By Holly S. Hankins
Brick house, slate roof, oak canopy. I’ve had a 26-year love affair with 3615 Chesapeake Street. The Naval officer that brought me here was my husband of 3 years. We moved in with our one-year-old son and set up housekeeping just after the elder Hankins moved to Saudi Arabia. We hosted a big family Thanksgiving the very first week. It was home right from the start.
Familiar neighbors welcomed us. Extended family came from near and far. We decorated and gardened and entertained. We added another son, a redhead this time. Uncle moved in with us; a growing family here at 3615. We ventured out to playgrounds, classes at the Y and museums. We visited the firehouse on daily walks. The boys used to say our address was Station 31 since Chesapeake was so hard to pronounce.
A June storm transformed our yard. The 200 year old oak couldn’t withstand the wind and rain, it was uprooted. Luckily the house was spared. We filled the void with bulbs and flowers. A volunteer dogwood sapling thrived.
That fall was pre-k at Murch. It’s the cornerstone of the neighborhood. New friends were made alongside plenty of opportunities to volunteer for me. It’s like a small town connection in our corner of NW. Eventually both boys were at Murch. We began Stoddert Soccer and Cap City Little League. We had a baby girl. She accompanied me when I volunteered in the library at Murch.
Baseball, soccer and dance classes with Miss Paula filled our weeks. Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas were highlights. Santa always appeared at our house and then found his way into the neighbor’s festive homes; giggles, photos, and glasses of eggnog up and down the block.
When our daughter started kindergarten I found myself in the next classroom as an aide at Extended Day. I can picture her red ringlets hanging down from the monkey bars at recess. A little pocket money for spending hours with dear four-year-olds at Murch and seeing my own children was a great gig. Sometimes the big boys, ten and eleven, would beat me home from school since we lived so close and friends were always welcome.
An Alaskan adventure called in ’98 so we moved outside the Beltway for four years. We had a fabulous log home there and 1600 inches of snow. Meanwhile 3615 was filled with another wonderful Murch family all that time.
When we came back, East Chesapeake Street again was home sweet home. The baseball fields grew to 90′ at Gonzaga and St. John’s. We still had one child at Murch. She had moved on to horses at Rock Creek. We reconnected with old friends and made new and all so nearby to 3615.A renovated kitchen gave us many excuses for dinner parties. Cook outs spilled into the gardens. Graduations, farewells, reunions and engagements. We should have entertained even more. The youngest is turning 21. We are ready to downsize.
This crazy warm winter helped our spring flowers put on an amazing show just in time for our For Sale sign. A nice new family, redheads too, will put down roots here. I keep saying, “If I didn’t love this house so much I couldn’t sell it so happily!” I’ll miss Murch and Extended Day terribly. Our charming neighbors will just have to stay in touch.
In fact just 50 miles away we will renovate, almost duplicating our Chesapeake Street kitchen. The address will be Annapolis. It’s a smaller house in a smaller capital city. But our fondness for this corner of DC cannot be diminished.