Laura Weiss was on a walk with her husband, Baruch, when they stumbled upon an unfamiliar Northwest Washington neighborhood. They were living in Cleveland Park at the time and had meandered over near Massachusetts Avenue. The streets were curvy with twists and turns. They plunged into a forest with a babbling stream.

Weiss recalls turning to Baruch, saying, “Where are we? How are we in the city?”

When they found their way back, she said to her husband, “I don’t know what this neighborhood is, but I want to live here.”

Woodland Normanstone is a quiet neighborhood with a quiet reputation. Georgetown, Kalorama and Massachusetts Heights, which Woodland Normanstone is part of, are better-known affluent neighborhoods in the city. But this enclave boasts bigger lots and bigger houses than the others.

It took an act of Congress to create Woodland Normanstone. In 1910, Congress exempted the neighborhood from the city’s grid street pattern, allowing for curved roads that would preserve its natural beauty and encourage widely spaced residential development. National parkland runs through the neighborhood, as does a tributary of Rock Creek.

Marianne Steiner, co-president of the neighborhood association, describes Woodland Normanstone as “really peaceful.”

Steiner, who has lived in the neighborhood about 25 years, was attracted to Woodland Normanstone in part for its sylvan setting.

“A large part of [the neighborhood association’s] mission [is] to preserve and protect the natural beauty of the neighborhood,” she said. “Over the past 10 years, there’s a handful of projects the association has sponsored, orchestrated or otherwise enabled that were focused on this.”

One such project was planting daffodils in 2019. The neighborhood association collaborated with the National Park Service and the Rock Creek Conservancy to make sure they planted approved varieties.

“This was such a fun and rewarding community project,” said Lynne Nelson, co-president of the neighborhood association and 20-year resident of the neighborhood. “Three generations of neighbors digging in the dirt together unknowingly creating a surprise for hundreds of neighbors and walkers seeking relief from the pandemic quarantine.”

Another project was planting 125 trees — redbud, dogwoods and an assortment of others — to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the neighborhood. Neighborhood volunteers — parents and their children — helped plant the trees.

“The pride that they had after planting the trees was so much fun,” Nelson said. She remembers several families telling her over the years they often went to check on “their” trees.

The neighborhood association also worked with the D.C. Department of Transportation to restore the watershed along Normanstone Drive. Bioswales were installed in an attempt to prevent storm water running down the hills from going into the creek. Their next project is working with the National Park Service, D.C. Urban Forestry and the Rock Creek Conservancy to clear away invasive plants and plant more indigenous species.

The natural beauty of the surroundings is complemented by the attractive and varied architecture. A variety of styles are represented in the homes. Woodland Normanstone is unusual in that it has no condo buildings, townhouses, rowhouses or apartment buildings, only single-family houses.

Architect Amy Weinstein moved into the neighborhood 10 years ago. When a mid-century modern house she admired came on the market, she and her husband jumped at the chance to move there.

“I like the natural environment, the trees, the streams, the vegetation,” she said. “I love walking along Normanstone Drive, nodding at everyone I pass. It’s really nice.”

The stately manors are ideal to foreign dignitaries, and several ambassadors call Woodland Normanstone home. Of the approximately 160 houses in the neighborhood, about 25 are residences for ambassadors or other foreign diplomats.

When Weiss ticks off the families who live near her — Greek, Iranian, Italian, Slovenian, Swedish, Australian — it’s like a United Nations roll call.

“We all enjoy learning about each other’s cultures,” she said.

A Lebanese woman who is in her 90s bakes Christmas cookies to share with neighbors. Weiss’s teenage daughter Rebecca delivers the challah she bakes to the neighborhood.

“The generosity isn’t only in the expansive yards and the nature, it’s the people,” Weiss said. “They’re country folk in the city.”

For all its grandeur, Woodland Normanstone remains a family-friendly neighborhood. Weinstein noted that families continue to move into the neighborhood.

“There’s been an influx of kids in the last three years around us. It seems like there are about at least 10 or 12 new kids under the age of 10,” she said.

Weiss, who raised three children in Woodland Normanstone since moving into the neighborhood in 2004, said living there comes with perks. The Australian ambassador invited her then 10-year-old daughter to tea, and she interviewed him about his country for a school report.

“She put on a little dress,” Weiss said, “and chatted with the ambassador about parliamentary politics and shark attacks.”

Weiss has such a strong attachment to the neighborhood that when she and her husband decided they needed a bigger house now that their children were getting older, they looked around the city but ended up finding what they wanted just four houses away.

“It’s the kind of neighborhood where you don’t really move out — you move around,” she said.

Living there: Woodland Normanstone is bounded by Garfield Street to the north, Cleveland Avenue to the east, Rock Creek Drive to the south and Massachusetts Avenue to the west.

According to Robert Hryniewicki, a real estate agent with HRL Partners of Washington Fine Properties, there were 11 houses that sold in the neighborhood in 2020. The median sales price was $3.5 million. The lowest-priced house sold was a six-bedroom, four-bathroom, 4,500-square-foot French Colonial house for $1.8 million. The highest-priced house sold was a five-bedroom, seven-bathroom, 6,000-square-foot-villa for $5.6 million.

There are seven houses for sale. The lowest-priced is a 1942 brick Colonial with three bedrooms and four bathrooms for just under $2.4 million. HRL Partners has two listings on the higher end: a 1927 stone manor with five bedrooms and eight bathrooms for just under $11 million and a renovated 1920s Georgian brick house with six bedrooms and nine bathrooms for just under $12 million.

Schools: Oyster-Adams Bilingual School (elementary and middle); Wilson High.

Transportation: The Woodley Park Metro Station is about a 15-minute walk away. Metro buses run along Massachusetts and Cleveland avenues NW.

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