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Maryland's National Register Properties



Photo credit: Traceries, 01/2006
Hilltop Manor
Inventory No.: PG:69-36
Date Listed: 12/21/2007
Location: 5302 Annapolis Road, Bladensburg, Prince Georges County
Category: Building
Period/Date of Construction: 1942
Architect/Builder: Architects: Ross & Walton
Description: Hilltop Manor is an apartment complex consisting of eight brick garden-apartment buildings, each of which is divided into two to six units or sections, constructed in 1942 and 1943. The structures exhibit characteristics of both the Colonial Revival style and the Moderne style, reflecting an architectural transition between the traditional elements of the Colonial Revival style and the streamlined features of the Moderne style. Set on solid concrete foundations, the buildings are faced with six-course American bond brick. The units range from two to three stories over slightly raised basements, with either a side-gabled or a flat roof. Side-gabled roofs feature flat metal frieze boards and the flat roofs have metal coping. The majority of the gabled roofs feature their original slate shingles, although two have been re-clad in asphalt shingles. The flat roofs are covered in a composition material. The original metal casement windows have been replaced with single and paired 1/1 vinyl-sash windows with vinyl surrounds. The basement windows have 2-light vinyl-slider windows. The windows have narrow header-brick sills. Several of the units have flush wood doors with 3-light fixed windows, while a number have newer doors with one-light fixed windows. The strong influences of the Colonial Revival style are clearly evident on the detailing that surrounds the main entrances to the units. Illustrating the influence of the Moderne style, five horizontal stringcourses of projecting stretcher brick span the exterior walls between the windows and return on the corners of the building. The flat roofs are also indicative of the Moderne style. The two different building forms for garden apartments employed at Hilltop Manor include the Strip and Ell types. The combination of Strip units vary with three-bay, five-bay, and paired five-bay examples. Entrances to the three- and five-bay Strip units are centered with a Colonial Revival-style door surround that include fluted pilasters and an ogee cornice. A wood panel of diamond-pattern lattice is located above the doors. The entrances to the paired, ten-bay Strip units have entrances featuring wood surrounds with ogee profiles. The entrances are sheltered by half-hipped hoods that are covered in asphalt shingles and have ogee cornices. The 1/1 vinyl-sash stairwell windows, located above the entrances, have fluted surrounds with bulls-eye corner blocks and wood spandrels with diamond-patterned lattice panels. In addition to the Strip units, four of the buildings have between one and three Ell units. The entrances to these units are marked by one-story Colonial Revival-style porticos. The porticos, located in the corner of the unit, have half-hipped roofs of asphalt shingles and lattice wood posts. Small 1/1 vinyl windows, located above the entrances, mark the location of the interior stair. There are three basement-level entrances that are located on the south elevations of the units facing Annapolis Road. These entrances have gabled hoods covered in asphalt shingles. Hilltop Manor consists of 150 apartments interspersed among eight buildings with 32 units. Each unit contains between four and eight apartments, with the exception of one unit, 5210 53rd Place, which consists of only three apartments. In all, there are five apartment layouts with varying numbers of bedrooms. The majority of the apartments (122) have one bedroom. The remaining apartments consist of two-bedroom apartments; there is one three-bedroom basement apartment. The five basic apartment types, excluding the one three-bedroom apartment, consist of one-bedroom apartments with eat-in kitchens; one-bedroom apartments with separate dining rooms; L-shaped one-bedroom apartments; two-bedroom apartments; and duplex apartments. Despite minor renovations, the interior configurations of the apartments have remained intact. Significance: Hilltop Manor is a representative example of a garden-apartment complex built in Prince George's County during the mid 20th century. Constructed in1942, Hilltop Manor was one of the first garden-apartment complexes constructed in the county as a result of the population increase of the Washington metropolitan area during World War II. Hilltop Manor was financed under Section 608 Title VI of the National Housing Act, the primary vehicle for World War II Defense Housing and Federal Housing Administration (FHA) financing. Thus, Hilltop Manor, intended as permanent housing, illustrates the size, scale, and design of garden-apartment complexes constructed during World War II, which was often characterized by temporary housing developments. Hilltop Manor, surrounded by the established streetcar suburb of Decatur Heights and adjacent to the new Bladensburg Elementary School, was an alternative to the single-family dwellings in the area and was ideal for young middle-class families. Its location along Defense Highway, which opened in 1927, heightened convenience to Washington, D.C. One of the first garden-apartment complexes designed by accomplished local architects Ross & Walton, Hilltop Manor strayed slightly from the Colonial Revival-style garden-apartment buildings that were favored early on by the FHA. By combining traditional Colonial Revival-style elements, such as gabled roofs and decorative porticoes, with the then-fashionable Moderne style, exemplified by the use of flat roofs and horizontal stringcourses, Hilltop Manor illustrates the evolution of garden-apartment design in Prince George's County, Maryland. The design and location of Hilltop Manor exemplify the formula established and later augmented by the Federal Housing Administration for successful, mortgage-insured garden apartment complexes. Hilltop Manor is historically significant as an example of the garden-apartment movement that greatly impacted community planning and development in the United States from the 1930s until the 1950s and more specifically in Prince George's County from 1934 to 1955. The size, scale, and form of Hilltop Manor, in particular the use of FHA-recommended Strip and Ell unit types, reflect the influence of the FHA's guidelines for garden-apartment buildings. Additionally, the implementation of landscaping within the design of Hilltop Manor further emphasizes its adherence to FHA's principles. Hilltop Manor is architecturally significant as a garden-apartment complex that reflects the design influence of the FHA. The distinct combination of both Colonial Revival-style and Moderne-style elements at Hilltop Manor are indicative of the FHA's presence for the Colonial Revival style as well as the increasing desire for a modern, yet appealing design. The complex has eight garden-apartment structures, all of which contribute to the significance of the property.
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