Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Sears Mortgages of Takoma Park, Maryland

Seal of the City of Takoma Park
In a recent post, I shared some numbers on Sears mortgages in Montgomery County, Maryland. The community with the most houses with mortgages financed by Sears Roebuck was Takoma Park, Maryland with 46. What I didn't know at the time is that for many years, a portion of Takoma Park was located in Prince George's County. It wasn't until 1997 that the border between the two counties was adjusted to place all of Takoma Park within Montgomery County. That meant that there were likely more houses with mortgages from Sears located in the portion of Takoma Park previously located in Prince George's County. Having completed a preliminary review of the Sears mortgages for Prince George's County, I now have been able to identify another 18 houses with mortgages from Sears in Takoma Park. The discovery of the name of another Sears trustee led to the discovery of some additional homes in Montgomery County too. In total, to date, I've been able to identity 64 Sears houses with mortgages in Takoma Park, Maryland. Let's check out the numbers and photos of some of the houses that have been authenticated.

First, I should note that these 64 houses only represent the houses that have been identified and authenticated using mortgages from Sears Roebuck. Fellow kit house researcher Catarina Bannier has identified at least another 20 houses in Takoma Park that are likely from Sears plus additional kit houses, some authenticated, from Aladdin and Lewis. Of the 64 houses from Sears, the earliest identified house dates back to 1919 (Sears Carlin), the latest to October 1932 (Sears Parkside). In addition to these 64 houses with Sears mortgages, there were several houses with mortgages from Sears that I wasn't able to identify as Sears models. There were also several houses that have been lost to time due to demolition or redevelopment. Still, for a city of a little over 2 square miles in size, Takoma Park has a surprisingly large number of kit houses.

6741 Eastern - Takoma Park, MD - Sears Carlin
All images courtesy of Catarina Bannier
It's also a very diverse collection of homes.  Among the 64 houses, there are 33 different models of varying sizes and styles. That large number of different models allows residents and visitors to Takoma Park to experience the diversity of architectural styles that Sears offered over the years through the Modern Homes program. Two models - the Uriel and the Conway - were the most popular of the models selected by Takoma Park homeowners. As I noted in the post about Sears houses in Montgomery County, the two models are almost identical in design. Accounting for 13 of the homes, it was a design that must have had a lot of appeal.

7909 Greenwood - Takoma Park, MD - Sears Conway
As a general rule, the models represented in Takoma Park had price points in the lower to mid-range of houses offered by Sears. Compared to the houses in Washington DC proper, they tended to be more modest in size and were either one story and or one story and 1/2 in size although there are several examples of larger kit houses offered by Sears. Despite their smaller size and lower cost, the number of houses that still remain standing today are a testament to the quality of the materials used in the construction of these houses and the care that went into building them.

7419 Piney Branch - Takoma Park, MD - Sears Walton
In reviewing the list of houses with Sears mortgages in Takoma Park, there are several clusters of Sears houses in the city. A cluster is where you find multiple Sears houses in a defined area, such as a street or a neighborhood. Some of the clusters include:

  • Flower Avenue Park subdivision - Greenwood, Holstein and Garland streets
  • Petty Estate subdivision - Cedar and Philadelphia streets
  • 6600 Block of Poplar Avenue
In the case of the Petty Estate cluster, it appears that at least some of the homes were purchased by the developer of that subdivision of land, Margaret Petty Dodge and her husband, possibly as model homes to help promote the development. In all of these clusters, further research may explain why so many Sears houses were built in close proximity to each other.

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

Barrington - 1
Berwyn - 3
Carlin - 1
Claremont - 1
Columbine - 2
Conway - 4
Crafton - 2
Crescent - 2
Crestwood - 1
Dundee - 2
Elsmore - 1
Fairy - 2
Gladstone - 3
Hathaway - 1
Haven - 1
Jeanette - 2
Kimberly - 1
La Salle - 1
Maplewood - 2
Marina - 2
Oakdale - 2
Parkside - 1
Puritan - 2
Rochelle - 2
Stanford - 1
Starlight - 3
Sunlight - 1
Uriel - 9
Vallonia - 3
Walton - 1
Westly - 1
Windsor - 2
Winona - 1

7407 Baltimore - Takoma Park, MD - Sears Westly
As with the other Washington DC area mortgage surveys, I was once again assisted by Catarina Bannier, a real estate agent and a kit house researcher from the Washington DC area. Catarina, as always, was a great resource about the houses and the Takoma Park community. Thank you Catarina!

Updated on April 13, 2016 to reflect additional houses and updated totals. 
Updated on May 9, 2017 to reflect an additional house and updated totals.
Updated on February 11, 2018 to reflect additional houses and updated totals.


  1. It's so nice to see so many Sears homes in lovely condition, too. Great work!

  2. Thanks! It's always fun to share these finds with the community!

  3. Wow. What an awesome find and read. I’m at 5 Philadelphia Ave. do you know if that is one of the homes that was identified?

    1. Hi! Your house isn't on the list of houses with mortgages but it's been identified as a kit house from Lewis Homes of Bay City, Michigan. Here's some more information on the researcher who identified it.