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Keyword: ‘steel’

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

June 14th, 2018 Sears Homes 6 comments

Last week, I traveled almost 1,000 miles (round trip) to Newberry, South Carolina to learn more about Sadie Bowers, and visit her gravesite. It was also an opportunity to visit James, a dear friend who lives less than 100 miles away from Newberry.

James and I had a wonderful time, and it was one of the happiest times I have experienced in the last two years. And that is a big deal.

One of the unexpected bonuses of travling to Newberry is that I met Ernest Shealy, an architectural historian and curator of the Newberry County Historical Museum. He was a most gracious host, and drove me throughout Newberry, so that I might find and identify a few kit homes.

I only recognized two kit homes, both from Aladdin.

As to Sadie Bowers, she was one of the women workers at Penniman, Virginia. In fact, she worked in the Booster Plant, considered the most hazardous work at the munitions plant. Oh, how I’d love to learn more about this woman and her work at Penniman.

If you have any information to share about Sadie, please leave a comment below!

To learn more about Sadie, click here.

Want to know how to identify kit homes? Click here.

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I didnt find any Sears kit homes in Newberry, but I did see two houses from Aladdin. Like Sears, Aladdin also sold kit homes through their mail-order catalog.

I didn't find any Sears kit homes in Newberry, but I did see two houses from Aladdin. Like Sears, Aladdin also sold kit homes through their mail-order catalog.

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The Aladdin Plaza was one of the most popular houses that Aladdin offered in their early 1900s catalog.

The Aladdin Plaza was one of the most popular houses that Aladdin offered in their early 1900s catalog. Note the flared column bases and unique railing. Also note the 12/1 windows on the front porch.

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And heres a delightful Aladdin Plaza in Newberry, South Carolina.

And here's a delightful Aladdin Plaza in Newberry, South Carolina. The partially enclosed front porch does not diminish it's unique beauty. And best of all, it retains its original windows.

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This

This angle shows off a little bit of that original railing. You can also see those original Aladdin windows better. Do these owners know that it's an Aladdin kit home, that arrived at the Newberry Train Depot in a boxcar with 12,000 pieces? Probably not. Should we tell them? ;)

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The Aladdin Pomona was another very popular house. Its one of my favorites, too.

The Aladdin Pomona was another very popular house. It's one of my favorites, too. It's a classic bungalow, and has several unique features, including the diamond muntins, flared porch columns, and open eave brackets. It's a beauty.

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This Pomona in Newberry is in perfect condition, and looks much like it did when built in the late 1910s or early 1920s.

This Pomona in Newberry is in perfect condition, and looks much like it did when built in the late 1910s or early 1920s. And as with the Plaza, this also retains its original windows.

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What a beauty!

What a beauty!

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Its not a kit house, but heres the house where Sadie Bowers (Penniman worker) lived with her Mama. Sadie was almost 88 years old when she passed on. After the war, she returned to her native city (Newberry), and lived there the rest of her long life.

It's not a kit house, but here's the house where Sadie Bowers (Penniman worker) lived with her Mama. Sadie was almost 88 years old when she passed on. After the war, she returned to her native city (Newberry), and lived there the rest of her long life.

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When I told Ernest that I wanted to find the grave stone for Sadie Bowers, he knew right where to look! He literally drove RIGHT to it! I was so impressed.

When I told Ernest that I wanted to find the grave stone for Sadie ("Sarah") Bowers, he knew right where to look! He literally drove RIGHT to it! I was so impressed.

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He drove

That's the beauty part of having the town's historian drive you around town. Ernest knew everything that there is to know about Newberry and its history. I was really bedazzled by his encyclopedic knowledge. And he was so generous with this time.

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I also got a fine tour of the Newberry Museum.

I also got a fine tour of the Newberry Museum. This display discussed traditional funeral practices of the 19th Century. It was well done and very interesting.

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And of course, this caught my eye.

And of course, this caught my eye. The upside of Facebook is that I've connected with many wonderful and generous women who have also lost their husband to suicide. The downside is, when I post things on my personal Facebook page, too many folks have said things like, "You need to be on an anti-depressant" or "You need to forgive him and move on" or "You should be making better progress." One hundred years ago, people were given permission to mourn the sudden and tragic death of their spouse. I'm at the two-year mark, and I can tell you, I will never "be over" this. God willing, in another few months, my life will become increasingly mundane and peaceful, with sprinkles of joy here and there. Or so I hope and pray.

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This modest museum is definitely worth the trip. Also on display was this amazing contraption for curling womens hair. It was in use at the Newberry beauty salon, and according to the legend, a woman with a steel plate in her skull sat down for a permanent, and when the electrified curlers made contact with her wet scalp, she was instantly electrocuted. I would love to know if that story is possible, plausible or true.

