ABOVE: The Fullerton as pictured in a 1920s Sears Roebuck "Modern Homes" catalog (left) and as the Jesse Baltimore House today (right).
The Jesse Baltimore House has been nominated to the DC Inventory of Historic Sites. Meanwhile the DC Parks and Recreation has applied for a permit to raze this historic house.

Built in 1925, the Jesse Baltimore House is a Sears Roebuck "Fullerton" kit house at 5136 Sherier Place in Washington, DC's Palisades neighborhood. After living in the house for 33 years, the Baltimore family sold it to the National Parks Service in 1958. Although NPS retains ownership, it transferred jurisdiction over the house to the DC Department of Parks and Recreation in 1971.

Since passing out of private hands, the Baltimore House has been rented to a succession of tenants, used as a group home, and remained vacant for more than 10 years. Concerned about demolition rumors, Historic Washington Architecture nominated the house to the DC Inventory in March, 2004. A few days later, DC Parks and Rec applied for the raze permit.

For more about the Jesse Baltimore House:




(Photo courtesy of Lee Rogers)

In the 1920s and 1930s, few working families could afford both a single family detached house and a car. Sears offered well-designed kit houses of high quality material which could be purchased on favorable financial terms. A man with basic construction skills could save substantially by building some or all of the house by himself.

Sears houses built on streetcar lines became an important avenue for working and middle class families to become homeowners in the District of Columbia, especially in "streetcar suburbs" like the Palisades. Jesse Robert Baltimore, a skilled plumber, was in many ways the prototype of the Sears "Modern Homes" customer, a man with building skills who wanted the best possible home for his family.

While examples of numerous Sears models were erected in Washington, DC, many have been demolished or unrecognizably remodeled over the past 70 odd years. The Jesse Baltimore House is a highly intact and original example of a Sears kit house. Although it needs cosmetics, it is still in sound condition.

The Sears Fullerton model is rare in Washington, DC, and the Jesse Baltimore House is the only intact example in the Palisades. In fact, only five Fullertons have been identified in Washington, and the Jesse Baltimore House is the most authentic and original example.

The Jesse Baltimore House is a valueable asset for the city and the Palisades community.

Although some proposals involve demolishing house and adding the lot to the adjoining Palisades Rec Center, its roughly 7,000 square feet would increase the area of this 14-acre park by less than one percent. And the lot seems too close to the street to be an athletic field or playground.

Even after a decade of vacancy, the house and lot are valued at over $500,000 on the DC Tax Rolls. Houses in the immediate neighborhood have recently sold for over $900,000.

Why not sell the house to a private buyer with an easement to conserve the exterior? 

Why couldn't the purchase price and annual property tax revenue be earmarked to further enhance the beautiful 14-acre Palisades Recreation Center? 


The general criteria for inclusion in the DC Register of Historic Sites is "association with events and processes in history which have made a significant contribution to the broad pattern of our nation's history and to the development of the District of Columbia".

Write or email the DC Historic Preservation Review Board and National Park Service to "Save the Jesse Baltimore House" at the addresses below:

Mr. Tersh Boasberg, Chairman

District of Columbia Historic Preservation Review Board

801 North Capitol Street NE

Suite 3000

Washington, DC 20002

Mr. Joe Cook

National Park Service

1100 Ohio Dr., SW

Washington D.C. 20242

Mr. David Maloney, State Historic Preservation Officer

District of Columbia Historic Preservation Office

801 North Capitol Street NE

Washington, DC 20002

To ensure that all letters are presented to the HPRB, please also e-mail a copy to or mail it to :

Historic Washington Architecture

3706 Morrison Street NW

Washington, D.C. 20015