It’s been one of my favorite streets in DC for a long time: Plymouth Street in the original part of Colonial Village, the section that gave the neighborhood its name. It’s a 1930s subdivision of about 90 homes that is surrounded by Rock Creek Park on three sides. The streets are unusually wide and have circles and park-like enclosures. All the original homes here were replicas of “Authentic Colonial Dwellings” of the period of the “Original Thirteen Colonies,” as a 1935 Washington Post advertisement explained. The insides of the homes, however, were state-of-the-art when they were built.
It was exactly a year ago, during a talk we gave at Historic Chevy Chase DC, that the idea was born to somehow make our research public, not only to the local kit house owners, but also many other people who were fascinated with the unique concentration of larger mail-order homes here. After (not kidding here!) thousands of hours, we can now present the first results — a color-coded interactive map and a corresponding database of homes/models and historical information. We’re working on integrating the material into the Historic Chevy Chase DC website and hope to interlink it with much more house history, artifacts and oral history in the future.
Chevy Chase, DC (zip code 20015), has a unique (both in quality as well as density) collection of historic catalog houses. Nearly 100 existing homes and 61 different models have so far been authenticated, and there are several more suspects. The homes are from four different manufacturers (Sears Roebuck & Co.; Lewis Manufacturing Co.; International Mill and Lumber a.k.a. Sterling; and Gordon-Van Tine) and were built between 1915 and 1932.
It’s probably not a coincidence that the most popular models here were the Lewis “Chevy Chase,” the Sears “Americus” and the Sears “Martha Washington!” The following catalog homes show up more than once in Chevy Chase/DC:
Lewis “Chevy Chase” (4 times)
Sears “Americus” (4 times)
Sears “Martha Washington” (4 times)
Sears “Rembrandt” (4 times)
Sears “Woodland” (4 times)
Lewis “Ardmore” (3 times)
Lewis “Cambridge” (3 times)
Lewis “Winthrop” (3 times)
Sears “Barrington” (3 times)
Sears “Kilbourne” (3 times)
Sears “Puritan” (3 times)
Sears “Walton” (3 times)
Lewis “Marengo” (2)
Sears “Alhambra” (2)
Sears “Lewiston” (2)
Sears “Priscilla” (2)
Sears “Rockford” (2)
Sears “Westly” (2)
The likely top runner, however, might be the Sears “Maywood” (5 times), although we don’t have full proof yet for the authenticity of those homes. (All 5 of them were built by a small builder who doesn’t name Sears Roebuck on the permits, but rather the original architect who published his rendition of the Maywood more than 10 years before Sears carried it in their catalogs!) We’re working on it, though, and will update you once we are a hundred percent sure.
In the meantime, we’d be happy for you to test-drive and explore our proud creation. Comments, questions and suggestions are always welcome!
This weekend, there’s a special treat available for fans of historic catalog homes in DC. A 1922 “Malvern” from the Lewis Manufacturing Co. just hit the market in DC’s AU Park neighborhood for $2,250,000. It’s listed by TTR Sotheby’s, and there will be an open house on Sunday from 1-3 pm.
Our kit house researcher friends in other parts of the U.S. will probably cringe a little. There’s the price point, of course, but some historic preservation purists will also dislike the fact that the home (a more stately model to begin with) was expanded by more than a hundred percent, and that the interior was pretty much completely gutted. (Although we were lucky enough to find a few marked original beams in the furnace room toward the original front of the house!)
Comparing the old with the new floor plan that is given in the brochures, there is little overlap. The living room (now staged as the dining room) fireplace is still in the same place, of course, and so is the kitchen. But the entry has been moved to the side street (the address changed from 4312 Fessenden St NW to 4926 43rd Pl NW); the former front porch is a private side “terrace,” and the original front hall is now a “mud room.” In place of the original staircase are now a powder room and a pantry.
But… as far as I’m concerned, it’s also a really lovely home with a nice yard and in a super walkable city location. A sensitive architect tried to recreate many of the exterior elements for the back of the house, and while the side (aka current front) doesn’t look quite as balanced, the whole house gives off a very welcoming vibe.
Many of the materials and styles used are reminiscent of what used to be there. The living floor inlays, for instance, are matching the original ones I’ve seen in other Lewis houses. The expansion overall was made very thought- and respectfully. (And I admit: the magnificent red velvet movie theater in the basement of the addition doesn’t hurt.)
