The Barrington

Washington, D.C., United States | C..1929

Photo Credit: Laurie Collins

“…retains the dignity of an old English home and the practical interior of modern American architecture” reads an excerpt describing The Barrington – a kit home available by mail order from the 1928 Sears catalog. Bought by Dr. O.F. Carlson for his daughter Dagmar, this Barrington home has stood in Washington D.C.’s Cleveland Park neighborhood for nearly a century.

As America’s middle class grew and city housing became increasingly sparse, Sears Catalog Homes became popular options for families moving to the suburbs during the early 20th century. Debuting in 1908, more than 70,000 homes in 370 different configurations were sold through the catalog over the next two decades.

Shipped by railroad car, kit homes included building materials for central heating, indoor plumbing and electricity. These homes were often assembled by the homeowner and their family and friends – similar to the barn-raising tradition of farming families. Buyers could also hire contractors to construct their homes.  The Barrington model pictured above included six rooms and one bathroom.

This home was occupied by Dagmar Leggett and her husband Eugene, both journalists who had relocated to D.C. after writing for newspapers in Canada and Detroit. Their marriage was short lived, however, and Dagmar remarried and moved to New York, but returned to D.C. to rent out the cottage after Eugene’s untimely death at the age of 36. She eventually passed the home down to her son.

Affectionately referred to as “the gingerbread house”, the Leggett’s Barrington home has charmed the area for decades.  Original materials were used for a restoration in 1989 including door hardware and sconces. When first listed by Sears, the home sold for $2,458. In 2016, the Leggett family listed the home for $1.19 million.

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