What? This Is Supposed to Be A Kit House??!

Sears kit house in Georgetown, DC
A 1932 Sears “Worchester” kit house in Georgetown, authenticated via mortgage records. At close inspection, the brick veneer even shows a pattern of “header rows.”

Yes, you heard that right. Your stately $2M home in Georgetown might have once arrived by train, neatly packaged in a giant box. Even if it’s not a bungalow. Even if it’s 4,000 square feet. Even if it has a brick facade.

I marvel at the more unusual, high-end kit house specimen. We have a bunch of them in DC, but to the untrained eye, they’re not easily spotted. Some of them have turned even more palatial by virtue of huge additions, others have been modernized to a point that makes it hard to recognize them. Good thing we have access to all kinds of historic data like deeds and mortgage records,  or even permits that might name Sears and Roebuck as the “architect” of the new structure.

By popular demand (mostly from local Sears house enthusiasts and our own friends), Marcie and I have gone back to our collaborative “Kit House of the Week” series on DCHouseSmarts.  Every Friday, we introduce a different DC area mail-order house (and sometimes its history or first owners). They’re not always on the market. We will tell you when they are, but often, they will just be interesting houses we’ve come across. If you know of one, please tell!

The pictures here provide a preview into some of the homes we’re going to feature. And yes, they’re all kit houses. (The house at the top of the page is a 1919 Aladdin “Colonial” with special-order features from other Aladdin models–the original sales receipt spells out several pages of change items!)

Sears Elmwood DC
This 1929 home near the Washington Cathedral belonged to Horst Köhler before he became President of Germany in 2004.  It’s rumored to be a Sears “Elmwood,” although we haven’t been able to prove it. (Photo ©Catarina Bannier 2016 and must not be used or duplicated without prior permission)
Aladdin mail order home in DC
Aladdin “Villa” kit house near the Naval Observatory
Lewis kit house in DC
Lewis Manufacturing Co. “Marlboro” catalog home in Crestwood, authenticated via mortgage records.
Lewis historic mail-order house in DC
Lewis “Franklin” in Chevy Chase, DC
Lewis Stuyvesant and Franklin kit houses
This special order Lewis “Franklin” in Chevy Chase, MD, served as a testimonial house for the Lewis Manufacturing Company’s DC advertising.

(All photos ©Catarina Bannier 2016 and must not be used or duplicated without prior permission)


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