Spindle Sears House
Centreville, Virginia
Built 1934
by Debbie Robison
June 16, 2008

Restored Spindle Sears House

Partially Restored Spindle Sears House, 2007

During the Great Depression, Roger Spindle, who had a stable job as a mail supervisor with the United States Post Office Department, purchased a kit house from Sears, Roebuck & Company. He chose a Sears catalog house because it was affordable and easy to assemble; advantages important during poor economic times. Funding for the purchase of the land and Sears kit home was obtained through the Emergency Farm Mortgage Act of 1933, a President Franklin D. Roosevelt New Deal program. Sears, Roebuck & Company had an economic stake in the success of New Deal programs. In 1933, they pledged to work with government, agricultural, industrial, and labor leaders in developing a sound plan for economic recovery.


Roger Bradshaw Spindle grew up in the Centreville area, where he was editor of the Centreville News, a publication of the Centreville High School. He graduated from Clifton High School on June 5, 1925, when he gave the valedictory speech at the close of the commencement exercises.[1]

In the first issue of the Centreville News, the front page story discusses the significance of the proposed new concrete road known as Lee Highway.

Once our little town was the metropolis of Fairfax County. With immediate prospects of a concrete road � The Lee Highway, this little town is destined to regain its former prominence in the County. When we note that six important roads converge here and that we will soon be on one of the greatest highways of the world, the future of our community as an educational and civic center is assured.

Following graduation from high school, Spindle attended business school (Strayer Business College) in Washington to study secretarial work.[2] He worked as a surveyor for the state highway department before passing the test for government workers in October 1929 and obtaining a job as a mail supervisor with the Post Office Department. He married Wilma G. Gentry, daughter of King C. Gentry of Clifton Station, on June 10, 1930.[3]

Due in part to the construction of the concrete Lee Highway, which enabled Roger Spindle to commute to his job with the United States Postal Department in Washington, D. C., the Spindles moved back to Centreville. They also wished to be closer to family.


During the Depression, Roger Bradshaw Spindle and Wilma Geneva Spindle purchased the 4 �acre parcel, and constructed a Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalog house.[4]

Franklin D. Roosevelt

When Franklin D. Roosevelt became president in 1933, he enacted New Deal legislation during a special congressional session to improve the economy and create jobs. One of the Acts passed during this �Hundred days� session was the Emergency Farm Mortgage Act of 1933. The act provided $200 million to farmers to refinance mortgages and provide funds.[5]





Franklin D. Roosevelt, Photo Courtesy Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division


Sears, Roebuck & Company (Sears) had an economic stake in the success of New Deal programs. The Depression caused prices, including those in Sears catalogs, to fall as wages and the number of wage earners declined. Prices in the Winter �33/�34 catalog were lower than prices in the 1930 and 1931 catalogs. In the Spring/Summer 1933 catalog, Sears pledged to work for relief.

We pledge the support of this company, unreservedly and wholeheartedly, to further any sound plan that in our judgment offers agricultural relief.

Six months later, Sears president R E Wood wrote to describe the companies efforts.

�we have worked with government, agricultural, industrial and labor leaders in developing and prosecuting a sound plan of economic recovery.

Today, agriculture is on its way up. Farm prices have definitely risen. Hand in hand with this advance has come a corresponding recovery in industry and employment of thousands of idle workmen, proving again that until there is real improvement in agriculture, there can be no permanent improvement elsewhere.

Henry A. Wallace, Secretary of the Department of Agriculture at the time, responded to the Sears pledge in a May 24, 1933 letter to Mr. Wood.

The pledge of support by Sears, Roebuck and Company to sound agriculture relief is a positive affirmation of the interests of business, and particularly your business, in the prosperity of farmers.

Their expression is gratifying proof that if the Agricultural Adjustment Act can be worked out as we hope, the Department may be sure of fine cooperation of men high in the business world.

In the Winter �33/�34 catalog, Sears explains how the success of New Deal programs has caused prices to increase over the spring catalog prices.

THE NEW DEAL�THE NEW CATALOG These are history-making days � days in which all Americans, whatever their station in life, are participating. We have seen, since March 4th of this year, the greatest executive and legislative activity in the country�s experience.

Designed primarily for the benefit of the farmer and the wage earner, the vast program of national recovery has gone steadily forward. As it has progressed, prices have risen.

