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The “Econo-Bilt” Vinemont

There are more than 100 models of Sears Homes that I’ve never laid eyes on, but fortunately, I have friends in Ohio places.

And Ohio is loaded with kit homes.

One of the houses I have never seen (in person) is the Econo-Bilt Vinemont.

Econo-Bilt homes are scarce as hen’s teeth, in part because, they were not very sturdy houses and are not as likely to endure through the decades.  And the “Econo-Bilt” homes were only sold for a few years (about 1915 - 1925).

Despite all that, Donna Bakke found this Vinemont in Cincinnati.

The Vinemont was offered only as a pre-cut kit home, which is doubly weird because - as an Econo-Bilt house - it was the bottom rung of the construction ladder.

After you placed your $1 good-faith deposit with Sears, you’d wait patiently for your list of building materials and blueprints to arrive. If you liked what you saw, you’d send in the balance due ($804 on the Vinemont), and you’d soon receive about 12,000 pieces of house and a 75-page instruction book.

By anyone’s standards, that’s a swinging deal.

The Vinemont (1921 catalog).

The Vinemont (1921 catalog).

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houses houses

Yikes, it's only one bedroom!

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details on the house

But it's a good price.

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House close up

If you read the description, you'll see the exterior walls were "slate-surfaced siding."

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House in Cincinnati

Donna Bakke found this Vinemont in Cincinnati. I'm still dazzled that she recognized it. I think I would have driven right past it! (Photo is copyright 2010 Donna Bakke and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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details on the hosue

I have a theory about which I feel pretty strongly. If you're not able to get out and PAINT your porch columns every 15 years or so, don't BUY AN OLD HOUSE. I've seen a lot of bad things happen to old houses, but this is really painful to gaze upon. (Photo is copyright 2010 Donna Bakke and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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comparison

Donna did a good job getting a photo of the house from the *perfect* angle! No doubt about it - this is a Sears "Vinemont."

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house

Lighter Bilt was also known as Standard Bilt and Econo Bilt, but regardless of the name they affixed to this line of houses, they were still not suited for severe climates.

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To read the full list of Sears Houses that neither Rebecca nor I have ever seen, click here.

To learn more about the differences between Econo Bilt and Honor Bilt, click here.

To read the next fascinating blog, click here.

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  1. KA Turner
    May 27th, 2012 at 02:55 | #1

    Hi Rose!

    I look at these pictures and it still blows my mind that these homes actually came from a Sears catalog! These look like homes I’d see on the wealthier Coastal Georgia islands.

    I have been looking at old Sears catalog homes and find some that I’d like to build myself. Alas the instruction books are long gone and hard to find. Do you or the readers know of any software to let you plug in the floor plan dimensions and cough up a layout of the framing and a list of what lumber is needed?

    Heck you could collaborate with someone on software just for people to build copies of old Sears homes and share in the profits if a programmer could be found!

  2. May 27th, 2012 at 12:39 | #2

    I live in an area (Houston, Canonsburg, Washington Pennsylvania, all south of Pittsburgh) that has a lot of these older homes that I imagine are Sears, Montgomery Ward, Aladdin, etc.

    I have looked at a bazilllion of the house plans online to try to identify mine and it looks very much like the Sears Dayton, 1936.

    I never did find any markings on my cellar rafters or anything so I’d assumed that my house was NOT Sears.

    Trouble is…the real estate records for this address list my house as being built in 1917. I can’t find ANY plans from 1916-1917 that remotely resemble my house. Yet the Sears Dayton looks almost exactly like it. I am so confused :) Could I send you a picture or anything via email ?

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