there’s a lot more mixed-use.”
Victor Silveira, 54, the neighborhood’s ANC representative, said Cathedral Heights’ relatively spacious lots drew him there in 1996.
“With the exception of a few high-rises, it’s very low-density,” said Silveira, referring to the Colonnade Condominiums and the Westchester, an apartment building.
Worldly population: Cathedral Heights draws an international crowd, said Reilly, whose husband, Rich, is a Foreign Service officer.
“A lot of diplomats live here, plus a lot of folks from the IMF,” Reilly said. “It’s a super-fun, international population.”
Silveira said the neighborhood’s low density and quiet atmosphere attract a good number of families.
“You have a little bit of everything here, but for the most part, young professionals are drifting to U Street, Georgetown or the 14th Street corridor, not to Cathedral Heights,” Silveira said.
Reilly said many residents host annual parties and other events.
“One neighbor always has an election-night party, and we do a Christmas open-house party,” Reilly said. “It’s a very congenial neighborhood.”
A lot in walking distance: Tetelman said many destinations are a short walk away, including restaurants such as 2 Amys and Cafe Deluxe. Reilly said those willing to walk 15 minutes can also reach Whole Foods, bars and restaurants in Glover Park. Walk 25 minutes, “and you’re in the heart of Georgetown,” Reilly said.
“Walk 10 minutes in one direction and you’re at Glover Archbold Park, and 10 minutes in the other direction and you’re in Rock Creek Park,” Reilly said. “If you’re going by bike, it takes no time at all.”
The neighborhood will soon have even more restaurant and retail options, thanks to Cathedral Commons, a mixed-use development that will bring a new Giant Food store, retail, restaurants and luxury apartments to Wisconsin Avenue NW, Silveira said. The Bozzuto Group broke ground on the development in late 2012, and the first apartments are expected to open this fall.
“I think it’s really going to energize the neighborhood,” Silveira said.
Living there: The boundaries of Cathedral Heights are undefined, and vary greatly depending on who you ask.
Roughly, the neighborhood is bounded by Woodley Road NW to the north; Wisconsin Avenue NW to the east; Fulton Street NW to the south; and Idaho Avenue NW/Glover Archbold Park to the west. Some say the neighborhood ends at Cathedral Avenue NW to the south and 38th Street NW to the east, among other variations.
In the past 12 months, 10 houses sold in Cathedral Heights, ranging from $1.052 million for a four-bedroom rowhouse to $2.085 million for a renovated and expanded four-bedroom 1928 Colonial, according to Sheila Mooney of Beasley Real Estate. Two houses are on the market: $1.35 million for a four-bedroom townhouse and $2.395 million for a new six-bedroom Colonial.
Seventy-eight condos and co-ops have sold, ranging from $169,000 for a 700-square-foot, one-bedroom unit to $1.1 million for a 2,300-square-foot, two-bedroom unit. Twenty are on the market, from $179,000 for a 380-square-foot studio to $1.275 million for a 2,800-square-foot, three-bedroom unit; and 13 are under contract, from $235,000 for a one-bedroom unit to $808,000 for a three-bedroom unit.
Schools: John Eaton, Horace Mann or Stoddert elementary schools; Deal or Hardy middle schools; Woodrow Wilson High School.
Transit: Tetelman said many residents take the bus to the Dupont Circle Metro station to commute to various points.
The N2, N3, N4 and N6 bus lines run through or close to Cathedral Heights.
Silveira said he is lobbying for a Capital Bikeshare station in the neighborhood to give residents more options.
“Even though you’re living closer to downtown than the suburbs, at rush hour, traffic is nasty,” Silveira said. “We are underserved by public transportation, which is something I hope will change in the future.”
Crime: In the past 12 months, there were three burglaries and no violent crimes in Cathedral Heights, according to D.C. police.
“We’ll hear about the occasional side mirror of a car getting knocked off, but it’s generally a very safe neighborhood,” Tetelman said.
Amy Reinink is a freelance writer.