|Authenticated Sears Avalon • 2262 N Wakefield St, Arlington, Virginia|
Alfred and Annie Davis ordered this house in 1925, with a $5,800 mortgage through Sears, that would have also covered construction costs.
We've heard the stories, and we've read the stories, but we were eager to find out for ourselves: Where are the Sears houses in Arlington County, Virginia?
We appreciate that work that has been done up to now, to try to locate all of the Sears kit houses in Arlington, but we wondered, "Where is the list?" As I mentioned in my last blog post, we had read the respected Masters thesis of Cynthia Liccese-Torres, and learned that she had discovered Sears trustee William C. Reed, during that research (he was the Sears trustee who signed off on the great majority of the mortgages in Arlington County). We had read the Darline Hannabass article, written for the Arlington Historical Society in 1993. It mentioned a number of specific houses, with just a general location, and showed a hand full of nice photos. In it, she made reference to a research project done in 1986, looking for, and photographing Sears houses around Arlington, because The Historical Society was to be giving a tour, organized by Catharine T. Saulmon, that year. I believe that group had found close to 200 houses that they believed to be Sears houses.
When our group read about all of this, we tried to get in contact with someone who might have a list of the Sears houses that these researchers had found. Unfortunately, no one whom we contacted had any information to share with us. As I've mentioned many times, our research group maintains the National Database of Sears Houses in the U.S., so we are always eager to collaborate with other researchers, and add houses to the national list. We knew that someone who had been, at one time, connected with the historical society, was now giving occasional presentations about Sears houses, but she was unwilling, for some reason, to respond to our requests for information, over the past few years.
So, this year, as other members of our group were busy with mortgage and newspaper research in various states, Andrew Mutch (Kit House Hunters) sat down with Google Streetview, and toured around just about every street of Arlington County, and the City of Alexandria. He has an excellent eye for recognizing Sears models (having found thousands of examples that make up part of the over 14,000 houses on our national database), and he added about 50 models to our list of Sears houses in Arlington County and the City of Alexandria, through this method. Note that, though the current City of Alexandria is not in a county, its land records (deeds, not property records) are found through either the Arlington County database, or through the Fairfax County database. Additionally, Arlington County was originally known as Alexandria County. Since our research was in the Arlington County historic database, I'm referring to our finds as being in Arlington County.
Then... he did some digging and realized that we had not realized that the Arlington County, Virginia historic mortgage records, were available online. I absolutely love doing mortgage research, and was fortunate to be handed the task of seeing what else we could find, via the online records. Well... we found a gold mine.
|Sears Kilbourne • 4838 24th Road N, Arlington, VA|
This is one of the houses that Andrew found, that I later authenticated through mortgage records.
The house was bought in 1928 by Louise and Charles Jennings, with a $6700 mortgage from Sears.
- 163 Sears houses found to be still standing, in the whole of Arlington County, including the City of Alexandria
- 138 Sears houses found in Arlington County (not counting Alexandria)
- 114 of those Sears houses are now fully authenticated through primary sources
- 24 Sears houses found in the City of Alexandria
- 11 of those Alexandria houses are fully authenticated through primary sources
- 44 Sears houses in the whole of Arlington County, including the City of Alexandria, have been demolished.
- 40 of those were fully authenticated through primary sources
|A Sears Betsy Ross model that had stood at 313 N Fillmore St, Arlington, VA|
|This home had been bought in 1923 by widow Rebecca Sudduth, with a $3400 mortgage through Sears.|
The Betsy Ross has this special brick pattern in the side chimney, where we often see a flower box.
|The Betsy Ross in the 1925 catalog. Read more about this model, and see other examples, at this Sears Homes Of Chicagoland blog post by our fellow researcher, Lara Solonickne.|
|Here is what is to be built here, now.|
|The Sears Conway in the 1928 catalog. This model was earlier marketed as the Uriel.|
|Probable Sears Walton • 17 W Del Ray Avenue, City of Alexandria VA|
|The Sears Walton in the 1925 Sears Modern Homes catalog.|
Though this home is not connected to a mortgage with Sears, it is likely from 1925 or a little later, as the porch railing style was different, prior to that.
