Door To Door: Columbia Forest, Va. And Brookeville, Md. | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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Door To Door: Columbia Forest, Va. And Brookeville, Md.

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Oakley Cabin in Brookville, Md.
Wikipedia Commons: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brookeville,_Maryland
Oakley Cabin in Brookville, Md.

It's our weekly trip around the region. This week, we'll visit Brookville, Md., and the Columbia Forest neighborhood of Arlington, Va.

Columbia Forest in Arlington, Va.

Columbia Forest started as a planned community built in 1941 to house workers at the nearby Pentagon. According to 51-year-old resident Shari Lewis, the Army Corps of Engineers designed the houses and supervised their construction.

"The street layout was designed to conform to the topography, and so it has lots of curved streets, cul-de-sacs and park areas," she says. "And they made an effort to save the existing trees, so it gave the impression of a much more permanent, mature community. And we have a beautiful canopy of trees as a result."

Lewis says that Columbia Forest, like a lot of Arlington County, was once owned by George Washington. "So we have a lot of fun telling friends who visit that they're on land George Washington once owned."

Besides thoughtful design and a famous former owner, Lewis likes Columbia Forest's affordability. "A lot of people want a detached home, and they can afford one here because they are still so compact and small, but still nice and beautifully built."

Lewis says that walkability and affordability make Columbia Forest a hidden gem.

"We have grocery stores within walking distance. We have the high school pool within walking distance. We have parks within walking distance. We have bicycle trails within walking distance. We have all this stuff, and that's not easy to find in an affordable, nice neighborhood this close to D.C."

Brookeville, Md.

Brookeville, Md. is perhaps best known for its motto: "United States Capital For A Day." Learn more about that history here. But long-time resident Karen Montgomery says that there's much more to the town's history.

Brookeville was settled by Quakers in the late 18th century, and Montgomery says the town wouldn't be what it was today without Quakers.

"Brookeville would not have had a post office," she explains. "Brookeville would not have had the schools it had if it had not been a Quaker town."

The Quaker religious tradition also led to a somewhat unorthodox policy toward African-Americans. "It was a town," Montgomery says, "that educated all of its slaves and ex-slaves, because the town believed in educating everyone — white or black."

And according to Montgomery, Brookeville continues to attract "somewhat eccentric people who are interested in education."

As larger cities have grown up around Brookeville, the town has struggled to maintain its traditions in the face of modernity. But Montgomery believes the future is bright for Brookeville.

"I see the town becoming a spot where oldness is respected, but not revered for its own sake," she says. "The houses need to be preserved, but the intellectual stimulation needs to continue, and move forward."

[Music: "No, Girl" by John Davis from Title Tracks / "Moving In" by Eric Shimelonis]

Explore previously featured neighborhoods on our Door to Door map:

This map shows previous Door to Door segments, and includes links to photos and show audio. The yellow marker represents neighborhoods featured in Washington, D.C., the blue represents neighborhoods in Maryland, and the red represents neighborhoods in Virginia.

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