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That Rare and Elusive Bird: The Sears Magnolia

Visits to my website are steadily going up, which is a good thing. And with those extra visits, more inquires about Sears Magnolias are also on the rise! Oh, but if only a few of the many photos were actually the real deal!

Priced at about $6,000, the Sears Magnolia, offered from 1918-1922 was Sears most expensive house, and the biggest, too. Unfortunately, it was also the rarest, with only six known Magnolias sold in the entire country!

Right after WW1 (The Great War) ended, prices went sky high. Sears couldnt keep up with the volatility in the cost of building materials, so they started inserting price sheets into their catalog. This shows the profound reduction in cost, in the late 1920s.

Right after WW1 (The Great War) ended, prices went sky high. Sears couldn't keep up with the volatility in the cost of building materials, so they started inserting price sheets into their catalog. This shows the profound reduction in cost, in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

The Sears Magnolia was purposefully patterned after a popular housing style, The Southern Colonial. Here in Hampton Roads, there are Southern Colonial Revival styled homes in many of our turn-of-the-century neighborhoods. However, the Sears Magnolia - the real deal - has some unique features that’ll help differentiate it from other homes of that period.

Below are some images from the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog, showing details around the roof and front porch. Take a moment and really study these images and you’ll see some of the unique architectural features. And if you want to see a real Sears Magnolia, click here and here and here.

Sears Magnolia from the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Magnolia from the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Magnolia

Sears Magnolia - first story floor plan.

Details on Sears Magnolias front porch

Details on the Sears Magnolia's front porch. The two-story columns are an eye-catching feature. Also notice the distinctive roof lines and unique details around the front porch. At its core, the Sears Magnolia is a classic foursquare with delusions of grandeur.

Maggy in Benson

Maggy in Benson

If you really think you’ve found a Sears kit home, look for stamped lumber in the basement, like this:

And in the flesh, it looks like this:

The mark appears on two places: The butt end and also on the tall face, about 2-6 inches from the end of the lumber.

The mark appears on two places: The butt end and also on the tall face, about 2-6 inches from the end of the lumber.

  1. Caroline McKellar
    September 1st, 2012 at 22:15 | #1

    My son recently spoke to Axon Smith, the owner of The River Forest Manor, a now-closed hotel in Belhaven, NC.

    It was built by John A. Wilkinson in the early 1900s, and Axon’s father, Axon, Sr., bought it around 1947.

    Mr. Smith says it was built from a Sears home kit.

    I was raised in Belhaven, and after searching Sears kits on line, think that if Mr. Smith is correct, it would have to be the Magnolia.

    There are some good pictures of it on the Rich Company Realty site for Bath, NC. he wing to the left was added on for the family living space when it was converted to an inn, and the kitchen was expanded and the bar added on.

    I hope I’ve found you another one. Happy hunting!

  2. September 2nd, 2012 at 14:20 | #2

    Hi Caroline,

    Thanks for the note. I looked it up and sadly, it is not a Sears House.

    Thanks for your comments.

    Rose

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