On September 1, 1933, Roger and Wilma Spindle, along with the other heirs of Wilma�s father, mortgaged a nearby 180-acre farm to the Land Bank Commissioner pursuant to the Emergency Farm Mortgage Act of 1933. The Spindles, along with Wilma�s mother and brother, borrowed $4,000 at five per centum per annum. Interest-only payments were to be paid semi-annually for four years before a ten-year semi-annual installment payment of principal was required. The mortgage was recorded in the Fairfax County deed books on September 30, 1933.[6]

Twenty-three days later, the Spindle�s purchased the Centreville lot consisting of 4-1/2 acres from Paul and Elizabeth Rector for $800.00.[7]


Roger Spindle, who enjoyed Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog shopping, opted to build a kit home close to family. When selecting plans for the construction of their home, the Spindle�s chose the Brentwood model from Sears, Roebuck & Co.A Sears home was selected because they were easy to build and affordable.[8]

The amount paid by Roger Spindle was $1,244.00. Perhaps this sum included the garage, appliances, wallpaper, the furnace, etc.

Check issued by Roger Spindle to Sears Roebuck and Company for $1,244

Check issued by Roger Spindle to purchase the kit house from Sears, Courtesy Priscilla "Susan" Spindle Mosier

The building materials were purchased from Sears and shipped by railroad to the Clifton station in early 1934.[9] Roger Spindle contracted with two local men, Bernard and Wallace Cross to build the frame dwelling in accordance with Sears, Roebuck & Co. plan 13394A, with the exception of the brick work, masonry, cement work, painting, plumbing, lathe and plaster, and electric work. Spindle was responsible for supplying the materials. Bernard and Wallace Cross were to be paid $200: $50 at the commencement of the work, $100 when the frame-work was completed, and the final $50 once the work was completed in a satisfactory manner.[10] Roger Spindle�s brother, King Spindle, may have also assisted with the construction of the house.[11]

Some of the materials may have been purchased locally, such as the cement used to form the walls of the basement that Roger Spindle had dug out.[12]

The front of the house was constructed to face Mount Gilead Road, previously known as Keene Street. The driveway extended from the Spindle�s garage to Mount Gilead Road.

Building plans were shipped with the supplies to assist the builders with piecing together the kit.

Blueprints for elevation

Blueprint for an elevation of the house, Courtesy Priscilla "Susan" Spindle Mosier

Blueprint floor plans

Blueprint for the floorplan of the house, Courtesy Priscilla "Susan" Spindle Mosier

Susan Spindle Mosier, who grew up in the house, recollected that her parents made many changes to the interior wall coverings and paints. Most of the interior walls and ceilings of the house were wallpapered. Wilma Spindle often repapered the house, and it was a family activity. At one time, the front bedroom had a lilac floral and striped wallpaper, the living room had a tan paper, and the ceilings of the bedrooms and living room were covered with a white paper. The kitchen was at one time painted light green. The bathroom was painted many times in different colors, and the cabinets were painted blue.[13]

Red and tan checkered linoleum flooring covered the wood floors in the kitchen and bathroom. Both the kitchen and bathroom wood floors were composed of fir, rather than oak, which was used in the rest of the house. The existing red Formica countertop was installed in the 1950s. Previously, the counter top was likely wood. The base and wall cabinets in the kitchen are original. The top left cabinet held the dishes, and the top right cabinet held the hard to reach candies and cookies. When Susan Spindle Mosier was little, she would climb up on the counter to try to reach the cabinet, but never could because it was above the refrigerator. The base cabinets held pots and pans, and the cabinet under the sink held cleaning products.[14]

Originally, the house was heated with a coal-fired furnace. Coal was stored in the basement in a bin beneath a window. The basement concrete slab did not extend into the area of the coal bin. Later the house was heated with an oil-fired furnace. The fuel-oil tank was located beneath the dining room. The temperature of the house was regulated with a pull cord located on the living room door frame at the hall. The chain extended from the basement to the living room through a hole in the floor.

Pull shades, which likely came with the house, were installed on all of the windows. These were later replaced with Venetian blinds. The house did not have air conditioning until after Roger Spindle died in 1965. A window air-conditioning unit was installed in the living room window adjacent to the front door.[15]

The house had electric outlets, lights, and appliances installed at time of original construction. The refrigerator and the stove, which was located in the niche opposite the sink, were powered by electricity. Some of the light fixtures in the house may have been replacements. The metal base of the light fixture in the front bedroom was stamped on the inside with the brand Homart, owned by the Dornback Hardware and Plumbing Company. Dornback began supplying fixtures to Sears under this brand in the late 1940s. The exterior light socket, made of porcelain, had Woodwin stamped on the inside. The three sockets on the kitchen light fixture, made of plastic, were also stamped with the Woodwin brand.

