Free Sears House…
Some Assembly Required

Free Sears House…
Some Assembly Required

On occasion, Preservation Arlington will highlight unique historic houses that are on the market in Arlington County. In this case, the house is not for sale, but free to a caring new owner. With this column, we hope to raise awareness of some of the true housing gems we have here. Some might be in great condition and just need to be maintained by their next owner, while others may need a steward with heart and passion to restore and stabilize the property. These are not commercial listings or endorsements by Preservation Arlington.

From 1908 to 1940, the Sears, Roebuck and Company sold more than 70,000 kit houses through the Sears Modern Home catalog. Much like buying furniture from IKEA, anyone could purchase a home (and a mortgage) through a mail order catalog, have pre-cut and fitted materials shipped to your door step and voila…you would have a home, with some assembly required.

The Wellington Model from the Sears catalog, touting its massive stucco columns and artistic touches.
The Wellington Model from the Sears catalog, touting its massive stucco columns and artistic touches.

Sears houses came in over 447 different housing styles, from elaborate multistory mansions to small vacation bungalows. Central heating, indoor plumbing, dry wall, asphalt shingles, and electricity were all new developments that Sears Homes incorporated in their homes. Suburbanites were drawn to this innovative and inexpensive option, dotting the neighborhoods of Arlington with Sears homes today (along with other, similar “kit houses”).

On behalf of their client, Arlington-based architects Paola Lugli and Paola Amodeo, of the firm Paolasquare international, are offering a free Sears house at 3010 7th St. N. (near Pershing Drive in Lyon Park). The house, built in 1926, is a Wellington model Sears home. Originally priced at $1,998, this lot recently sold in September 2013 for over $750,000.

The 1926 Sears bungalow is in excellent condition.
The 1926 Sears bungalow is in excellent condition.

However, the needs of the homeowner do not meet the constrictions of the current home. Rather than bulldoze this historic property, the homeowner is interested in giving it away for only the cost of moving the home.

“When we got the project, we spoke with our client, and we all agreed that the house should not be demolished,” Lugli says. “Unfortunately, given its positioning on the very narrow lot and the programmatic requirements of the client, we cannot integrate it in our project. The Sears bungalows are part of Arlington’s historic heritage and boast great proportions, hard-to-find craftsmanship, and attention to detail. We would love for someone to move it somewhere where it can be used.”

Sears Home Interior

This gorgeous, sun-filled bungalow has been altered very little since 1926; historic detail and character are abundant, while still keeping a very modern feel. A small screened-in porch as been added to the rear. The home is currently a contributing structure in the Lyon Park National Register Historic District.

“As architects, we prefer saving well-built historic homes,” Lugli says. “It is a better choice for the character of the city and it is also truly eco-friendly. Our projects typically involve remodels that preserve the existing house and upgrade its basic functions and circulation patterns to accommodate a more modern lifestyle. This is a fairly typical approach and the results can be really beautiful.”

The architects can provide the name of companies with experience in moving homes upon request.

If interested in this property, please contact either principal of Paolasquare international:
Paola Lugli —
Paola Amodeo —

Additional Resources on Sears Houses:
* Sears Homes Archive
* “Bedrooms and Bungalows,” Arlington magazine article
* “Sizing up Sears ‘kit’ homes for today’s living style,” Washington Post article

Wellington Home photo credit: Sears, Roebuck Catalog of Houses, 1926, An Unabridged Reprint, Dover Publications, NY

39 thoughts on “Free Sears House…
Some Assembly Required

  1. I hope the architect also appreciates the neighborhood enough to build something compatible in design and general scale!

  2. We live on an acre in historic Alcova. I would love to move this house to our land and use it as a guest house/office. Our home was built in 1836 and it would be nice to have another piece of history on the lot.

  3. Good morning, just read an article in the Washington post about the Free Sears House and would like to find out more information if the home is still available. If I don’t meet the qualification, I would like to provide a few suggestions for an affordable location to move this home. Sincerely, Frances

  4. Would the $50,000 be enough to relocate the house to Huntington, West Virginia? If so, I have a person in mind, Mr. Charles Bennett, who has spent his entire life in construction and would take excellent care of this free house. He travels often to Maryland and Virginia to oversee properties he has re-built and upgraded over the last 30+ years. Thank you.

  5. I tried emailing the architects as listed in the article, but they got returned. How do we get more info or express interest?

