My cutie-pie husband is from Elkins, West Virginia (see picture below). Wayne graduated from Davis and Elkins College in 1977, and Washington and Lee (School of Law) in 1980. This weekend (August 20th), we drove from Norfolk to Elkins to attend his cousin’s 30th Wedding Anniversary party (part of the Skidmore clan). It was a happy, happy time. Surprisingly, I found quite a few Sears Homes. (Story continues below photo of cutie-pie husband)
Darling Hubby Wayne from Elkins, poised atop a rock in the Cheat River
What is a Sears Home? These were true kits sold out of the Sears Roebuck catalog. The houses were shipped via rail and contained 30,000 pieces of house. Each kit came with a 75-page instruction manual and a promise that a “man of average abilities” could have one assembled and ready for occupancy in about 90 days. Today, there are about 70,000 Sears kit homes in America. Incredibly, about 90% of the people living in these homes don’t realize what they have! The purpose of this website is to help people learn more about this fascinating piece of America’s history.
Here are a few of the houses I found within the city limits of Elkins, West Virginia.
The Sears Lynnhaven was one of Sears' most popular kit homes.
Sears Lynnhaven in Elkins, hidden behind a few trees.
Sears Matoka, another popular Sears Homes
Sears Home or Wardway Home? Hard to know for sure. This house was offered (in identical floorplans) by both Sears and Mongtomery Wards. One thing's for sure: It's a beautiful old kit house. It's in South Elkins.
Sears Hazleton from the 1919 Sears Modern Homes catalog
Unfortunately, I had to photograph this house from the opposite side shown in the catalog image, but this bungalow (high atop a hill in Elkins, WV) is unmistakeably a Sears Hazleton. If you looked at this house from the right side, you'd see that unusual bay window with six windows (four large, two small) on that left side. It's located in Wees Historic District.
Sears Cornell from the 1923 Sears Modern Homes catalog
Sears Cornell. Although this looks like just another foursquare, this Cornell has a goofy floorplan, with a tiny bathroom (and tiny window) on its left side. When you look on the home's left side, you'll see that the oddly-placed bathroom window is right where it should be. THe Cornell was a very popular house for Sears, and I'm confident that this house is a Sears Cornell.
Sears Marion/Lakecrest from the 1936 Sears Modern Homes catalog
Is this a Sears Marion? I'd say it is. It's a good match on all sides and all the windows are in their right place. One eye-catching feature is the swoop of the bellcast roof on the front of the house. The raised roof in the back was obviously added in later years.
Sears Glendale from the 1919 Sears Modern Homes catalog
Is this a Sears Glendale? It looks like it. However, it is not a spot-on match.
And there’s even a Lustron Prefabricated post-WW2 home in Elkins. Lustron Homes were made of 20-gage 2×2 metal tiles, covered with a porcelain enamel finish (just like the top of a high-dollar washing machines!). These houses were all metal – inside and out – and hanging a picture required sticking magnets to the walls! Nails and other fasteners would damage the porcelain enamel finish. Lustron was based in Columbus, Ohio and less than 3000 Lustron Homes were sold in this country. They were remarkable, strong and long-lasting houses – definitely ahead of their time. Finding this three-bedroom model in Elkins was a special treat, as the three-bedroom Lustrons were very rare.
Lustron Home in Elkins, WV
Close-up of 2x2 metal tiles on Lustron Walls.
To learn more about Lustrons, click here.
To read more about Sears Homes in West Virginia, click here.
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