It’s a shame the virtual tour from the old 2005 listing no longer works — technology has certainly changed as well since then — but at least we get a glimpse at the exterior. And that’s a great match to the catalog image.
And while you’re there, if you want to see another one, go no further than the other end of the block on Fessenden. That’s because the Mandler-Brodt family, who put the house together in 1922 built two of them at the same time, both on corner lots. (See a picture of the other home here.)
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!
Our special interest is in 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 us with questions or suggestions for houses to write about.
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This time, it was our turn; we’ve moved! Not to a new house, however — that part we’ve reserved for our clients. Marcie and I joined Compass, an exciting, technology-driven firm that brings the best of all real estate worlds together.
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Looking to move to Rock Creek Forest? Or you’re a neighbor whose friends are interested? Come see me at my open house at 2725 Washington Ave this Sunday, from 1-4 pm. It’s a beautifully and smartly expanded colonial from the original neighborhood stock. It has a renovated kitchen with table space, a lovely 2-story family room and master bathroom addition and a flat fenced-in backyard. Just a block to trail and stables! It’s larger than it looks from the outside, and a steal at $799,000.
Come by and receive a mini-poster showing off Marcie’s RCF map art with neighborhood resources on the back. It looks adorable. And larger versions of the poster are available for drop-off on request!
How has the 2015 real estate market been in comparison to the previous year? Should you consider moving next year? Is now the right time to downsize? Or to unload that investment property?
As the year nears its end, we’ve been running the first preliminary stats. And the findings are surprising.
So far this year, 29 single family homes have sold on the Chevy Chase side of Rock Creek Forest (up from 23 in 2014 and 19 in 2013). And the year isn’t even over yet: 4 houses are currently under contract, bringing the potential count up to 33. Another 6 houses are actively on the market, so we might very well beat the 2007 record of 33 this year!
The closed prices, however, in this year’s sales have so far ranged from $480,500 to $1,199,000, with an average of $734,810. That’s below last years average of $804,000 — although that average was skewed by an outlier (an unusual contemporary on Washington Avenue that sold for more than $1.5M).
Final judgment will be reserved until all the numbers are in, but suffice it to say that it has been a much more lively and balanced market in 2015 than what we’ve seen in the previous years. The median time on the market has been 27 Days, with only a handful of homes either getting snatched up in bidding wars or sitting for extended periods of time. On average, homes have sold at about 97% of the list price. That means sellers finally got it right!
We will look at nearby Colonial Village and Shepherd Park next.
Embrace nature in this surprising oasis! An unassuming exterior opens to beautifully renovated, open living spaces with stunning views of a landscaped 18,000 square foot lot. Backing to Rock Creek Park, the meticulously maintained home features 3 bedrooms and 3 full baths and a large walk-out lower level with in-law suite. Just a short stroll from trails, deli and shopping center. Tell your friends! You can find a Virtual Tour of the house here. For all other homes currently for sale in the Rock Creek Forest neighborhood, click here.
All homes and condos in this post are currently for sale in the Rock Creek Forest neighborhood. The top of the list features the newest listings, while those at the bottom have been on the market for a while. Marcie and Cati will usually be updating this post every Friday, so be sure to check back to see what’s new, what’s gone, & what might be coming (and check out the date up top… if it’s not current, neither is this information!). While most of these might not be our own listings, we’ve taken the time to inject our opinions on the condition, features, quirks and pricing. Full disclosure: Cati has lived (and sold real estate) in Rock Creek Forest for 8 years (after residing in NW Washington DC for the previous 11 years). (More aboutwhy this neighborhood is one of the DC suburbs’ best kept secretshere.) And if you have a question or want to chat, please don’t hesitate to get in touch at anytime!
Single Family Homes:
2008 Derby Ridge Ln — $429,900. Townhouse with 2 bedrooms, 3 full and 1 half bath. 2 fireplaces. Backs to Rock Creek Park. A little dated perhaps, but — if you’re willing to put in the work — might be a nice deal as it’s priced quite a bit below some recent comps. Listed by Menkis Real Estate. (Photo courtesy of MRIS.)Days on market: 8
2621 Washington Ave — $1,795,000. 5 br, 4 full and 2 half baths. One of the largest homes in RCF, this is a unique custom-built contemporary on a half-acre lot. Sensational California flair — check out the virtual tour here. Listed with our own Evers & Co. Days on market: 12
8506 Grubb Rd — $629,000. 3 bedrooms, 2 baths. Similar to the two recent listings on Spencer. Crisp white kitchen, updated baths, a sun room and a big deck in the back. Steps to the pool. Listed with Washington Fine Properties. (Photo courtesy of MRIS.) Days on market: 26
8019 Ellingson Dr —$1,199,500. 4 BR/3 full and 1 half bath. Terrific 20-year old home with great space and colorful vibes. Steps from Rock Creek Park, 2 blocks to Candy Cane City or stables. Listed with Long & Foster. Days on Market: 47
There are no single family homes for rent at the moment.
