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An Abundance of Sears Homes in Raleigh, NC

In May 2012, I gave a talk on the Sears Homes in RaleighClick here to read more about that.

To my astonishment and delight, I found an impressive number of kit homes in this part of North Carolina, including Sears, Harris Brothers, Lewis Homes, Montgomery Ward, Gordon Van Tine and more!

Kit homes are historically significant for too many reasons to go into here, but in short, these homes were ordered from a mail-order catalog and were shipped in about 12,000 pieces, arriving via boxcar at the local train station. The kits came with 75-page instruction books and a promise that “a man of average abilities” could have one put together and ready for occupancy in 90 days!

Here are a few examples of the many pretties I found during my travels to Raleigh.

If you know of the location of a Sears Home, please leave a comment below.

Continue reading (Part II) here.

Read about what I found in Chapel Hill by clicking here!

Listen to Rose’s inteview on WUNC (with Frank Stasio) here.

Not surprisingly, the Mordecai Historic District has several kit homes, including an Aladdin Plaza!

Not surprisingly, the Mordecai Historic District has several kit homes, including an Aladdin Plaza! This image is from the 1919 Aladdin catalog.

This Aladdin Plaza sits high on a hill in Mordecai (Raleigh)

This Aladdin Plaza sits high on a hill in Mordecai (Raleigh)

Another favorite house (of mine) and a popular house for Sears: The Crescent.

Another favorite house (of mine) and a popular house for Sears: The Crescent.

Sears Crescent (also in the Mordecai area)

Sears Crescent (also in the Mordecai area)

Sears Whitehall, as seen in the 1925 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Sears Whitehall, as seen in the 1925 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Sears Whitehall, also located in the Mordecai area of Raleigh

Sears Whitehall, also located in the Mordecai area of Raleigh

Mordecai has several Sears Homes, including this Sears Sunbeam. Note how the rear roof is much shorter than the front side of the roof. Also note how the large shed dormer comes off the ridge of the roof.

Mordecai has several Sears Homes, including this Sears Sunbeam. Note how the rear roof is much shorter than the front side of the roof. Also note how the large shed dormer comes off the ridge of the roof.

This Sears Sunbeam is a lovely example and in original condition.

This Sears Sunbeam is a lovely example and in original condition. The tin roof is a very nice touch.

The Sears Sunbeam was offered in two versions: One had the open sleeping porch and one had a glassed-in porch. Below is a catalog picture of the house with the enclosed porch, which is more similar to the house pictured above.

The Sears Sunbeam was offered in two versions: One had the open sleeping porch and one had a glassed-in porch. Above is a catalog picture of the house with the enclosed porch, which is more similar to the house in Mordecai.

Sears Argyle, from the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog. Note the big bold columns on the homes front, and the faux beams around the eaves.

Sears Argyle, from the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog. Note the big bold columns on the homes front, and the faux beams around the eaves. Also note how the porch overhangs on one side, extending beyond the home's exterior wall.

The Sears Argyle, near the downtown area.

The Sears Argyle, near the downtown area.Classic and beautiful!

Harris Brothers

This is the Harris Brothers Ardmore, and it's not hard to spot this house with that unusual second floor poking up out of that roofline! (Vintage catalog image supplied by Dan Becker.)

Here it is: THe Harris Brothers kit home, the Ardmore. Id bet money that the owners have no idea that they have a kit home from a small, Chicago-based company.

Here it is: THe Harris Brothers' kit home, the Ardmore. I recently learned that the owner knows all about the home's unique origins!

Aladdin Sheffield, as seen in the 1919 Aladdin catalog. This is an interesting house with its dramatic oversized eaves and hooded dormers.

Aladdin Sheffield, as seen in the 1919 Aladdin catalog. This is an interesting house with its dramatic oversized eaves and hooded dormers.

Aladdin Sheffield in Raleigh

Aladdin Sheffield in Raleigh. This house is in wonderfully original condition.

Wardway (Montgomery Ward) Mt. Vernon, a very popular house

Wardway (Montgomery Ward) Mt. Vernon, a very popular house

Wardway Mt. Vernon - in the flesh!

Wardway Mt. Vernon - in the flesh!

And one of my favorite Sears Homes, The Kilborne.

And one of my favorite Sears Homes, The Kilborne.

I wonder if theyd sell me this house for $2,499?

I wonder if they'd sell me this house for $2,499?

Sears Alhambra from 1923 Modern Homes catalog

Sears Alhambra from 1923 Modern Homes catalog

Sears Alhambra in Raleigh!

Sears Alhambra in Raleigh!

The Sears Winona, as featured in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog. The house in Raleigh (see below) is just a spot-on match, a rarity in a house of this age!

