Which is more desirable, the East or West Village of Georgetown in Washington DC?
This is a debate that has raged on, seemingly for centuries. It’s not exactly the Hatfields vs. the McCoys, however—this rivalry is certainly more genteel. Still there are some high-society noses that seem to get bent out of joint when arguing which neighborhood has the grandest of the grand mansions, or the loveliest shade trees.
As for boundaries, the West Village is west of Wisconsin Avenue extending to the Georgetown University Campus, while the East Village starts on the other side of the avenue, extending west to the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway and north to Dumbarton Oaks Park and Gardens. Both villages lie north of M Street and don’t include the immediate waterfront.
Georgetown dates all the way back to 1632 and an early colonial fur trading post. It subsequently became on the region’s most important tobacco ports. It soon began to flourish as a residential community and was incorporated by Maryland in 1751, and subsequently included in the creation of the District of Columbia in 1791.
Local legend has it that the East VS West rivalry is nearly as old as Georgetown itself, supposedly tracing back to a decision by wealthy Episcopalians to split from St. John’s on the west side and establish the Christ Church on the east side, circa 1817.
It is certainly true that some of the oldest existing properties in Georgetown can be found in the West Village with its ancient cobblestone streets. Included in this grouping are the Prospect House, the Halcyon House and the Forrest-Marbury House—all completed circa 1788. George Washington himself met with his advisors at the Forrest-Marbury House to discuss the planning of the city.
But as significant as those early Federal homes are, some of the largest estates were constructed in the East Village about a decade later. The original Dumbarton Oaks home was built in 1801 and subsequently expanded, while a grand Georgian mansion known as Evermay was completed in 1802, sitting amidst on 11 acres of land that stretched all the way to Rock Creek on the east. Also notable is Tudor Place, a massive manor from the architect who designed the Capitol building.
As for the modern era and the continuing debate, there are advantages to each side. Those in the East Village boast about their quieter streets and a nearness to Dupont Circle and Foggy Bottom and their respective Metro Stations. The easterners are also closer to a Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s. But those in the West Village enjoy the vibrancy of the university crowd, along with tons of great bars and restaurants.
As for homes and condos for sale, you’ll find plenty of prime listings in both the East and West sides, especially when it comes to beautiful Victorian and Federal row houses. Prices generally start in the mid-six figures and climb well into the millions. This is, after all, Georgetown—synonymous with good living in Washington DC, no matter which side of Wisconsin Avenue you ultimately choose.
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