Currently, there are 5 condos for sale in Rock Creek Forest, ranging from $195,500 for a slightly dated 678 sf 1-bedroom unit to $264,900 for a 2-bedroom, 1 bath unit (without loft).
Update for March 18th, 2014. Yet more snow! At least there were two new Colonials that came on for this past weekend, and both are lovely houses in their own way. One price reduction; one off-market sale, and one that–as previously predicted–came back on the market. Currently, there are three homes under contract. You can follow them here.
All homes and condos in this post are currently for sale in the Colonial Village neighborhood of Washington, DC.The top of the list features the newest listings. We usually update this post every Sunday or right after the weekend, so be sure to check back to see what’s new, what’s gone, & what might be coming. While most of these might not be our own listings, we’ve taken the time to inject our opinions on the condition, features, quirks and pricing. Cati has lived (and sold real estate) in Rock Creek Forest and Colonial Village for 8 years (after residing in NW Washington DC for the previous 11 years). If you have a question or want to chat, please don’t hesitate toget in touch at anytime!
Homes Currently On The Market in Colonial Village:
NEW. 7947 Orchid St NW — $1,039,000. Great house in beautiful shape. 4 bedrooms, 3.5 baths. Stately features and a few somewhat eccentric finishes. Easy walk to Metro. The only drawback for some is the lack of a backyard, but for others it will be more than made up for by a gorgeous patio. Listed with Lee Goldstein of our own Evers & Company. Days on Market: 6
NEW. 1639 Myrtle St NW — $899,900. Nice, solid colonial on a nice block. Perhaps a bit ambitiously priced, given that it sold for $610k in 2011. Granted, the current owners fixed some of the problematic issues (steep, wild backyard now transformed into pretty and usable space with large patio/retaining walls) and updated the bathrooms, added fresh paint and carpeting, etc.), so we’ll see. 3 br, 2 full and 2 half baths. Listed with Rory S. Coakley Realty. Days on Market: 6
REDUCED ONCE MORE, to $899,000 — 2254 Sudbury Rd NW.
(Original LP: $980,000.) MCM-style home, beautifully renovated with great design choices for kitchen and baths. Nice open spaces on main level, large rec room and guest suite on lower. Price reflects updates, but on high end for size of home. 4BR/3FB on a 7,877 s.f. lot. A block from Parkway Deli and RCF Sports. Perched against Rock Creek Park. Listed with Citylights Realty Group. Days on Market: 100
2125 Yorktown Rd NW —$1,399,000.
(Original LP: $1,599,000.) Over 5,000 s.f of living space on a 10,000+ sf lot. This one is just big! 4-car tandem garage, private in-law suite (separate entrance), and a gas-burning fireplace. Did we mention that it backs to Rock Creek Park! Recent $100K price reduction. Listed with our own Evers & Company Real Estate, Inc. Days on Market: 154
BACK. 1715 Tamarack St NW — $769,000.
(Original LP: $799,000.) This one could use some loving, but it wouldn’t take much to spruce it up. 4BR/3FB on a large 8,999 s.f. lot. The challenge is the bedroom placement, with 2 on the main floor and another 2 in the lower level. For some, just perfect. For others, not so much. Listed with Long & Foster. Days on Market: 128 (1)
ALSO POSSIBLY COMING BACK: 1709 Kalmia Rd NW — Officially showing as “WITHDRAWN.” Not sure why. Last price was $1,287,500.
5 BR/3.5 Baths. Lovely renovation with lots of nice touches. House is perched quite high on the hill, so the views are magnificent. Nice kitchen opening to family room. Attached garage. Recent price reduction. Listed with John C. Formant Real Estate. Days on Market: 138
There are no homes listed for rent right now, in either Colonial Village or Shepherd Park.