Photo: Home on Martha's Road, Hollin Hills Historic District, Fairfax County, VA. The Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013. Photograph by EHT Traceries, 2012, for nomination document, Hollin Hills Historic District, Arlington, Fairfax County, VA, NR# 13000807, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places.
The Hollin Hills Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013. Portions of the text below were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [‡]
The Hollin Hills Historic District is a residential neighborhood set within a 326-acre wooded landscape of Fairfax County, Virginia. The historic district is composed of the entire neighborhood, capturing the 1946 and 1956 development phases that continued until 1971. The subdivision plan has irregularly shaped lots that embrace the natural topography, winding streets and cui-de-sacs, and communal parks and woodlands that provide shade, privacy, and outdoor space. The development was intentionally designed to be a part of the landscape, marrying the modern houses with the existing topographical patterns. A product of the Modern Movement, the buildings were created from standardized plans with prefabricated modular elements and window walls that unite the interior with the outdoors.
One of the most identifiable facets of the houses is the contiguous series of floor-to-ceiling, 3-foot-wide window modules, which are free of traditional ornamentation. As architect Charles M. Goodman experimented with his house designs and trimless modular windows, the window areas were enlarged, often grouped to extend nearly the full length of an elevation while carrying the weight of the roof. The geometric forms allow the structural skeleton to be exposed, with both interior and exterior walls treated as subordinate screening elements, while uniting the interior with the outdoors. Interior living space flows to exterior decks or patios, adding a commodious feeling to modest-sized rooms. The open floor plans, lacking walls between public rooms and often providing vistas from one end of the house to the other, make the interior seem more spacious than dimensions suggest. The modern designs were covered by low-sloped gable roofs with overhanging eaves, flat roofs, or butterfly roofs (low-sloped V-shaped roofs). The shallow pitch of the roofs ensures horizontality, allowing the buildings to lie within rather than on top of the landscape. Essential to the success of the design and siting of the houses was the preservation of the natural topography. With Goodman, developer/builder Robert C. Davenport, and landscape architect Lou Bernard Voigt directing the residential development's overall site plan, streets and lots were laid out to respect the steep contours of the wooded land, and several community parks were created buffering and bisecting the neighborhood. Voigt, followed by fellow landscape architects, Daniel Urban Kiley and Eric Paepcke, provided property owners with individual plans that accented natural features of the landscape while highlighting their dwellings' modern design. There is no documentation or physical evidence to confirm if any of these individual plans were in fact executed or are still extant as designed, but many of the drawings exist to document the proposed designs. Each house was sited individually to minimize its impact on the landscape and provide for maximum privacy from adjacent houses. The visual sharing of space between lots, between interior rooms and the outdoors, and between rooms of the house is one of the important and unique design features of the neighborhood.
The Hollin Hills site plan, which continues to be an essential feature of the historic district and is counted as a contributing structure, began in 1946 following the purchase of 225 acres of land. The successful neighborhood was expanded in 1956 by the addition of 101 acres located to the southwest of the original tract. The development was designed to work with the landscape, rather than alter it. The plan for the neighborhood, as well as for individual lots, emphasized the existing topographical patterns, preserved trees where possible, and included the creation of parks and preservation of forested lands that followed the natural watercourses.
