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A Tour of Hillandale with Cynthia Howar

Host and producer of American Dream TV segment on historic Burleith neighborhood.

With more than 40 years of experience in various industries —business, government, law and real estate, Cynthia Howar has sold more than 87 homes in Hillandale, and has lived in this historic community for over 20 years. Cynthia recently gave viewers of American Dream TV a tour of Hillandale. To view the video, click here.

Hillandale is one of the only gated communities in Washington DC and has been hailed in as one of the 9 best gated communities in America! It sits on the former estate of Ann Archbold, who was one of the two daughters of John Dustin Archbold, one of the earliest independent oil refiners in the country and became an original director and executive at Standard Oil. Hillandale has a rich and interesting history. It was a working 70 acre sheep farm until Ms. Archbold bought the entire property in 1922. The original villa and gatehouse, still located in Hillandale today, were designed by Ms. Archbold with the help of Josephine Wright Chapman, one of the first female architects in the country. Both structures are now designated Historic Properties.


Today, Hillandale retains the spirit of gracious living envisioned by Ann Archbold when she built her original villa in 1922. Surrounded by the 250+ acre Glover-Archbold Park, Hillandale is a naturally wooded area with ponds, wildlife and a serenity not found in any other location so close to the heart of the city. True to Ms. Archbold’s plans, Hillandale exhibits a lush beauty, interspersed with a bright palette of seasonal flowers and vegetation.

As a working farm, the property included mature forests, lush meadows, orchards, rose gardens, a main residence, a stable, a gatehouse and several other small outbuildings. In 1924, two years before her home was completed, Ann Archbold donated 23.12 acres of this land to the DC Park Service to become part of Glover-Archbold Park. Ms. Archbold died in 1968, leaving her home to her son, John Dana Archbold, who used it as his city home. He sold 8 acres in 1973 to the Republic of France to build a Chancery and residence.

In 1978, John Archbold leased 42 acres to Clint Murchison, the former owner of the Dallas Cowboys, to develop a planned unit development, on the condition he retained the 5 acre parcel that held the original mansion and gate house. In 1979, the DC Zoning Commission approved the PUD. However, there were several challenges before the completion of the Murchison-s project.

Cynthia Howar
Cynthia Howar, the artist at home in her gallery  Photo by Cynthia Howar

The Hillandale Development Company was formed and Murchison’s company, Tecon Realty/Development was the contractor. Sometime in 1980, the lease became a sale. Yet after only 54 of the planned 268 townhouses (what is now Georgetown Court) and one detached house were built, the parcel was taken over in a foreclosure action in 1985 and sold to another developer, Wymark. Wymark wanted to convert the mansion into condominiums. This was opposed by the community and area homeowners. Wymark subsequently sold the Mansion and the remaining 1.5 acres to Sur Development in 1988. Kettler Brothers and Eakin Youngentob (now EYA) finished the remaining townhomes and the 20 new detached homes were mainly built by Kettler Brothers with two other builders finishing the remaining lots.