One of the benefits of Silver Spring being an older suburb is the interesting variety of pre-war homes we enjoy in some of the neighborhoods surrounding downtown. With many of these homes being one-off custom designs, you can find all sorts of unique residences, including even a white castle. As mentioned a couple weeks back, Silver Spring even has a residential pagoda, and it's for sale! (For those interested in this sort of thing, the neighborhood of Woodside Park has a self-guided walking architecture tour.)
One thing I've noticed that's somewhat unusual is that Silver Spring is home to a handful of International Style houses. Outside of Greenbelt, you won't come across many homes in this area constructed in this style. While the label "International Style" can be applied very broadly, in terms of single-family homes it is characterized by a white or gray color, cubic form, and an absense of ornamentation.
If you visit the the National Building Museum's Designing Tomorrow exhibit (and I highly recommend that you do), be sure to check out the section on the Homes of Tomorrow Exhibition at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair. The following house from that exhibit, called the "Design for Living Home", is an excellent example of an International Style house.
|Design for Living Home, 1933|
While this may have been touted as the look of the future in the 1920's and 30's, it never really took off, as most Americans preferred traditional brick homes to the stripped-down European look. Nonetheless, there are few examples in Silver Spring that I have stumbled across, demonstrating that there were at least some modernist home buyers here in years gone by.
I apologize for the quality of the photos that follow - standing out in front of people's houses and taking pictures felt a bit stalk-y, so I instead opted to utilize Street View photos from Google's worldwide stalking network.
My personal favorite of the bunch, and really one of my favorite houses in Silver Spring, is this 1938 house on Wayne avenue. I particularly like how the design incorporates an upstairs patio off what I assume is the master bedroom.
Just around the corner can be found a similar house, constructed a few years earlier in 1935. The front of the house appears to have gone through extensive modifications over the years, so it's difficult to get an good idea of the house's original appearance. On the left side of the house you can see the corner windows, one of the style's common features.
While the front of the house is partially obscured by vegetation in the above photo, an overhead view clearly shows the structure's signature flat roof.
While I like the look of flat roofs, I certainly wouldn't want to have to climb up on one and shovel off multiple feet of snow during one of our recent Snowmageddons.
There's also this 1938 house, located just off Wayne Avenue a few blocks from downtown Silver Spring. A similar house can be found next door, however modifications over the years to that one have led to it having a pitched rather than flat roof.
I do love the lime green door.
This style may not be for everyone, and the lack of ornamentation may be completely anathema to many in today's McMansionized society, however I think it's nice that some examples from this relatively brief period in architectural history have been preserved here in Silver Spring.
If you've got more examples that you've come across, let me know and perhaps I'll append those homes to the post.
As Rebecca pointed out in the comments, there's a nice example in the District on Portal Drive, just steps from Silver Spring. This one sold for a cool $1.15 million a couple years back.
(I have to admit, I never knew that neighborhood was called Colonial Village.)
And here's another one in DC, just a block away. Bonus mod points: they have an Avanti!
I came across this 1937 Washington Post article describing some 'modernistic' home being exhibited at the time in Silver Spring, yet I have no idea where this location is. There is neither a Montgomery Avenue nor a Montgomery Court in present-day Silver Spring.