In May 2012, I gave a talk on the Sears Homes in Raleigh. Click 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! This image is from the 1919 Aladdin catalog.
This Aladdin Plaza sits high on a hill in Mordecai (Raleigh)
Another favorite house (of mine) and a popular house for Sears: The Crescent.
Sears Crescent (also in the Mordecai area)
Sears Whitehall, as seen in the 1925 Sears Modern Homes catalog.
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.
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. 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. Also note how the porch overhangs on one side, extending beyond the home's exterior wall.
The Sears Argyle, near the downtown area.Classic and beautiful!
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. 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 in Raleigh. This house is in wonderfully original condition.
Wardway (Montgomery Ward) Mt. Vernon, a very popular house
Wardway Mt. Vernon - in the flesh!
And one of my favorite Sears Homes, The Kilborne.
I wonder if they'd sell me this house for $2,499?
Sears Alhambra from 1923 Modern Homes catalog
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!
Sears Winona in downtown area (Raleigh, NC)
Sears Westly from the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog
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, 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.
* * *
PS. And I found several kit homes in Hillsboro, too. I’ll try to post those on another blog entry later.
* * *