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Craftsman Style Homes in Washington DC Metro Area
One of the more frequently mentioned home-types in Washington Metro is the Craftsman. Often associated with cottages and bungalows, the architectural style has its early influences in Britain's Arts & Crafts movement, which subsequently spurred the American Craftsman offshoot. The most commonly associated Craftsman homes were manufactured in kit form by Sears, Roebuck & Co. and shipped by rail. The official brand name for these residences was the Sears Modern Home, marketed through the company's mail order catalog. Somewhere between 70,000 and 75,000 of these homes were sold between 1908 and 1940.
Where can you find these awesome homes for sale these days? All over the place, including such popular communities as Del Ray in Alexandria, Lyon Village in Arlington and Hyattsville in Maryland.
The idea that the Craftsman home was uniform or one size fits all is a misconception. The company sold three different levels; the Honor Bilt (highest quality), Standard Built and Simplex Sectional. The latter example was the bottom rung and usually reserved for small seasonal cottages. There were an astonishing 447 different Modern Home models over the years, including cottage-style, bungalow, Victorian, Dutch Colonial, English Tudor, Cape Cod style and even Spanish. Prices also varied, from $191 for a basic three-room Natona cottage all the way up to the Magnolia, a ten-room Colonial design with price tags from $5,140 to $6,488. There were only seven known examples of this creme de la crème home, each with its own specific cost. Start searching the active home listings below to learn more about Craftsman style homes in Washington DC Metro area.
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So how could one company design so many different homes? The answer is, they didn't. Not really. One of Sears' earliest mandates was soliciting customer input. They welcomed blueprints, sketches and variations on existing catalog templates. The changes and customizations would often result in future models. Many designs also came from those displayed in "The Craftsman" magazine, which debuted in 1901. Sears often stated that the difficulty in identifying Modern Homes was a reflection of their customers' unique designs and tastes. Also adding to varying styles was the number of kit homes from other companies such as Aladdin, Montgomery Ward (Wardway) and Harris Brothers, along with non-kit American Craftsman or Arts & Crafts homes that were inspired by the original English-based design movement.
The railroad played a major role in the placement of Sears Craftsman or Modern Homes. Among the major rail destinations was Arlington, Virginia, accounting for a concentration of homes in the metropolitan area. Beyond all the variations of course are the more readily recognized designs, often featuring a gabled roof, wide overhang and generous front porch. Many of the more identifiable models were produced in the 1920's and early 1930's, including the Barrington, the Fairy, the Elsmore, the Fullerton, the Valley, the Walton and the Winona. According to the Sears archives, there were also a scattering of Sears Modern Home Stores across the county in communities where sales were especially high. One such store location was 911 Bladenburg Road, NE, Washington DC.
Why all the confusion about Modern Homes versus Craftsman homes? For one thing, Sears is highly identified with the term Craftsman through their longstanding Sears Craftsman tool line which began in 1927. Add "The Craftsman" magazine, the Arts & Crafts and American cCaftsman movement and all the different kit-home companies and what do you expect? Certainly the average person isn't going to walk by and say, “why there's a Wabash!” Or, “that's an original Starlight!” No, it's easier to just lump them all together with a generic Craftsman tag.
The demand for Craftsman homes in Washington Metro continues to be high, long after the manufacturers stopped supplying materials and plans. The current market shows an array of original styles ranging from a basic three-bedroom single-story for $249,000 to a completely rebuilt six-bedroom grand home listing for $3,595,000. Typical to older homes, there's only so many left. As a result, new home builders have stepped in, offering custom versions that implement design elements such as gabled roofs, overhangs and wide porches. In fact, according to the Sears Modern Homes blog, a number of new reproduction homes have faithfully following original plans. Whether new or old, modest or luxurious, the Craftsman continues to be a Washington Metro staple.