Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sears Mortgages of Prince George's County, Maryland

Seal of Prince George's County, Maryland
Image courtesy of Wikipedia
Back in February, I shared the results of the mortgage research I did in Montgomery County, Maryland, where over 100 Sears houses were authenticated using mortgage records. Like Montgomery County, Prince George's County is a suburb of Washington DC, sharing a border with most of the northeast and southeast portions of the District. Through researching mortgage records for the County, I've been able to authenticate over Sears 100 homes in Prince George's County. The total number of homes authenticated to date exceeds the number authenticated in Montgomery County. Together with the homes authenticated in Washington DC and Montgomery County, I've been able to authenticate over 500 Sears homes in Washington DC and the surrounding Maryland suburbs.

To date, the number of identified Sears houses with mortgage in Prince George's County is 126. These 126 houses represent 52 different models. The oldest identified house with a mortgage dates back to 1921 and the most "recent" is from 1933.

Unlike other communities where few, if any, Sears houses have been identified before we start our research, quite a few houses Sears houses had already been identified in Prince George's County through the work of other researchers. Just in Cheverly, over two dozen Sears houses had been previously identified, many of them through mortgages and other records that authenticated the houses as Sears houses.

6101 Forest - Cheverly, MD - Sears Rembrandt
Image courtesy of Google Maps

In the late 1980s, the County's Historic Preservation Staff conducted a countywide survey of Sears houses which identified 82 Sears houses. At the time the survey was published, the staff noted that they were aware of Sears mortgage and other records from 1922 - 1932 that may have identified Sears houses. But I haven't seen any evidence that a follow-up effort was made to identify and authenticate Sears houses. Through this research, we've reviewed those records as well as mortgages prior to 1922 and after 1932. Comparing our list to the survey, we found 52 houses on the survey that also had mortgages from Sears. Almost all of the remaining 30 houses that didn't have mortgages are still extant highlighting that there are likely quite a few more Sears houses in the County beyond the 126 that were authenticated through the mortgage records.

Similarly to what we saw in Montgomery County, a large number of Sears houses were built in the suburbs closest to Washington DC, many of which developed along the streetcar lines that were built from Washington DC into this area of Maryland. The largest number of Sears houses with mortgages can be found in Cheverly and Hyattsville, Cheverly with 23, Hyattsville with 22. The next largest number can be found in Takoma Park with 16. As noted in a post I wrote about Takoma Park, the border between Montgomery County and Prince George's County was adjusted in the late 1990s so that the entire city now lies in Montgomery County. When you combine the total from the two counties, there are 66 authenticated Sears houses in Takoma Park. As in Montgomery County, quite a few Sears houses were built in areas of the county that have remain unincorporated so the identification of the location of these homes may rely on zip codes or census designations as opposed to a city or town name.

4219 Nicholson - Hyattsville, MD - Sears Kilbourne
Image courtesy of Google Maps
The "top 5" houses by model are:
  1. Vallonia - 17
  2. Uriel - 8
  3. Conway - 7
  4. Hampton - 7
  5. Sunlight - 7
As we saw in Montgomery County, the Conway and Uriel models, which are almost identical in design were very popular. We saw a bit less diversity in the number of models as compared to Montgomery County. We also didn't see as many large house models. The exception to these rules was in Cheverly which has a very diverse collection of Sears models including several of the largest models offered by Sears.

6201 Lombard - Cheverly, MD - Sears Vallonia
Image courtesy of Bing Maps

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

Albion - 1
Alhambra - 2
Americus - 2
Argyle - 3
Avalon - 1
Bellewood - 3
Belmont - 1
Berwyn - 4
Brookwood - 1
Claremont - 2
Columbine - 2
Conway - 7
Cornell - 3
Crescent - 5
Dundee - 4
Fairy - 2
Fullerton - 1
Hamilton - 3
Hampton - 7
Hathaway - 3
Jeanette - 1
Kilbourne - 2
Kismet - 1
La Salle - 1
Lakecrest - 2
Langston - 1
Lexington - 1
Maplewood - 1
Marina - 2
Oakdale - 1
Osborn - 2
Pittsburgh - 1
Puritan - 1
Rembrandt - 1
Rochelle - 2
Rodessa - 1
Roseberry - 1
Sherburne - 1
Sheridan - 1
Somers - 1
Starlight - 2
Sunlight - 7
Uriel - 8
Vallonia - 17
Walton - 1
Wayne - 1
Wexford - 1
Wheaton - 1
Whitehall - 1
Wilmore - 2
Wilmore (Standard Built) - 1
Windsor - 4

4111 Hamilton St - Hyattsville, MD - Sears Bellewood
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 a mortgage in those years or the houses have been lost to demolition.

1919 - 0
1920 - 0
1921 - 1
1922 - 14
1923 - 5
1924 - 12
1925 - 12
1926 - 18
1927 - 10
1928 - 7
1929 - 16
1930 - 8
1931 - 15
1932 - 5
1933 - 2

As we've seen elsewhere, Sears continued to have strong sales of homes through 1931, well after the start of the Great Depression. Only as the Depression deepened, did sales fall significantly before the end of the Sears mortgage program in 1934. We are still working on locating or identifying some of the houses that had mortgages. As we - hopefully - locate and identify more houses, we'll share an update.

Updated on July 29, 2018 to reflect an additional house and updated totals.
Updated on July 31, 2018 to reflect an additional house and updated totals.
Updated on July 20, 2019 to reflect additional houses and updated totals. 
Updated on February 11, 2021 to reflect an additional house and updated totals. 

1 comment:

  1. Mortgages are 'da bomb.