This modest museum is definitely worth the trip. Also on display was this amazing contraption for curling women's hair. It was in use at the Newberry beauty salon, and according to the legend, a woman with a steel plate in her skull sat down for a permanent, and when the electrified curlers made contact with her wet scalp, she was instantly electrocuted. I would love to know if that story is possible, plausible or true.

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The name plate on the device is certainly interesting.

The name plate on the device is interesting. The graphic says it all.

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James lives in a beautiful place. Its almost too beautiful to be real.

James lives in a beautiful place. It's almost too beautiful to be real.

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If you have any information to share about Sadie, please leave a comment below!

To learn more about Sadie, click here.

Want to know how to identify kit homes? Click here.

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“This Old House Has Good Bones” - Please DON’T.

September 17th, 2017 Sears Homes 3 comments

If you want to have a meaningful conversation with an architectural historian, never ever never let this phrase pass your lips: “This house has good bones.”

It’s nonsensical, and frankly, I’m not sure what it’s even intended to express.

Sometimes, when I’m trapped in a doctor’s office, and I’m forced to watch a whole lot of HGTV (Houses Getting Totally Vandalized), I hear this dreaded phrase.

If we’re going forward with the “houses as living creatures” analogy, houses are probably more exoskeletal. In other words, they wear their skeletons on the outside, like roaches and ants and bedbugs, and I really don’t like comparing houses to roaches and ants and bedbugs.

Houses might be “structurally sound” and they might be “exceptionally well built” and they might have “dimensional framing lumber” or perhaps they’re “solid and strong” and maybe the framing members are of exceptionally good quality, but houses do not have good bones.

Next time you feel compelled to tell someone, “That house has good bones,” please bite your tongue, take a deep breath and instead say, “This house has an astonishingly sturdy exoskeletal structure.”

Or maybe, best of all, just say, “This is a fine old solid house.”

All of us old house lovers will thank you.

Read about the “open floor plan” and the downfall of society here.

If you enjoy this blog and want to make Rosemary smile, please leave a comment below!
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Good bones

If we're going to drag this analogy on down the road, it would have to be said that houses are exoskeletal, which means that they can not possibly have "good bones."

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meaning

Here is a student with "good bones" but will he excel in class? Probably not.

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Good

This house probably has "a good exoskeletal structure" but I would highly recommend against its purchase, because it's got a bit of a tilt.

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This

Although a classic example of balloon framing, this house does not have "good bones." It has vertical framing members that appear to be sturdy and strong. And it's going to need some stainless steel appliances. And ceiling fans. And other stuff.

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Read about the “open floor plan” and the downfall of society here.

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To The Woman at the Veterinarian’s Office…

August 29th, 2017 Sears Homes 16 comments

Yesterday, suddenly, Teddy the Dog became ill. We dashed off the the vet, and while we waited to get “worked in,” I started getting “worked up.” Sitting beside the stainless steel table in the exam room, looking at my old dog, I started to cry. In my troubled mind, I knew this was the end for my little Sheltie.

“Old dogs really are the best, aren’t they?” I asked Teddy as I gently stroked her gray-tipped Sheltie ears. She looked at me with those big brown eyes, as if to say, “I may go first, but it is love that has bonded us together, and that bond will endure forever.” (She is a writer’s dog, after all. She’s quite pithy.)

I cried a few more tears and then sobered up.

When the doctor appeared, he asked what was going on, and I explained that she’d had diarrhea and now the soft skin on her pink tummy was sloughing off.

With much gravitas, I told him, “It’s either a skin malady, or she’s dying. I need to know which.”

And then I stifled another crying jag.

He examined her thoroughly and said, “She’s not dying. She’s got a bacterial skin infection. We can get this cleared up with proper medication. She’s going to be fine.”

I don’t remember the doctor’s name, but he was a patient soul. When he said she was going to be fine, I started to cry again.

I can’t lose Teddy. Not yet. She’s the last remnant of my once-normal life. I asked my buddy Milton if she’d aged precipitously in the last 16 months. He replied quietly, “We all have. This has changed us forever.”

Teddy was there when Wayne ended his life. She heard it, saw it, and apparently tried to “wake him up” by licking him and circling the chair repeatedly.

Teddy lost both of her “people” that day. Wayne died. I lost my mind. For a time.

Both Teddy and Mother are doing better these days, but we still are struggling. We’re in rental housing and that’s not ideal, but it was the best we could do with the mess that we were left. In the first four months, Teddy had two surgeries, both of which involved life-threatening emergencies. In that same time, I had a minor outpatient surgery - the first in my life.

