No Longer The Brightest Star

Kit house for sale in Takoma Park
Replacement en lieu of restoration: the house now presents with vinyl siding and other, well…, improvements.

Today’s Kit House Of The Week post is more a eulogy than a celebration of survival. In fact, it’s a very sad story, sadder even than the catalog house vampires we frequently get to see.

This former Sears mail-order home that’s currently for sale in Takoma Park — the “Starlight” — was built in 1923 and has seen so many facelifts since then that it is practically no longer recognizable.  While the 2-unit*, 6-bedroom, 4-bath house with 2 renovated kitchens (now reduced to $399,000 from the original $449,000) seems a great deal for the right buyer, it certainly isn’t a delightful sight for kit house enthusiasts. What is proudly offered as a “complete renovation” doesn’t seem to feature a single original window, door, built-in, or piece of trim. Click on the link, and you will get the idea. I will not comment on the renovation. Tastes differ. Why someone would “side” over some of the dormer windows (they’re still visible from inside the huge, unfinished attic) is a mystery indeed.

Mail-order home for sale in Takoma Park
The Takoma Park “Starlight” in 2004, before its renovation. The porch had already been halved at that point.

An investor, on the other hand, might get a handsome return over time: There are hospitals and a college in walking distance, so the house, or one floor of it could likely be rented to a bunch of friendly roommates.

Kit house order page - Sears StarlightThe “Starlight” was one of the most popular (and longest-running) models Sears had to offer. It was relatively modest in size and features (in the early years even a version without a bathroom was offered). Because of its porch spanning just half the width of the house, we originally suspected the house to be a Sears “Hamilton” — it’s upgraded twin that was offered parallel beginning in 1923.

It turned out, however, that the other half of the porch had just been turned into two walk-in closets for the front bedroom! The floorplan turned out to be down to the inch that of the Starlight, with the staircase demolished and the pantry turned into a second hallway leading to two added rooms in the back.

Mail-order home designAs always, if you’re interested in seeing this or any other  house, please let me know!

(UPDATE:  if you want to hear more about the history of the Starlight, or see many more pictures, including interior ones, check out Rose Thornton’s really neat post here.)


*Stairs between the top and bottom floors have been torn out. We do not know whether the two units are legally registered.

Photos courtesy of MRIS.

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