|Sears Lynnhaven model, 2715 Sycamore St, City of Alexandria, VA|
Andrew Mutch recently found this, just "driving" around the streets of Alexandria. There are many "lookalikes" to the Sears Lynnhaven, making us always wary of examples that we find that don't have a mortgage. However, this one has what we call, "the Sears curlicues"... the curled edges of the black decorative iron strapping on the door. Many companies of the era, included decorative iron strapping on their doors, but only Sears' strapping has this kind of curlicue. You can read more about the Sears Lynnhaven, and see interiors, in this Sears Homes of Chicagoland blog post by Lara Solonickne, featuring a Sears Lynnhaven in Barrington, Illinois, that was bought be a man who was later killed in Iwo Jima.
Additionally, we have three Sears houses found with mailing addresses in Arlington, Virginia, but that are not in Arlington County. These three are in Fairfax County, Virginia. There are surely many more to be found in Fairfax County.
|You can see more of this darling Sears Wellington model, in this Trulia listing. It's at 2903 Groveton Street, in Alexandria, Fairfax County, VA.|
Other Kit-House Companies
We really specialize in, and focus on, Sears kit houses. But in our travels, we often come across kit houses by some of the other kit-house companies of the era, such as Aladdin Homes, Lewis Homes, Wardway Homes, and, in this case, even McClure Homes (a smaller company, that was based in Saginaw, Michigan). We maintain lists of houses from these companies, as well, though they are not as extensive, by any means, as our national list of Sears houses. The kits of these companies are definitely out there to be found, but they are just not what we focus on. Andrew has included those that we have found, on his interactive maps, so I will provide these short lists:
|The Aladdin Plaza in the 1918 Aladdin Homes catalog (here)|
|Probable Lewis Homes Ardmore • 130 N Jackson St, Arlington VA|
I feel very confident about this home being a Lewis Ardmore, because it has the needed differences to distinguish it from the close lookalike by a plans-only company.
|Lewis Homes Ardmore in the 1924 Lewis Homes catalog|
Read more about this model, in this blog post of mine
|Authenticated Wardway Suburban • 800 21st St S, Arlington VA|
The earlier address for this house (before the 1934 street name changes), was 400 Dulaney St.
|Wardway Homes Suburban model, in the 1925 catalog|
Thanks to our friend at AntiqueHome/Daily Bungalow for the scan, online, here
These 15 McClure Company houses are all authenticated through mortgage records. They were bought by two developers, in 1923 and 1924. They are all versions of the Groton model, which was a single floor plan, offered with about 10 different variations to the exterior. Even though these houses look quite different from each other, their interior layout should be the same as each other.
|From catalog N°20, National Homes, McClure Company, Cut-to-fit houses|
We were fortunate to have access to the National Homes McClure Company catalog N°20, through the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan (reference).
|Cover of catalog N°20|
Inside, in addition to the model images, McClure included information about the quality of their product, and what you could expect, with your purchase. Here is the first page of that information, from catalog N°20:
Andrew found this ad in a publication related to textile mills:
Here are two McClure Groton models, each sharing the same floor plan, but different exteriors, both on N Pollard Street in Arlington:
|2137 N Pollard St, Arlington VA • McClure kit house|
|2143 N Pollard St, Arlington VA • McClure kit house|
Interactive Google Maps
Thanks to Andrew Mutch for putting together these two interactive Google maps, which include all of the homes on the lists above, giving the model name, address, the build year (when known), and whether or not the house is authenticated. Click on the images below, or on these links:
- Andrew Mutch has put together some important figures on the numbers of authenticated Sears houses in the greater DC area, including counties in Maryland, where he has done extensive research:
|Please click on the image above, or here, to read this informative blog post.|
- Researcher and DC area realtor, Catarina Bannier (Bannier & Sandalow), has an excellent resource about kit houses in Chevy Chase, Maryland, which she put together with the cooperation of Historic Chevy Chase DC, after their organization expressed interest in this kind of comprehensive, meticulously-researched database :
|Click here to access the Chevy Chase list|
- Andrew Mutch has also recently published an interesting article on why mortgage and deed records should play a significant role in authenticating Sears houses (and other kit houses).
|click HERE to access this informative article|