Choo-choos in Crewe, and Sears Homes Too!
In the late 1800s, the repair shops for Norfolk and Western’s steam locomotives were based in Crewe, Virginia. In the mid 20th Century, railroads abandoned steam (and their repair shops) and turned to diesel-electric locomotives. One of the legacies left behind from Crewe’s former glory as a railroad town is a delightful train museum and a few kit homes, from Sears (Chicago) and Aladdin (Bay City, MI).
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The Lynnhaven is one of my favorite Sears Homes, because it’s both stylish and practical, and it was one of Sears best selling models. This house was offered from the late 1920s to the end, when Sears offered their last catalog in 1940.
Railroad towns and kit homes go together naturally, just like carrots and peas. These kit homes would arrive in a boxcar, in 12,000 pieces. Each kit came with a 75-page instruction book and a promise that a man of average abilities could have the house assembled and ready for occupancy in a mere 90 days. In fact, most people needed a little more time than that.
Sears offered about 370 designs of their kit homes, and during their 32 years in the kit home business, Sears sold about 70,000 houses.
Aladdin was a larger company, selling more than 75,000 homes, and they were in business from 1906-1981.
My favorite find in Crewe was the Sears Lucerne. This is the only Lucerne that I have seen in my many travels, and the one in Crewe is just a spot-on match to the original catalog image! And look at the price! This darling little house could be yours for $867.
The little train museum in Crewe is a delight, and well worth your time. It’s staffed by devoted volunteers and it’s a lovely way to spend some time. As a hard-core train buff, I loved the hands-on displays and being able to soak in the happy ambiance of the old Norfolk and Western steam engine (pictured above).
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