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Oh MY! Look What We Found in Herndon!

You really should join us in the Sears Homes group on Facebook.

The old house aficionados in that group are a wild and wooly bunch who really know how to have a good time! ;)

After a recent blog on the “GVT Tower House” in Herndon and some very interesting banter amongst the night owls, Rachel Shoemaker and I started poking around the small town of Herndon (via Bing Maps) to see what else we could find.

Unfortunately, a surfeit of trees prevented us from seeing much, but I discovered a Sears Winona (seriously altered by a lot of remodeling) and Rachel found the crème de la crème of kit homes, The Gordon Van Tine, “Brentwood.”

Oh, it gets better.

The Gordon Van Tine Brentwood with matching “Ajax” garage.

Ooh la la!

And in Herndon! Who knew?

That’s two rare Gordon Van Tine mail-order kit homes in one small Northern, Virginian town.

Who in the world is Rosemary Thornton?

Maybe there’s a Sears Magnolia hiding in there somewhere!

To read about the other Gordon Van Tine home, click here.

Many thanks to Rachel Shoemaker for finding the GVT Brentwood, and for supplying the GVT catalog images shown below!

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Amongst the trees and bushes of Herndon, we discovered a Sears Winona (1916 catalog).

Amongst the trees and bushes of Herndon, we discovered a Sears Winona (1916 catalog).

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Its a crummy

It's a fairly crummy image snagged off Bing Maps, but it's almost certainly a Sears Winona. From the five-piece eave brackets to the original porch railing and porch roof, it's a fine match.

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And heres the find of the MONTH!

And here's the find of the MONTH! The Gordon Van Tine "Brentwood" (Model 711).

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And you thought kit homes were just crummy little boxes?

And you thought "kit homes" were just crummy little boxes?

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house

Admittedly, it is somewhat unusual for mail-order houses to have a "Maid's Room."

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The typical mail-order kit home had 12,000 pieces and was shipped by train to its destination. The pieces and parts were carefully sorted and stacked, and would usually fit in a single boxcar. I suspect the GVT Brentwood took two boxcars!i

The typical mail-order kit home had 12,000 pieces and was shipped by train to its destination. The pieces and parts were carefully sorted and stacked, and would usually fit in a single boxcar. I suspect the GVT Brentwood took two boxcars!i

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And there it is, in the flesh, a perfect Gordon Van Tine #711.

And there it is, in the flesh, a perfect Gordon Van Tine #711. Rachel Shoemaker flew her little Bing Airplane over top of the house and confirmed (by viewing the back side) that it is indeed a GVT 711.

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And tucked away behind the house is a Gordon Van Tine garage.

And tucked away behind the house is a Gordon Van Tine garage.

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Ever wonder what those boxcars looked like? A lot like this.

Ever wonder what those boxcars looked like? A lot like this.

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Who in the world is Rosemary Thornton?

Maybe there’s a Sears Magnolia hiding in there somewhere!

To read about the other Gordon Van Tine home, click here.

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  1. December 17th, 2014 at 04:37 | #1

    OMG! I had a blast last night! :) I am one of the original members of the now fast-growing group Sears Homes on Facebook.

    It was where I really learned to identify homes and even recognize the building materials. I highly recommend joining us!

    There’s nothing I enjoy more than a good house hunt … especially when it leads to a big discovery!

  2. Dale Wolicki
    December 18th, 2014 at 00:12 | #2

    What happened to the good old days when we all piled into Dale’s Trailblazer and drove out to some unknown town and drove up and down every street taking pictures of houses?

  3. December 18th, 2014 at 06:31 | #3

    @Dale Wolicki
    I’ve been thinking about asking you if I could fly up to Detroit sometime this spring and visit you for a day or two. Maybe we could take a ride around your neck of the woods? :D

  4. sandra Scales-Siwek
    February 3rd, 2019 at 22:19 | #4

    So, living just 12 miles from Herndon and working virtually “next door,” I figured I’d throw in on this one.

    Herndon was established along the Washington and Old Dominion Rail line — now a linear trail park, like Vienna as station village.

    These towns along the railroad go back to the pre-Civil War period that connected Washington DC to New York. (In fact, pre-war recessions in upstate New York deposited pockets of “Yankee” resistance in these rail towns that caused a lot of consternation during the war.) https://www.viennava.gov/index.aspx?NID=335

    So, it makes perfect sense there are all these kit homes in these little towns within 25 miles of DC that went from agricultural shipping centers to hub-bubs of affordable housing as the federal government grew with successive ramp-ups for war time both post Civil War as well as the first and second “World Wars.”

    (Another little town, Clifton - not to be confused with the much further west Clifton Forge - is also an old railroad town established around a station with a lot of housing stock from the same era that sure LOOKS like a lot of kit homes, too.)

    Anyway, falling out of favor in the early 1960’s-70s as traffic worsened, all these little towns have made a big come back since the turn of the new century with the metro lines (Vienna and Herndon) and commuter rail lines (Clifton and Manassas) that have made these ideal communities with less of a cookie-cutter stamp than the usual McMansion suburbs.

    Twenty years ago, you could still buy a beautiful old bungalow in Herndon for $200K — those homes are $600k now. Or, more.

  5. sandra Scales-Siwek
  6. sandra Scales-Siwek
    February 3rd, 2019 at 22:29 | #6
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