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Variations on Charles Goodman

September 14, 2014


photo-5Last week I decided to swing by Hammond Wood, the Silver Spring development of 58 mid-century modern houses designed by Charles Goodman and built from 1949 to 1951. I had driven through once before, but this time I parked and walked around most of the neighborhood.

It’s no Hollin Hills (Goodman’s masterpiece of a subdivision in northern Virginia), but Hammond Wood is still, its listing on the National Register of Historic Places says, “historically significant as an intact, architecturally cohesive example of Charles Goodman’s merchant builder subdivisions in Montgomery County.” The listing also notes that the houses “are largely intact and the Goodman ‘form’ can be clearly distinguished; alterations generally conform to Goodman’s Contemporary palette.”

That’s mostly true. I didn’t see anything spectacularly out of character, but Hammond Wood has only been on the Register since 2004, and Wheaton has never been a destination for the kind of people who rave about mid-century design. In other words, I get the feeling that ordinary middle- and working-class people still live in the neighborhood and have added their own touches to the houses, reflecting their varied tastes, over the years. I don’t love all the alterations, but paradoxically, I find this more heartening than if every house were to exhibit faultless, Dwell magazine-approved Good Taste. The homes really are as beloved and adaptable as Goodman hoped they would be.

Here are some of the Goodman variations I spotted on my short walking tour.

photo-1Stained glass. The architect tried to give the front glass wall of every house a southern exposure, to maximize daylight.

photoPergola. The house gains a semi-sheltered outdoor space, but loses some of the horizontality of Goodman’s original design.

photo-7Solar panels (plus satellite dish).

photo-2The electricity meters stuck onto the houses aren’t attractive. Training ivy to grow over it is one solution.

photo-8A sympathetic second-story addition.

photo-6Wait, what happened here? An architect who once worked in Goodman’s studio, Harold Esten, apparently had a Philip Johnson moment and extensively redesigned the house. It’s no longer seen as contributing to the historic Goodman district. But it does have its charms. 

photo-13I call this one the all-American. It has an expanded parking pad, an altered entrance with a Home Depot-issue front door, and of course, a flag.

photo-9Where the neighborhood ends: Goodman’s house inflects to the topography and landscape. Its neighbor, not so much.


Post a comment
  1. Barbara Kellner #
    September 15, 2014

    I came to your blog through the one you did on the The Rouse Building to Whole Foods conversion and I’m glad I did. I found this article interesting. It also prompted me to write and suggest that you visit the Columbia neighborhood of The Birches in Wilde Lake. It too is a fine example of mid-century residential architecture. Techbuilt and Scholz Homes are represented here as is the work individual architects working for John Bowers builders. I would be delighted to share the resources of the Columbia Archives with you.

    • September 19, 2014

      Barbara, thank you very much. I will definitely make a trip to Wilde Lake soon!

  2. Vicki Clark #
    September 24, 2017

    I found this interesting blog entry while searching for more information on Charles Goodman. Thank you for writing it! I was inspired by the Goodman houses I visited 9/3/17 on a home tour of Highland Hills, a Goodman designed neighborhood in Richmond VA.

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