Takoma Park – Washington DC

Takoma Park Historic District, view along Piney Branch Rd.
NPS Photo

Takoma Park was founded and developed as a suburb by Benjamin F. Gilbert in 1883. Takoma Park was the first commuter suburb in the area and was originally located on approximately 100 acres of land around the B & O Railroad tracks. Gilbert, in planning his suburb, ignored jurisdictional lines, and the original town of Takoma Park thus is located in the District of Columbia, Prince George’s and Montgomery County, Maryland. (Part of Takoma Park, Maryland, has been designated a historic district and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places).

When Gilbert selected this site, few roads extended north from Washington city, and during the first few years of its existence, Takoma Park depended almost entirely on the steam railroad for the movement of goods and people. Takoma Park was advertised as being located high above the swampy, malaria-ridden Washington City, and possessing such amenities as fresh spring water and beautiful cottages and villas surrounded by spacious, landscaped lawns. The residences of Takoma Park were within walking distance of the train station.

The styles of architecture which highlight the development of this community can be described generally as follows: (1) the earliest houses were primarily combinations of Shingle and Stick styles and Pattern Book or Victorian cottages or variations of Queen Anne cottages. These houses are mainly of frame and shingle construction with asymmetrical massing and flowing roofs and exhibit a variety of design detail in the treatment of porch piers and balustrades, cornice detailing and trim. Some examples are: 7130 Chestnut Street, 600, 535, 517 and 208 Cedar Street; (2) the turn-of-the-century Transitional house, frequently with Colonial Revival details was popular during this period. The facades are frequently symmetrically ordered with Colonial Revival details such as Doric or Ionic piers and period window detail. Some examples can be found at 516 Cedar Street and 521 Butternut Street; (3) the bungalow, a style derivative of 19th-century British Colonial architecture in India, was a popular style and is characterized by a low house with veranda and broad overhanging gables. Some examples of bungalow variations can be found at 7106 Piney Branch Road, 202 Cedar Street, and 410 Aspen Street.

Takoma Park is roughly bounded by Aspen St., NW, on the south; Piney Branch Rd., NW, and 7th St., NW, on the west; and Eastern Ave., NW, on the northeast. The buildings described are private and not open to the public. Metro stop: Takoma