Before The Bad Thing™, Teddy was the most laid-back dog you’d ever meet. Thunder storms, loud noises, fireworks did not faze her one bit. Now, she’s a different dog. Loud noises cause her much anxiety. Both Teddy and I put some effort into avoiding loud noises. And when she’s on leash, she’s showing some aggression to other dogs, big or small.

Because of this, I try to keep a tight handle on her around other dogs, but yesterday in the vet’s office, some woman with her little Yorkie thought it’d be cute to let her dog sniff my dog. I was at the counter paying the bill and didn’t see her approach. Teddy snarled and her hackles went up and she bared her teeth. She was poised and ready to strike.

As I reined in Teddy, I saw the look of disgust on the woman’s face and saw her whisper something to her husband as she walked away. I’ve seen this same face when Teddy and I are out for our evening constitutionals.

I would love to grab these people by the lapels and say, “This is not my little dog’s fault. This is not my fault. This is just a result of some really ugly trauma and we’re all doing our best.”

One of my “dog people” friends told me that in Teddy’s world - Teddy probably feels like she is protecting me. She’s fine at Doggy Day Care (which we visit a couple times a month), but the trouble starts when she’s on leash with me, out in the world.

That comment helped a lot, and gave me much peace. Dear little Teddy sees me as someone that needs protecting. Endears her to me ever more, if that’s possible.

Someone else said, “She’s just reacting to your anxiety. If you calm down, she’ll be fine.”

That was not helpful. In fact, it hurt like hell.

In the meantime, Teddy and I move through the days and we are both striving to stay healthy. And the good news is, 24 hours later, Teddy’s skin infection is already on the mend.

To read more about Teddy, click here.

To learn about the big fancy Sears House - the Magnolia - click here.

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Teddy

On a rainy Tuesday in Southeastern Virginia, Teddy watches the world go by. The tips of those precious little prick ears turned white in the days following Wayne's suicide.

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To read more about Teddy, click here.

To learn about the big fancy Sears House - the Magnolia - click here.

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Housing Rosemary, Part II

July 11th, 2017 Sears Homes 8 comments

In re-starting a new life at the age of 58, one of my greatest challenges is (now) decision-making. Even small decisions are very difficult, and I’m finding that larger decisions are almost paralyzing.

My nearest and dearest friends tell me that I’ve made much progress in the last few months, and I’m so grateful for every encouraging word, but when it comes to hard choices, I don’t do very well.

Last night, I looked at a house that was so appealing for so many reasons. It’s brand-new on the market and will probably sell quickly, so I need to decide soon. And yet, after seeing the house, the old familiar chest pains returned, as did the sleepless night and morning panic attack.

The house has so many good features, such as a NON-OPEN floor plan. It has rooms and walls - a big plus. It has a functional kitchen with white appliances - another big plus. I loathe stainless steel. The roof is less than five years old, so it should last the rest of my life. That’s good.

Inside, the 29-year-old home has popcorn ceilings in every room (ick), an unusually small master bedroom (drat), no sunporch (yikes) and very few windows (see pictures). I’m a solar-powered soul, and I live on light.

The mechanical systems (plumbing, electrical) are first class, but the HVAC is 15+ years old and inefficient.

The best part - the lot. It’s just the right size, delightfully landscaped and the rear is fully fenced. And - it has a massive 1,008-square-foot garage in the back corner. With an epoxy floor. And oversized doors. And a second-floor. That garage makes me swoon, and I’m not even sure why. Maybe it’s my inner-hoarder coming out. Maybe it’s 10 months of being stuffed inside a small rental, with all my worldly possessions in storage.

And perhaps the other “best part” is the neighborhood. It’s a lovely neighborhood and all the lots are at least 125-feet wide. It’s not in the wilderness, and yet everyone has their space.

The last bad thing - it was built in 1988, during  a housing boom in this area. It was not custom built, and I see some evidences of it being economically constructed.

But do I need a house that will last 100 years? No. I need a house that will last 20 years. After that, I’m leaving for assisted living or heaven (undecided as of yet).

So that’s the story. I welcome opinions, as I try to navigate this difficult decision.

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The best part is the lot. Its .7 acres - big enough for privacy but not overwhelming. And its all fenced and ready for me and Teddy to move right in.

The best feature of this house is the lot. It's .7 acres - big enough for privacy but not overwhelming, and well landscaped. And it's all fenced and ready for me and Teddy to move right in, and start the next chapter of our life.

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House

There's a 1-1/2 car attached garage, but there's a 1000+ square-foot garage in the back yard. The house has excellent curb appeal, and the lawn has been beautifully maintained.

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As you can see from the rear, it just doesnt have many windows.

