Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Sears Mortgages of Montgomery County, Maryland

Seal of Montgomery County, Maryland
Image courtesy of Wikipedia
A couple months ago, I shared the results of research I had done into mortgages financed by Sears Roebuck for kit houses located in Washington DC. At current count, Catarina Bannier and I have located and/or authenticated over 220 Sears house within the borders of Washington DC. One of the houses that had a mortgage in Washington DC was a Sears Elmhurst. I had a feeling that there had to be at least one more Elmhurst in the Washington DC suburbs where we knew a number of Sears houses had been built. I asked Catarina where such a high-end Sears kit might have been built and she suggested Montgomery County, Maryland, which surrounds DC to the west, north and a portion of the northeast side. She was right! Not only did the Sears mortgages of Montgomery County lead me to another Sears Elmhurst, they've helped Catarina and I locate and authenticate over 100 Sears houses.

To date, the number of identified Sears houses with mortgages in Montgomery County, Maryland is 109. These 109 houses represent 56 different models. The oldest identified house with a mortgage dates back to 1919 and the most "recent" is from 1933. This time, I've included a breakdown of the number of houses by house model and by year that the mortgage was issued.

Geographically speaking, a large number of the homes are located near the Washington DC border. On the north east side of DC, Takoma Park had the most with 40 homes. On the northwest side, we identified 14 houses in Brookmont, which lies just across the DC border. There's also some other clusters of Sears homes I'll explore in future posts.

7900 Holstein - Takoma Park, MD - Sears Jeanette
Image courtesy of Catarina Bannier
The "top 5" houses by model are:
  1. Conway - 8
  2. Uriel - 7
  3. Vallonia - 6
  4. Windsor - 6
  5. Crescent - 4
One interesting aspect of these numbers is that #1 and #2, the Conway and the Uriel are essentially the same house. The Uriel house design was tweaked and the name changed to the Conway. If you combine those two, you can see that design was far and away the most popular. Also, these numbers are more consistent with numbers we've seen elsewhere in the county, unlike Washington DC which skewed heavily towards larger house models. In Washington DC, we had found a significant number of Dutch Colonial Revival style houses but not in Montgomery County. Of those we did find, most of those were located in the Chevy Chase area on the Maryland side of the DC border.

The following is a list of all of the identified Sears houses with mortgages in Montgomery County, Maryland by model and the number of each model identified.

Sears Elmhurst
Image courtesy of Catarina Bannier
Americus - 3
Attleboro - 1
Avalon - 1
Barrington - 1
Bedford - 1
Bellewood - 1
Cedars - 1
Colchester - 1
Conway - 8
Cornell - 2
Crescent - 4
Crestwood - 2
Dundee - 2
Elmhurst - 1
Elsmore - 2
Fairy - 3
Flossmoor - 1
Fullerton - 1
Fullerton/Woodland - 1
Gladstone - 2
Glen Falls - 1
Hamilton - 1
Hampton - 1
Hathaway - 2
Haven - 1
Jeanette - 3
Jewel - 1
Kilbourne - 2
Langston - 1
Lorain - 1
Lynnhaven - 1
Mansfield - 3
Maplewood - 3
Marina - 1
Oak Park - 2
Oakdale - 2
Osborn - 1
Puritan - 2
Rembrant - 3
Rodessa - 2
Roxbury - 2
Somerset - 1
Stanford - 1
Starlight - 2
Sunbeam - 1
Sunlight - 3
Uriel - 7
Vallonia - 6
Van Jean - 1
Walton - 2
Westly - 1
Wexford - 1
Windsor - 6
Winona - 1
Winthrop - 1

You can see some interesting trends in the breakdown of mortgages by year issued which are listed below. First, there were very few mortgages issues between 1918, which was the earliest Sears mortgage we found, and 1924. The years of 1925 and 1926 appear to reflect a slow down in sales as compared to 1924 and 1927. But in reality, sales were relatively steady over that time period, the difference in totals being a reflection of how many homes were lost to demolition or are still to be located in those "slow" years.

I think many people would be surprised by the number of homes sold in 1930 and 1931 when the effects of the Great Depression had started to take hold. We were not. Lara Solonicke has documented that the first couple of years of the 1930s were relatively good sales years for Sears. Catarina has also speculated that sales in Washington DC may have been buffered from the declines seen elsewhere due to the number of residents in the area who worked for the federal government, which expanded in size as national efforts to restore the economy were started.

4104 Everett - Chevy Chase View, MD - Sears Kilbourne
Image courtesy of Google Maps
The following is a list of the number of identified houses with Sears mortgages by year. For those years with a zero, we've either been unable to locate or identify any houses that had mortgages in those years or the houses have been lost to demolition. We are still working on locating or identifying some of the houses that had mortgages.

1918 - 0
1919 - 3
1920 - 0
1921 - 0
1922 - 8
1923 - 5
1924 - 16
1925 - 8
1926 - 5
1927 - 15
1928 - 7
1929 - 10
1930 - 12
1931 - 15
1932 - 4
1933 - 1

Thank you again to Catarina Bannier who helped in locating and identifying houses as well as getting pictures of some of the houses featured here and in future posts. Also, thanks to all my fellow kit house researchers who put up with a barrage of houses over the past several weeks as I shared my findings with them. There's more to come soon when I present the mortgages of Prince George's County, Maryland.

Updated on July 28, 2018 to reflect an additional house and updated totals.
Updated on January 19, 2021 to reflect additional houses and updated totals. 

1 comment:

  1. Good job, guys! Just think about how long that would have taken Google driving and the dozens and dozens that would have been overlooked.

    I was looking through the city of Chicago building permits yesterday and 1930 was a HUGE year for residential building in general.