From Pine View Farm

Mail-Order House 1

Tizzy in a teacup:

A do-it-yourself Craftsman-style Sears kit house, painstakingly assembled in 1925 by its owner, is up for grabs in Northwest Washington — not for a price but simply for the taking.

The two-story house, assessed by the District tax office at $813,950, has been boarded up for more than a decade and hardly looks like the showplace depicted in old Sears catalogue drawings. A plumber named Jesse Baltimore put it together — all 10,000 parts — with the help of a 77-page Sears, Roebuck and Co. instruction book. He was among thousands of people across the nation who bought the company’s house kits decades ago.

A plumber built this house in the Palisades neighborhood in 1925 from a kit he purchased from a Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog.

Neighbors advocating demolition declared the house an eyesore years ago. But preservationists hailed it as an important symbol of how Washington’s working-class neighborhoods developed after World War I. The preservationists wanted to keep the house right where it sits in the Palisades neighborhood.

(Aside: Northwest Washington is definitely the high-rent district.)

I grew up on the Sears and Montgomery Ward Catalogs. On Pine View Farm, they were our link to shopping. The nearest cities were 90 miles away (north) or 40 miles and an hour-and-a-half ferry ride (south).

A house in a box is certainly a curiosity, but really not much different from the McMansions being thrown up now (I have seen the kits from a leading McMansion manufacturer heading down the road on the backs of flat-beds–don’t remove the scaffolding until the Ty-Vek is up), but, given that, as the story later points out, “(a)bout 90 percent of the estimated 75,000 Sears houses sold across the country still stand,” this house is hardly a historical site worthy of preservation.

More a historical curiosity.


1 comment

  1. The Plumber!

    October 22, 2007 at 6:26 am

    So there is hope for us Plumbers?