As you can see from the rear, it just doesn't have many windows. There are only two windows on the side of the house, and only one on the second-floor rear. And yet, it does have a new roof...and that's how these internal conversations go - back and forth.

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You can read one of my most popular blogs here.

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Defining a Dream…

July 8th, 2017 Sears Homes 8 comments

Several kind souls have asked - what are you looking for in a house?

In an effort to nail that down myself, I’ve looked at many houses listed for sale and also houses that have sold (which also helps give an insight on value).

In my opinion, Zillow is the easiest online real estate website, and I’ve spent many an hour, reviewing the possibilities.

Initially, following Wayne’s death, I decided it was time to fulfill my long-awaited dream of a “house in the country,” and attempted to find a suitable home on a couple acres out in Suffolk, Zuni, Windsor or some place west of Hampton Roads. Subsequently, I’ve come to realize that I need something a little more manageable.

Earlier this week, that became even more clear, after I was completely bedridden with a virus of some kind.

I was born and raised in Portsmouth, and it’s an area that I know very well. For a dozen years, I lived in St. Louis, and for the next 10 years, I lived in Norfolk. Several kind folks have suggested Norfolk, but for many reasons, I’ll never live there again.

I’m open to Portsmouth, and also to Northern Suffolk (contiguous to Portsmouth).

There are days when discouragement sets in, but that’s when I return to this house in Portsmouth (pictures below), in a neighborhood known as Green Acres. (Yes, that really is the name of the neighborhood.) And this house - this one house - absolutely sends me. It fills me with an unspeakable glee and joy. I’ve spent many an hour studying these photos.

Unfortunately, it sold eight months ago. I’ve even thought about knocking on the homeowner’s door, and asking if they have any interest in selling. Problem is, all the unique and vintage features that are so charming are probably long gone now. I hope I’m wrong, but…

So at least - after this long journey - it’s become clear to me what I truly want in a home:  Beauty, elegance, refinement, character, peace, and best of all, at least a splash of something vintage.

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This house has it all. The lot is .6 acres, which is just right and big enough for a koi pond!

This house has it all. The lot is .6 acres, which is just right and big enough for a koi pond (or a raccoon feeding station, as my buddy Dale calls it). This house is so classic for so many reasons. And it's in Green Acres!

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In addition to the courtyard in the front, theres another small garden wall in the rear.

In addition to the courtyard in the front, there's another small garden wall in the rear.

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Whats not to love about this back yard?

A better view of the courtyard in the home's rear.

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These massive windows define this Mid-Century Modern home, where the outside spaces are brought into the home.

These massive windows define this "Mid-Century Modern" home, where the outside spaces are brought into the home. Very Californian and very wonderful.

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Loo

I swear, if I ended up with a house this delightful, I'd cherish it every day and make it a testament to the Mid-Century Modern movement. I'd even buy a 1950s car for the driveway - if I could find a good deal. :)

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And heres where my heart just melts into a puddle.

And here's where my heart just melts into a puddle.

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Here

There's so much that's wonderful about this kitchen, I'm not sure where to start. So I put little hearts on the good stuff. First, the metal cabinets appear to be in wonderful condition, with their enamel finish still shining so pretty. Next, that red formica with the stainless steel trim. Heaven on earth - right there. And that Frigidaire "Flair" Stove. I might just swoon. And then there's the refrigerator - also original. In a former life, I owned an appliance shop in Portsmouth and am pretty good at repairing old appliances. I'd dedicate my life to keeping these old appliances in working order.

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So thats my dream house - sitting on .6 acres in Green Acres in Churchland in Portsmouth. Could there be another one of these lurking somewhere in Portsmouth? Lets hope.

So that's my dream house - sitting on .6 acres in Green Acres in Churchland in Portsmouth. Could there be another one of these lurking somewhere in Portsmouth? Let's hope.

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To see more pictures of a dream kitchen, click here.

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The Great Atlantic Fleet - Parked at Penniman

March 8th, 2016 Sears Homes 3 comments

While reading the Newport News Daily Press, I stumbled upon a little item in the 1923 paper that connected a lot of dots. In the article (from the Associated Press), Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels explained that during The Great War, the Navy had stationed “more than a dozen battleships” at the mouth of the York River, near the Chesapeake Bay. He described the location as “an ancient naval base” adding that under “voluntary censorship” this information was never published.

“We were anchored right where Admiral Rochambeau’s French fleet took its stand and cut off relief by sea for General Cornwallis,” Daniels told the Associated Press (February 11, 1923).

For the geographically challenged among us, that’s mighty close to Penniman. If you were standing on the beach at Penniman near King’s Creek (the southern boundary of Penniman), that very spot - where Rochambeau parked his fleet - would be about four  miles southeast.

