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Well-known Circus House
goes on the market / D8

Raised beds give gardeners
more options for crops / D2

on the house

New homes
in Hilltop
intended to
change lives

At Home

Section D | The Columbus Dispatch | Sunday, July 3, 2016

Jim Weiker


The Sears kit house at 31 W. Stafford Ave. is a six-room bungalow that features hardwood flooring and antique furniture. Tom Dodge/Dispatch photos

Assembly required
Worthington home tour
includes 1933 Sears kit house
By Alex Meyer | The Columbus Dispatch


he house isn't as lavish as others
featured on neighborhood home and
garden tours, but that’s the point.
The bungalow at 31 W. Stafford Ave. in
Worthington is from a time when homeowners
sought housing that was simple and affordable
and could be ordered out of the Sears Roebuck
Visitors on the Worthington Tour of Homes
and Gardens will be able to see this house and
eight others from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. next Sunday. 
The tour will focus on houses built in the
early 20th century, ranging from a 1911 farmhouse with period wallpaper and decor to a
SEE tour, D9

hirty-nine new
homes won’t transform the Hilltop but
one of them can change the
life of Mariah Marsh.
A few months ago, Marsh
became one of the first
people to move into one of
the 39 homes being built on
the Hilltop by the nonprofit
housing group Homeport.
The 25-year-old was
living on the South Side with
her mother and was praying
for a place of her own when
she heard of the homes.
When she moved into the
three-bedroom home in
March, she asked her pastor
to bless the house.
Asthma and a pseudotumor
landed Marsh on disability.
While she works to stabilize
her health, she is attending
nursing school at Columbus
State Community College.
She has a goal of being a
pediatric nurse and being
Having a home of her own
is crucial to achieving that
goal and another: providing a
secure home for her goddaughter, who was in foster
care before moving in with
“It’s very important, not
just for me to have somewhere to live and lay my
head, but also because I have
a 6-year-old I have to take
care of,” she said.
That, at its core, is the idea
behind the program, which
grew out of a plan initiated by
the Homes on the Hill housing agency.
“My basic belief is if people
have solid housing, it helps
with every aspect of their
lives,” said Steve Torsell,
executive director of Homes
on the Hill.
Homeport bought the lots
from the Columbus land
bank and, after receiving Low
Income Tax Credit financing, had the homes built at a
cost of about $210,000 each.
Thirty of the 39 homes have
been built and Homeport
expects to finish all of them
by the end of the month.
The tax credits require
the homes to be rented to

An ad for Sears’ Walton-model kit house
SEE weiker, D4

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH •  |  Sunday, July 3, 2016 D9


From Page D1

1943 home with Spanish
style, said tour director
Steffanie Haueisen.
The Stafford Avenue
house, which owner
David Metz bought last
summer with his partner,
David Brightman, is a
Sears kit home in nearly
original condition. It was
built in 1933, according
to the Franklin County
auditor’s website.
“It was literally
ordered from the Sears
Roebuck catalog, the
way you would nowadays order a cabinet or
storage unit from the
Ikea website,” Metz
said. “It arrived by train,
in thousands of pieces
with an instruction
book, and you either
assembled it yourself
with help from friends,
or you hired someone to
do it for you.”
Sears sold houses by
catalog between 1908
and 1940. Metz’s home is
the Walton model, which
cost $2,734 at the time.
The six-room bungalow’s interior includes
walls painted light
yellow with white trim,
hardwood flooring and
antique furniture. Metz
said the home’s renovations are a “work in
progress,” but he has
tried to make as few
changes as possible.
“We didn’t want
to change its historic
charm, but we did want
to bring it up to modern
standards so it is clean,
safe and livable,” he said.
Renovations included
updating the home’s
electrical capacity,

heating systems and
lighting. Metz and
Brightman also replaced
the home’s old wallpaper,
which Metz described as
“charming, in a ‘Grandma’s house’ kind of way.”
“We plan to continue along these lines,
making changes that
honor the intentions of
the original design while
also acknowledging
the realities of modern
life,” he said.
Susan Carter, Metz’s
sister, helped with the
renovations and said
she loves the layout of
the house.
“The design is perfect,” she said. “It’s
minimalistic, which is
what I like. You have
just what you need, and
there’s no extra rooms.”
Metz had been trying to
buy a house in Worthington for several years
with no luck, he said, but
he discovered the house
while walking down the
sidewalk one day.
“This house caught my
eye,” Metz said. “In an
amazing stroke of luck,
we learned it was for sale
a few weeks later.”
He said he fell in love
with the house for its
Craftsman-style aesthetic, popularized by
designer Gustav Stickley in The Craftsman,
an early 20th-century
architectural magazine.
“Stickley’s aim was
to promote a design of
beautiful and harmonious dwellings that were
humane in scale and
affordable to middleclass families,” Metz
said. “The concept of
a kit home would have
been perfectly compatible with his aesthetics

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The study of the Stafford Avenue house Tom Dodge/Dispatch photos

If you go
The Worthington Tour
of Homes & Gardens runs
from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. next
Sunday and features nine
houses and The Rectory.
Tickets can be bought at
Fritzy Jacobs, 635 N. High
St. in Worthington, and
at the Old Rectory, 50 W.
New England Ave. Advance
tickets cost $15, and day-of
tickets, $20, can be bought
at the Old Rectory starting
at 11:30 a.m.
For more information, visit
A bedroom of the Stafford Avenue house

and values.”
Another draw of the
house, Metz said, was
its connection to affordable housing during the
Great Depression.
“The 1933 kit home was
a response to affordability issues, just as today
we see the growth of the
‘tiny house’ movement

and also the increased
respectability of prefabricated homes,” he said.
But above all, Carter
said the home is just a
nice place to live.
“It’s just a cozy little
house,” she said.
Sunday’s tour also
will feature the artwork
of two local artists, cake

designer Jan Kish and
painter Lynn Bird, at
633 and 615 Oxford St.
Haueisen said she
enjoys seeing homeowners’ visions and how
they live in their homes.
“They are very proud
of their homes, as they
should be,” she said.

From Page D8

“This house can hold
200 or 300 people on
the first floor and still
feel comfortable,”
said Harding, who has
hosted several fundraisers at the home.
After tackling the
home's interior, the
Hardings turned their
attention outside. They
added a large paver
patio on the empty
adjacent lot, with an
outdoor fireplace that
includes a 30-foot
chimney replicating those found on
the home. Behind the
fireplace they added a
four-car garage.

A trunk, containing a Buffalo Bill poster, comes with the sale
of the house. Tom Dodge/Dispatch

The garage allowed
them to convert the

two-story carriage
house into a twobedroom home that the

“Tour-goers will not
only see some fantastic
remodeling ideas, beautiful yards, interesting
art and folk art ... they
will also have a glimpse
into the lifestyle of early
20th-century homes.”
Hardings are selling
separately. (The Circus
House buyer gets first
The Hardings are
moving to a 1920s
Grandview cottage,
which has an odd connection to the Circus
House. The cottage
was built by Billy Bott,
a prominent Columbus
businessman who had a
scandalous affair with
Mary Sells that ended
the Sells’ marriage.
One thing that stays
with the house is a
circus trunk owned by
Willie Sells, Peter Sells’
nephew, that includes
posters of one of the
Sells Circus’s biggest
acts: Buffalo Bill Cody.

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