These open communal spaces, listed as contributing sites, include Paul Spring Park, Voigt Memorial Park, Charles Goodman Park, and Brickelmaier Park, as well as the Wildlife Sanctuary. Although referred to as parks, these are forested common areas composed of "a diverse ecosystem of canopy trees, understory planning, and fauna of varying types, that provide an enriched habitat for wildlife and social setting for residents." Paul Spring Park is a 6.38-acre linear park that fronts the north side of Paul Spring Road. Located at the northern end of the historic district, the park extends from Fort Hunt Road to Rebecca Drive, serving as a nature walk and jogging path along the creek. Voigt Memorial Park is named after landscape architect Lou Bernard Voigt, who was instrumental in the overall neighborhood site plan and responsible for many of the individual property landscape plans; the park was originally known as Rippon Park but renamed in 1954. The rectangular-shaped park, which is 3.41 acres, is located along Fort Hunt Road at the eastern edge of Hollin Hills, abutting the swim club. Charles Goodman Park is named after the neighborhood's master architect and planner. The linear park, consisting of slightly more than one acre, meanders roughly north-south from Paul Spring Road to Martha's Road. One of the original areas designed as a park and deeded to the Civic Association in 1956, the park was initially known as East Stafford Park; it was renamed in 1992. Similarly, Brickelmaier Park runs north-south from Paul Spring Road to Popkins Lane. Containing just over three acres, the park originally was known as West Stafford Park but was renamed in 1978 in honor of George Brickelmaier, who was a resident of Hollin Hills and worked with Robert Davenport to meet the needs of the neighborhood's first residents. The Wildlife Sanctuary, located along Delafield Place and west of Elba Road, was acquired through a land trade with Fairfax County in 1976. This 2.3-acre tract was originally part of the Opie tract. The land was subdivided for development in the 1960s, but never improved, possibly because of its environmental sensitivity. In addition to the communal parks created by the development company, the Hollin Hills Swim Club was established on 2.95 acres of land purchased by the Civic Association from Robert Davenport in 1965. The tennis courts were completed in 1955. The swim/tennis club property, now consisting of 6.137 acres, is located along Fort Hunt Road at its intersection with Paul Spring Road.
Natural drainage patterns and slopes of the landscape were respected in the overall site plan, resulting in a curvilinear road pattern, with cul-de-sacs and 3-way T intersections specifically intended to reduce through traffic. Roads were laid out to follow the topography, obviating the need for the customary major cut and fill. Some roads were single-loaded, with houses placed on one side of the street to avoid a floodplain on the other side of the road. This was more expensive, because it meant fewer houses could be built, but it made for more beautiful roads, greater traffic safety, and easier access to parklands. It also created a buffer around part of the neighborhood.
The individual lots generally range from one-third to one-half of an acre with a variety of configurations; few of the lots are more than half an acre. The houses are set back from the street, with spacious rear and side yards. The absence of fences and the use of a landscape plan that flows from one property to the next eliminate the sense of individual lots and provide a shared view across several lots, thus making each seem larger. To minimize the impact of the house on the landscape, the unit type was matched to the site, generally with one-level houses on flat or low-slope lots and two-level houses on steeper lots. The slope of the lots allows multi-level houses to read as one level from the street, thus making them less intrusive on the landscape. Shaping the structure to fit the site, rather than reshaping and forcing the site to fit the structure, is a defining feature of Hollin Hills. The angular or "skewed" siting of the houses was intentionally designed for privacy and shared vistas, but also allowed for future additions, such as breezeways, carports, and other living spaces.
Elements of Goodman's Contemporary Style
Charles M. Goodman's architectural expression, which he referred to as "Contemporary," was a result of the postwar Modern Movement. Modern houses "were distinguished by exposed structure (usually post-and-beam construction with infill panels), large expanses of glass, an indoor-outdoor relationship facilitated both by the glass and by the integration of the building with its site, a flat or low-pitched roof typically with broad eaves, and an absence of superfluous decoration." Architectural historian Elizabeth Jo Lampl describes the particular architectural genre embodied in Goodman's work:
Firstly, he believed fervently in the beauty and flexibility of the open plan. Secondly, he was passionate about the use of glass. No other architect allowed a greater amount of natural daylight into his houses than Charles Goodman. Thirdly, and related, he revealed his structural lexicon on the exterior and even included his window wall in that lexicon. Fourthly, his work appeared indigenous, was rich in texture, and hugged the ground.
Carefully blending with the existing topography, the houses of Hollin Hills are one and two stories, typically with a rectangular plan, and, later, with a few T-shaped and one L-shaped plan. Many of the houses appear to stand just one story in height from the street side but are in fact two-story buildings fully exposed on the remaining elevations because of the sloping sites. The buildings are sited with respect to the topography, generally at an angle to the street and to each other to allow both vistas past adjacent houses and privacy to the residents behind the expansive glass walls. Most of the houses have patios, "in order to connect with the outdoors on two levels."
