The Washington Post
This neighborhood of mid-century modern homes is ideal for people who love 1960s retro charm.
Residents cherish their mid-century modern homes, woodsy enclave
Turning 60 looks good on Carderock Springs, the West Bethesda neighborhood known for its 400 mid-century modern homes that only get better with age.
Built in 1962 by developer Edmund Bennett and designed by noted D.C. architects Keyes, Lethbridge & Condon, the neighborhood was designed to stand out from its Colonial neighbors. No center hallways, symmetrical floor plans or multipaned windows here. Houses feature front balconies with wooden or metal railings and large windows just made to show off those Nelson bubble lamps. The neighborhood arrived on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008, as if to say: We know we’re cool and we don’t need to be flashy about it.
Today, 575 homes comprise the Carderock Springs Citizens Association, which includes the original subdivision and surrounding neighborhoods with different architectural styles, said association president Jack Orrick, who has lived in the neighborhood for 32 years. The attorney and his wife, Margie, a database administrator, “liked the look and feel with modern, clean design,” he said.
The original subdivision has nine floor plans, each designed to fit the topography of the lot. The neighborhood is hilly and full of trees but no sidewalks. Streets were built around trees where possible.
“The roads aren’t in a grid, they meander,” Margie Orrick said.
But what the Orricks most wanted for themselves and their three now-grown children had nothing to do with architecture.
“We were looking for a community,” she said. “D.C. is very transient, and there are many neighborhoods where people don’t know each other. This isn’t one of them.”
When Shannon Lindstrom moved to Carderock Springs 14 years ago, it wasn’t because of the horizontal lines and intentional unstuffiness of mid-century architecture. She and her husband, Michael, were looking for proximity to his finance job in Northern Virginia.
“I didn’t want to live in a mid-century modern house but now that I live in one, I don’t think I could live in another kind of house,” said the speech therapist.
The Lindstroms and their four sons, ages 13 to 20, have made the Carderock Springs Swim and Tennis Club their family project. Shannon runs the swim and dive programs. Michael inputs data for swim meets, and all their boys have participated in or worked for the club, which is available to residents for paid memberships.
“The club becomes the place where kids have their first jobs as lifeguards or dive coaches or working the front desk,” Shannon said. “Little kids see the older kids around the pool and grow up wanting to do that.”
Two families with younger children echo the sentiments of the longtime residents. Real estate agent Karen Ringo and her architect husband, Cory, loved the interplay among windows, skylights, sliding-glass doors and outdoor spaces, and even critters (foxes, deer, raccoons and more). They moved from an industrial condo building in the Brookland neighborhood of Northeast Washington nearly four years ago. At 5,000 square feet, their five-bedroom, five-bathroom house has room to grow for their daughters, ages 5 and 7. The house has plenty of retro charm, including vintage Thermador ovens with push-button controls and classic mid-century pink bathroom tiles. Still, Ringo says, they’re looking forward to an extensive renovation they hope to begin early next year.
“Everything will get touched,” she said.
When government employees Ashish and Anne Goel were ready to upgrade from their one-bedroom condo in downtown Bethesda three years ago, they knew they wanted a modern style and Bethesda schools. They loved Carderock Springs’ country feel so close to the city. Their three outdoor spaces — a spacious back deck, front balcony and screenedin porch — give the couple and their children (daughter Artemis, who turns 2 on Saturday, and Apollo, who is 3) constant living and remote work opportunities inside and outside the house.
“There’s definitely a different feel when you enter this neighborhood,” Ashish said. “We’ve had guests who say our yard is like a vacation resort.”
Anne agreed: “It’s not your typical manicured suburban lawn. It’s more woodsy, not something you’d expect for being so close to D.C.”
Living there: Carderock Springs is bounded roughly by River Road and Cabin John Park to the northeast; Congressional Country Club to the northwest and Persimmon Tree Road to the west and southwest. The southern and southeast border follows a circuitous route from Persimmon Tree Court to Seven Locks Road.
In the past 12 months, 24 homes have sold, according to Ringo, who is with Compass Real Estate. Prices ranged from $905,000 for a five-bedroom, three-bathroom house built in 1964 to $1.6 million for a five-bedroom, five-bathroom house built in 1988. The average sales price is $1.1 million. No houses are currently on the market.
The Carderock Springs Citizens Association has voluntary dues of $50 annually, which support maintenance of common areas, some social events, such as a newcomers’ potluck (this year on Sept. 26), and advocacy on neighborhood issues such as noise abatement along Beltway frontage. The neighborhood is about 2½ miles from the C&O Canal and the Clara Barton Parkway trails.
Schools: Carderock Springs Elementary, Thomas W. Pyle Middle, Walt Whitman High.
Transit: The closest Metro stations are Bethesda, 5.3 miles away, and Friendship Heights, 6.2 miles away, on the Red Line. Metrobuses run along River and Persimmon Tree roads.