A Sears “Americus” that’s currently available for rent in DC’s Foxhall neighborhood reminded us how popular this particular model was in the 1920s. The mail-order company described it as a “fine home that any American can be proud of and be comfortable in.” If you chose this model, you were assured to buy a house that was “dignified, substantial” and would “never go ‘out of style’.”
This must have been a convincing pitch at the time, at least in the nation’s capital. The “Americus” was the one most popular kit house model built in town; there are nearly 20 surviving specimen known in DC, and several more in the close-in suburbs.
While its design is a basic square with a hipped roof and full-width front porch, the “Americus” also has the advantage of some characteristic elements that make it easy to spot. One of the bedrooms, for instance, extends into the porch roof — an unusual feature we’ve never seen in any other home. And there are those decorative triple brackets on all the corners of the roof and porch. The brackets have sometimes fallen victim to renovations, but you can usually see that top room jotting out.
The “Americus” was more of an end-user house even here in DC, documented by the fact that most of them were purchased by the people who would live in them (and many had original mortgages from Sears Roebuck). The Foxhall house, permitted in 1925, has seen numerous updates and expansions over time, but it still retains a bunch of original details that are fun to look at. Check out the gallery for some of those, and for more pictures of “Americus” kit houses in DC, Bethesda, Kensington and Takoma Park.
As always, if you’d like to see the rentable Americus, or any other home on the market, just give us a shout! (For my collection of historic kit houses currently for sale in the DC area, click here.) Happy Holidays!
Please use the form to tell us about your discoveries, about any house history you can share, or let us know about any kit houses coming on the market: