The 1931 house is the Maplewood model from the Sears catalogue. (HomeVisit)

Lucky Marmon picked out her neighborhood before she picked out her home.

“It wasn’t the house I bought. It was the neighborhood,” Marmon said.

Marmon lives in a 1931 Sears house in Somerset, an incorporated town nestled between Bethesda and Chevy Chase in Montgomery County. The community offered everything Marmon was looking for.

“I had three criteria, which were public recreation, public transportation and public education,” she said. “Somerset gives you a small-town feel in a big-town location. . . . It had a swimming pool, three tennis courts, a basketball court, a swim team — all the things when we were in Cleveland Park, people were wishing they had.”

Marmon and her husband, Bill, bought their house from the son of its original owner in 1980 and are just the second family to live in the home. Their house is the Maplewood model from the Sears catalogue. From 1908 to 1940, the company sold build-it-yourself houses through its mail-order catalogue, giving working-class Americans a chance to own an affordable home. The materials from the prefabricated house — everything from pre-cut lumber and nails for the walls to the kitchen sink — were shipped by rail and assembled on site. Chevy Chase has one of the biggest groupings of Sears houses in the region.

“This house arrived in a package in Takoma Park,” Lucky said. “We found the bill of lading in the wall when we were renovating.”


Family room (HomeVisit/HomeVisit)

The family room and master bedroom addition were designed by the late architect Harry Montague, who is perhaps best known for his invention of a foldable high-performance bike. After talking to a few architects, the Marmons called Montague on the advice of a friend.

“He saw the house and said ‘You all are big people. You need big rooms,’ ” said Lucky, who is 5-foot-10 and whose husband is 6-4.

Because a big addition would overwhelm the small house, Montague — who at 6-2 appreciated headroom — stayed respectful to the home’s architectural style but created a gathering space for the family that is open and filled with natural light. The master bedroom features a gabled ceiling, built-in closet, and storage and a bathroom with a skylight in the shower.

“It was so cute,” Lucky said. “When he originally designed [the skylight in the shower], I said, ‘You know, Harry, I think it doesn’t cover me. Oh yeah, I better raise the wall.’ So he did. It’s a wonderful skylight. You can look outside when you are taking a shower.”


Back of house (HomeVisit/HomeVisit)

Whether she is showering or sitting on the large deck at the back of the house, Lucky enjoys the view.

“Landscape architects will call [it] found treasure because you have all this beautiful park, but you don’t have to take care of it,” she said.

The four-bedroom, four-bathroom, 2,700-square-foot house is listed at $1.5 million.