Home > Uncategorized > Holy Moly, There IS a Seventh Magnolia! (And It’s In Syracuse, NY!)

Holy Moly, There IS a Seventh Magnolia! (And It’s In Syracuse, NY!)

Nary a month passes that I don’t get at least five or six emails from people who are convinced that they’ve spotted that elusive bird, The Sears Magnolia.

The Magnolia was the creme de la creme of the Sears kit homes. It was bigger and grander and fancier than any of the other 370 models that Sears offered. You can learn a whole lot more about the Magnolia by clicking here and here.

In short, The Magnolia was Sears’ finest home. And it was also one of the rarest.

For years, we’d heard that there were six Magnolias built in the country. There was one in Nebraska (which burned down many years ago), and one in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Alabama, Indiana and Ohio. (Click on the links to read more about those particular houses).

And then in February, I got wind of a purported Sears Magnolia in Blacksburg, South Carolina. I put 897 miles on my car that weekend, driving down to Blacksburg to see that house in the flesh. It was close - real close - but it was not a Sears Magnolia. You can read more about that here.

So when I got another note last night that there was a Sears Magnolia in Syracuse, I was skeptical. Actually, I was many miles past skeptical. It was 2:00 a.m., and I couldn’t sleep so I went to Google and “drove” via Google Maps. And then I saw it.

“Holy cow,” I muttered under my breath in the quiet stillness of my pre-dawn bedroom. “I think that’s a Magnolia!”

By 8:30 a.m., I had posted notes at several websites, pleading with someone in Syracuse to get me a photo of that house.

By 1:00 pm, I had a note from Mariel Proulx, who lived near Syracuse. She’d snapped a dozen photos for me.

I was a happy, happy girl.

After examining the photos for about 30 minutes and zooming in and zooming out, and studying tiny, seemingly insignificant details, I was ready to proclaim it a Sears Magnolia. Yes, it’s possible that this is a look-alike, but I’m willing to bet money that this is indeed our seventh Magnolia.

This means that the “legend of six Magnolias” is wrong. This means that there could be 70 Magnolias.

Enjoy the photos. And please leave a comment below. And thanks so much to both Ted Johnson and Heather Lukaszewski for contacting me and letting me know that there was a good reason to take a closer look at that quiet tree-lined street in Syracuse, New York. And thanks to Mariel Proulx for dropping everything and driving to the next city (in the rain) to get me a dozen good quality photos of my Sears Magnolia!  :)

Updated!  I contacted the owner’s of the Syracuse Magnolia and heard back from them. They have the home’s original blueprints framed and hanging in the foyer! And yes, they knew it was a Sears Magnolia!

First, the original catalog image from the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Sears Magnolia

Sears Magnolia as seen in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog. The Sears Magnolia was offered from 1918-1922.

Sears Magnolia in Syracuse, New York

Sears Magnolia in Syracuse, New York. Note how ALL the details around the door are just perfect. (Photo is courtesy of Mariel Proulx and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

Details on Sears Magnolias front porch

Details on the Sears Magnolia's front porch. Note how the pilasters (flat half-columns flanking the front door) are tapered, and broader at the bottom than they are at the top.

Those tapered columns are also evident here.

Those tapered columns are also evident here. The details around the entry way are very nice. (Photo is courtesy of Mariel Proulx and may not be used or reproduced without written permission. )

Close-up of the house itself (1921 catalog)

Close-up of the house itself (1921 catalog)

And the house in Syracuse

The second floor windows are not a perfect match to the catalog page, but that's a relatively unimportant detail. More than 30% of Sears Homes were customized when built, and moving windows to and fro was one of the more common alterations. The more important thing is to look at the floorplan, and see if this would require any significant changes to the room layout. In the Magnolia, it would not. (Photo is courtesy of Mariel Proulx and may not be used or reproduced without written permission. )

Long view down the side

Long view down the side. From this angle, you can see that the dormer is also a perfect match to the catalog image, even down to the short pilasters on the dormer's corners! (Photo is courtesy of Mariel Proulx and may not be used or reproduced without written permission. )

Sears Magnolia in Canton, Ohio

A beautiful Sears Magnolia in Canton, Ohio

Sears Magnolia

Sears Magnolia in Benson, NC.

Sears Magnolia in Irwin, PA.  (Photo courtesy of Bob Keeling)

Sears Magnolia in Irwin, PA. (Photo courtesy of Bob Keeling) Done in brick, this Sears Magnolia also is not a spot-on match to the catalog page.

Magnolia in South Carolina

The Magnolia in Alabama is also not a spot-on match to the original catalog image. Most obvious is that attic dormer, which is much simpler than the Magnolia dormer. Yet this house in Piedmont Alabama is a Sears Magnolia.

To learn more about the Sears Magnolia, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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  1. Donna Bakke
    May 3rd, 2011 at 21:36 | #1

    WHOOOOOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! YAY ROSE!!!!! and YAY TO THE DETECTIVES WHO FOUND AND PHOTOGRAPHED THE HOUSE!!!!! ;0)))))

  2. May 3rd, 2011 at 21:50 | #2

    @Donna Bakke
    I know! I’m so excited to have photos of this house, and to know that there is a SEVENTH Magnolia! Wow, wow, wow.

    And I’ve had about six super crummy days in a row, so this was a nice delight - right out of the blue - and I’ve been enjoying these photos of this Syracuse Magnolia for several hours now! :)

  3. May 4th, 2011 at 14:03 | #3

    Is this the only Magnolia with the side porches w/wraparound bannisters on each side? The model photo has them but I don’t see them on the others.

  4. May 4th, 2011 at 14:41 | #4

    Mariel, porches are always a wild card, especially with a house of this vintage.

    Porches always take the first hits when the house starts to show some age. It’s likely that these railings on these different Magnolias are not original to the porch.

  5. May 15th, 2011 at 13:34 | #5

    I live just a couple blocks away from the Syracuse (Magnolia) Sears house and drive by at least twice a day. The house is not however on a quiet tree lined street. It is on James Street which is four lanes and quite busy. Great group of period early 20th century houses in the blocks surrounding the house.

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