A century-old Sears kit house in Falls Church has seen the growth of the City from a farming and residential neighborhood to the thriving commercial area it is today. That home, located on located on S. Maple Avenue, will be featured in Sunday’s Falls Church Home & Garden Tour.
A representative of the tour approached Edwin Bancroft Henderson II to feature the house his grandparents, Mary Ellen and Dr. Edwin B. Henderson, had built in 1913. The couple ordered the Sears kit model no. 225 and completed the home for $1,800.
Edwin Henderson II, who now lives in the home with his wife, Nikki Graves Henderson, describes the house as, “This jewel of history that sticks smack dab in the middle of Falls Church.”
Resting on what once was W. Fairfax Street, the home stands over what was originally the Falls Church Tobacco Farm. It was originally built 50 feet ahead of its current position, but the rezoning of S. Washington Street from a residential to commercial area in 1950 forced the Hendersons to move the home.
Edwin Henderson II believes that part of what gives the property its unique qualities are the mature trees, most of which date back to the 1950s or earlier, along with its manicured gardens and large rooms. He said that his grandparents had the spacious rooms built knowing they would be entertaining guests in their social groups. Their circles came to include members of what became the first rural branch of the NAACP. Planning meetings for the creation of the NAACP branch came about due to increasing instances of gerrymandering and segregation ordinances in the Falls Church area. Because of the influential role of the house in the creation of the branch of the NAACP, the home was targeted by the Ku Klux Klan.
Despite receiving hate mail and prank phone calls, the Hendersons remained in their home and have, since, had three generations of the family live there at separate times.
When Edwin Henderson II moved back to Falls Church in 1993, his grandparents’ house was being rented out. He took on the project of restoring the home back to how he remembered it in his youth when he would take trips to visit his grandparents. He and his wife now live there and keep up the large ornamental shrubs, magnolias, and the yew bush that has grown as tall as the house, itself.
Edwin Henderson II said he believes what makes the house special is, “In large part that it is still here, but we refuse to give it up because we think it has intrinsic value to the Falls Church community.”