Door to Door: Kentlands, Md. and Glen Carlyn, Va. | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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Door to Door: Kentlands, Md. and Glen Carlyn, Va.

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Steve Erickson stands in front of the Carlin Hall in Arlington, Va.
John Hines
Steve Erickson stands in front of the Carlin Hall in Arlington, Va.

In WAMU's weekly trip around the region, we visit Kentlands, Md., and the Glencarlyn neighborhood in Arlington, Va.

Glencarlyn, Va.

If you drive along Carlin Springs Road just south of Route 50 in Arlington, you probably wouldn't guess that within the Glencarlyn neighborhood sits a log cabin that is Arlington County's oldest standing structure, known as the John Ball House.

"The oldest standing structure in Arlington — the oldest house — is here in the neighborhood, about a block and a half from where I live.  It is the John Ball House and originally the structure was a log cabin, and actually they have preserved that part of the structure and you can see that.  You can take tours of it," says resident Steve Erickson. 

Like many old neighborhoods around D.C., there's a connection to that famous Virginia land speculator and statesman, George Washington.  While he probably never lived on any of his land in Glencarlyn, George Washington could well have slept there while he was surveying it. 

"We have some of the surveyor marks on a tree or a portion of the tree to mark his original land.  He purchased some of the land in this neighborhood or around this neighborhood," says Erickson. 

Glencarlyn may have a rich history and a connection to our famous first President, but it is also a modern and desirable neighborhood, convenient to Washington, the Ballston area of Arlington and the Seven Corners shopping area.   

"Glencarlyn is really an ideal place to live because it's a combination of a very modern neighborhood that has access to lots of shopping and lots of entertainment, access to the Ballston area, access to shopping at seven corners and all of the urbane things that are in this area.  It's also a very old neighborhood with lots of history--lots of folks who have lived here for a long time.  So I think it's a good combination between the two," Erickson says.

Kentlands, Md.

About 25 years ago, some developers and architects decided to reimagine the "suburb."  They bought  several hundred acres of Gaithersburg farmland and created something called a "new urbanist community" but gave it the vaguely old English-sounding name Kentlands, in honor of a nearby farm.  Today, Neil Harris lives above a store front on one of its main streets. 

"There are rows of store fronts with residences and office spaces up above.  So I own a live-works building where the retail space used to be the office of the company I work with."  

Harris's short, walkable commute was precisely what the designers of Kentlands had in mind.  The idea was to design a community with everything nearby, rather than sprawling out, as most suburbs are designed.

"The community is very walkable.  It's really built to be like a small town in the suburbs where it's self-contained.  There's a shopping district.  There are residential areas and it's very easy to get from one point to another, and as you walk down the street, you typically will see people you know and say hello and maybe go have a cup of coffee or a glass of wine or whatever.  It's really a very strong sense of community compared to other places in the suburbs that I have lived over the years."

Community, friends, closeness, walkability--these are what draw and keep people in the Kentlands.  And Harris plans to be one of those people who stick around Kentlands for a long time. 

"I've grown roots here and I love it and I'm never leaving.   I have friends and neighbors and you can't replace that sort of feeling.  There are probably 50 or 100 people that I know on a first name basis in this neighborhood that I am happy to see when I walk down the street."

"No, Girl" by John Davis from Title Tracks / "One Love/People Get Ready" by Tom Ball, Bob Nichols, and David West from Pickin' on Bob Marley

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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