Key elements to the buildings are 1) exposed wooden framing and lack of decorative trim, 2) sculptural chimneys and masonry end walls that provide lateral stability; 3) large expanses of glass; 4) open floor plans; and 5) the combination of new materials and salvaged or unusual-colored brick. Foundation walls are concrete block, supporting wood-frame structural systems of a modular, and later prefabricated, type. Cladding is a combination of brick veneer, wood siding, and window walls. Siding, a limited selection founded on Goodman's vision, was made from cypress, fir, or redwood. The siding "took one of four standard forms: 1) tongue-and- groove, 2) standard beveled horizontal siding, 3) flush siding where the boards, sometimes floor boards, were set vertically and nailed into the tongue so the V groove was hidden, or 4) board-and-batten (on a few custom houses). After 1953, some houses exhibit T-111 panels, which were plywood simulated tongue-and-groove boards with the simulated grooves initially cut every four inches." One of the more character-defining features of the Hollin Hills houses is the roof. The shallow-pitched gable roofs are the most prevalent with low slopes of 3 feet vertically to 12 feet horizontally. Goodman also commonly used the flat, shed, or V-shaped butterfly roofs. Eaves are thin, edged by narrow fascia, with wide overhangs to shelter the window walls from hot summer temperatures and keep water away from the wood walls and window frames. Serving as a structural support for the roof, the windows provided verticality to the otherwise horizontal emphasis of the buildings. The 3-foot window frame modules are Douglas fir, holding fixed glass and operable metal windows. Most buildings have two entry openings, one as the main entry and the other opening onto the kitchen, a standard design feature for mid-century housing. These doors are flush, with fully glazed doors accessing the patios.
The application of additions has generally not compromised the integrity of the houses in Hollin Hills. Adaptability, not only to the site, but also of the unit-type houses to suit larger families, was anticipated by Goodman. In fact, as Rachel S. Cox states in her chapter "The Art (and Necessity) of Adding On" in Hollin Hills, Community of Vision: A Semicentennial History, 1949-1999, Goodman was designing additions almost as soon as the houses were built. During his tenure, Goodman or one of his associates served as the architects for many of the additions. Later additions are often the work of scholars of the master architect, who have "taken pains to make the addition[s] compatible with the original Goodman home[s]." Although they marry well with the overall design standard of the neighborhood, for the most part, additions are "usually discernible by a difference in roof form, siding or materials, or orientation."
Most houses in Hollin Hills do not feature garages, although the covenants allowed owners to erect two-car garages on their property. Carports were more often a part of Goodman's plans, but were not commonly constructed, as they were considered supplementary to the unit-type designs. As many of the homes had parking pads at the edge of the street rather than driveways, adding a carport or a garage necessitated adding a driveway. Some of his unit designs initially included carports. The addition of carports has become common practice, providing shelter for the automobile while not fully interrupting the landscape. In some cases, carports have been enclosed to provide additional living space.
The Unit Types in Hollin Hills
Nationally renowned architect Charles M. Goodman used Hollin Hills as his architectural laboratory, creating 8 individual unit-type designs with variations that resulted in fifteen different combinations. Additionally, Goodman designed two models for national companies that were showcased in Hollin Hills. Developer Robert C. Davenport, following the standard established by the master architect, was responsible for three unit-type designs produced after Goodman's departure from the project in 1961. The unit-type designs that are the hallmark of Hollin Hills and Charles Goodman's modern architecture began with a standardized module. Each of the designs, which the architect referred to as "unit types," was coded with additional letters or numbers that denoted the qualities of each unit, such as how many levels or bedrooms it had or how many extra feet were added to a specific elevation. Goodman began with three basic models: a split-level house that fit sloping terrain (Unit No. 1); a one-story, rectangular slab-on-grade house for a flat site (Unit No. 2); and a two-story version of the Unit No. 2 house (Unit No. 2B42LB). Over time, the architect increased the square footage and included more amenities as he experimented and developed the unit types and created new designs intended for the less hilly section of the neighborhood. The original buyers were provided options for room sizes, and wall and floor finishes in some unit types. Blueprints could be flipped end to end or side to side, and sometimes elements of one unit type were incorporated into another. Thus, it is rare that two houses are exactly the same.
