Shelbourne on Northampton

Kit House of the Week 10/18/2016

3518 northampton stFacts & Figures:

Manufacturer: Lewis Manufacturing Co.

Model Number or Name: The Shelbourne

Year Built: 1923/1924

Neighborhood: Chevy Chase, DC

Authenticated: Yes. Promissory note to local Lewis rep in the land records; Lewis-typical lumber markings in grease pencil; trim details, lewis catalog hardware consistent with year/model

To see the original Lewis Catalog Page, click here *. For a photo of another Chevy Chase “Shelbourne”, click here. (For more photos of the house, scroll down to the gallery)

House History

The first owners of 3518 Northampton were George and Anna Stephens, a government economist and his wife, who had married late and moved to DC from Kansas. They were in their 40s and had a toddler son and a baby daughter when they purchased the mail-order home in 1923. They took out three mortgages, one for $2750 from Lewis’ local representative Guy Zepp, another one for $5000 (presumably for the construction) and a third from Fulton R Gordon for the purchase of the land, lots 39 and 40.

Screenshot 2016-10-18 01.02.22It was the narrow but deep configuration of the lot that dictated a modification from the design: The side porch was eliminated and a fireplace was put in place of the french doors. We don’t know why the Stephens put the house up for sale less than a year later, and perhaps even before moving in. The add to the left is from the Washington Examiner. Another one, placed in the Washington Post, praises the house as “a home so well-situated at such a low price. (…) convenient to Chevy Chase public school, churches, stores, moving picture theater. Ideal home for a small family with children.” The latter sentence would constitute a fair housing violation in 2016 terms, but the rest is quite applicable almost 100 years later.

The Stephens must have changed their minds, however, because they ended up raising their own “small family” there and lived in the house until 1949. They might also have been the ones who build the addition, combined two bedrooms into one larger one and added another two to the back of the house.

 

The current owners, only the third in the home’s history, bought the “Shelbourne” in the late 1960s and added their own touches and updates, including a comfortable sauna in the basement. It is currently on the market for $1,100,000, listed by Compass. A fabulous 3-D tour enables you to compare the current expanded and somewhat modified footprint to the original floor plan and to observe many well-preserved Lewis details. And if you happen to own VR headgear, you’re also getting a virtual reality option. Enjoy. (Or if you’d like to have a look in person, just give us a call.)

More Photos (click thumbnails to enlarge)

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Are you Interested in Kit House History? We can help!

Cati and Marcie are Realtors by day and house history enthusiasts by night. We specialize in NW DC and close-in Montgomery County, MD, but cover the entire Washington metropolitan area. House History–the hidden stories behind the walls of the homes we sell or walk by every day–has long been a passion of ours (In fact, for Cati, a former journalist, it was what ultimately brought her to the world of DC real estate).

We have written about many house-stories in our individual blogs over the years, and we sometimes have surprised (and delighted!) clients with our research findings. When the time allows, we love digging in archives, city records and historic collections. What we find, is sometimes funny, sad or scary, but it’s always a part of the DC area’s story as well. And when it comes to history of any kind, there could not be a better place for that than the metropolitan area of the Nation’s Capital!

If you have followed us for even a short while, you probably know that one of our special interests are the mail-order homes of the early 20th century. In many Washington, DC, neighborhoods and in the city’s older suburbs, we can find an abundance of those historic kit houses. (More often than not, the owners have no idea that some 90 or 100 years ago, their house arrived neatly packaged on a railroad car, in thousands of numbered pieces.)

You can learn more about catalog homes here, “like” our Facebook page for updates or email or tweet us with questions or suggestions for houses to write about.

Join the Mailing List for our Annual Kit House Newsletter:

*Catalog images provided courtesy of Internet Archive.

Kit House Of The Week: A 1922 Gordon-Van Tine “No. 542” In Chevy Chase/DC

Gordon-Van Tine No. 542GVT No. 542-IMG_5819Every now and then, we still come across a kit house that really makes us happy. Because something about it is just perfect. Either perfectly preserved or perfectly balanced for the 21st century, perhaps in a great neighborhood or a in great setting, or several of the above. Such is the case for the Gordon-Van Tine No. 542 at 3714 Livingston Street NW in historic Chevy Chase, DC. After discovering the almost 100 year old original sales deeds for the house just a few weeks ago, we were thrilled to see it come on the market this month. (It’s listed with Long & Foster for $1,139,000, and you can see floor plans and lots of pictures in the virtual tour here.) For details relevant to the mail-order history, scroll down to the gallery below.

