There’s a running joke among residents of DC’s Foxhall Village.
“When you buy a house, they give you a pine box because that’s how you’ll be leaving,” said Scott Polk, a realtor who moved into the upscale Northwest neighborhood with his wife in the mid-1980s.
Polk has sold dozens of homes in Foxhall Village over the past few decades, so of course it’s not unheard of for people to relocate out of the community. He just notes there are a substantial number of families that stay put for generations.
Located between Palisades and Georgetown, the triangle-shaped neighborhood is largely residential with close to 350 homes inside its tight boundaries. The appeal tends to revolve around the beauty of the Tudor homes, the well-kept greenery and the fact that the neighborhood is a short bus ride or drive from downtown yet secluded enough to be off the beaten path.
“I feel as if I live in a remote village,” said Darrel Rippeteau, who also moved into the neighborhood during the 1980s. “It was a wonderful place to raise our children, now grown up and away. Kids in Foxhall Village literally have the run of the city and a green, lovely place to come home to.”
Besides families, Foxhall Village is made up of students — particularly of the graduate, medical and law school variety — employees of the World Bank and individuals and couples from various foreign countries, particularly given the proximity to the German and French embassies.
“First impressions are key, and right away I liked the styles of the houses here,” said Colleen Vebrowski, a student who rents in the neighborhood. “It’s just really quaint.”
Historical Significance Runs through the Community
The neighborhood resembles an English village, and that’s no accident. According to Polk, the inspiration is the town of Bath, which one of the original builders had visited and wanted to bring to Washington. The name Foxhall actually comes from Henry Foxhall, a friend of Thomas Jefferson who owned a farmhouse in the community and also the canon foundry west of Georgetown.
Foxhall Village homes date back to the 1920s. The very first houses were completed in 1925 on Reservoir Road and primarily targeted government workers, who tended to purchase the homes for between $7,000 and $9,000. These abodes were the creation of Harry Boss of the construction firm Boss and Phelps. A second firm, Waverly Taylor Inc., built a considerable number of houses in Foxhall Village a few years after Boss and Phelps.
According to Polk, both building firms had similar aesthetics, creating Tudor houses finished in brick, stucco and half-timbering with slate roofs and either side or front gables. Yet there are some subtle differences in their work. For instance, Waverly Taylor homes all have fireplaces while Boss and Phelps creations have a bit more architectural detail, particularly on the exteriors.
Houses “Shine Up Well”
Homes in Foxhall Village are selling these days from the mid-to-high six-figure range to over $1 million for a residence that had been retrofitted with upgrades such as a wine cellar or top-of-the-line finishes. In general, smaller houses in the neighborhood have about 525 square feet per floor, and larger homes are more in the 750 square feet per floor category.
Given that there are only about 350 homes in the entire neighborhood, the inventory of homes for sale is generally quite low. Currently, there are just six homes on the market. The number of rentals is also low, but there are some group houses that can be good options for younger residents.
In view of many of the properties in Foxhall are two well-kept circles that function like parks for area residents. One circle is on Greenwich Parkway while the other is along Q Street. There is also a large field adjacent to The Lab School of Washington that children use frequently.
Top-Notch Schools for the Now-High Number of Kids
In the 1980s, there were few children around the neighborhood, but that’s changed and youngsters are now a constant presence in Foxhall Village. To meet their educational needs, there are quite a few high-performing schools in the area, both public and private.
Key Elementary School regularly receives high marks in comparison to other DC public schools. Hardy Middle School used to be the neighborhood middle school before it moved closer to Wisconsin Avenue several years ago; it is still considered the area middle school, however.
Also held in high regard is The Lab School of Washington, along Reservoir Road, which is geared toward students of high intellect with learning disabilities who are taught through an arts-based curriculum.
Crime is Low, But So Are the Number of Restaurants
Restaurant options in Foxhall Village are limited to the sandwich and salad mecca Jetties, which has outdoor patio seating and features menu items named for Nantucket beaches. The shop on Foxhall Road is one of three area Jetties locations. One recent Trip Advisor reviewer even suggested that “half of Foxhall Village would starve” if Jetties ever disappeared.
Apart from the well-known casual eatery, neighborhood residents tend to venture to one of the surrounding communities, like Georgetown or Palisades, for shopping and other dining needs.
Crime is not a big problem, based on the assessments of Foxhall Village residents and official statistics. According to DC police statistics, the neighborhood had fewer than two dozen incidents of crime in the last year — across all categories.
The Bottom Line
Foxhall Village is a European-influenced neighborhood that has little in the way of retail but is chock-full of charming homes. If you are young and looking to be out on the town three nights a week, this is not the neighborhood for you. But if you are starting or already have a young family, you would be hard pressed to find a better fit in DC.
Dena Levitz is a freelance writer and digital strategist whose work has been featured in The Atlantic Cities, Washington Post, City Paper and Bloomberg News.