The distinctive modular windows used in the houses are trimless and often take up to three quarters of the length of any given exterior wall. Stretching from floor to ceiling, the window frames serve as part of the building's structure without compromising the strength of the wall. The 2-inch-by-6-inch structural framing members are rabbeted clear Douglas fir, and the fixed glass is installed directly into the frame with putty and small wood stops. Each 3-foot-wide window module has a small fixed or operable component set at floor level and an uninterrupted view panel of fixed glass above. The ventilating windows at floor level facilitate circulation, as outside air enters and is pulled upwards by the attic exhaust fan. The height of the operable lower component was raised adjacent to the kitchen to align with the higher base of the kitchen cabinets and the sills of the shorter windows above them.
The first and most basic models designed by Charles Goodman were Unit Nos. 1 and 2, which easily could be transformed to meet additional space requirements. Designed in 1949, Unit No. 1 is a split-level house, often viewed as three levels depending on the slope of the selected site. The first two levels are predominantly masonry construction with concrete-block walls, optionally faced in brick. The upper level of the two-story section of the house is wood-frame construction cantilevered out beyond the brick lower level, set on a concrete block and used (reclaimed) brick to clad the above ground foundation, is clad with 1-inch-by-4-inch vertical wood siding. It is covered by low-sloped gable or shed roofs with wide overhanging eaves and a large interior brick chimney rising from the center. As planned by Goodman, the modest houses included a utility room on the ground floor, bedrooms on the mid-level, and kitchen; open living room, and dining area were found on the upper level. Originally, the design included an attached carport, which was no longer standard to Goodman's designs within months because most prospective owners did not choose to include it. A variation of this unit is Unit No. 1B, a split level house banked into a sloping site. The mid-level of the 1,600-square-foot plan includes three bedrooms and a bath, set at a right angle to the living wing on the upper level. Integrated into the landscape, Unit No. 1B includes an upper-level terrace that extends from the living area through glass doors. The openness of this upper terrace allows a clear view of the lower-level terraces and planted areas, which are accessible from the ground floor. Another variation is Unit No. 1BE, which also was introduced in 1949. Unit No. 1BE incorporates a utility room on the ground floor and bedrooms on the mid-level. The kitchen and open living and dining rooms are located on the upper level. The unit provides an additional bedroom, bath, and storage space on the uphill side of the living area. Twenty-four examples of Unit No. 1 and its variations were constructed in Hollin Hills during Goodman's tenure.
Hollin Hills Historic District is a harmonious, well-designed Modern Movement neighborhood of innovative, moderately priced houses set within a natural landscape. The foundation of the neighborhood's success was the collaborative interpretation of the traditional large-scale merchant building practices by developer/builder Robert C. Davenport and architect Charles M. Goodman. The benefits of this collaborative partnership allowed Goodman to focus on the house designs and site plans, while Davenport mastered "the logistics, public relations, and production ...." The involvement of both men in the overall plan, including the laying of roads, landscape design, and siting and design of buildings, was unusual in the post-World War II era, when houses were speculative and mass produced at a large scale. Davenport's belief that there was a market for non-traditional, mid-century housing in a landscape dominated by brick-clad Colonial Revival style houses was matched by that of Goodman, whose architectural genre evoked the ideals of the Modern Movement era with a straightforward expression of structure and materials.
Hollin Hills, Inc., the development company for which Robert Davenport served as the managing partner, was responsible for purchasing the land, creating the subdivision plan, selling the lots and unit-type designs, and overseeing construction of the houses. The developer, who initially lived in the neighborhood, was able to oversee financing for the overall project and sale of the individual lots by being on site and involved in the day-to-day development of the subdivision. Although Davenport typically did not meet directly with prospective owners, all final sales of the lots and unit-type designs were approved by him. The individual lots were sold separately from the house designs produced by Goodman, who also was active in the provision of optional features and placement of the houses on the lots. Following the cooperative community approach he had experienced at Tauxemont, his first planned subdivision, Davenport created a community association that would take title of the land assigned as parks and for community use; thus, all residents had a vested interest in the preservation of the communal areas that were woven through the neighborhood. The landscape plans for each individual lot were initially optional, but Davenport eventually required they be included as part of the sale price for the house to ensure that the overall design of the neighborhood was controlled.