Secretary Daniels described the unnumbered group of ships as “the world’s greatest deposit of battleships,” and “the home port of that part of the Atlantic Fleet” (during the war). The article also explained that metal submarine nets had been stretched across the mouth of the York River. (A few days later, another article appeared, explaining that local fishermen were begging the Navy to start removing the “huge steel nets.”)

“Penniman is on the south side of the York River, and near its mouth,” wrote George Harris, an Army private stationed at Penniman. Written October 28, 1918, the letter was published in Harris’ hometown paper (Spirit Lake Beacon, Iowa) a few days after the war ended.

“We can stand out on the beach and see the Chesapeake Bay,” Harris noted. “Several battleships are stationed in the mouth of the river and the bay. One day, I counted 14 of those ships and four more in the distance” (November 17, 1918).

Those battleships anchored at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay must have been a remarkable thing to see, because several letters written about life at Penniman mention that view.

Not surprisingly, the sailors on board those ships took their liberties at Penniman.

In June 1918, a YWCA* worker filed a report on conditions of the munitions plant at Penniman. She wrote, “There’s a [soda] fountain that dispenses drinks at all hours to a motley crowd, resembling nothing so much as a Douglas Fairbanks wild west movie. This affair is even more thrilling to the girls by the arrival every evening of the crew of a minesweeper or battleship from the fleet at Yorktown, four miles below.”

Two months later, a “confidential report” was given by M. S. Shephard on “the moral situation” at Penniman. The head man at the plant, Mr. Benesh, appealed to the YWCA for help, and it was suggested that a police woman work undercover, and that a “especially good morality worker” provide regular lectures at the plant.

“The situation at Penniman is not a simple one,” the letter continued, “for the girls and women are of all types” (August 7, 1918).

The war ended three months later, and hopefully most of those “girls and women of all types” went home with their virtue unblemished.

Why did the Navy decide to park their battleships at the mouth of the York River? Mark Hardin, a phenomenal researcher and hard-core history lover, recently discovered an old map showing the placement of four three-inch anti-aircraft guns positioned in and around Hopewell (site of a WW1-era DuPont guncotton plant). Did Penniman have anti-aircraft guns as well? It was one of two of America’s largest shell-loading plants, and was vital to the war effort.

I suspect that the Great Atlantic Fleet provided all the protection that Penniman needed.

Thanks to Mike Neal for sharing images from this wonderful book (shown below).

*Penniman-YWCA letters are courtesy of the Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College.

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Superdreadnought (Battleship)

When Private George Harris stood on Penniman's beach and looked out toward the Chesapeake Bay, did he see this? This is Superdreadnought (Battleship) Arizona, commissioned October 1916. According to Harris, he saw at least 14 battleships in the York River in Fall of 1918.

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Heres a picture of the Great Atlantic Fleet underway (1917).

Here's a picture of the Great Atlantic Fleet underway (1917).

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Sailors on board an unnamed battleship, with 14-inch shells which were just supplied by a lighter.

Sailors on board an unnamed battleship, with 14-inch shells which were just delivered by a "lighter."

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These guys look like they could show a young girl a thing or two. I hope that especially good morality speaker went to Penniman with due haste.

I hope that the "especially good morality speaker" went to Penniman with due haste.

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Vladmir

That guy on the right looks a lot like Vladmir Putin.

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ff

The caption of this photo states that fencing helped develop confidence, courage and control. That boat shown in the upper right was probably also used to get the young sailors over to Penniman.

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These images appeared in this rare book, published in late 1917. Thanks to Mike Neal for allowing me to use images from this delightful old tome.

These pictures shown above are from this rare book, published in late 1917. Thanks to Mike Neal for allowing me to use images from this delightful old tome.

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To learn more about Penniman, click here.

Want to learn how to identify kit homes? Here’s the place.

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The Sears Monterey - In Real Life!

February 2nd, 2016 Sears Homes 7 comments

Just two months ago, I wrote a blog lamenting the fact that I’d never found a Sears “Monterey.” Last night in our Facebook group, I learned that Jennifer Hoover-Vogel found one of these very rare Sears kit homes in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania!

Now as you feast your eyes upon this kit-house beauty, you’ll note it’s had some siding installed over the stucco (sad face), and the windows have been removed (oh dear), however, it’s still standing and there’s something to be said for that.

Many thanks to Jennifer for finding this treasure!

And thanks to the unknown (but delightful, generous and lovely) Realtor who posted these images when the house was for sale.

To read read about the Alhambra (a kissing cousin), click here.

To join our Facebook group, click here.

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Who doesnt love a Sears Monterey? (1924 Sears Modern Homes catalog)

Who doesn't love a Sears Monterey? (1924 Sears Modern Homes catalog)

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FP2

Same footprint as the Sears Alhambra, but slightly different exterior.

