Foxhall Village Historic District
Built to be “a village in the city,” the distinctively styled row houses of Foxhall Village make up one of DC’s oldest and largest planned developments.
Constructed between 1925 and 1935, the houses of the Foxhall Village Historic District form a cohesive community of Tudor Revival-style homes that emulate the image of a traditional English village.
The land on which Foxhall Village was built had previously been the site of Spring Hill Farm, which was the summer retreat of Columbia Foundry owner and onetime Georgetown mayor Henry Foxall. Well-connected in DC society, Foxall entertained many important figures at Spring Hill Farm, including Presidents Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe.
Many decades later, after the land had been sold and subdivided, Harry K. Boss returned from a trip to England with an inspiration for a new development in Northwest DC. In the aftermath of World War I, the relationship between the U.S. and England had grown stronger, and the two countries often sought to emulate each other. Boss’ vision employed the Tudor Revival style that was already popular across the U.S. thoroughly enough to create an entire village that resembled the English towns he had visited.
The community now known collectively as Foxhall Village began as three separate developments. Boss, with Herbert Phelps (as Boss and Phelps, Inc.) constructed 190 row houses between 1925 and 1930 for a community they named Foxhall Village. (Over the years, Henry Foxall’s name had sometimes been recorded as “Foxhall”; Boss and Phelps went with this version, and the added “h” has stuck.) Waverly Taylor, Inc. started work on an adjacent development called Foxall Village in 1928 and built 106 houses, and Cooper Lightbown and Son built six additional homes in an area they called Foxhall Heights. The three developers designed their houses to be intentionally harmonious with each other, which gives the historic district of today its cohesive appearance.
All of the houses built as part of these developments represent variations of Tudor Revival style, as does the single commercial building in the district. In order to add variety, the developers employed several architectural elements typical of Tudor Revival style in different combinations, with different roof treatments, windows, and entrances to make each house distinctive. The houses all share the same basic style, however, built of brick and stucco with decorative brickwork and half-timbered designs. Slate roofs with gables and dormers, decorative chimney pots, and wooden front doors contribute to the unique style of the neighborhood.
To recreate the feeling of a traditional village, developers grouped the dwellings differently from other row house developments of the time. Rather than imposing a grid system on the neighborhood, developers designed a street plan that followed the natural topography of the land. In fact, the developers paid equal attention to architecture and landscape planning, creating landscaped traffic circles and terraced properties with brick retaining walls. Advertised as “a village in the city,” Foxhall Village earned acclaim and even awards for its romantic, Old-World sensibilities, which helped to create the appearance of a quiet and remote neighborhood despite its proximity to the center of the city.
Although the district was built as three developments, a cohesive Foxhall Village community grew quickly. The formation of the Society of Little Gardens in 1927 joined residents interested in developing gardens and maintaining landscaping in the neighborhood, and the Foxhall Village Citizens Association, originally made up only of residents of Boss and Phelps' development, began admitting residents of Waverly Taylor’s Foxall Village in 1932. The opening of the Hardy School in 1934 helped to further develop the sense of community, bringing the neighborhood closer to being the village Boss had envisioned.
In subsequent decades, the fabric of Foxhall Village has seen remarkably little alteration. Now a designated historic district, the Tudor Revival-style neighborhood remains a model of an English village in Northwest DC.
DC Inventory: July 26, 2007
National Register: November 29, 2007