Friday, March 09, 2012

The Sears House at 4205 Military Road, NW

4205 Military Road, NW, as seen in the Sears Catalog
Hugh M. Sterling applied for and was granted a building permit for 4205 Military Road, NW on October 19, 1922, although the street was known as Keokuk Street at the time.  He indicated that the house was designed by the Sears, Roebuck & Company, and I later determined that it is the model coined The Alhambra.   Sterling estimated its construction cost as approximately $7,000.     

Pictured in 1986
According to the book Houses By Mail, the Alhambra model first appeared in the 1918 Sears catalog, as model number 2090.  It continued to be listed until 1929, but did not appear in the 1920, 1922, 1923, or 1927 editions.  It was priced between $1,969 and $3,134 for materials only.  Other examples of the house have been located in Norwood Park, Illinois, and in Dayton, Ohio.  An Alhambra model also was built close by, at 3939 Legation Street, NW., but it has since been drastically remodeled.

A typical floorplan of the Alhambra appears below.[1]  Hugh Sterling also obtained a permit to build a garage on October 5, 1922, the same day he obtained a permit to construct the house.  His permit included a nice drawing of the garage doors seen below. 

Building Inspector’s notes taken during the construction phase of the project indicated that Sterling was 95% complete with the house on March 6, 1924.  Its slow construction was due to the fact that Sterling was building the house himself, and had stored its ready-made materials in the garage, which he had built first.

Unfortunately, Sterling had built the garage a full seven feet over the property line, onto Belt Road, and he was ordered by the city to tear it down, or to have it moved.  His letter dated April 2, 1923 to the city appears on the following page, explaining his situation and a solution to the dispute.      

At the time of the application to build 4205 Military Road in 1922, Hugh Sterling resided at 723 Euclid Street, NW.  He was listed at that address as a single, 50-year-old roomer in the 1920 census.  Following its completion in 1924, the Hugh and his new wife Lillian moved into the house at 4205 Military that Hugh had built himself.   

Sterling was listed in the 1930 City Directory as a lawyer, specializing in patents, with an office address of 906 G Street, NW, in rooms 600-602.  It was also known as the McGill Building.   They would continue to own and live at 4205 Military Road until 1960.

Hugh and Lillian Sterling also enjoyed a farm in Hampton, Virginia that he purchased upon his retirement.   Hugh Sterling died in December of 1953 at the Emergency Hospital.  He is buried in Rock Creek Cemetery.  Lillian Sterling continued to reside at 4205 Military road until it was sold as part of her Last Will & Testament on March 10, 1960. 

Copyright Paul K. Williams      

[1] From Houses By Mail, page 286. 


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