Development of Hollin Hills was experimental, approached from the perspective of land use planning, as opposed to a strictly architectural viewpoint, thus creating unity between the built environment and the natural landscape on property that had been rejected by other merchant builders as too risky. The principal considerations in the siting of houses, which were angled to the street, included the existing topography and shape of the individual lot, solar orientation, location of existing trees, potential views and vistas, and relationship between adjoining houses. The unaltered landscape was incorporated into the architectural design through patios, decks, and the extensive use of window walls. Goodman and Davenport also defied customary planning practices by situating some houses partially below grade, thus making a multi-storied structure read from the street as an unobtrusive one-story building. The overall site plan was executed with the assistance of the country's most preeminent modernist landscape architect, Lou Bernard Voigt. Voigt, followed by Daniel Urban Kiley and Eric Paepcke, also prepared individual landscape designs tailored to fit the particular requirements of each unit type, the lot's contours and natural cover, the neighbor's house and yard, and the owner's preference. Although a number of the landscape design plans exist on paper, it has not been verified which were in fact executed and if any of those designed landscape features are extant today. As envisioned by Robert Davenport and Charles Goodman at their first joint visit to the site in 1946, the natural landscape became one of greatest assets of Hollin Hills, as the collaborators allowed the land itself to shape the design of the lots and houses.
The uncompromising ideas and principles that shaped the neighborhood stemmed from Goodman's and Davenport's first-hand knowledge of home building and residential designs and, actually, fulfilled many of the objectives set out in Federal Housing Administration (FHA) publications for moderately priced, well-designed, and efficient suburban housing. Yet, the FHA initially rejected Hollin Hills as too modern in design, because it was so different from any other residential suburb that had been built to date.
Innovative design lessons learned from such prominent communities as Radburn, New Jersey, and Greenbelt, Maryland, were implemented as much as the unaltered hilly site, modern design idioms, and a demanding architect would permit. The standardization, mass production, and prefabrication practiced in Hollin Hills illustrated all of the distinctions of suburban housing in the post-World War II years, as well as the innovative design and economic construction practices distinct to the collaborative efforts of the developer/builder and architect. In appearance, with its modernist window-walled houses, many set into steeply wooded hillsides, Hollin Hills was dramatically different from the myriad of contemporaneous neighboring subdivisions consisting of traditionally styled houses that depended upon the availability of FHA-insured mortgage financing for their success. Rather, having been rejected by the FHA, Hollin Hills would reflect Goodman's "intense" and "autocratic" personality as a designer who rarely conceded to the desire of home buyers and strongly believed the traditional and widely accepted Colonial Revival-style house was "a misfit in the 20th century."
From the first, Hollin Hills was celebrated in both the professional and popular presses, and received national accolades and numerous awards from professional organizations for its distinctive, modernistic, and innovative architecture and landscape plans. Twenty years before development of the subdivision was completed, Hollin Hills was named by the Southwest Research Institute as the "Nation's Outstanding Development," Goodman was recognized as the "Architect of the Year," and Davenport was awarded "Builder of the Year." In cooperation with House & Home, Better Homes & Gardens, and the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), the American Institute of Architects (AlA) recognized the houses of Hollin Hills as the "best ... offered by builders since 1954 in 17 states east of the Alleghenies."
Under the direction of Charles M. Goodman and Robert C. Davenport, Hollin Hills exemplified merchant builder housing. This type of builder was the result of dramatic changes in home building practices fostered by federal incentives for private construction, and ultimately greatly influenced the character of post-World War II residential neighborhoods. Builders began to apply the principles of standardized plans, prefabrication, and mass-produced materials on a large scale, such as practiced at Hollin Hills. The architecture and land planning followed the design principles of the Modern Movement, a mid-twentieth-century term that characterized clarity and rationality of design, clean lines, generally cubic shapes, and a conscious renunciation of all historical references. Throughout his career, Charles Goodman worked to refine modern design by incorporating new technologies and materials. He believed that "modern technology and materials gave the architect a new responsibility ... ," which for him meant that "good design could influence how people live and how they relate to Nature." The result "was a body of architecture of great distinction that captured Americans' imagination for many years." Architectural historian Richard Guy Wilson wrote that Goodman was "a figure of international stature," whose "impact can scarcely be measured" and whose designs "formed the basis of the generic Modern American house and school, widely imitated in every part of the country." Hollin Hills is the first and largest subdivision undertaken by Charles Goodman during his career. His influence on modern architecture and residential planning nationally can be studied within the confines of Hollin Hills, where a number of notable local architects and designers produced similar modern designs that respect the skewed and specialized siting implemented throughout the neighborhood. One such designer was Robert Davenport, who, although primarily a developer/builder, acted as architect to create a few unit types based on those of Goodman.