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FLoor Plan

Upstairs is a little different from the Alhambra, too!

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House

Exterior: Beautiful. Interior: Good.

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house

That is one sweet little house. Check out the parapet on the porch, dormer and staircase wing.

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Oh yea

Well, they put a hurting on that front porch, and they replaced the windows with something rather, uh, less than ideal, but other than that, it's a fine house.

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fff

To a flat-lander tourist such as myself, that stonework is stunning.

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ll

That is a fancy floor. I wonder if the home's original owner had a background in flooring, and did his own "upgrade" while the house was under construction.

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ff

Another view of that beautiful floor and lovely fireplace.

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The kitchens had a real hurting put on it, but from what Ive read, there are people in the world that like this kind of thing. Honestly, I wish I was one of them. It sure would simplify my life.

The kitchen's had a real hurting put on it, but from what I've read, there are people in the world that like this kind of thing. Honestly, I wish I was one of them. It sure would simplify my life. I am intrigued by the sign on top of the cabinet that says "Home." Is that in case someone forgets where they are, and start thinking that they're at a neighbor's house? It's a puzzle.

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Another view of the kitchen.

Another view of the kitchen. I'm highly allergic to stainless steel, beige tile floors, French provincial cabinetry and granite countertops, so that explains why this kitchen would be difficult for me to visit.

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ff

There's that "home" sign again. Other than that, great dining room.

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The bathroom is more my ss

The bathroom is more my style. That double-apron porcelain tub makes me swoon.

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ff

The bedrooms in this house seem unusually spacious.

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house

See that step to the left? It's on the floor-plan and is an access to the attic.

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Pretty yard

Even the back of the house is lovely!

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fff

Wait, is that a koi pond? Okay, sign me up. I want the house. And the pond.

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ggg

A comparison of the two images. Fun house, isn't it?

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Many thanks to Jennifer for finding this treasure!

And thanks to the unknown (but delightful, generous and lovely) Realtor who posted these images.

To read read about the Alhambra (a kissing cousin), click here.

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Oh My! Who Knew That New Bern Had So Many Kit Homes!

January 19th, 2016 Sears Homes 4 comments

Fun times in New Bern!

Mr. Hubby and I just returned from a visit to New Bern, NC where we stayed at the Aerie Bed and Breakfast and spent the days seeing the sights (and looking for kit homes).

Within New Bern’s Ghent neighborhood, we found an abundance of kit homes, and (a nice bonus) one turquoise Lustron, (all-steel homes from the late 1940s).

My favorite two finds within Ghent were the Sears Milton, and - just across the street - a Sears Modern Home #178  facing the Sears Milton. And here’s what’s even more fun: In the 1914 Sears Modern Homes catalog, Modern Home #178 was featured on the same page as the Milton.

And I was surprised to find that these two radically different houses - The Milton and Modern Home #178 - share an identical floor plan! I’ve been playing around with Sears Homes for 15+ years and never noticed that before.

The next blog will showcase a few of the two dozen kit homes I found in New Bern, but today, it’s all about the Milton and it’s fraternal twin, Modern Home #178.

To read more about the Milton, click here.

Updated: Will I ever be able to return to New Bern? I doubt it. New Bern is the place where my husband and I celebrated our honeymoon, and also a second honeymoon in January 2016. And in January 2016, while I sat reading in another room of our suite, he made some phone calls in preparation of his upcoming suicide in April. Just seeing these pictures causes me so much strife. His suicide ruined every single thing.

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The Milton and Modern Home

The Sears Milton and Modern Home #178: Two different models, one floor plan. Sears Homes were given names in 1918. Modern Home #264P210 survived long enough in the catalog to merit a name: The Milton. Modern Home #178's last year was 1914.

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Both

Two houses - one floorplan. The Sears Milton in New Bern (across the street from #178) was customized when built, and does not have the traditional two-story bay window.

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Two houses - one floorplan.

Both first and second floors are identical in the Milton and Modern Home #178.

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The Milton was one of Sears finest homes.

The Milton was one of Sears finest homes.

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Notice

Notice the massive eaves, and cornice returns on this grand house. It's a very distinctive house (thus making it easier to spot). In the Miltons that I've seen, those pergolas have been converted into a roof, covering the expansive front porch. Notice also the dramatic bracketing on the eaves. Dentil molding is found at the top of the columns and around the eaves.

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The

Absent that two-story bay window, every other detail on this Milton is spot-on.

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house

Here's a close-up of those distinctive cornice returns.

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Another view of this

Another view of this grand old kit home in New Bern, NC.

