Francis Campbell, a resident who grew up in Hill East, has lived on the same block since 1977. When Campbell was growing up, 15th Street SE was lined with businesses; today it is mostly residential. There are more retail options on Pennsylvania Avenue, like Mangialardo’s sandwich shop or local watering hole Trusty’s.
Recently, the Roost, a “culinary clubhouse” on the first floor of the newly developed Blackbird apartment complex at 1401 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, has begun to pull nonresidents into the neighborhood, said Fulcrum Properties Group real estate agent Ty Voyles. More foot traffic is expected following the development of Reservation 13, a 67-acre parcel of land between the Stadium-Armory Metro station and the Anacostia River. In 2008, Mayor Adrian Fenty promised residents a “vibrant, mixed-use urban waterfront community.” But development stalled during the Great Recession. The latest proposal, which would bring more than 2,000 residential units, retail space, a hotel and a park to the neighborhood, is pending D.C. Council approval.
D.C. chooses development plan for Reservation 13
The residential streets of Hill East remain largely unchanged. All the houses on his block, Campbell said, were here when he was growing up. Built in the early 20th century, the houses are mostly flat-front Federal rowhouses and Wardman rowhouses with full-width front porches. Harry Wardman was one of the District’s most successful developers in his time and developed large parts of Northwest.
Only a few blocks of Hill East near Lincoln Park fall within the Capitol Hill Historic District, leaving most of the neighborhood open to architectural changes, such as third-story additions. Most homes have lawns and some have off-street parking or carriage houses/garages. The neighborhood also has several small apartment buildings.
Voyles estimates that there are half a dozen community gardens in Hill East in the alleys behind the rowhouses.
“There are these little pockets that are tucked [away],” Voyles said. “It creates an additional space for people to get together, collaborate and know their neighbors.”
Children also play in the alleys. The Vanderdrays, who moved to the neighborhood from Capitol Hill in 2020, say their son now plays with the neighborhood children there rather than Lincoln Park. They were drawn to the neighborhood for the house, a renovated Wardman, which they bought sight unseen. Lindsey Vanderdray had been looking for a Wardman and, knowing how quickly homes were selling then, decided to go for it just based on the pictures.
“It didn’t feel as ‘rabbit-warreny’ as some of the Wardmans do,” she said.
Vanderdray said her home’s proximity to the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail was another benefit.
“We’re right there and, especially in this pandemic, I can go out and take the dog for a good long walk along the riverfront, which I couldn’t really do before,” she said.
When the weather is nice, their son will ride his bicycle up the same trail to soccer practice at the Fields by RFK, and the family will ride down to the Capitol Riverfront to watch the Washington Nationals or D.C. United play.
For a fee, neighborhood dog owners can bring their dogs to romp around at Congressional Cemetery at 1801 E St. SE. Proceeds help maintain the site where notable figures, including former D.C. mayor Marion Barry, former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover and composer John Philip Sousa, are buried.
Voyles not only sells houses in Hill East, he lives there, moving to the neighborhood in 2009, because of its affordability and location.
“I know all of my neighbors,” Voyles said. “I have a pretty deep relationship with each one of them, more so than just saying, ‘Hi,’ as you walk by. I could go house by house and tell you the name of every single person that lives there.”
Campbell maintains a similar rapport with his neighbors, several of whom trust him with their house keys.
“It harkens back to 50, 60, 70 years ago,” Campbell said.
Each Halloween, Campbell said, the family likes to go all out for the holiday, wearing costumes and turning the front lawn into a graveyard scene. Before the pandemic, Campbell estimates hundreds of trick-or-treaters arrived at their door.
Voyles sees many houses every year but none have drawn him from Hill East.
“There are houses that I see, things that I experience that make me say, ‘I’d love to live here,’ ” Voyle said. “But, I come home and I forget about all of that.”
Living there: According to Voyles, the neighborhood is bounded by C Street NE to the north, the Anacostia River to the east and the south, and 13th Street NE and SE to the west.
Voyles said 220 homes have sold in Hill East in the past nine months — 133 rowhouses and 87 condos. Rowhouse sales ranged from a four-bedroom, three-bathroom house for $2.3 million to a three-bedroom, one-bathroom house for $650,000. Condos ranged from a three-bedroom, three-bathroom home for $1.1 million to a one-bathroom studio for $270,000. The median home sales price for single-family rowhouses was $925,000; for condos, it was $495,000.
There are six rowhouses and eight condos for sale. Rowhouses range from a five-bedroom, three-bathroom rowhouse for $1.8 million to three-bedroom and one-bathroom rowhouse for $699,900. Condos range from a three-bedroom, two-bathroom condo for $995,000 to a one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo for $300,000.
Schools: Watkins, Maury, Peabody and Payne Elementary; Stuart-Hobson and Eliot-Hine Middle; Eastern High.
Transit: Closest Metro stations are Stadium Armory and Potomac Avenue (Blue, Orange and Silver Lines). Metrobus has service in the area along Pennsylvania Avenue and C Street. Capital Bikeshare has four stations in the area.
If you’d like your neighborhood featured in Where We Live, email firstname.lastname@example.org.