Bannockburn: An ‘eclectic mix of houses’ on rolling hills

Business,Kris Antonelli
Erin Cahill was watching a holiday pageant at the Bannockburn Cooperative Pre-School when her eyes wandered from the stage to the faces of the other parents around the room.
“I realized that I had made my closest friends here,” said Cahill, who moved with her husband to the Bethesda community between River Road and MacArthur Boulevard about four years ago. “If we hadn’t moved to Bannockburn I would never have met them.”
That intimate atmosphere, born in the late 1940s when the first homes were built on the rolling hills of the former Bannockburn Golf Club, and cultivated by the first residents who formed the Bannockburn Cooperative Community, is the enclave’s main draw.
“We found the neighborhood through some friends,” Cahill said. “We would come and visit them and we just fell in love with the place. It’s a real neighborhood where people know each other and say hello and all the kids play together.”

The original architects wanted to build homes that were incorporated into the rolling hills of the golf course. They built small ranchers and split-levels that took advantage of the views the varied terrain offered. Over the years, residents built on to the original designs or tore homes down to make room for new construction on the lots.
“The result is sort of an eclectic mix of houses,” said Diana Keeling, a local Realtor who has lived in the neighborhood since 1982. “And while we are so close to Washington, the community is so secluded and tucked back from the main roads that you wouldn’t notice it unless you knew it was here.”
The newest project in the neighborhood is a Net Zero Energy House — a house that produces as much energy as it consumes by using solar panels and thermal collectors to draw in energy and top-of-the-line energy efficient appliances and insulation to conserve energy. It is to be built on an empty lot on West Halbert Road. Chevy Chase architects Meditch Murphey designed the two-story, five bedroom home, which includes an au pair suite and two-car garage, to blend into the architecture of the rest of the neighborhood.
“Being green and civic-minded is an important part of Bannockburn,” said Kate Horwitz, president of the Bannockburn Civic Association.
Lidie Greenwald and her husband Matt were drawn to Bannockburn by this kind of civic activism. While the original cooperative disbanded years ago, the spirit remains in the preschool, the co-op grocery store and the community pools.
“We love the fact that there is a good mix of old and new families, couples with and without children,” said Lidie, the mother of four. “We have a great old house that we have made some additions to, and we love the preschool — and the public schools are very good here.”
Horwitz sums it up like this: “This is a screaming liberal town,” she said. “There are people here that care about the environment and are consistently involved in the community. This is a fabulous place to live.”
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