Friday, July 1, 2016

Forgotten subdivisions of Woodmoor

Last week we wrote about Indian Spring Village, a subdivision that comprises about half of the Woodmoor neighborhood.  This week, we'll look at some of the smaller subdivisions that are also part of Woodmoor.  There are five of them: Indian Spring Highlands, Indian Spring Knolls, North Takoma Highlands, Warrenton Village, and Franklin Knolls.  Each one is shown on the interactive map below.

Let's begin with Indian Spring Highlands.  This subdivision consists of Branch Drive, Bieber Place, and a few homes fronting Saint Lawrence and Brookmoor.  The homes in this area were built between 1952 and 1960, with the ones on Bieber Place and the 300 block of Branch Drive predating the 400 block of Branch by several years (this is why the 400 block of Branch Dr has sidewalks, as many younger subdivisions do).  There isn't much information about smaller subdivisions like these, but it's possible to piece together things like age and boundaries using property records and historic aerial images.    

Indian Spring Highlands.  Click to expand.  Base image from Google Earth.

Bieber Place in Indian Spring Highlands.  Photo by the author.

Indian Spring Highlands in 1963.  The newer homes on Branch Drive stand out due to their lightly colored roofs.  Image from the US Geological Survey.

The other subdivision sharing the "Indian Spring" name is Indian Spring Knolls.  This subdivision includes the area bounded by Woodmoor Drive, Saint Bernadette's, and Saint Lawrence Drive.  It contains 17 homes, and the shortest street in Woodmoor (Rockdale Drive).  It was built between 1940 and 1950.  While small, this subdivision contains a decent variety of homes, with Cape Cods, Colonials, and other styles.

Indian Spring Knolls.  Base image from Google Earth.  Click to expand.

Indian Spring Knolls is adjacent to North Takoma Highlands, the smallest subdivision in the neighborhood.  With just 8 homes, it consists of the houses on the odd-numbered 100 block of Saint Lawrence Drive (201 Saint Lawrence is part of Indian Spring Knolls).  It's a bit strange that "Takoma" was used in the name of this development, since Takoma Park is about 3 miles to our south, and nothing else around Four Corners uses "Takoma" in the name.  This subdivision was built between 1937 and 1951.      

North Takoma Highlands.  Image from Google Earth,  Click to expand.

Near the present-day interchange of the Beltway and University Boulevard is Warrenton Village.  This subdivision includes the 300 block of Waterford Drive, along with Nassau Lane and South Waterford Drive.  This subdivision was partially destroyed during the construction of the Beltway in the early 1960's, having been originally built in 1940 (the stretch of the Beltway adjacent to the community opened in 1964).  The homes in this subdivisions are Colonials in the older part along Waterford, and split-levels along Nassau Lane and South Waterford Drive, which were built in 1961.

Warrenton Village.  Image from Google Earth.  Click to expand.

Colonials on Waterford Drive in Warrenton Village.  Photo by the author.

The lost homes Warrenton Village is the only piece of modern-day Woodmoor to be destroyed by the construction of the Capital Beltway.  The subdivision lost 16 tracts to the highway (or more appropriately, the interchange, since none of the Beltway itself touches the former lots).  Judging from historic photos, it looks like at least 5 houses were torn down to make space for the interchange.

Warrenton Village in 1957.  The intersection at top is Waterford Road and Merwood Drive (still existent).  University Boulevard is  the two lane road at left running diagonally.  I don't know the name of the short street at center (connecting University to Merwood), as it was completely destroyed when the Beltway was built and only existed for about 20 years.  
Warrenton Village in 2015, from the same extent as the 1957 image.  

The final subdivision composing Woodmoor which wasn't built as part of Woodmoor is Franklin Knolls.  Today, most of Franklin Knolls is inside the Beltway, but part of the subdivision is outside the Beltway.  The subdivision is officially "Franklin Knolls Section 2", and it consists of the 400 and 500 blocks of Waterford Drive, as well as the end of Cherry Tree Lane from Waterford to the court.  With over 70 homes, it is the third biggest subdivision in the neighborhood after Woodmoor and Indian Spring Village.

Franklin Knolls.  Image from Google Earth.  Click to expand.
The 9800 block of Cherry Tree Lane in Franklin Knolls.  Photo by the author.

This part of Franklin Knolls was platted in 1956, with construction happening shortly thereafter.  It is noticeably newer than the rest of Woodmoor, as evidenced by the architecture (split-level homes, which only became popular in the mid-1950's), and the presence of sidewalks, which tend not to be in subdivisions that were developed or platted prior to the 1950's.  An interesting fact about Franklin Knolls is that it was developed by the Cafritz Construction Company, a company which remains a large developer in the D.C. area to this day.  

Franklin Knolls and Warrenton Village in 1963.  The roof color again reveals which homes are newer.  Also note the lack of trees or any discernible vegetation around the newest homes.  Image from the US Geological Survey.

The subdivision was complete by 1962, when Cherry Tree Lane was completed between Waterford and Whitestone after a brief protest from the Pinecrest Citizens Association concerning increased traffic.  This short link of Cherry Tree was the last street built in present day Woodmoor.  Aside from a handful of infill homes in the neighborhood, Woodmoor has essentially been built-out for 54 years. 

If you have any additional information about these subdivisions, feel free to add it in the comments.  


  1. North Takoma Highlands was the 1936 resubdivision of the original subdivision of the area, also named North Takoma Highlands, platted nearly twenty-five years earlier. A clue to its owner's identity was the road that made up its eastern boundary, Matthews Avenue - today's St. Lawrence Drive. Elwood Matthews was murdered that same year by the Read-Gingell gang.
    Ken Hawkins

  2. This may be a bit off topic, but when remembering Indian Springs, let's not forget Four Corners' first food store, "The Indian Springs Market". As I recall the Market was constructed of the same stone siding as the neighboring Stone House Inn. Both buildings were replaced by the 7-11 and Jerry's Subs. By the late '50s and early '60s, a man of Greek heritage, (Nick?) ran the store single-handedly. The grocer managed to coexist with the near-by Acme Market and the Woodmoor Deli and Federal Market in the shopping strip, but quickly failed once Safeway first opened their doors around 1963.

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