Meet Albert, Jen, Rowen and Nigel Hopper

Harry and Adriana Hopper purchased an adorable Cape Cod-style home on Montgomery Street in 1989. They were attracted to the area for its outstanding public schools, walkability, and connectivity to cultural institutions in nearby Washington DC. Having lived abroad in Italy, the climate was also “just right.” Their youngest son, Albert, would later attend Somerset Elementary and Westland Middle School. Adriana, a talented gardener, took pride in her home and neighborhood. An avid walker, she took guests on long walks to see Spring azaleas in bloom, holiday lights, and other seasonal beauty around the Village. Last November, Adriana decided that she could no longer maintain her home and garden nor enjoy her cherished neighborhood walks. Her house had too many stairs! It was time to downsize.
Adriana asked Albert if he wanted to buy her adorable Cape Cod on Montgomery Street. Now married, Albert lived with his wife and two young sons. Coincidentally, this second-generation Hopper Family, Albert, Jen, Rowen and Nigel, had been hunting for more space. Their DC Victorian rowhome was feeling tighter as the kids grew older. With the boys at peak biking and scootering age, the Village’s cloistered neighborhood layout with low-traffic streets and generous pocket parks were especially appealing. Jen was particularly attracted to Chevy Chase Village for its outstanding public schools, walkability, and connectivity to cultural institutions in nearby Washington DC! A Boston area native, the climate was also “just right!” Chevy Chase Village was indeed the right fit for Albert’s growing family.
Albert and Jen met in 2003 in the lobby of Gund Hall, where both of them studied architecture for four years at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. The two formed an immediate connection and became best friends as well as colleagues.
The adorable Cape Cod on Montgomery Street (affectionately dubbed “The Gingerbread House”) needed a sweeping renovation. The couple, who established the architecture firm HxH Architects, set to work on design and permits. They aimed to keep as much of the house as possible intact, including the footprint, while improving the home’s insulation and energy usage. Old single-pane windows were replaced. Stripped to the studs, the Hoppers had the home spray-insulated and rewired. They added an array of skylights to a new central stair. The skylights invite glorious natural light while allowing hot air to escape from the high ceiling in warm weather (a function called “stack effect”). The location of the central stair improved the house layout to the point where the Hoppers were able to add an extra second-floor bedroom in the same square footage. The new home interior is spare and humble, flooded in light, and clad in bright natural woods. New large windows face east and all major trees on the property have been preserved for shade. Appliances and heating/cooling are 100% electric and the Hoppers hope to install solar panels on the back side of the house in the future. The Hoppers also plan to restore Adriana’s garden to its full potential in the coming years.
Rowen, age 9, and Nigel, age 5, designed their bedrooms. Rowen has a large loft space that he hopes to turn into a hideaway for playing video games. Nigel has a bunk bed and a hanging swing. The basement of the old home was refinished with a large light well leading to a bright play space. Self-proclaimed Lego masters, Rowen and Nigel are currently planning to build the “Death Star” in Lego. The basement space doubles as a music room, where the boys play piano, trumpet, and (some) ukelele. Rowen is playing “oldies” White Stripes on the piano while Nigel is learning John Williams's “Imperial March.” Rowen plays the trumpet in the band at Westbrook Elementary, where he attends 4th grade.
Rowen appreciates the freedom of riding his bicycle around the neighborhood. He recently started to fly remote-controlled airplanes at Big Oliver Park and he occasionally walks to Amazon Fresh to buy snacks. He has been making a lot of new friends in the Village. There are 5 4th graders at his bus stop alone! Rowen likes “all sports” but is currently playing soccer and ice hockey. He is in Westbrook’s Boy Scout Pack 56 where he recently came in FIRST in the Pinewood Derby. Rowen also enjoys hiking, skiing, and bouldering.
Nigel is an avid soccer player and has been playing futsal and soccer at DC Soccer Club. Nigel is into all things Star Wars and Pokémon. When he turns 6, he would like to have a Pokémon-themed birthday party, possibly in one of the neighborhood parks. Nigel enjoys running around in his muddy (but soon-to-be-planted) backyard. He plays with his brother on a slackline tied between two large backyard trees. He likes to roast marshmallows in the backyard firepit. Nigel loves his new house!