For Charles Goodman, a building's beauty evolved from the expression of the structure itself and the materials, its ties to the site, and its openness from the inside to unite with the outside. This was achieved by using a standardized module, which became the conceptual basis for the houses in Hollin Hills. Each design, referred to as a unit type, was planned to fit within the natural landscape and was sited according to the specifications of the individual lots. Between 1949 and 1961, Charles Goodman designed eight modern unit types with variations in square footage and interior amenities, comprising 15 different combinations for Hollin Hills. His first unit type had a masonry perimeter wall that provided later stability while the second type had a massive chimney mass and masonry end walls set perpendicular to each other in order to provide lateral stability of the lightly framed exterior walls. Later designs were panelized houses that relied primarily on the inset plywood panels to resist lateral forces because the short chimney masses provided relatively little lateral support. Goodman's structural solutions minimized materials and labor costs, while maximizing space and amenities.
Goodman also was responsible for the design of two prefabricated models that were showcased in Hollin Hills. What united all of Goodman's houses were the contiguous series of floor-to-ceiling, 3-foot-wide window modules. As he experimented with his unit types and trimless modular windows, the window areas were enlarged, often grouped to extend the full length of an elevation and carry the weight of the roof. A part of the actual structure, the window walls brought great amounts of light into the houses. This feature, combined with the openness of the interior plans, made the houses seem larger and, thus, more expansive. For living spaces and bedrooms to take full advantage of the light and unobstructed space, the kitchen, bath, and utility room often were located in the central core of the house.
Charles Goodman actively sought to incorporate the landscape into his architecture. Not only did the houses fit seamlessly into their surroundings, but each individual garden was connected to the next with little or no barrier. The walkways often were curved, with the principal entrances not always visible and minimized by design. Because the landscape was integral to the success of the whole, prominent landscape architects were hired to work on the plan of Hollin Hills. The first was Lou Bernard "Barney" Voigt, who implemented uninterrupted views across lots while trees and shrubs partially masked the houses from one another. Upon Voigt's untimely death, Daniel Urban Kiley was responsible for designing the individual landscape plan that was sold with every house plan and tailored to its respective lot. A nationally prominent landscape architect, Kiley was a modernist who believed that the manipulation of space was a determining factor in design, whether it involved the built environment or the landscape. Kiley liked to cluster the same plants across adjacent lots, if given the opportunity, blurring individual property lines. He also married the individual properties with the communal parks by using homogeneous vegetation. Kiley worked with Goodman and Davenport to produce nearly 100 landscape plans until 1955, when his one-time assistant, German-born Erik Paepcke, became the project's primary landscape architect. Having studied agronomy (science of plants and land management) and botany, Paepcke's designs for Hollin Hills were organic, generally curvaceous plans that complemented the rigid geometry of Goodman's houses. Paepcke would continue his association with Hollin Hills until the last house was constructed and Robert Davenport closed the sales office in 1971. Although some of the individual landscape plans exist as drawn-archived in the Library of Congress, it has not been determined which were actually realized by the property owners. Moreover, because of the natural setting for which the neighborhood is known and the character of landscape elements, it is difficult to ascertain if any of the executed landscape plans are extant today.
