Mary Beth and Tom Cox were among the first families to move into Southpointe Estates, a two-street neighborhood off Route 123 in Lorton, Va. When they moved there in 1997, the house was new and the lot freshly bulldozed. But after nearly 25 years, the nearest house is hidden by oak trees and songbirds are drawn to the bird feeder.

In the past two-plus decades, Lorton has grown considerably, but Southpointe Estates has remained the same — unnoticed by passersby and cherished by residents.

“People driving by don’t realize what this is,” Mary Beth said. “It’s not house upon house upon house. We’ve got 42 homes in here and a lot of acreage and streams.”

Those first families came for spacious lots, well-built homes and access to Interstate 95. But the neighborhood has seen little turnover, mostly because of the tightknit community that continues to draw residents.

Mary Beth and Tom Cox were attracted to the house, a Georgian Colonial that she saw as her dream house. Southpointe Estates, developed by Charter Homes, features mainly Georgian Colonial single-family houses, a style that emphasizes symmetry, restrained ornamentation and red-brick exteriors.

The Coxes’ move to Southpointe Estates surprised friends and family. At the time, Lorton was known for its prison. Decades earlier, when it was the Occoquan Workhouse, suffragists were taken there and beaten for picketing outside the White House for the right to vote. Later, it became the Lorton Reformatory where notable inmates included musician Chuck Brown, Watergate burglar G. Gordon Liddy and author Norman Mailer, who was arrested for protesting the Vietnam War.

But the prison’s reputation didn’t factor into the Coxes’ decision. It only bothered them on nights when they woke to the prison sirens after an inmate escaped. The prison eventually closed in 2001.

Much of the more than 3,000-acre tract is now known as Laurel Hill, with schools, housing, Occoquan Regional Park, an 18-hole golf course, an equestrian center and an arts center occupying the rest of the land. The park is a mile and a half from Southpointe Estates. The historic town of Occoquan — a destination for shopping, dining and river recreation — is just beyond it.

Around a dozen original Southpointe Estates families remain, including Gary and Janice Coleman.

“People moved here because they saw an opportunity to have a little land,” Janice Coleman said. “We were at that time considered far out.” Most of the lots are an acre; some are as large as five acres.

Tony Coleman, Janice’s son, lives nearby. He says “people looked at Lorton as the end of the world.”

But living in Southpointe Estates had its benefits. Tony was one of many children who grew up there. The kids brought the neighborhood parents together. Janice remembers Halloweens when the children rode a neighbor’s tractor, and children sledding down Davis Drive after a snowfall while parents watched for cars. Ties formed then endure. Tony is a real estate agent with Compass, as are Janice and the neighbor across the street. The three of them are part of the Coleman & Associates team within the brokerage.

The close-knit spirit lives on. Janice remembers how after one family moved there in 2017, neighbors threw a baby shower for the then-pregnant mother.

“We didn’t really know them,” Janice said. “She had no idea who these gifts were from, but that’s the kind of neighborhood it is.”

TusaRebecca Pannucci was the pregnant mother. She and her husband were drawn to Southpointe Estates by its atmosphere but didn’t expect that level of welcome.

“I was blown away by the support and the number of people who came by,” she said.

Although the lot was smaller than the five acres they hoped for, they bought because of what they saw when they visited.

“There were people milling about being neighborly, talking in their yards, and that struck us,” Pannucci said. “There were actually people stopping to have conversations when they were out on their walks and it definitely rings true, it’s just kind of the neighborhood that it is.”

However, they didn’t realize how close they would become.

“This community of young families wasn’t something we expected but something we are eternally grateful for,” Pannucci said. “To be able to raise our kids together in the neighborhood, living life at the same pace.”

During the pandemic it proved a boon, as they formed pods and spared themselves and the children from some of the isolation.

“It was a complete lifesaver,” Pannucci said. “This past Christmas, we gave a toast and somebody said, ‘It’s been the hardest year ever for so many people, and the only reason it hasn’t been that for us is because we have each other.’ ”

Living there: Southpointe Estates runs along Davis Drive and includes all but the last two homes on Wrights Hollow Lane before Marovelli Forest Drive.

In the past 12 months, four homes have sold in Southpointe Estates, according to Janice Coleman. All are four-bedroom, detached, single-family homes. The highest price was $1.2 million for a four-bedroom, three-bathroom home with one acre. The lowest was $825,000 for a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home with just less than an acre. The two other sales were a $1.1 million home with four bedrooms, three bathrooms and five acres and a four-bedroom, three-bathroom house on a little less than an acre for $870,000. The average sales price was $1 million. One house is on the market. It is a four-bedroom, three-bathroom house on just over an acre for $750,000.

Homeowners association fees are $125 a year and go toward landscaping the neighborhood entrance.

Schools: Halley Elementary, South County Middle and South County High.

Transit: The VRE Woodbridge station, a 10-minute drive from Southpointe Estates, runs daily trains into Washington. The Prince William Metro Express bus system connects the VRE station to the Franconia-Springfield Metro station. The commuter lot on Route 123 has bus connections and a slug line for carpoolers. Interstate 95 is less than a 10-minute drive away.

If you’d like your neighborhood featured in Where We Live, email kathy.orton@washpost.com.