Forest Hills, often called Van Ness because of its proximity to the University of the District of Columbia’s Van Ness campus, is a quiet residential neighborhood. About a third of the housing properties are rentals, with the remaining two thirds being single-family, owner occupied. The architecture is, unlike much of D.C., varied, modern and oftentimes ambitious, and is built upon rolling, tree-rich hills. Colonials and rowhouses also occupy space in the neighborhood, making for a surprisingly fresh variety of housing.
In addition to UDC’s Van Ness, the neighborhood is home to the Howard University School of Law campus, The Levine School of Music, and the Edmund Burke School. The Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, once the home of philanthropist Marjorie Merriweather Post, originally a 36-room Georgian Colonial estate housing Marjorie’s extensive House of Romanov collection of art, is located in the neighborhood just off Rock Creek Park. Several embassies also reside within the area.
First used as the Civil War encampment of Fort Kearns, Forest Hills/Van Ness developed around mill complexes and large, rural estates. In the early 1900s, development created a fine residential community, a trend that continues today. Home to diplomats, ambassadors, students and prominent local residents, Forest Hills may lack in commercial amenities but makes up for it in variety and interest.