Hopewell’s Historic Sears Homes! Well, sort of.
This last weekend, I visited Hopewell 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. I was treated like a queen and I really enjoyed my stay in Hopewell. Most of all, I loved doing something good and positive to help promote Virginia - my favorite state and the place where I was born and raised.
On my flight back to Illinois, I stared out the tiny plane window and thought, “This is what people mean when they talk about ‘Southern Hospitality.’”
The ladies who drove me around Hopewell were a living example of grace and gentility.
There was one downside to this otherwise delightful visit. Sadly, as I toured 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. But in the end, I decided that - as Joel Osteen says - sometimes you have to put life’s difficult events into a file folder labeled, “I don’t understand this, but I have to trust God has a plan here and go forward with my life and leave this in God’s hands.”
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 houses in Crescent Hills were still being wrongly identified as kit homes. A picture is worth a lot of words, I’m going to post the Hopewell house, together with an original image from the Sears catalog and (where possible), an extant example of that kit home in real life.
Let the reader judge for themselves.
The house in Hopewell (pictured above) is a much larger house. And the rooflines are dramatically different.
Now, take a look at the photo below:
Sears Homes, one must remember, were patterned after the popular housing styles of the day. They were - by their very design - intended to look like the average house. When identifying Sears Homes, details are hugely important. But one of the most important details is the home’s footprint. If the catalog image says the home was 32 by 22, the subject house should be 32 by 22. The Hopewell house (above) is much larger than the Sears Newbury.
Now let’s look at Hopewell’s purported “Oakdale” at 106 Oakwood Avenue.
Which leads me to the real puzzle.
Hopewell claims to have TWO Oakdales. The second “Oakdale” is next door to the first.
So why are they labeling a Sears Walton a Sears Oakdale? I’ve no idea. But I’ll make a $100 bet with anyone who cares to wager that this house at 102 Oakwood Avenue in Crescent Hills is indeed a Sears Walton. :) Interestingly, there’s another Sears Walton in a different part of the city! That’s two Waltons in Hopewell!
Enjoying the discussion? There’s a lot more on Hopewell here.
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