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.
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.
The “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.
(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.