A push-button for an Ansonia doorbell, located on the frame of the front door, rang a bell mounted on the kitchen wall above the passage into the living room. The doorbell transformer was mounted on a basement ceiling joist. Telephone service was available in the area in 1932. The Spindles had a telephone in the living room, phone number 67W2, which was a party line shared with eight other families. Their calls were identified by two short rings.[16]

Initially, water for the house was pumped from the springhouse, requiring that the springhouse be occasionally cleaned out. A pump was located in the basement. Due to the effort required to clean out the springhouse, a well was dug in the yard after Roger Spindle Sr.�s death. The pump in the basement then became obsolete. The Spindles did not have a hot water heater until after World War II. Until that time, water was heated on the stove.[17]



Waste disposal from the bathroom was directed into a leech field to the side of the house beyond the garage. In the mid-to-late 1950s, a new field was dug. It is unknown if the new septic field was built in the same location. Dish water was tossed outside, or used to water the flower garden. Garbage was burned in the backyard until the dump was established.[18]

The exterior house color scheme was originally gray and white: The wood wall shingles were painted gray, and the trim painted white. The stoop was painted gray, and then red. A white gate, no longer extant, was situated between two posts located under the curved roof line. Metal gutters, also no longer on the house, were installed along some locations of the roof eave.[19]

The Herndon Observer newspaper reported on the progress of the construction. On March 15, 1934, it was reported that

Mr. Roger Spindle has purchased a lot in Centreville and is preparing to build a home there in the near future.[20]

Spindle House January 1939

By March 22nd the foundation work on the house was progressing rapidly.[21] Construction took about 2-1/2 months. In May of 1934, the Herndon Observer reported that

Mr. Roger Spindle�s pretty bungalow is nearing completion.[22]

�and Mrs. Roger Spindle�s bungalow is almost ready for occupancy.[23]

In the fall of following year, Roger Spindle had his lawn graded.[24]

Spindle House, January 1939, Courtesy Priscilla "Susan" Spindle Mosier

The house and grounds were used for several functions. Susan Spindle Mosier had her wedding reception on the property in 1965, and circle meetings, held by a small group of Centreville United Methodist Church women, were held monthly in the house. Women from the church society met at the house to conduct missionary work. The circle Wilma Spindle belonged to was called the Daisy Gentry circle, named after Wilma Spindle�s mother. When Roger Spindle, Jr. was killed in a hunting accident, many people came to pay their last respects. The casket was placed in the dining room.[25]

Wilma Spindle, and her daughter Susan, were members of the Centreville United Methodist church. Roger Spindle was a member of the Frying Pan Baptist Meetinghouse, though work prevented him from participating in many church functions. Susan had a pet chicken, and the family also had dogs, cats, and a parakeet.[26]

Spindle's Garage

The Spindle�s may have constructed their garage at the same time the house was built; certainly by 1937 when the garage was photographed by USDA aerial photographers. Though the garage is no longer extant, the structure was photographed when the Spindle�s lived at the house. The garage doors shown in photos were available in the Winter �33/�34 catalog.

The garage was constructed with metal sheathing over a wood frame. The roof may have originally had red shingles.[27]

Though the garage was sufficient for the first automobile used by Roger Spindle to commute down Lee Highway to Washington, D.C., subsequent cars were too large for the garage. Thereafter, the garage was used to store the lawn mower.[28]


Wilma Spindle in front of garage, ca. 1965, Courtesy Priscilla "Susan" Spindle Mosier

Roger Spindle drove to work each day until he retired in 1961. It took him about an hour to drive to Washington, D.C. and find parking. He worked from 3pm to 12am because he did not like the traffic during the day. Wilma Spindle did not have her own car until 1952, when her husband bought her a Mercury. Until then, she would get rides or walk to her evening destinations.[29]

Most of the grocery shopping was done in Manassas, at least once a week. Clothing and home goods were usually purchased in Clarendon, VA. The Spindles shopped at the Seven Corners Shopping Center after it was built in the 1950s.[30]