Hollin Hills was distinct at the time of its planning and initial development as the first subdivision of strikingly modern houses in the Washington metropolitan area. It was one of the earliest modern subdivisions of its type in Virginia and Maryland. The architecture, particularly the style, form, and materials of the houses and their harmonious siting within the unaltered, natural landscape, was a radical departure from the innumerable subdivisions composed of traditionally styled, brick-clad houses set on uniform lots along the suburban streets of Fairfax County, neighboring Arlington County, and nearby Washington, D.C. In contrast, Hollin Hills reflected Goodman's domineering personality as a designer who strongly believed the traditional Colonial Revival style house was too ceremonial and shuttered from the outside. The uncompromising ideas and principles that shaped the neighborhood stemmed from Robert Davenport's and Charles Goodman's personal knowledge of home building, residential designs, community planning, and what the architect referred to as "good taste." Although they did not conduct a market survey, something Goodman faulted other merchant builders for neglecting to do, the developer and architect maintained "a conviction that there was a market for good design [like theirs] in Washington ... ," which was experiencing a tremendous population increase that had begun in the first decade of the twentieth century.
Davenport and Goodman both were known to have befriended, collaborated with, and sought advice from "friends in the Federal Housing Administration" (FHA), which proved to be a distinct design source. This New Deal agency greatly enlarged the role of the federal government in the housing market and its policies reflected much of the philosophy of progressive planners, architects, and housing reformers of the day. While Davenport and Goodman espoused many of the principles incorporated in the FHA's guidelines and standards for the projects it insured, their vision of a modern neighborhood took them further along new paths than the FHA was willing to go. As the community of Hollin Hills developed, they frequently negotiated with officials in the local FHA office and with county officials over development details, seeking approval for various elements without sacrificing the innovative features of their overall design. Despite some compromises, the first section of the Hollin Hills subdivision was rejected by the FHA as too modern in design. Davenport was thus forced to abandon this form of financing in favor of Veterans Administration (VA) mortgage insurance. However, because individual purchasers applied for mortgage insurance through the FHA or similar programs, it was essential that houses in Hollin Hills meet the standards set forth by the FHA and the VA. In some respects, the Hollin Hills subdivision fulfilled many of the objectives of the FHA, providing moderately priced, well-designed, efficient, expandable suburban housing in a well-planned, distinctive neighborhood. And yet, in appearance, with its striking modern houses set into steeply wooded hillsides, Hollin Hills was dramatically different from the myriad of contemporaneous neighboring subdivisions of Colonial Revival-style houses that depended upon the availability of FHA- or VA-insured mortgage financing.
Forsaking FHA mortgage financing was so atypical of merchant builders and developers in the post-World War II era that the news was noted by national architectural magazines. Architectural Forum described the incident in 1949: "Davenport's use of VA mortgage financing is the result of his unsuccessful attempts to work out an equitable arrangement with the FHA. Despite their pious talk about the value of planning, the FHA's conduct in handling this subdivision shows its officials often fail to recognize a good planning job when they see one. Because the Hollin Hills project was totally different from the distilled-colonial shoeboxes they were accustomed to insuring, local officials gave Builder Davenport an appraisal of only $9,500 on his big house, $9,100 on the smaller one." In contrast, the VA appraised the houses at $17,500 and $12,250, respectively.
The FHA would gradually reduce their restrictions on what it termed "so-called Modern design," publishing technical bulletins in the 1940s and 1950s that defined the characteristics and standards for the financing of a modern house. Technical Bulletin No. 2 even went so far as to warn FHA inspectors not to over-emphasize the "factor of nonconformity" and make comparisons of the modern house with traditional neighborhood patterns.
‡ Laura V. Trieschmann, Architectural Historian; Andrea F. Schoenfeld, Historian; and Jere Gibber, member of the Civic Association of Hollin Hills; EHT Traceries, Inc., Hollin Hills Historic District, Fairfax County, VA, nomination document, 2013, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
Bedford Lane • Beechwood Road • Brentwood Place • Daphne Lane • Davenport Street • Drury Lane • Elba Court • Elba Road • Glasgow Road • Hopa Court • Kimbro Street • Lisbon Lane • Marthas Road • Mason Hill Drive • Nemeth Court • Nordok Place • Paul Spring Road • Pickwick Lane • Popkins Lane • Range Road • Rebecca Drive • Recard Lane • Rippon Road • Saville Court • Stafford Road • Whiteoaks Drive