Thursday, March 24, 2022

Sears Houses In Arlington, Virginia: A Comprehensive List

color photo front image of Sears avalon model at 2262 N Wakefield St, Arlington, Virginia
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. 

color front photo of Sears Kilbourne model at 4838 24th Road N, Arlington, VA
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.

So, for the last three months, I have immersed myself in Trust Deeds and plat maps in Arlington County, Virginia. The earliest mortgage that I found, was from 1911 (just empty lots, now), but the bulk of the houses that I found mortgages for, were built throughout the 1920s, with a few extending into the very early 1930s. I'm not the big number cruncher of our group, but I think the results we have now, are something like this:
  • 162 Sears houses found to be still standing, in the whole of Arlington County, including the City of Alexandria
Of those:
  • 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
In addition to "still standing" houses, we found the frustrating reality that many of our historic Sears houses, have been demolished, having fallen prey, as soon as they went up for sale, to the eagerness to build bigger, newer, and more expensive houses:
  • 43 Sears houses in the whole of Arlington County, including the City of Alexandria, have been demolished.
    • 39 of those were fully authenticated through primary sources
Finally, we have a list of about 20 more houses that we label as "possibles". Some of these are more possible than others :). While I can't stress enough how thorough this research has been (with several sets of eyes on every house, and a multi-faceted approach to locating the houses, along with an exacting list of requirements for us to "okay" a house as the Sears model it looks like), we still sometimes find houses that are just "off" enough to be kept off of our main list. We expect to see all windows and doors in all of the right places, the furnace chimney to be in just the right spot, and the dimensions of the house to be spot on. We are concerned if an expected bumpout is missing, and just as concerned if an unexpected bumpout is present. When we can't meet those criteria, absent an authenticating resource, we place the house on our "possibles" list. So, in this case, there are about 20 more houses that we are wondering about, and a few of those might actually be Sears houses.

front photo of now-gone sears betsy ross model 313 n fillmore st arlington va
A Sears Betsy Ross model that had stood at 313 N Fillmore St, Arlington, VA

side photo of sears betsy ross model 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.


sepia toned 1925 catalog image of sears betsy ross model
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.

image of proposed new construction on the site of a former Sears house
Here is what is to be built here, now. 
Here is the list!
Without further ado, let me show you the lists of what we have found. I have put a link to take you to see the house in situ, via Google Maps Streetview. Additionally, Andrew Mutch has put together 2 full, interactive Google maps of all of the locations of each house, including the model name, address, and year of construction (links to those maps are at the end of this blog post). Both my list, and Andrew's interactive maps, also tell you whether or not we have authenticated the house. Further, rather than providing a catalog image for each of these houses (as the list is so extensive), let me share with you my blog page of links to many of the Sears catalogs, online.  For further information, note that Andrew Mutch has pulled together data on the authenticated Sears houses in the greater DC area, including counties in Maryland, and presented that in this blog post.

