After decades of neglect, the onetime school for wealthy young women has been reborn as a historic residential community.
The vestiges of a storybook village rise from a heavily wooded slope along the Rock Creek Valley, not far from the Capital Beltway in Silver Spring. This is where young women once came to learn, where wounded soldiers came to heal and where preservationists battled over the fat of its buildings. As with all good fairy tales, though, this story has a happy ending.
The historic National Park Seminary has reawakened from a Sleeping Beauty-like slumber. And its late 19th- and early 20th-century buildings – a Victorian resort hotel, a whimsical windmill, a pagoda, an English castle and more – are being converted into residences in a community that intriguingly blends the past with the present.
The Alexander Company of Madison, Wis., a specialist in historic restoration, is the rescuer in this tale. It has invested more than $150 million in renovating the historic structures throughout the 32-acre campus. The firs stage of development, which opened last fall, features 219 homes, including 66 apartments, 50 condominiums and 13 single-family homes in the historic section and 90 new-construction townhomes.
“For its sheer size, we have never come across anything as challenging,” says Dan Peterson, the Alexander Company’s director of public relations.