A Regal Affair In Takoma Park, The “Americus” Way In Rockville

Historic mail-order home in Takoma Park

Lewis Regal in Takoma ParkAfter the recent long stretch without notable historic kit houses hitting our market area, there were a bunch in recent weeks that caught our eyes. The first one here was not a Sears product: It’s a 1925 “Regal” by the Lewis Manufacturing Company of Bay City, MI. (There’s only one other “Regal” we’re aware of, and that one can be found in Chevy Chase, DC.) Lewis had a large local sales office in DC in the early and mid-1920s and sold many of their kits to developers. The new owners would never know!Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 5.58.58 PM

This “Regal” is right in the Takoma Park MD “downtown” area and — after just a week — already under contract. It was completely renovated, and while not so much in reverence to every kit house detail (judging from old pictures, much of those might have been lost before the contractor took over), so still respectfully and beautifully. One of the upstairs bedrooms gave way to a second full bath.

You can see the 1922 catalog page here. (For the full pdf, click on the link on the page that opens.)

A couple of other kit houses are on the market in neighborhoods that are a little further from our base:

Sears Conway in CheverlyA 1925 Sears “Conway” is on the market in CheverlyAt $440,000 and less than 2 miles from the District line, this is another nice renovation, if not a restoration, that saves one of the historic kit houses. (Photos and virtual tour courtesy of MRIS.) In the front part of the house, it retains many of the original detail, while the moderate addition adds a bright family room and some space. A lovely contrast to the more soul-less Conway addition we recently saw in Glen Echo.

1924 Sears Americus in Rockville MDIn downtown Rockville, another, somewhat bigger Sears house came on the market a couple of weeks ago, a 1924 “Americus” in walking distance to the Town Center and Metro station. It’s also been expanded, though not recently, and has a fabulous backyard,. At $679,900, however, in need of some work all over and with only the one original bath, it seems priced more for the potential. You can see some pictures here. (Photos courtesy of MRIS.)

For those of you who are interested, I will post 1920s catalog images for these two houses in the next couple of days, but for now, just let us know if you want to find out more (or even see one of them).

 

 

 

 

Where The Phone Went

Mail-order home for sale in Chevy Chase
Mail-order home for sale in Chevy Chase
A 1930 Sears “Barrington” in Chevy Chase, Washington DC

The Sears “Barrington” was not a very rare or unusual model. In fact, the style was so popular in the late 1920s that several other companies, including Montgomery Wards, offered similar-looking mail-order houses.  This 1930 Sears “Barrington,” however, is just like we want to see them. We have so often complained about renovations that strip those dear old homes of their charm and character, add generic additions, or “modernize” in a way that violates the style of the house.

This house, however, which just hit the market (listed with our very own office for $1,049,000 ) is an absolutely beautiful example of how it can be done right. While there is a two-story addition in the back, it’s not out of proportion to the rest of the home. The whole design was inspired by the original part of the house, even the new window moldings are crafted to match the old ones in the front.

Just as nice is the fact that much of the historic Sears mail-order detail was preserved, even some quirky things that have long disappeared from our lifestyle. Take the built-in phone booth in the entry hall, for instance. According to the 1930 Sears catalog, it was supposed to “solve the problem” of “where will we place our phone?” That probably won’t be necessary for  2014 cordless handsets, but a great touch to respect it as part of the home’s integrity.

Phone booth in 1930 Sears catalog
Phone booth in 1930 Sears catalog

A similarly authentic piece is the corner cabinet in the dining room that came shipped with the houses neatly packed 1,000s of pieces as well. The catalog image (below) even shows the same lead glass panes.

Kitchen and baths are new, but they, too, work with the essence of the style. It certainly can be done, but it’s not usually what we get to see! And some changes to the layout might actually be practical improvements, like an arched break-through from the hall to the kitchen. Beats carrying groceries through the living room, at least in my book.

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The main stairs still sport the unique Sears-invented plinth blocks for the lay builder. There’s no doubt about the authenticity of this one!

You can see a Virtual Tour of the whole house here. And as always, if you’d like to see this historic kit house in person, just let us know and we’ll get you in!

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These plinth blocks were a unique feature only found in Sears homes. They made it easier for the amateur builder to join different kinds of molding.
These plinth blocks were a unique feature only found in Sears homes. They made it easier for the amateur builder to join different kinds of molding.

 

Do you think you live in a kit house? We’d love to hear about it:

Sears From The Palisades To Silver Spring — A Couple Of Neat New Kit House Listings

Authentic Sears “Colchester” (a 1930s brick version of the popular “Lewiston”) kit house in Silver Spring, Maryland

No matter how busy we are, we always seem to make time to feed our kit house addiction. This week, the scouting produced  two fun early 20th century Sears mail-order houses that hit the market for sale. One of them is a 1925 “Rodessa” in the Kent neighborhood of upper Washington DC  priced at $759,000 which Marcie visited. The other — a listing from our own Evers & Co. office — is a fabulous, updated 1936s “Colchester”/”Lewiston” (pictured left) with 6 bedrooms and 3 full baths in Washington’s Silver Spring suburb, priced at $489,000.  We’ll post more pictures and some exciting details later. For now, you can get some info from the linked MLS fact sheets.

The “Rodessa,” located at 5414 Hawthorne Pl NW, has an Open House from 2 – 5 pm today — you might still make it! And if you’d like to see the “Lewiston,” just let us know!

For those of you who are celebrating the Jewish New Year tonight —  Shana Tovah!

Update on 9/21/2012: You can find the post on the Colchester/Lewiston here.

The Sears “Colchester” as seen in the company’s 1930 mail-order catalog

 

Not Your Average Colonial

Mid-century modern house in Alexandria, VA

The vast majority of houses Marcie and I list, show, sell, or even talk about, tend to be traditional in form, no matter if they’re two, twenty, or 120 years old. When it comes to residential architecture, much of Washington still seems to be stuck in either Colonial or Victorian times.

In the eighties and nineties, new construction in the suburbs here often had the porches and roof lines of the Victorian era. Over the past decade, Arts and Crafts elements have become popular once more. and throughout the decades, the quintessential Brick Colonial has been recreated millions of times. I wonder if elsewhere in the country, you’ll find this many vinyl-clad homes with brick vernier fronts on them. Proportionally, that is.

Whether the fake facade is a uniquely Washington phenomenon or not, tradition suggests rooted-ness and stability to many home buyers, and that’s what most of our clients are looking for as well. Although that certainly does not apply to all of them–we actually sold several bold mid-century modern contemporaries last year, and all of them to young people who wanted exactly that.

One of those houses, in a leafy Silver Spring neighborhood, was designed by leading MCM architect Charles Goodman.

In Alexandria, Virginia, there’s a whole large enclave of about 400 Goodman-designed homes from 1950s and 1960s: Hollin Hills. Last weekend, I took my daughter on a trip to the annual Hollin Hills house tour, and it was quite a change from the split levels, ramblers and bungalows she usually gets to see. (You can see a continuously updated list of Hollin Hills homes for sale here.))

Don’t get me wrong–we love our bungalows and colonials as well…

(If you are interested in moving to Hollin Hills: presently, there are 7 homes on the market for sale, ranging in price between $659,000 and $1,099,000. You can see a continuously updated list of Hollin Hills offers here.)