Caplan took a neighbor up on his open invitation to use his pool last summer.
“While all the swimming pools were closed during covid, my kids got to swim nearly every day,” she said. “It was a lifesaver.”
Caplan, an environmentalist, said she and Kulansky, an electrical engineer, have discussed moving to a bigger house.
“We’d love a little more space,” she said. “But we think about Mrs. Frank next door. If we move, she won’t be our neighbor. That matters to us.”
Wilde Lake, with about 5,000 residents, was founded in 1967, the first of 10 villages in the planned community of Columbia. Long-timers remember the heady beginning with developer James Rouse, who envisioned a mixed-income, integrated society where the promise of the 1964 Civil Rights Act would become real.
“In those early days, there were a lot of artists and old bohemians,” recalled Nancy Glass, a real estate agent who moved to Wilde Lake in 1973 and attended senior year in the village’s open-concept high school. (The no-walls philosophy has been replaced by more-traditional classrooms.)
Housing choices range from affordable-housing rentals to custom homes. Of 2,800 homes, 25 percent are single-family, 25 percent rentals, 15 percent townhouses and 35 percent condos, according to the village manager, Kristin Shulder. There are three main neighborhoods (cue the literary theme): Running Brook, named for Frost’s “West-Running Brook”; Bryant Woods, named for poet William Cullen Bryant; and Faulkner Ridge, named for novelist William Faulkner..
Shulder and Kevin McAliley, board chair for the Wilde Lake Community Association, note that the neighborhoods are jointly served by public areas such as schools, community pools, a tennis center, 11 tot lots and seven miles of pathways. (Columbia has 94 total miles of pathways.) For McAliley, a biking advocate and retired banker, preserving Wilde Lake’s unique character is important.
“I don’t want this to become a small town that closes shop because no one invested in it,” he said.
The community association, which does not charge dues, oversees neighborhood appearance and maintenance, acts as an advocate for residents and manages the Slayton House arts and community venue. Residents of Wilde Lake pay Columbia Association fees on a sliding scale according to home values. The annual charge is based on multiplying $0.68 by half a home’s assessed value and dividing by 100. For example, a house assessed at $400,000 would pay an annual fee of $1,360.
Retirees Jeff and Carol Friedhoffer, residents since 1974, live on the Frost-inspired street The Mending Wall. They appreciate the Wilde Lake Interfaith Center, home to multiple congregations over the years; Wilde Lake, on the banks of which Rouse’s former house, with its distinctive yellow doors, can be found;and the area’s diverse atmosphere.
“It was a wonderful way for our kids to grow up,” Jeff said. “They did not see black or white or purple. Black and White kids socialized.”
Carol Friedhoffer recalls that one of the couples they knew was interracial.
“This was the place they were accepted,” she said.
Bess Caplan, mother of second- and third-grade girls, benefits from that legacy today.
“We’re White and Jewish,” she said. “Our kids are in the religious and racial minority in their school. Their best friends are Black and Indian. All the kids are proud of who they are and where they’ve come from.”
Residents also value proximity to downtown Columbia, with access to the Merriweather Post Pavilion. Wilde Lake High School has a theater named for Rouse, and claims actor Edward Norton, the developer’s grandson, as a famous alum.
Wulah Cooper, a Liberian refugee who has been a Wilde Lake resident since 2012, lives in an area of Bryant Woods called Tidesfall, known for its lakeside white-stucco townhouses. He and his wife, Panda, have three children.
“I really love it here,” he said “It’s really peaceful and welcoming.”
He appreciates the community summer picnic and the fall fest with food trucks and live bands (in non-pandemic times).
“The moment I leave the Beltway and enter Howard County, there’s this relaxation that sets in,” said Cooper, who communtes an hour each way two days a week to his job as a cybersecurity contractor in Arlington.
Living there: Wilde Lake is bordered by Little Patuxent Parkway and Governor Warfield Parkway to the south and southeast, Ten Mills Road to the east, part of Maryland 108 to the north and Harpers Farm Road and Faulkner Ridge Circle to the west.
There are 13 homes for sale, according to Glass, who is with Cummings & Co. Realtors. The highest-priced is $570,000, with five bedrooms and four bathrooms. The lowest-priced is $130,000 for a one-bedroom, one-bathroom, 757-square-foot condo. In 2020, 77 homes sold in Wilde Lake, with an average price of $327,026. The highest-priced was $905,000, with six bedrooms and five bathrooms. The lowest-priced was a one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo for $75,000.
Schools: Bryant Woods and Running Brook elementary, Wilde Lake middle, Wilde Lake high.
Transit: Howard Transit, Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) and Regional Transportation Agency (RTA) buses have routes through the community, providing access to the Metro system and the Dorsey MARC train station. The MARC (Maryland Area Regional Commuter) station is a 20-minute drive away. The Greenbelt Metro station is a 32-minute drive way, and the Shady Grove Metro station is a 39-minute drive away.