Bethesda Magazine's 30 Great Neighborhoods to Live In
From big yards to new homes, the Bethesda area has neighborhoods for every preference
Tall trees form a canopy over the streets of Fort Sumner. Photo by Skip Brown
NEIGHBORHOODS WITH MATURE TREES
When Tammy Gruner Durbin looks out the window of her home office, she sees trees. “A lot of fabulous trees,” says Durbin, a real estate agent whose family has called Fort Sumner home for 15 years. “The trees create the whole ambiance of the neighborhood. …A lot of the houses are set back from the street, so the trees really are unencumbered.” Located in south Bethesda, Fort Sumner takes its name from the Civil War fort that stood there until 1956, when it was torn down to make room for homes. (Fifteen different builders contributed a mix of housing styles, including colonials and Cape Cods.) Neighbors gather for block parties and an annual Halloween parade. At Christmas, luminarias light up the sidewalks. Residents also appreciate Fort Sumner’s location—the Capital Crescent Trail and C&O Canal towpath are each within a half mile, and they can bike to Georgetown in 30 minutes.
“A town within a forest” is how Washington Grove’s first mayor, Roy McCathran, described this community. Nearly a century and a half after its founding as a Methodist revival camp, the nickname still fits. This small incorporated town outside Gaithersburg was once the Washington Grove Camp Meeting Association. Over time, wooden Victorians replaced canvas tents, but more than half of the acreage is still forest. “The rumor is that you could not remove a tree when you built a tent or cottage site in the town,” says volunteer Mayor Joli McCathran, whose husband, Ken, is the founding mayor’s grandson. “We’ve spent a great deal of time trying to stay who we are.” Two 50-acre groves—oaks in the East Woods, tulip poplars in the West Woods—flank 226 homes, many of them the original gingerbread cottages. The historic homes front walkways, not streets. Instead of a pool, a lifeguard-patrolled swimming hole attracts kids in the summer. In the early 2000s, the town fought off a neighboring development project, preserved the meadow in a conservation easement—and planted 100 more trees.
When businessman Henry Copp created Garrett Park in the 1880s, he envisioned a neighborhood of beautiful homes and stately trees. His dream came true in the form of maples intertwining over streets lined with gingerbread Victorians. In the 1970s, because trees and architecture are so ingrained in Garrett Park’s character, the town government formed a historic preservation committee and an arboretum committee to protect them. Together, the old homes and mature trees give a sense of history to this small town, where residents still pick up their mail (and swap paperbacks) at the post office and walk to dinner at the popular Black Market Bistro, located in the old general store by the train tracks. Residents help ensure that the trees stay healthy, says Marian Green, who has lived in Garrett Park since 1959. “They make a great deal of difference to people.”
create the feeling of the neighborhood.”
—Tammy Gruner Durbin,
Fort Sumner resident
Bethesda: Bannockburn, Bradley Park, Carderock Springs, Crestview, Drumaldry, East Bethesda, Fort Sumner, Mohican Hills, Wildwood Manor, Wyngate
N. Bethesda: Luxmanor, Timberlawn
Chevy Chase: Chevy Chase Section 5, Chevy Chase Village, Kenwood, Rollingwood, Chevy Chase, D.C.
Kensington/Garrett Park: Chevy Chase View, Old Town Kensington, South Kensington, Garrett Park
Gaithersburg: Crown, Kentlands, Washington Grove
Potomac: Merry-Go-Round Farm, River Falls
Rockville: King Farm, Old Farm, Rockville's West End
Silver Spring: Woodside Park