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Between landscaping obstacles

A surfeit of landscaping obstacles made photographing this old house a challenge. Note the tapered board on the underside of the first-floor porch roof, with a small block at its center. This is also a perfect match to the old catalog image.

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And just across the street is the Sears Modern Home #178.

And just across the street is the Sears Modern Home #178. Beautiful! There must be s a story here, as to how these two spacious (and fancy) Sears Homes were built just across the street from one another!

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A view of the Milton, as seen from the front yard of #178.

A view of the Milton, as seen from the front yard of #178.

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One of these Miltons is not like the other!

"One of these Miltons is not like the other!" On the far left (in blue shirt) is my BFF, Milton Crum, with Jim Silverstorf (holding an antenna tuner). When I first told Milton (blue shirt) about the Sears Milton (white clapboards), Milton said, "Now that's a darn fine name for a house!"

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My next blog - the OTHER 22 kit homes I found within New Bern, including this little cutie in the 600-block of Broad Street!

My next blog - the OTHER 22 kit homes I found within New Bern, including this little cutie in the 600-block of Broad Street!

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Isnt it a darling little house?

Isn't it a darling little house?

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To read more about the Sears Milton, click here.

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EPA: Erogo Pecunia Administratio

July 28th, 2014 Sears Homes No comments

It’s been four years since EPA RRP became law, and yet based on my own admittedly unscientific survey, looks like it’s being largely ignored.

And in my opinion, that’s a good thing.

EPA RRP is an over-reaching, draconian government regulation with severe and long-reaching “unintended consequences,” such as decimating the value of old houses, and making the already onerous burden of old-house ownership ever more severe. If the lawmakers are truly concerned about the health of children (which is the claim), there are 1001 better (and more efficient) ways to invest and utilize taxpayer money.

Driving along in Norfolk neighborhoods, I often see work being performed on “old” houses (pre-1978), such as paint jobs, new window installation or other repairs that disturb “more than six square feet” of the home’s exterior.

According to EPA RRP, if more than six feet of a pre-1978’s home is disturbed, you must engage in all sorts of abatement procedures, including (but not limited to), tyvek suits, respirators, crime-scene tape, yellow warning signs posted at the corners of the property, and great quantities of six-mil plastic spread throughout the yard. (As this author writes, “The EPA just declared war on contractors, remodelers and homeowners…”)

In the last four years, I’ve probably seen three dozen job sites where “more than six square feet” is being disturbed, and yet how many times have I see compliance with the EPA RRP laws?

None.

Four years after this law was passed, many contractors have still not heard of EPA RRP. And those that are aware of it realize that the odds of getting caught are small.

While EPA estimated that RRP would add “about $35 per job” to the cost of repairs, real-world experience is showing that it adds three to five times that amount. Most homeowners already shop contractors by price.

One unintended consequence of this burdensome regulation is that it’s creating a bigger market for “fly-by-night” unlicensed contractors and their ilk.

Last but not least, EPA RRP also adds obscene amounts of six-mil plastic to America’s overburdened landfills.

For exterior work, contractors are required to put six-mil plastic out 10 feet from the work site (for the first floor), plus four feet for every additional story. This means that the guy painting your house will set up his 24′ ladder atop six-mil plastic, which is a violation of OSHA laws, but hey, OSHA’s fines are smaller than EPA’s, so you should probably break OSHA laws (given the choice).

Recently, I got a sneak peak of the 2015 revisions to the EPA Lead Law. Everyone should be aware of this new legislation. It’s quoted below.

Effective July 1, 2012, EPA’s new “Biome Protection Act” adds an additional layer of protection to delicate ecosystems in our communities, including any and all surrounding wildlife potentially impacted by the adverse health effects of lead paint.

Any and all “at-risk” wildlife at the work site (including but not limited to insects that fly, crawl, creep and wiggle), must be humanely captured (in EPA approved containment vessels), tagged, and be outfitted with size-appropriate half-mask respirators with a HEPA filter, TYVEK suits and steel-toed shoes and then released.

Upon completion of construction project[s], impacted wildlife must be recaptured and all articles of protective gear removed. To insure the safety of said animals, blood samples must be obtained and then submitted to the EPA for review.

If elevated lead levels are found in surrounding wildlife, contractors will be held liable, and subject to fines not to exceed $12 billion.

Lowes

EPA: Erogo Pecunia Administratio

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Contractor whos just learned of EPA laws.

Contractor who's just learned of EPA laws.

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To read about happier topics, click here.

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Just One More Post on the 1950s…

May 15th, 2014 Sears Homes 9 comments

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Maybe.  ;)

I’ve come to think of Mr. Inge as my supplier.