Arlington County, Virginia • Sears Houses
Sears ModelAddressAuth?Link
Americus2612 N Pershing AveNoTrulia listing
Americus1903 N Quebec StYesWashington Times
Americus114 N Jackson StYes2012 Streetview
Americus500 N Fillmore StYesStreetview
Argyle558 23rd St SYesStreetview
Avalon2262 N Wakefield StYesStreetview
Custom214 N Irving StYesStreetview 2009
Barrington650 N Jackson StYesStreetview
Barrington912 S Quincy StYesStreetview
Bedford237 N Bryan StYesStreetview
Bedford116 S Garfield StYesStreetview
Bellewood628 24th St SYesRedfin listing
Berwyn612 N Fillmore StYesStreetview
Betsy Ross508 N Fillmore StYesStreetview
Betsy Ross610 25th St SYesRealtor site
Betsy Ross3007 3rd St NYesStreetview
Brookside821 23rd St SYesStreetview
Clifton2114 N Oakland StNoStreetview
Clyde409 S Barton StYesStreetview
Clyde709 N Edgewood StYesStreetview 2009
Conway1703 N Randolph StYesRedfin listing
Conway1507 N McKinley RdYesRedfin listing
Conway1216 S Monroe StYesRedfin listing
Cornell5706 4th Street NorthYesReal estate listing
Cornell708 20th St SYesRedfin listing
Crafton806 18th St SouthYesStreetview
Crescent901 19th St SYesStreetview
Crescent1712 N Wayne StYesStreetview
Crescent2343 S Arlington Ridge RdYesStreetview
Crescent2507 N Pershing DrYesStreetview
Crescent1885 N Highland StYesStreetview
Crescent2271 N Upton StYesTrulia listing
Crescent4413 8th St SNoStreetview
Custom2255 N Powhatan StYesRedfin listing
Custom1601 S Arlington Ridge RdYesStreetview
Custom2250 S Kent StYesRedfin listing
Davenport3213 4th St NYesRedfin listing
Del Rey2707 Key BlvdYesStreetview
Del Rey5657 8th St NYesStreetview
Elsmore3320 3rd St NYesStreetview
Elsmore803 N Highland StYesStreetview
Elsmore2332 N Tuckahoe StNoRedfin listing
Fairy3908 8th St SYesStreetview
Fullerton518 24th St SYesStreetview
Gladstone1818 N Taylor StYesStreetview
Hamilton3918 8th St SYesStreetview
Hamilton411 N Cleveland StNoRedfin listing
Hamilton310 N Barton StYesStreetview
Hamilton308 N Edgewood StYesStreetview
Hamilton524 N Edison StYesStreetview
Hammond2401 S June StYesStreetview
Hampton3809 8th St SYesStreetview
Hathaway918 S Monroe StYesStreetview
Hathaway645 24th St SYesStreetview
Hathaway709 N Wakefield StYesStreetview
Hazelton1900 S Joyce StYesRedfin listing
Homestead2701 2nd St SYesStreetview
Homeville513 24th St SYesStreetview
Homewood1013 18th St SYesStreetview
Hudson209 S Edgewood StYesStreetview
Jewel3304 23rd St NYesRealtor site
Josephine2805 2nd St SNoStreetview
Josephine3905 Washington BlvdYesStreetview
Kilbourne3600 14th St NNoStreetview
Kilbourne858 N Frederick StNoStreetview
Kilbourne4838 24th Rd NYesStreetview
Langston3107 4th St NorthYesStreetview
Langston2206 S Grant StYesStreetview
Lexington1805 Army Navy DrYesRedfin listing
Madelia302 N Bryan StNoStreetview
Maplewood5017 13th St NYesRedfin listing
Marina216 N Barton StNoRedfin listing
Marina (2024)800 N Highland StYesStreetview
Maytown1639 N Randolph StNoStreetview
Mitchell402 N Jackson StNoStreetview
Montrose2810 Key BlvdNoTrulia listing
Montrose2629 Washington BlvdYesZillow listing
No. 2154767 24th St NNoRedfin listing
Oakdale3321 3rd St NYesRedfin listing
Olivia512 N Kensington StYesRedfin listing
Olivia417 S Fillmore StYesTrulia listing
Olivia2610 11th St SYesStreetview
Puritan733 24th St SNoStreetview
Rembrandt202 North Irving StNoStreetview
Rembrandt315 N Garfield StYesStreetview
Rodessa604 21st St SYesStreetview
Rodessa905 19th St SYesStreetview
Rodessa1019 Edgewood StYesStreetview
Rodessa807 N Daniel StYesStreetview
Roseberry637 24th St SYesRental listing
Sheridan728 21st StYesStreetview
Sheridan812 N Kenmore StYesrental listing
Sheridan3407 N Pershing DrYesStreetview
Starlight307 N Barton StYesRedfin listing
Starlight504 S Highland StYesStreetview
Starlight812 N Lincoln StYesStreetview
Sunbeam136 N Irving StNoStreetview
Sunbeam3015 2nd St NorthYesStreetview
Sunbeam430 N Jackson StYesRedfin listing
Sunbeam718 Highland St NYesRedfin listing
Sunlight3723 7th St SYesRedfin listing
Sunlight1815 N Stafford StYes2014 streetview
Sunlight3309 22nd St NYesBing streetview
Unknown model3116 N 7th StYesRedfin listing
Unknown model5602 1st St SYesStreetview
Uriel1808 N Randolph StYesStreetview
Uriel2906 4th St NYesStreetview
Uriel4713 22nd St NYesStreetview
Vallonia920 N Garfield StYesTrulia listing
Vallonia3512 8th St SYesStreetview
Vallonia817 N Highland StYesStreetview
Vallonia3903 9th St SouthYesStreetview
Vallonia502 N Jefferson STYesStreetview
Vallonia2020 N Kenmore StYesStreetview
Vallonia2506 S Fern StYesStreetview
Vallonia3203 4th St NYesRedfin listing
Van Dorn3020 N Nottingham StYesStreetview 2009
Van Page415 N Monroe StNoStreetview
Walton1518 N GarfieldNoStreetview
Walton2207 Columbia PikeYesStreetview
Walton2436 N Glebe RdYesWashington Times
Wellington219 N FillmoreYesStreetview
Westly812 S Taylor StYesStreetview
Westly1718 N Adams StYesStreetview
Westly614 23rd St SouthYesrealtor site
Westly700 N Lincoln StYesStreetview
Wexford3421 21st Ave NYesstreetview
Whitehall3006 N Pershing DrNoStreetview
Willard2424 N Custis RdNoStreetview
Windsor1914 N Underwood StNoStreetview
Winona1241 N Utah StNoStreetview
Winona1806 N Cleveland StYesStreetview
Winona252 N Bryan StYesStreetview
Winona800 N Cleveland StYesStreetview
Winona601 S Highland StYesStreetview
Winona2105 N Stafford StYesRedfin listing
Woodland1714 N Bryan StNoStreetview
Woodland322 S Adams StYesStreetview

