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Polychrome Houses

Original Name: Polychrome Houses
Year Of Construction: 1934-35
Address: 9900-04 Colesville Rd. & 9919-25 Sutherland Rd. Silver Spring, Maryland 20901
Architect(s): J.R. Kennedy, architect; John J. Earley, designer
Current Status: Residential
Original Use: Residential
Function:

John Joseph Earley’s Polychrome Houses are unique to the Washington metropolitan area. Only a few prototypes were built in the mid 1930s, five in the vicinity of Colesville Road, just north of the Beltway in Silver Spring and one in Southeast Washington. They are constructed of Earley’s precast concrete panels, embellished with his unique polychrome mosaics. The panels were fabricated in his studio in Virginia, trucked to the site, and hung on the house frames so as not to rest on the foundations. Thus, the panels are not load bearing, but they function as the skin of the houses. Features such as the casement windows and door frames are integral parts of the panels.

The decorative details are remarkable, and, as always with Earley’s work, the colors are as bright and clear today as they were on the day of installation.

The five houses in Montgomery County form a historic district of their own. They are wonderful small houses to live in, very cleverly designed, but not easy to add on to. However,  the owners  have the benefit of historic tax credits for the cost of  improvements.