  6. I have land in culpepper virginia, which I can’t afford a house at this time. I live in one bedroom with my daughter in a condo I own. I work and pay for my daughter daycare. Which is very expensive.
    I would love to have the house.

  7. Our church has no bathrooms or social hall. We partner with Inova Mobile Hope unit in support of the homeless children in LoudounCounty, VA. This historic house would complement our historically preserved church building and benefit our needy families close to church. This would be a true blessing from above. Sincerely, John S.

  8. Praise for the architects’ eco-friendly impulse to preserve rather than bulldoze this house- and yet, wouldn’t leaving it where it is be even more “truly eco-friendly?” A question for the owner.
    Maybe she should consider swapping lots with some nearby empty-nester couple or other householder who wants a small home and fully appreciates the beauty of a small footprint.

    1. I am very interested in moving this house and preserving it. I’ve always admired the Craftsman homes and have been interested in building a kit house for years. I do not owe a home and would like it as my retirement home.
      Please contact me ASAP to make arrangement. i have already requested an estimate from a home mover and need to make arrangement with the town council which I’ll talk to the mayor tomorrow. Thank-you.

  9. I am interested in moving into this house. It will be a dream come through for me and the manifestation of spoken prophetic words

    1. Moving into the home isn’t the question ~ or the offer. You must be able to pay tens of thousands of dollars (I believe $30,000 or more was the figure mentioned) to have the house moved from this location, pay for land to put it on, as well as pay to build the new foundation on which to set it, establish utility connections, and then continue to pay taxes, utilities, insurance and maintenance, just like owning any other home. The structure itself is being offered free ~ you must be able to pay all the other related expenses to relocate it.

  10. Hi,

    My husband and I are interested in this project. We have restored 1924 homes in New England and in Nashville Indiana where we saved the L.O. Griffith home. I can send pictures of these projects and we are going to be relocating to the D.C. most likely this summer, which would give us time to get the house together. My husband grew up in a Sears kit home on a street with many versions of the same. Made me smile to see you saving this one!

    Let us know, Mary Pendergrass

  11. It’s heartening to see how many people have commented–and still love sweet little old homes. Saddens me to see so many of the small homes razed in Denver in favor of large fake-looking structures that better fit the needs of the new owner or developer. Wish they wouldn’t have bought in the first place if it wasn’t suitable. Moving is very traumatic to a house.

    1. It’s certainly a “greener” idea than “relocating it” into the local landfill with around 250,000 pounds of first-class, top grade, never-to-be-seen-again building materials. These homes were built from lumber taken out of old-growth virgin forests that produced the absolute tightest grained, highest quality materials ever seen, and are not to be found again. That, and the care with which they were built, are why they are still standing in such good shape today. Take a look sometime at the warped and twisted, knot-laden garbage in the local “Big Box” stores in terms of construction lumber, and watch some house get thrown up almost overnight sometime in any development, and then imagine them still standing in 100 years, like these beautiful homes are today, or people still trying to preserve them in the ways folks are fighting to preserve these homes which were built with the intentions of being lived in for lifetimes and handed down to multiple generations. Not happening.

  12. Hello ~ My name is Teresa. This is a beautiful home! I live in Chapel Hill NC. I had an idea for this space. I teach yoga and would love to create a healing arts space. It could be used as a space for yoga for both adults and children. I’m also an artist and could offer art, music, poetry, theater and creative movement. It could also be used as a food bank for both animals and people. There’s so much possibility! I like the idea of a coffee shop/bookstore as well. My husband and I had an electrical fire in our home on March 13 2012. It took our beloved doggies as they died of smoke inhalation. Our home was destroyed. We were both devastated and heartbroken! It took about a year for them to rebuild. Since then we adopted a sweet little doggie we call Wolfie. For the vision I have, our home isn’t quite big enough. I have no idea how much it would cost to move this lovely home?! I just wanted to express my interest as I really adore older homes. Please be in touch with any ideas or suggestions. Thank you! ~ Teresa

    1. Unless your proposition includes relocating yourself to Arlington County, Virginia, outside of Washington, D.C., it’s out of the question. Consider the physical logistics involved in moving a structure the size of a full-size home around the corner and down the street a mile or so from its current location, and I’m sure you’ll see why.
      Your ambitions are admirable, and your previous trials heartbreaking, but this doesn’t seem to be a likely possibility without you coming to the home and moving it very closeby to its current location.

  13. We have beautiful property in Port Charlotte Florida that would accommodate the beautiful Sears home….is the house still available?

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