The home, once erected by local builder Ellsworth Tessier on spec and financed with a Gordon-Van Tine mortgage, has been expanded over the years, possibly in stages, but not in out-of-proportion ways. It’s neither pretentious nor super-sleek, but has a generous and warm feel-good appeal all over. (Hey, I’m not the listing agent here; I mean it!) What was once the living room now functions as a spacious entry hall with built-ins, the formerly pretty small kitchen has given way to a hall with powder room and closet. And the cedar deck we had already admired from afar in the spring looks just as comfy and inviting close-up.

There are many original GVT details, such as the strong and simple lines of the woodwork or an interesting inlay pattern of the oak floors that we don’t get to see very often in DC (there are, as of now, only 4 documented existing GVT houses here), and that’s always a reason to get excited. So, there you have it.

DC’s Valuable Veronas

Kit House of the Week 6/24/2016

Chevy Chase, DC
Front elevation (portico likely not original)

Manufacturer: Sears, Roebuck and Co.

Model Number or Name: The Verona

Year Built: 1923 /1920

Neighborhoods: Chevy Chase, DC; Falls Church, VA

Authenticated: Yes. 1923 Sears mortgage for the Western Ave house

“Another million-dollar Sears house?!” Kit house enthusiasts from other parts of the country are usually stunned when we present them with listings of mail-order homes in Chevy Chase or some of DC’s other tony suburbs. But it’s not the fact that the home was once ordered from a catalog that determines the price. In many cases, neither sellers nor buyers are even aware of it.  Rather, the factors are the same as for any other house: the neighborhood, the size and style of the home, the updates, the condition, the location and size of the lot, as reflected in the “comps.”

This week, we have a couple of lovely examples for you. Both are Sears “Veronas” with much original detail, although from different catalog years between which the model had evolved a little. The first one is a 1923 Verona at 6019 Western Avenue in Chevy Chase/DC, currently listed for $1,195,000. The gallery below (click images for larger version) emphasizes tell-tale identifiers, but a nifty 3-D tour of the entire house, including the addition, can be seen here.

Our second Verona can be found in a Virginia suburb of DC, Falls Church, at 2468 Buckelew Drive. It predates the Chevy Chase house by a few years, and some of the differences in interior detail (like the simpler style of the stair rail) as well as the differently configured bay windows attest to that. The house itself is sitting on a huge 2.3 acre lot (not easily found in close-in the more close-in areas) and is listed for $1,399,000. It features a somewhat unusual but pretty neat family room addition. You can find a virtual tour here.

So far, we haven’t dug into the history of either house, but will be back with an update when we do!

And again, it’s the “comps,” the most recent comparable resales in an area or neighborhood that guide the pricing–for kit houses just like for any other house.  Although one thing is true: the more expensive the neighborhood, the higher the chance that potential buyers appreciate the historic value of the house, and the less likely that it has been destroy-renovated.

_________________________________________

Are you Interested in Kit House History? We can help!

Cati and Marcie are Realtors by day and house history enthusiasts by night. We specialize in NW DC and close-in Montgomery County, MD, but cover the entire Washington metropolitan area. House History–the hidden stories behind the walls of the homes we sell or walk by every day–has long been a passion of ours (In fact, for Cati, a former journalist, it was what ultimately brought her to the world of DC real estate).

We have written about many house-stories in our individual blogs over the years, and we sometimes have surprised (and delighted!) clients with our research findings. When the time allows, we love digging in archives, city records and historic collections. What we find, is sometimes funny, sad or scary, but it’s always a part of the DC area’s story as well. And when it comes to history of any kind, there could not be a better place for that than the metropolitan area of the Nation’s Capital!

If you have followed us for even a short while, you probably know that one of our special interests are the mail-order homes of the early 20th century. In many Washington, DC, neighborhoods and in the city’s older suburbs, we can find an abundance of those historic kit houses. (More often than not, the owners have no idea that some 90 or 100 years ago, their house arrived neatly packaged on a railroad car, in thousands of numbered pieces.)

You can learn more about catalog homes here, “like” our Facebook page for updates or email or tweet us with questions or suggestions for houses to write about.

Join the Mailing List for our Annual Kit House Newsletter:

*Catalog images provided courtesy of Internet Archive.