 

color front photo of Sears Conway at 1216 Monroe St S, Arlington VA
A beautiful, authenticated Sears Conway at 1216 Monroe St S, Arlington VA
This home was bought in February of 1929 by Starley A Shelton and his wife, Mollie. The Sheltons had 7 children, 4 daughters and 3 sons. Mr. Shelton was an auditor for the U.S. Government. As is often the case in the later mortgages through Sears, there were two mortgages, a primary mortgage for $4400, and a junior mortgage, for $1100.  

sepia toned catalog image of sears conway catalog image from 1928 sears modern homes catalog
The Sears Conway in the 1928 catalog. This model was earlier marketed as the Uriel.

 
sepia toned floor plan image sears conway from 1928 sears modern homes catalog
There were several floor plan options for the Conway. We can tell by the presence of a side door, that this is the floor plan that the Sheltons must have chosen. We can tell by the number of children, that they must have chosen the floorplan that had the extra bedrooms upstairs!

City of Alexandria, VA • Arlington County • Sears Houses
ModelAddressAuth?Link
Belmont209 E Bellefonte AveNoStreetview
Claremont3 W Oak StNoStreetview
Clyde12 Alexandria Ave EastYesReal estate listing
Collingwood210 E Mason AveYesStreetview
Conway302 E Windsor AveYesStreetview
Crescent7 W Braddock RdNoRedfin listing
Dundee109 Stewart AveYesStreetview
Elmhurst608 Woodland TerNoStreetview
Gladstone113 Stewart AveYesStreetview
Kismet400 E Windsor AveYesStreetview
Lynnhaven2715 Sycamore StNoStreetview
Mitchell1 W Oak StNoRedfin listing
No. 181312 E Raymond AveNoReal estate video
Oakdale217 E Bellefonte AveYesListing on Compass
Oakdale2412 Leslie AveNoStreetview
Starlight18 W Custis AveNoStreetview
Vallonia2403 Ridge Rd DrYesStreetview
Verona713 Timber Branch DrYesStreetview
Walton17 W Del Ray AveNoStreetview
Walton220 E Custis AveNoStreetview
Walton101 W Bellefonte AveNoReal estate listing
Westly2710 Sycamore StYesStreetview
Winona7 W Myrtle StNoRealtor.com listing
Woodland116 Stewart AveYesStreetview

front color photo of Sears walton model 17 W Del Ray Avenue, City of Alexandria VA
Probable Sears Walton • 17 W Del Ray Avenue, City of Alexandria VA
sepia tone image Sears Walton model shown in the 1925 sears modern homes catalog
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. 

color front photo of Sears Lynnhaven model at 2715 Sycamore St, City of Alexandria, VA
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.

Alexandria, VA • Fairfax County • Sears Houses
ModelAddressAuth?
Roseberry2060 Huntington AveNo
Sunlight2616 E Maple StNo
Wellington2903 Groveton StNo

front color photo of sears wellington model at 2903 Groveton Street, in Alexandria, Fairfax County, VA
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.

side color photo of sears wellington model at 2903 Groveton Street, in Alexandria, Fairfax County, VA

Interior photo of sears wellington model 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:

Possible Aladdin Kit Houses
ModelStreet AddressCityAuth?
Detroit405 Hume AveAlexandriaNo
Pomona2804 King StAlexandriaNo
Capitol1617 N Garfield StArlingtonNo
Plaza1713 N Bryan StArlingtonNo
Pomona612 24th St SArlingtonNo
Pomona2008 N Kenmore StArlingtonNo

 

Color front photo of Aladdin Plaza model at 1713 N Bryan St, Arlington, VA
Probable Aladdin Plaza • 1713 N Bryan St, Arlington, VA
There is a Sears Woodland model across the street, not authenticated, but highly likely
We do know that an E. Cassidy bought an Aladdin Plaza in 1919, in Alexandria. Considering that Arlington County was called Alexandria County in that era, this could be that Plaza, but I was not able to link it E. Cassidy through city directories or census records.

