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The Sears Homes of St. Louis (Kirkwood)

When I first started this Sears House gig, I lived in Alton, IL (near St. Louis) and some of my first discoveries were in the St. Louis area. Below are the Sears Homes I’ve found in the Kirkwood area (part of St. Louis). If you enjoy the link, please share it with friends!

What is a Sears Home? These were true kits containing 12,000 pieces of house. Each kit came with a 75-page instruction book that told you how to put all those pieces and parts together. The houses were sold out of the pages of the Sears Roebuck catalog, and the houses in St. Louis were shipped from Cairo, Illinois. Sears offered these houses from 1908-1940 and there were 370 different designs. Today, the only way to find these homes in literally one by one.

These photos were scanned from slides, taken in 2002 and 2003, so they’re a little faded.

Enjoy the photos! And if you want to learn how to identify kit homes, click here.

One of the reasons there are so many kit homes in St. Louis is because there was a Sears Modern Homes sales center in St. Louis. There were only 40 of these in the country, and these were only placed in areas where sales had been strong. And once a Modern Homes sales center opened, sales were even stronger!

One of the reasons there are so many kit homes in St. Louis is because there was a Sears Modern Homes sales center in St. Louis. There were only 40 of these in the country, and these were only placed in areas where sales had been strong. And once a Modern Homes sales center opened, sales were even stronger!

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In the late 20s, there was one at

In the late 20s, there was one at 8th and Olive Streets (from the 1928 catalog).

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And in the early 30s,

And in the early 30s,it had moved to the Wainright Building.

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A full listing of the Sears Modern Homes sales centers appeared on the back of the 1930 catalog.

A full listing of the Sears Modern Homes sales centers appeared on the back of the 1930 catalog.

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The Sears Lynnhaven, as seen in the 1938 catalog.

The Sears Lynnhaven, as seen in the 1938 catalog.

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This Lynnhaven has had a not-so-thoughtful addition, but theres no mistaking it as a Sears Lynnhaven.

This Lynnhaven has had a not-so-thoughtful addition, but there's no mistaking it as a Sears Lynnhaven.

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Another Sears Lynnhaven in Kirkwood. This photo was taken in 2003.

Another Sears Lynnhaven in Kirkwood. This photo was taken in 2003.

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The Cedars was a beautiful tudor-esque cottage (1928 catalog).

The Cedars was a beautiful tudor-esque cottage (1928 catalog).

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And heres a *perfect* Cedars! Fortunately (as of 2003), it still has its original siding - CEDAR shakes!

And here's a *perfect* Cedars! Fortunately (as of 2003), it still has its original siding - CEDAR shakes!

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The Chatham was a cute little Dutch Colonial.

The Chatham was a cute little Dutch Colonial.

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And here it is!

A comment below from Judith (shown below) points out that the shed dormer on this little Dutch Colonial extends out too far and it is probably not the Sears Chatham! I'd have to say - she's right, and I am WRONG! Oops!

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The Sears Mitchell was one of their most popular models!

The Sears Mitchell was one of their most popular models!

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And heres an unusually beautiful Mitchell in Kirkwood.

And here's an unusually beautiful Mitchell in brick and stucco.

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The Sears Berwyn was also a very popular house for Sears.

The Sears Berwyn was also a very popular house for Sears.

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Sears Berwyn in brick!

Sears Berwyn in brick! I'm not certain, but I think this house is actually in Richmond Heights. If you know its location, please leave a comment below!

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The Sears Montrose (from the 1928 catalog) was not a popular house!

The Sears Montrose (from the 1928 catalog) was not a popular house!

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A perfect Montrose!

A perfect Montrose tucked away in the pines!

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Sears Brookwood as seen in the 1933 catalog.

Sears Brookwood as seen in the 1933 catalog.

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A picture-perfect Sears Brookwood in Kirkwood!

A picture-perfect Sears Brookwood in Kirkwood!

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Barrington, from the 1928 catalog. The Barrington and the Brookwood look very similar. The Barrington is a little bit bigger than the Brookwood. For a time, I had trouble keeping these houses separate in my mind. And then I thought of this visual clue. The Barrington has three windows in the living room (on the first floor front). The Barrington is a three-syllable word. The Brookwood has two syllables and two windows! Voila!

