Sears Craftsman House on Mt. Washington’s ‘Pill Hill’

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fairbank:frontHot House: 1822 Fairbank Road, Mt. Washington, Baltimore MD 21209

Wood frame bungalow, two stories, built in 1921 from a Sears catalog mail order kit. Three bedrooms, 2 full baths, 940 sq. ft., with front porch, side and back decks. Original pine floors throughout. Finished basement with stone fireplace. South facing lot, with additional side parcel, half-acre in total: $335,000

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What: Between 1908 and 1940, Sears, Roebuck & Company sold 70,000 kit homes in 48 states through its mail order Modern Homes plan. The homes had 10,000-30,000 pieces per kit, weighed about 25 tons (shipped via boxcar) and were priced from $1,000 to $4,000. Key framing pieces were marked for easier assembly — often done by the owner with the help of friends and neighbors. These were high quality homes, pre-cut from first growth lumber, and designed in popular styles of the day, many of which are now classics. All sales records were destroyed by Sears years ago in a corporate house cleaning, so that now the only way to identify a true Sears house is on an individual basis. This web page‎ tells you how. Deciding which 1921 model this is — the Alpha, the Del Ray, the Ionia or maybe even the Verndale — can become your happy obsession, and there are hundreds of on-line friends to help make the call. Whatever the model name, 1822 Fairbank Road is a simple, straightforward design. Walk up the stairs to the front porch (complete with swing) which overlooks the street. Enter directly into the living room and straight through the dining/breakfast room into the kitchen at the back. It would be an easy matter to create an eat-in kitchen, currently it is not. There is one small front bedroom on the main floor with a window on the front porch, and a second bedroom behind. Full bath also on main floor. Downstairs is a carpeted (so, dry) and finished basement with a nice stone fireplace. Upstairs, a good sized, carpeted master suite with full bathroom. Bathrooms not ultra-modern, but clean and unobjectionable. Gas heat, central a/c.

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fairbank:kitchenWhere: Fairbank Road is a quiet, steep-ish street, nicknamed “Pill Hill” back in the 50s for the number of doctors who used to live here. It’s a short, safe walk into Mt. Washington village from here, even shorter to the award-winning Mt. Washington School, a Baltimore City public school. There’s not much traffic on Fairbank, the houses are modest but charming, and the road is lined with Priuses and Hondas. Neighbors seem friendly and free-spirited, lots of gardeners. The property at 1822 has great landscape potential, with a balance of sun from the southern exposure and the shade of old trees.The adjoining lot, which comes with the house, is already nicely landscaped, having belonged at one time (according to local lore) to the family who owns Greenfields Nursery.  Mt. Washington Village has a light rail stop, which makes a commute downtown easy (ditto for summer O’s games). This is a beloved neighborhood, and houses rarely turn over. There is an annual ‘Turkey Bowl’ Thanksgiving Day football game, started in the’60s and still going strong.

Mt. Washington Tavern is here, Chiyo Sushi, Crepe Du Jour, as well as numerous hair salons and shops.

Why: Love the mail-order house idea. Enviable location.

Why Not: We have too much stuff for 940 sq. ft. No garage.

NB: Front porch floor and cement stairs will need replacing soon. House has been covered with aluminum siding, but it’s painted a soft grey and has a wood-like grain — doesn’t look bad at all.

Would Suit:  Reverse snob.

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Hot House is sponsored by Cindy Conklin and Bob Merbler of Prudential YWGC Realty

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