He knows I can’t resist a good 1950s architectural book, and the most recent “hit” he’s provided is a bound volume of a years’ worth of “House Beautiful” magazines (1958).

“I’ve got too much to do,” I thought as I began to browse its many pages, and then I saw a 1958 pink Caddy.

You could have stuck a fork in me right then because I was cooked and done. You see, I’m also a real car buff, and in my personal opinion, American automotive styling hit its peak in the late 1950s.

Too many pictures for me to clog up the blog with words.

Enjoy, and please leave a comment!

To see pictures of 1950 kitchens, click here.

Want to see my Atomic Powder Room? Click here.

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Pink

The image that hooked me, and then dragged me into the abyss. A pink 1958 Cadillac. *SWOON*

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In 1966, our family piled in a 1957 Cadillac and drove from Portsmouth, VA to Santa Monica, CA, a 3,000 mile journey. I loved that car. And I still do.

In 1966, our family of six piled into 1957 Cadillac and drove from Portsmouth, VA to Santa Monica, CA, a 3,000 mile journey. I was six years old. For two weeks and 6,000 miles, I rode in the front seat, sitting on the fold-out arm rest.

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I cant read this text without hearing the narrative in Don Drapers voice.

I can't read this text without hearing the narrative in Don Draper's voice, complete with dramatic pauses.

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Our 1957 Cadillac was black, but I think I could have settled for blue if they were out of pink.

Our 1957 Cadillac was black, but I think I could have settled for blue if they were out of pink. Check out the rubber-tipped bumpers on the front. I could use a set of those on my Camry Hybrid.

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While were on the topic of luxury...

While we're on the topic of luxury...

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Is that Betty Draper in the back seat of the 1958 T-Bird?

Is that Betty Draper in the back seat of the 1958 T-Bird?

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So you dont

In 1974, I was forced to sit through a HORRIBLE "Driver's Safety Class" that mainly consisted of a sadistic gym teacher forcing us to watch gory films of people being turned into bloody hamburger meat via Detroit steel. As a sensitive soul, I was truly traumatized. I'd close my eyes whenever possible and then the gym teacher would screech at me to "pay attention." One of the stories was a paralyzed woman who had not buckled in that fateful day because she didn't want to wrinkle her dress. I guess society really did judge you by the wrinkles in your dress.

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T

I love this caption. It's from Bing Cosby's song, "Did you ever see a dream, walking..."

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Wow

Poor hat boy. He knows that this is the closest he'll ever come to a new T-bird. And look at those pedestrian souls admiring that shiny new thing. They're such simpletons in their plain-jane clothes. But at least they have a shot at the shiny new thing - one day - if they marry well. I'd like to caption this, "Envy."

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we

Well, it's good of her to give the two Plain Janes a ride to the bus stop.

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My husband tells me that hes secure enough in his masuclinity to wear a pink shirt.

My husband tells me that he's secure enough in his masculinity to wear a pink shirt. Back in the day, apparently men were secure enough in their masculinity to show up in a pink Chevy.

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fe

Looks like Mom and Dad are driving home from a party with Timothy Leary.

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Many of these car ads have a random plane.

Many of these car ads have a random plane. And Junior is playing with planes in the back seat.

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were

Nobody in these ads have their eyes on the road. Maybe she's looking for low-flying aircraft. It seems to be a big problem in 1958.

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And I had to look up two words in this text.

By 1958, we were using sex to sell cars. "Come hither look?" I guess the car is inviting you to "slip into something more comfortable" such as its "smart fabrics."

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Looks like shes hailing a cab.

"We knew Mildred had lost her mind when she started trying to hail a taxi from her new Chevy."

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Ive no idea whats happening here, but of course, Mother has baked goods in her left hand.

I've no idea what's happening here, but of course, Mother has baked goods in her right hand. OOOH, edited to add: Shari (see comment below) observed that it was The Boy in the yellow helicopter and in this shot, the helicopter is behind The Boy. He and Mother have both "landed" here.

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fds

That's one fine-looking car. Love the two-tone paint job.

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More random airplanes.

More random airplanes.

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fdd

Looks to me like someone's making a run for it. Lots of luggage there.

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sef

When I bought my new Camry in 2012, no one said a word about "gay silk pillows."

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fff

Tufted leather bench seats. Be still my heart.

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ffee

Wait til you see this Vicuna lap robe.

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fefe

There's the Vicuna lap robe.

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And heres a Vicuna.

And here's a Vicuna (still wearing his lap robe).

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house

"Iridescent leather features channeled insets of darker blue." Wow.

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fe

My Camry has a "symphony in gray" going on, but it's a really quiet symphony.

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To see pictures of the kitchens from this era, click here.

Want to see my Atomic Powder Room? Click here.

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