Barrington, from the 1928 catalog. The Barrington and the Brookwood look very similar. The Barrington is a little bit bigger than the Brookwood. For a time, I had trouble keeping these houses separate in my mind. And then I thought of this visual clue. The Barrington has three windows in the living room (on the first floor front). The Barrington is a three-syllable word. The Brookwood has two syllables and two windows! Voila!

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The Sears Barrington, with its three windows!

The Sears Barrington, with its three windows!

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Someone told me this was a Sears kit house. My, but I stared at this house for hours and hours and I could not figure it out. Then finally, the owners invited me to come into their home and take a better look. Thats when I discovered - it WAS a Sears Home - slightly altered.

Someone told me this was a Sears kit house. My, but I stared at this house for hours and hours and I could not figure it out. Then finally, the owners invited me to come into their home and take a better look. That's when I discovered - it WAS a Sears Home - slightly altered.

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Its a Sears Wilmore, turned sideways on the lot!

The house in Kirkwood is a Sears Wilmore, turned sideways on the lot!

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Words

Notice the bellcast (swoopie) roof on the end of the house? This house is turned sideways on the lot, with that bellcast (shown in the catalog picture above on the left) turned out to the street. In other words, the house in Kirkwood was placed on this lot at a 90-degree angle to the catalog image. The main gable (shown above with the two windows) has been extended out several feet to make a larger living room. The front door was easily moved into that front gable. Pretty interesting changes!

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To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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  1. January 27th, 2012 at 11:41 | #1

    Wow–this took some real spatial reasoning and imagination skills to figure out, but seems so clear once you’ve got it! It’s always so fascinating! (I could so often swear something is a kit house I’ve seen before and absolutely can’t figure it out.)

  2. Carey
    September 13th, 2013 at 00:27 | #2

    LOVE that tip on the Brookwood and the Barrington! I was just google walking a neighborhood and found what I thought was a Brookwood, but the year was too early.

    A second look revealed three windows, and a chimney in the Barrington location, perfect for a 1930 build year!

    Saddened to say this house sold recently for a whopping $22,000. Hoping it’s getting renovated as we speak!

    Maybe knowing it’s a Sears house will motivate them. ;-)

    And wonderful sleuthing on the Wilmore!

  3. Judith Chabot
    September 15th, 2013 at 20:49 | #3

    Rose, as you probably have realized since you wrote this blog post, some of these are not matching up to Sears catalog images. The yellow Barrington you show here (at 230 E. Adams) is up for sale right now.

    I went to the open house today — and took tons of photos. There is zero marked lumber anywhere in the basement or attic (which were both clean and fully accessible).

    All of the room sizes are also quite different from the floor plan in the catalog. A few window and outside-access doors are in different spots than the catalog floor plan, as well– not to mention the two upper windows in the front, which do not have that cute little partial dormer you’d expect to see for the Barrington.

    The door hardware throughout the house was the same, so it is surely original… doesn’t look (I don’t think) like hardware from the Sears catalog. The upstairs bathroom layout is different, too. The photos I took are on my Facebook page, available to the public, if you’re interested in seeing them.

    The blue house you labeled as a Chatham … has a (tan and brown) twin on a nearby street.

    As you’ve probably realized since you took these photos, the upstairs shed dormer is far too wide (and it’s the same on both of the houses around here). Also, the houses were built in 1927 and 1929… do you have a catalog before 1934 showing the Chatham?

  4. September 16th, 2013 at 07:32 | #4

    @Judith Chabot
    Hi Judith,

    Windshield surveys certainly do have their limitations! I did this original research in 2002 and 2003, and did not *then* have the opportunity to go inside these houses.

    So much has been learned since then, by me and my many others, too, in the last decade!

    Thanks for your comments.

    Rose

  5. Dale Wolicki
    September 16th, 2013 at 21:01 | #5

    The Sears Barrington model was a popular design with similar models available from Wardway, Aladdin and numerous Plan Books.

    If you didn’t see pre-cut marks, that suggests it was a Plan Book design. I have made the same mistake many times myself!

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