color drawing of Aladdin Plaza model in the 1918 Aladdin Homes catalog
The Aladdin Plaza in the 1918 Aladdin Homes catalog (here)



Lewis Homes • Arlington VA
ModelAddressAuth?
Alameda639 20th St SYes
Ardmore130 N Jackson StNo

 

front color photo of Probable Lewis Homes Ardmore • 130 N Jackson St, Arlington VA
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. 

black and white image of Lewis Ardmore model in the Lewis Homes 1924 catalog
Lewis Homes Ardmore in the 1924 Lewis Homes catalog
Read more about this model, in this blog post of mine

Wardway Homes
Wardway homes were the kit-house homes sold by Montgomery Ward. I found only one mortgage for a Wardway house, in all of Arlington County. This seems odd, but Andrew Mutch has done extensive research in the mortgages in Washington D.C. and Maryland, and found only a small Wardway presence in those locations. Maybe Sears really had the market there, or maybe there is another trustee for Wardway that we are unaware of (we've got several on our trustees list, and I checked them all).  The one Wardway house that I found was this beautiful Wardway Suburban model, purchased in 1928 by James W Harris and his wife, Ida B Harris. Mrs. Harris was 46 at the time, and Mr. Harris was 53. He is listed as a carpenter, on the 1930 census. On the 1940 census, he is listed as proprietor of a garage. They had four daughters, Clara, Worthe, Nellie, and Helen. The Harris couple paid $4350 for their Wardway Suburban kit, which no doubt included construction costs in the mortgage.

front color photo of Wardway Suburban model • 800 21st St S, Arlington VA
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.

black and white image of Wardway suburban model in 1925 Wardway kit house catalog from Montgomery Ward
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.

black and white pull out catalog pages showing McClure Homes kit home model Groton
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).

light brown catalog cover with black writing, National Homes McClure company
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:

black text on page of catalog 20 national homes mcclure company cut-to-fit houses
source

Andrew found this ad in a publication related to textile mills:

black and white newspaper clipping of mcclure homes kit company ad

Here are two McClure Groton models, each sharing the same floor plan, but different exteriors, both on N Pollard Street in Arlington:

front color image of 2137 N Pollard St, Arlington VA • McClure kit house Groton
2137 N Pollard St, Arlington VA • McClure kit house

front color image of 2143 N Pollard St, Arlington VA • McClure kit house Groton
2143 N Pollard St, Arlington VA • McClure kit house
McClure Kit Houses • Arlington VA
ModelAddressYear BuiltAuth
All purchased by developer John W Glennan
$4200 each
13002503 2nd Rd N1923Yes
12732515 2nd Rd N1923Yes
1284213 N Cleveland St1923Yes
unsure205 N Cleveland St1923Yes
12842617 2nd Rd N1923Yes
12812508 2nd Rd N1923Yes
13002512 2nd Rd N1923Yes
All purchased by developer Oscar V Myers
$6100 each
12732143 N Pollard St1924Yes
12932141 N Pollard St1924Yes
13002137 N Pollard St1924Yes
12712133 N Pollard St1924Yes
1294?2129 N Pollard St1924Yes
13002125 N Pollard St1924Yes
12732121 N Pollard St1924Yes
12732150 N Pollard St1924Yes

 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:




A Few Last Notes
It may be helpful for other researchers to know that we discovered that build dates given for Arlington County properties, on their Property Search website, are not fully accurate (as is often the case). The resource is really excellent for finding lots of important information, and was essential to me in my several months of researching, nonetheless. We have found, over the years, that most county property search databases contain only guesstimates for the actual build year of the houses. When we have primary sources giving the date of the mortgage, we know that's a definite, accurate build year. It is very often different from what a county website provides, sometimes by a year or two, sometimes by a decade (or more). 

Additionally, if you are interested, as I was starting this research in Arlington County, I did a blog post about several Sears and Aladdin houses on 24th St S, in Arlington. You can read that, here. I intend to highlight several Arlington County Sears houses in upcoming blog posts, as well.


color image of sears house seeker homeville model featured in blog post about sears houses in arlington va
Finally, as I mentioned, above, other kit house researchers in our group, have put together well-researched documentation of kit houses in other areas of the greater D.C. region:

  • 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:
color image of Kit House Hunters blog post snippet intro on data on sears houses in washington dc area
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 : 
chevy chase kit houses bannier and sandalow compass realtors
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

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