The Sears Winona, as featured in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog. The house in Raleigh (see below) is just a spot-on match, a rarity in a house of this age!

Sears Winona in downtown area (Raleigh, NC)

Sears Westly from the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Westly from the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog

It may not look like a Westly to you at first glance but youll have to trust me on this. It is! The small porch on the dormer has been enclosed to create more space in an upstairs bedroom. This is a common modification, as these areas often leak.

It may not look like a Westly to you at first glance but you'll have to trust me on this. It is! The small porch on the dormer has been enclosed to create more space in an upstairs bedroom. This is a common modification, as these Westlys often leak around that porch area upstairs.

From this angle

From this angle, you can see a bit of that truncated roof on the rear, identifying it as the Sears Westly. Well, it's one of many key identifying features.

Most likely, this really is the tip of the iceberg. In fact, this is about half of the photos I took whilst in Raleigh.

Please share this link with others, and/or contact a local historical organization in Raleigh and urge them to do something to preserve this amazing piece of Raleigh’s history.

To learn more about how to identify kit homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book (and get it inscribed!), click here.

To contact Rose, leave a comment below.

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PS.  And I found several kit homes in Hillsboro, too. I’ll try to post those on another blog entry later.

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  1. Matthew Brown
    February 9th, 2011 at 17:44 | #1

    Rose, thank you so much for this wonderful post. What beautiful homes! I am a “local historian” and did not realize that my own sister’s house is a kit home! It is the fourth house pictured above! I have been working on it for four and a half years, to get it to its “original condition” as you describe! It is aptly called the “Sunbeam” because it has a sunroom in the front and another in the back. I can’t wait to tell my sister she lives in a Sunbeam!

  2. February 9th, 2011 at 19:00 | #2

    Rose, thanks so much for compiling these photos of kit homes from Raleigh. How fascinating! Several of them are here in the Mordecai neighborhood. It would be great to have you speak to our neighborhood organization. Feel free to contact me. Also, I’d love some help on identifying my 1930’s Four Square! Thanks.

  3. February 10th, 2011 at 23:39 | #3

    Hi - thank you so much for posting these wonderful photos from our neighborhood. Like Matthew and Dana, I live in Mordecai neighborhood in Raleigh. i was walking our dogs through the neighborhood earlier today and was noticing many houses that I recognized from this site. Please come back to Raleigh and document more of these houses. I think this is fascinating! thank you!

  4. Judy Hale
    February 26th, 2011 at 10:51 | #4

    We once owned and have the original blue prints for a 1920’s Argyle no. 2018 home. Do the blue prints have any value? The Argyle home is exactly what it looks like today and the inside is identical.

  5. Joel Rosch
    November 13th, 2011 at 18:30 | #5

    There is a Sears home across from 2704 Barmettler st Raleigh NC - where I used to live - there has been some exterior and interior remodeling - the old owner - since deceased - had the documents which I saw - not sure where they are now

  6. barbara jones
    May 8th, 2012 at 10:03 | #6

    How would I know if an old house I’m viewing is in fact a kit home?

  7. May 8th, 2012 at 10:14 | #7

    The best thing to do is to send me a photo! :) The next best thing is to read the blog on “How to identify Sears kit homes.”

    http://www.searshomes.org/index.php/2011/05/21/is-that-really-a-sears-kit-home-nine-easy-ways-to-tell/

  8. DC Hoover
    May 13th, 2012 at 18:56 | #8

    Rose- We leave at 2247 The Circle. Our home was identified as a kit home in the article in this morning’s paper. Any info that you could provide me would be greatly appreciated. I unfortunately will be out of town this weekend and will not be able to attend your talk at the Rialto. Thank you.

  9. Joshua Dittmer
    May 13th, 2012 at 22:01 | #9

    Rose - Thank you. The Aladdin Shadowlawn sure looks like our house inside and out. We live about 2 blocks from the Rialto if you want to stop by for a look next weekend.

  10. Christi Spivey
    September 4th, 2012 at 05:36 | #10

    I googled kit homes and found your wonderful information. I just moved to Columbia and I am living in a kit home in Columbia.

    My house mate owns the house. She has done some research and knows it was built (is that the correct term) in the early twenties.

    It is beautiful. It has the original wood floors, door frames and windows. The front porch is my favorite part. I can imagine families having a Sunday afternoon visit on the porch sipping lemonade.

    Is there a way to research the name of its design?

  11. September 4th, 2012 at 05:50 | #11

    Send me a photo! :) Or better yet, join our Facebook group “Sears Homes” and post a photo there! :)

  12. Bonnie Shattuck
    August 5th, 2013 at 20:35 | #12

    I have always heard there is a small Sears House on Harding Street in Raleigh.

  1. February 10th, 2011 at 09:20 | #1

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