Neighborhood Profile: Rock Creek Woods

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Driving the winding, leafy roads of Rock Creek Woods in Kensington, Md., all around are mid-century wonders. The brick, wood and glass houses built in 1959 and 1960 blend into the landscape without disturbing it, as the famous architect Charles Goodman wanted.

“Goodman situated the bucolic, sloping curves of the neighborhood as an intentional, organic, and communal response to the barren, rectilinear ‘crabgrass frontier’ of postwar American suburbia,” says neighborhood historian Steve Lorenz, who is also a cultural historian by profession.

Lorenz, who has lived in Rock Creek Woods with his wife and three children since 2016, says Goodman’s ultimate goal was to create a sense of being in the great outdoors.

The innovative architect was a leader in the DC area for bringing contemporary design and naturalistic site planning to the housing market. Its many neighborhoods include Hollin Hills in Fairfax County, Virginia, and many in Montgomery County, Maryland, including Hammond Wood and Wheaton Crest.

He designed the homes with large bay windows to “reflect the increased viewing of the modern television era,” says Lorenz.

“He also discouraged homeowners from building fences that would disrupt circular sightlines intended to foster closer neighborly relationships,” he adds.

Goodman’s vision for close-knit neighbors has come to fruition, according to Julie Marcis, co-chair of the Rock Creek Woods Civic Association. Marcis, who has lived in the community for 21 years, notes that in addition to the beautiful architecture, neighborhood ties are what keep many people rooted there.

“It mainly depends on the people who live here,” she says. “We’re so different and so interesting and likeable.”

The civic association sponsors many activities that bond neighbors, including a Labor Day picnic, Halloween parade and celebration, a years-old book club, and house tours and parties. popular. Marcis says covid has put a damper on some of the activities, but they have recently picked up again.

Rock Creek Woods adjoins Rock Creek Park, and homeowners use the park’s many hiking trails, dog parks, tennis courts and playgrounds, according to Sophia Hu, real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Realty in Potomac.

“We were also very lucky that the buyers of these homes weren’t interested in demolishing them,” Marcis says.

As an added incentive, homeowners receive a 20% Maryland state income tax credit for any exterior repairs that preserve the home’s original design, according to Hu.

“This includes roof repairs and maintenance of frameless windows,” she adds. “Everyone is very careful not to alter the original integrity of the Goodman architecture.”

A former public relations firm administrator, Marcis notes that she and her husband live in a three-bedroom, three-bathroom home that has undergone several renovations while retaining the look and feel of Goodman’s original design.

“There are tons of windows,” she says. “And while that reduces the amount of artwork I can hang, I don’t know if I could ever live in a house that didn’t have as much light as this one.”

The community also boasts over 100 cherry blossom trees, a natural splendor that arrives every spring.

“This is in addition to the many mature trees, shrubs and plants in each garden,” Hu says.

Sightings of deer, foxes, squirrels and owls are common, she adds.

With only 76 single-family homes, Rock Creek Woods appears to be an isolated nature preserve. The community has no driving traffic and a single entrance on Spruell Drive which also serves as the only exit.

But public transport and major roads and highways are nearby for easy connection to the rest of the region. Tucked away from Connecticut Avenue, Rock Creek Woods is a short drive from Interstates 495 and 270 and a few miles from the National Institutes of Health and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, according to Hu.

The restaurants and shops of Kensington and Silver Spring serve the community, and Kensington’s Antique Row is just five minutes away.

“During covid, neighbors saved lives,” says Marcis, who notes that over the years the neighborhood is gradually transforming with younger families.

“It’s very exciting because there are children, dogs and people having fun with each other,” she notes.

“This neighborhood will go on forever,” says Marcis. “It’s just that kind of neighborhood.”

Live there: With quality neighbors and a serene close-to-nature atmosphere, Rock Creek Woods is popular with potential buyers, Hu says, adding that no homes are on the market.

“It has a very low turnover,” she says. “Some of the original owners still live there, including one who just celebrated his 102nd birthday in May.”

In 2021, seven homes were sold, and in 2022, none sold. The average sale price for single-family homes over the past year was $957,428. The most expensive was a three-bedroom, three-bathroom home for $1.2 million. The cheapest was a five-bedroom, three-bathroom repairman that sold for $650,000.

Schools: Rock View Elementary, Newport Mill Middle and Albert Einstein High.

Transit: Rock Creek Woods is between two tube stations, Wheaton, 2.5 miles away, and Grosvenor-Strathmore, 3.5 miles on the red line. The 33 Ride On bus and the L8 Metrobus are just steps away on Connecticut Avenue.

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