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Oklahoma’s First Sears Kit Home: The Saratoga

Updated! There’s now a blog filled with the Sears Homes of Tulsa! Click here to see two dozen photos!

Built in 1912, it’s claimed that this Sears Saratoga was the very first Sears kit home in the state of Oklahoma. And this was a mere five years after Oklahoma became our 46th state. According to a nomination form for National Register of Historic places, this Saratoga is “architecturally significant” because it was “the first Sears and Roebuck precut home to be constructed in Oklahoma, (2) it was one of the first to be built west of the Mississippi River, and (3) it is one of the best examples of the Sears Modern Home Number 146 in the United States.”

It’s entirely plausible that this house in Chelsea, Oklahoma was the first Sears kit home in Oklahoma. However, Sears didn’t start offering their pre-cut homes until somewhere in 1914 or 1915. Rebecca Hunter and I are still debating the precise date. :)  Prior to 1914/1915, Sears kit homes were not “precut.” In other words, sufficient lumber arrived to build your new house, but each and every piece had to be carefully cut to fit.

Sears started offering kit homes in 1908, with a 44-page catalog that offered 22 designs. (The nominating form also states that Sears started selling pre-cut houses in 1909. That’s okay. This form was filed in 1981, and there was a lot of errant info floating around.)

The Saratoga in Chelsea, Oklahoma was built by Joe Hogue, a cattleman. (Is that like a really old cowboy?)  Seems that when Mr. Hogue visited Chicago in 1912, he saw a display of Sears building materials at Sears headquarters, and included in that display were a few “Sears Modern Homes.” He liked the Saratoga (then known as Sears Modern House #108; houses weren’t given names until 1918). The house was shipped to /Chelsea via The St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad.

What’s most remarkable to me is that (as of 1981), the house has remained in the same family since 1912.

Thanks to Rachel Shoemaker for providing all the photos, and sending me a copy of the nominating form. All extant photos are copyright Rachel Shoemaker and can not be reproduced without permission.

Sara

According to The National Register of Historic Places nominating form, this was the first Sears kit home in Oklahoma. It is a beautiful example of a Sears Saratoga.

Said to be the first Sears Home in Oklahoma, this Saratoga is in wonderful condition.

Said to be the first Sears Home in Oklahoma, this Saratoga is in wonderful condition.

The Saratoga, as seen in the 1921 Sears catalog.

The Saratoga, as seen in the 1921 Sears catalog.

Sara

And from the 1916 catalog.

Close-up shows the original planters by the front entry

Close-up shows the original planters by the front entry

And theyre still in place!

And they're still in place!

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Close-up of the Saratoga's side.

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And the house in Chelsea. Nice match!

Close-up of the Saratogas attic window

Close-up of the Saratoga's attic window

Another nice match!

Another nice match!

Rear of the Saratoga.

Rear of the Saratoga.

And the train tracks were nice and close, too!

And the train tracks were nice and close, too!

A close-up of the floor plan shows it was a spacious home.

A close-up of the floor plan shows it was a spacious home. This is from the 1916 catalog, and the 1921 catalog shows an identical house, but with a different price! In 1921, the price had jumped to $3,491.

One feature on the Saratoga that you are NOT going to see on any other Sears house is the placement of this chimney. Its at the peak of the pyramidal hip roof. For the novice homebuilder, this a complicated place for a chimney.

One feature on the Saratoga that you are NOT going to see on any other Sears house is the placement of this chimney. It's at the peak of the roof's intersection. For the novice homebuilder, this a complicated place for a chimney.

This is my favorite unique item on the house. The gas meter is next to the sidewalk. In all my travels, I have never seen such a thing.

This is my favorite "unique item" on the house. The gas meter is next to the sidewalk. In all my travels, I have never seen such a thing.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

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  1. Rachel Shoemaker
    July 3rd, 2011 at 14:29 | #1

    I checked my notes. Joe Hogue’s only child, Erskine Hogue-Stansberry, lived in the house until her death in 2005. The only changes she ever made to the house was adding carpet, and the heating and air conditioning. I think I also read that she was a school teacher, can’t find where I read that. I don’t think she ever had children either.

  2. Marian Clark
    September 1st, 2011 at 20:59 | #2

    I interviewed Erskine Stansberry before her death and was given a wonderful tour of the home. Erskine was an English teacher all her life and taught in Tulsa. She was so proud of the house - hope the current owners realize what a treasure they have. She told me there is another Sears home in Chelsea - I can’t find the address now - but it is small and rather poorly taken care of.

  3. amicasa
    June 15th, 2012 at 23:55 | #3

    The current owners do, indeed, realize what a treasue they have, and they have done what they can to keep it in beautiful condition.

  4. Michael Urie
    June 16th, 2012 at 00:28 | #4

    I currently own this home, I bought it from the family. It was pre cut with only one board too long. He was able to purchase this pre cut kit home directly from the world’s fair in Chicago.

  5. George Simms
    February 24th, 2013 at 13:14 | #5

    @Michael Urie
    Erskine was a schoolteacher to three of my aunts. My mom was born in Chelsea in the house at 7th and Hickory.

    About 20 years ago, I knocked on Erskine’s door, identified myself, and she invited me in for lemonade. She told me about the one board too long (I think is was one of the pieces that made up the ceiling of the front porch).

    She told me about her cattle-driver father, and that everybody in town came to the train depot to watch the cartons unloaded. She also showed me the original dining room table and chairs, where we sat, as she remembered how Will Rogers used to sit in that room and smoke a cigar with her father. She also showed me the hand-made Indian baskets that her mother had bought around 1912 in Arizona or New Mexico.

    One of them was a basket within a basket. Do you still have them? I’ll bet they’re worth a fortune.

    This was the first house in Chelsea with indoor plumbing, and it had all the electrical wires and switches built into the walls, although at the time there was still no electricity in Chelsea. She didn’t offer to show me the upstairs, but that was okay.

    At the time I visited, there was also a large Southern magnolia to the left of the steps up to the front door, and it was in full bloom.

    I was born in Tulsa, grew up in Connecticut, and now I live in the south of France. But if I ever get to Chelsea again, I’d love to visit and say hello. Take good care of Erskine’s house! She was very proud of it, as well she should have been, and I know you’re doing a good job to keep the history alive.

    Best regards, —George Simms

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