Hopewell’s Historic Sears Homes! Well, sort of. (Part 3)
As mentioned in Part 1, I recently visited Hopewell (Virginia) for the first time in several years.
In early 2003, I went to Hopewell to give a talk on Sears Homes. The talk went well and I sold a bunch of books and I had a wonderful time. Unfortunately, there was a downside to this otherwise delightful visit. Driving through the city, I discovered that most of the “Sears Homes” in their infamous Crescent Hills neighborhood were not Sears Homes.
Unfortunately, a handful of people did not agree with me, and Hopewell’s brochure - with its inaccurate information on their Sears Homes - was not to be changed.
It was one of the most upsetting events in my professional career. History is important and must be kept pure from defects or errors. That’s something about which I feel passionate.
When I returned to Hopewell (March 18 2011), I was gratified to see that a few of the errors had been removed from the city’s well-promoted brochures, but many non-kit homes were still being wrongly identified as Sears Homes. To help clarify what I’m talking about, I’m going to post the Hopewell house, together with an original catalog image and (where possible), an extant example of that kit home in real life.
Hopewell claims to have several “Rochelles” (see pictures of these houses below).
I have enough information to have an authoritative opinion on this.
Here’s the Rochelle (1929 Sears Modern Homes catalog). It’s a cute little neo-tudor with many distinctive features.
Well maybe we could focus on what these houses (extant photos) have in common with the Sears Rochelle.
1) They have walls and windows
2) They have lots of lumber.
3) They have pointy rooflines.
4) They have pretty green stuff in the front yard.
That’s about it.
Sears Homes were offered in 370 designs, and they were purposefully designed to emulate the popular housing styles of the day. To authenticate a Sears Home, you must start with visual clues. These three Hopewell homes are lacking in that regard. Next, you should check the “footprint” of the house. These houses are not the same dimensions as the Rochelle. That single fact right there is a deal breaker.
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