Haus Schwatz: Cati's DC Real Estate


Yes! Blue Grease Pencil! -- My Historic Mail-Order Home Of The Week

Sears "Honor" in Shepherd Park, DCOh, what thrill it was! The one-hundred-percent, doubt-free identification that we so rarely get to see! But just wait; we will get to that later.

This week's historic kit home is actually a rare find, at least for Washington, DC (correct me, if I'm wrong--I'm always looking to make new discoveries). Once more, we located it in the Shepherd Park neighborhood in the northern tip of DC.

The bright home with its rather unusual roof line (worked-in layered arches above the windows) is a spacious Sears "Honor," was built in 1926 (model number P13071), and it's currently for rent through our company. (You can find more pictures at the listing link. I will link to a virtual tour later.)

The interior woodwork, floors and other details are pretty much intact and have been preserved nicely. Some modifications to the house appear to be original (Sears allowed for customization), such as the pantry and back porch addition off the kitchen that still features an original ice box that could be loaded from the outside. That way, a larger eat-in kitchen was created.Sears "Honor" catalog page

Likewise a possibly original modification is the configuaration of the three front bedrooms on the floor plan that have been made into two huge bedrooms (the dividing wall is now between the two windows that appear to belong to the middle bedroom).

But there have been modernizations as well: the bedroom above the kitchen for instance is now a generous master bath and walk-in closet.

Grease pencil markings on kit houseBack to my thrilling moment: as the basement is still unfinished, we could go after the tell-tale signs and traces that might make it possible to truly authenticate the house.

My heart beat a lot faster when I discovered the blue grease pencil markings kit house historians always talk about! They were on different types of pre-cut lumber, behind the stairs for instance, or on some of the floor beams. The numbers all contained the sequence "13071" which was the catalog number in 1926.

Of course, there were a bunch of other Sears-typical identifiers, such as the vertical block between the baseboard and the stair trim at the bottom of the steps, that was thought to make the kit's assembly easier for the not quite so skilled do-it-yourself carpenter. But the grease pencil truly made my day!!

The property manager, Judy Meyerson, had no idea that this was a kit house. But I hope she will pass my post on to the owners who are diplomats somewhere out in the world and couldn't be asked yet.

And if you are a kit house enthusiast--here is your chance to live in one!



© 2012, Catarina Bannier


Comment balloon 12 commentsCatarina Bannier • January 13 2012 11:20AM


I did hear that Sears was in the home business. I found the concept amazing. It is found more up here in my area of NY, although i can't tell which are the Sears homes. They were well built though and the materials have lasted way beyond the average expectations.

Posted by Janis Borgueta, LIC RE Salesperson (Key Properties of the Hudson Valley ) over 7 years ago

How cool is this !!! Here we do have a number of Sears kit homes that were built around the marble mines. When we lived in NYC we lived on Steinway Street and down a bit from us was the piano factory and the homes they built also for the workers. some times being in real estate is like being a historian. Enjoyed the post

Posted by Charlie Ragonesi, Homes - Big Canoe, Jasper, North Georgia Pros ( over 7 years ago

Cati, this looks a lot like Esther Peterson's old house.  These kit houses are just wonderful.

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 7 years ago

Cati:  I didn't know there were replica kit homes like this!  Very informative and well put together post!

Posted by Sidney Kutchuk - Realty Works Temecula Kutchuk - Realty Works Temecula, Realty Works Temecula (Realty Works Temecula) over 7 years ago

Cati, Loving the kit house posts! Haven't seen very many in person, They are interesting! Keep em coming.

Posted by Cheryl Dickson, Retired Realtor, GRI / Retired Home Inspector (Wichita Falls Association of Realtors - Staff) over 7 years ago

Hi Cati - Came over from Patricia. Holy Cow - now I have to check to see if my 1924 is a Sears house! Based your authentication link

Posted by Andre R. Aragon, Real Estate Photographer (Greater Tampa Real Estate Photographer) over 7 years ago

Janis - yes, they are amazingly well-built. Some historians have theorized that quality materials are only one reason for that; the other is the fact--ironically--that many of them were built by laymen, i.e., the families themselves. They would put a lot more time and effort into it than professionals.

Posted by Catarina Bannier, DC Real Estate The Smart And Fun Way (Compass) over 7 years ago

Charlie - yes, I so often feel like a historian! I think that's what makes up the emotional attachment people have to their houses: all that lived history that has unfolded there...

Pat - let's research that! Haven't seen this model before, but there are a bunch in the neighborhood from that era that could fit.

Posted by Catarina Bannier, DC Real Estate The Smart And Fun Way (Compass) over 7 years ago

Jane- it's really fascinating and was a unique period in american history. These house were delivered like gigantic IKEA kits, except in thousands of pieces, neatly packaged on railroad cars.

Cheryl - I will! You've probably been in some and haven't noticed it. We find that often the owners are unaware as well, and on the other hand, there are a lot of people that think they live in a kit house becvause they were told by a neighbor or the previous owner, but can't verify it.

Posted by Catarina Bannier, DC Real Estate The Smart And Fun Way (Compass) over 7 years ago

Hi Andre - send some pictures! I'm becoming increasingly familiar with the other kit companies as well. If not a Sears, perhaps it's a Wardway or Lewis!

Posted by Catarina Bannier, DC Real Estate The Smart And Fun Way (Compass) over 7 years ago

There are a number of Sears kit houses in Takoma.

Lately, I have been seeing this kind of desecration of older homes by developers as rollovers in the neighborhood. It is so sad. They buy them from owners who have lived her for a long while and not updated and then come in and do a quilck and dirty with a "fancy" granite counter kitchen and tile bath and rip out walls and replace solid wood doors and windows. The young buyers see everything "New and clean" and are thrilled and don't realize the cheap substitutions won't last for another hundred years.

Posted by Alice over 7 years ago

Hi Alice,

I know exactly what you mean, and it's very painful. I described such an "all new" flip of a Sears house in Brookland before: , although I have to say that in person, it was a lot more depressing than you'd think from the pictures.

Posted by Catarina Bannier, DC Real Estate The Smart And Fun Way (Compass) over 7 years ago