Hammond Wood, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004, has 58 Goodman-designed houses built between 1949 and 1951. According to the Maryland Historical Trust website, “Hammond Wood conveys Charles Goodman’s innovation in suburban planning in the metropolitan Washington region in the post-World War II period by telling the story of how pioneering architect/builder teams were redefining the monotonous suburban cultural landscape into enclaves that were overwhelmingly naturalistic. Hammond Wood conveys the best of Goodman’s architectural legacy.”
Distinguished homes for sale in the D.C. region
“The homes in Hammond Wood have always been really affordable for what they are,” said architect Michael Cook, who knew about this house from having lived in the neighborhood in the early 2000s.
Cook and his partners, Sidney and Derek Kowalczyk, sent a letter to the owners telling them of their interest in buying it. Cook had renovated four other Goodman houses in the cluster surrounding this house and assured the owners that he was intent on preserving the “soul of the house,” not just fixing and flipping as some developers do.
The house was not in great shape when they acquired it. The biggest challenge was that the basement windows were buried in mud, trapping moisture and rotting the window frames and support columns.
“We had no idea all of them were rotten,” Cook said. “The whole house was falling down.”
To fix the problem, they raised the structure, inserted new window frames and support columns, attached them to the foundation and added back the glass.
Another problem was rebuilding the retaining wall on the exterior. It now goes three feet underground. The wall, which cost around $20,000 to fix, was painted with a design to give it visual interest.
With the mud removed, the lower level now is a light-filled space with two bedrooms, a bathroom and a family room that opens to a patio with an outdoor fireplace. The main level has a living-dining area, kitchen, two bedrooms and a bathroom.
When designing houses, Goodman always took into consideration the topography. Houses are angled for maximum sun exposure and privacy. Trees were preserved. Grading was minimal. In this case, the house is tucked between massive oak trees.
“It’s part of this cluster of seven Goodman homes, all arranged around a downhill gully, that really displays the genius of Charles Goodman,” Cook said. “To me, it creates a built environment that really resembles California hillsides.”
Starter houses such as this one are often in jeopardy of being razed. The land tends to be more valuable than the house. For most developers, it makes more sense financially to build a new house than restore the existing one, even one designed by a famous architect. But Cook has long wanted to demonstrate that homes like this one still have value and can work for today’s families. He considers his work on these houses to be architectural restoration or historic preservation.
Cook has renovated 35 of Goodman’s houses over the years. This is the 12th mid-century modern house he has worked on with the intent to sell, and he said it may be his last.
“It just doesn’t make financial sense for us to continuing developing historic neighborhoods like Hammond Wood and [nearby, Goodman-designed] Hammond Hill because the margins simply aren’t there,” he said. “We’re competing against flippers and design-build companies that are looking to make the most money while spending the least.”
Cook will continue to work with clients on transforming their mid-century modern houses. He said he is working with 25 clients and has 10 more lined up. But his days as a developer are coming to a close. He hopes someone else will be willing to take on projects like this one.
“It’s really unfortunate that we can’t continue developing in historic neighborhoods like Hammond Wood and Hammond Hill because we feel strongly about preserving these special homes and historic neighborhoods,” he said. “To make financial sense for us, we [would need to] move into an area like McLean, but we’d like to invest in a diverse community like [Hammond Wood].”
The four-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,863-square-foot house is listed at $829,000.
- Bedrooms/bathrooms: 4/2
- Approximate square-footage: 1,860
- Lot size: 0.16 acre
- Features: The 1951 Charles Goodman-designed house in the Hammond Wood neighborhood has been restored by Cook Architecture and Price Street Construction. The kitchen has Poggenpohl cabinetry and Bosch appliances. The patio has a wood-burning fireplace.
- Listing agent: Michael Shapiro, Compass