First used as the Civil War encampment of Fort Kearns, Forest Hills/Van Ness developed around the mill industry. Large, provincial estates were developed during the 1900s, becoming a desirable residential community, a trend that continues today.
Nicknamed Van Ness after nearby University of the District of Columbia’s Van Ness campus, Forest Hills is a quiet residential neighborhood. The notable architecture, in contrast with much of D.C.’s traditional rowhouses and Colonials, is bold, modern and energetic. About a third of the housing properties are rentals, with the remaining two thirds being single-family, owner occupied. Built upon tree-rich hills. glass and metal structures, stucco mansions, and classic D.C. homes occupy space in the neighborhood, creating a refreshing variety of residences.
The neighborhood is rich in activity and intellect. Several embassies are located in the area. UDC’s Van Ness campus, Howard University School of Law campus, The Levine School of Music and the Edmund Burke School all call Forest Hills home. The Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, once the home of philanthropist Marjorie Merriweather Post, is located within the neighborhood near Rock Creek Park. The Hillwood, originally a 36-room Georgian Colonial estate, houses Marjorie’s extensive House of Romanov collection of art.