The children walked to Centreville Elementary School, since the school only had one bus. When they were in high school, they would walk to Centreville Elementary School to catch the bus to Fairfax High School.[31]

The garage was never repaired, became dilapidated, and was eventually torn down by the Fairfax County Health Department c. 2005.[32]


The Alexandria Light & Power Company, which built a large substation in Annandale in 1925, constructed transmission lines along Little River Turnpike to Fairfax Courthouse.[33] In 1926, a merger of five power plants in Virginia, including the Alexandria Light & Power Company, created the Virginia Public Service Company.[34] An interest meeting was held in March 1928 at the Centreville School to discuss bringing an electric line out from Fairfax. Residents who lived in proximity to Lee Highway were encouraged to attend.[35] Two months later, the current was turned on over the electric line extension from Fairfax to Centreville.[36] At that time, private companies would only take the power lines down major roads.

On October 22, 1932, the Virginia Public Service Company was granted easements to erect poles and attach wires and other fixtures near the Spindle Sears House parcel.[37] Property owners along the Centreville-Chantilly Road (now Mount Gilead Road), from the land of Dorothy Radford (now E. C. Lawrence Park) to Braddock Road, entered into the deed agreements. G. Allan Macrae, owner of nearby Mount Gilead, was one of the grantors.

During the �New Deal Era� President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed executive order no. 7037, which established the Rural Electrification Act (REA). The REA allocated 100 million dollars to ensure that electricity was provided to rural America. In 1936, the Virginia General Assembly passed the Electric Cooperative Act. The Prince William Electric Cooperative, which was formed in 1941, served rural Northern Virginia.

Roger Spindle Sr. and Roger Spindle Jr. 1935

Privately owned electric companies started to notice that there was a profit to be made in rural areas, and started to build �spite lines� in wealthier rural areas that were close, and sometimes within, a cooperative service area. Building �spite lines� gave private companies a greater opportunity to turn a profit. The private companies knew that cooperatives needed wealthier customers to offset the cost of providing electricity to poorer customers and to areas that were not highly populated.

Electricity was available when the Spindle Sears House was constructed. Priscilla �Susan� Spindle Mosier noted that the family�s electric provider was Virginia Electric and Power Company (VEPCO), which absorbed the Virginia Public Service Company in June 1944.[38]

In 1932, Paul Rector and his wife Elizabeth, granted the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company of Virginia the right to construct, operate, and maintain its line of telephone and telegraph.[39]

The Spindles granted an easement to the American Telephone and Telegraph Company of Virginia in 1940.


Roger Spindle Sr. and Roger Spindle Jr. with utility pole in background, 1935, Courtesy Priscilla "Susan" Spindle Mosier


[1] Fairfax Herald, 05 June 1925, p. 2.

[2] Herndon Observer, 10 September 1925, p. 4.

[3] Fairfax Herald, 13 June 1930, p. 6.

[4] FXDB J11(270):374, 23 October 1933.

[6] Fairfax County Deed Book (FX DB) J11(270):254

[7] FX DB J11(270):374

[8] Susan Mosier Oral History Interview, 05 October 2006.

[9] Susan Mosier Oral History Interview, 05 October 2006.

[10] FX DB M11(273):4

[11] Susan Mosier Oral History Interview, 05 October 2006.

[12] Susan Mosier Oral History Interview, 05 October 2006.

[13] Susan Mosier Oral History Interview, 05 October 2006.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Herndon Observer, 15 Mar 1934, p. 1.

[21] Herndon Observer, 22 Mar 1934, p. 4.

[22] Herndon Observer, 10 May 1934, p. 1.

[23] Herndon Observer, 31 May 1934, p. 1.

[24] Herndon Observer, 12 Sept 1935, p. 4.

[25] Susan Mosier Oral History Interview, 05 October 2006.

[26] Ibid.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Ibid.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Ibid.

[33] The Washington Post, 20 July 1925, p. 3.; Herndon Observer, 25 March 1926, p. 2.

[34] The Washington Post, 5 March 1926, p. 2.

[35] Herndon Observer, 01 March 1928, p. 1.

[36] Fairfax Herald, 11 May 1928, p. 1.

[37] FXDB F11(266):133, 28 November 1932.

[38] Fairfax Herald, 2 June 1944.

[39] FXDB C11(263):129, 11 April, 1932.