Door To Door: McLean Hamlet, Va. and Cottage City, Md. | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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Door To Door: McLean Hamlet, Va. and Cottage City, Md.

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Cottages in Cottage City, Md.
Cottages in Cottage City, Md.

McLean Hamlet, Va.

Virginia’s McLean Hamlet is all about location, location, location, according to 63 year-old Alan Holmar.

“We are so close to Tysons Corner, [and] very soon we are going to be close to two Metro stops,” he says. “Depending on the time of day, we are not that bad a commute to Washington, D.C.”

McLean Hamlet’s location — near Tyson’s Corner and the Dulles Toll Road — is important, but Holmar says it has an interesting history, too. “There were ten different builders that came in, all with different kind of architects, so there are many different types of homes here. They also planted 3,500 trees, so as you go around or look out my back yard window right now… [There are] thousands of huge trees all over the place.”

Trees and the varied architectural styles make McLean Hamlet unique in the area, but so too does its name — hamlet. “All of the streets are named after some connection with Shakespeare. For example, I live on Falstaff Court, which is just off Falstaff Road. And there’s Macbeth Street and Burnham Wood, and Elsinore, Dunsinane, and on and on.”

Affinity for the Bard aside, Holmar believes that the sense of community is ultimately what keeps people from leaving McLean Hamlet.

“If I had to cite one thing, it’s just the wonderful sense of community that people have here as a part of McLean Hamlet either with the local neighborhood pool or being so close to the schools. We really are eager to collaborate together to make our neighborhood as good and neighborly as it can possibly be.”

Cottage City, MD

It doesn’t take long to figure out how the Maryland community known as Cottage City got its unusual moniker.

“Cottage City got its name from the cottage-style houses that were built,” says resident Patricia Gross. “They were pre-fabricated houses bought from Sears Roebuck in the late 1900s.”

Though some cottages have been torn down and replaced and others renovated, many remain in Cottage City, making it a desirable and affordable place to live.

Gross says Cottage City — which hugs the stretch of Bladensburg Road between Washington, D.C. and the Anacostia River — was incorporated in 1924, but its history goes back further than that. “Cottage City is also part of the location of the Battle of Bladensburg during the War of 1812.”

The community was also favored as a retreat by at least one president. “President Ulysses S. Grant stayed at a summer retreat known as Friendship House here," she says. "That building no longer exists, but it is now an apartment on 38th Avenue and Parkwood Street.”

Famous visitors notwithstanding, Gross likes the simplicity of the neighborhood — including its quiet streets and friendly neighbors.

“I love the tree-lined streets and the nice neighborhood. The people are very friendly,” she says.

[Music: "No, Girl" by John Davis from Title Tracks / "Daydream Believer" by Lord Sitar from Ultra-Lounge]

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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