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Archive for May, 2012

The Kit Homes of Chapel Hill, NC

May 24th, 2012 Sears Homes 1 comment

Chapel Hill is a city full of hazards for a house hunter such as myself.

First, there are the trees. Lots and lots of mature trees, which makes it difficult to see the houses.

Secondly, there are bushes. Ligustrums, Photinias, Hollies, Nandina and Wax Myrtles are everywhere. And they’re really big, too!

Third, it’s a college town, full of students who think nothing of stepping off the curb in front of a slow-moving Camry. That was just scary.

And last, the streets are very narrow and labyrinthine, winding to and fro.

And that’s how I missed the Ardara (or so I tell myself). There’s a famous Sears House in Chapel Hill, built in the 1920s and still occupied by its original resident! I’d love to get a high-resolution photo of this house, because I never saw it!  :(

Perhaps next time I’m in the area, someone will drive me around. That makes house-hunting much easier!

However, I did see that the town has a “Rosemary Street,” and better yet, of the three kit homes I found, two of them are on Rosemary Street!

Now that’s a fine town!

Brentwood

In North Carolina, I've found far more Aladdin kit homes than Sears. Aladdin (like Sears), sold kit homes through a mail-order catalog. Aladdin had a mill in Wilmington, NC so it's not surprising that there are so many Aladdins in this part of the country.

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house

The Brentwood (shown above) was one of Aladdin's biggest houses. It's a classic "Arts & Crafts" design, and was offered in the 1910s and 1920s.

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chapel hill

Located on Rosemary Street, this Brentwood is in incredibly beautiful shape. The owners obviously love their home. After discovering this house, I did something that I *never* do anymore. I parked the car and walked up the driveway and knocked on their door. I'm highly allergic to people, and yet, this sweet thing was worth it. No one answered, so I'm hoping if they read this blog, they'll leave a comment. I'd love to see the inside some time. This house is in amazingly original condition and has been beautifully maintained. The owners get my award for "Most Beautiful Aladdin Brentwood in the United States."

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Aladdin

A comparison of the Aladdin Brentwood (catalog image and Chapel Hill house).

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The Harris Brothers

Harris Brothers was yet another kit home company, based in Chicago.

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Due to that darn landscaping, I could not get a good photo

Due to that darn landscaping, I could not get a good photo but if you look closely at the fireplace chimney, windows and porch overhang, you can see that this is a Harris Brothers N-1000. And it has the rounded porch (as shown in the catalog page).

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The Aladdin Inverness

The Aladdin Inverness had a very interesting roofline!

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And that roofline makes it easy to identify!

And that distinctive roofline makes it easy to identify! Notice the three brick pillars that just kind of sit there, with no purpose in life (other than serving as a plant stand).

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And here it is!

Also located on Rosemary Street (yay!), this little house is a perfect example of the Aladdin Inverness. Even has the three brick pillars out front! This house is near downtown. I wonder if the folks in Chapel Hill know that it's a kit house?

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ahoseComparison of the two houses. Pretty sweet, huh?

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And the one that got away...

And the one that got away. Somewhere in Chapel Hill is a Sears Ardara. I'd love to get a photo of this house. I can't believe I missed it!

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To learn more about the kit homes in North Carolina, click here.

To read about the large collection of Aladdin kit homes in Roanoke Rapids, click here.

Or if you’re tired of reading about houses and want to read about my shiny new horseless carriage, click here.

Did you enjoy the blog? Please leave a comment!

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The Concord: A Modern Residence at a Low Cost, Part II

May 23rd, 2012 Sears Homes 1 comment

Yesterday, I did a blog about the Sears Concord, and my tired eyes misread some of the fine print in an old Sears Modern Homes catalog.

House

In yesterday's blog, I showed this house, but misread the opposite page (which featured all the testimonials), and placed the wrong text with the photo. Nice house, and look at that porch!

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This is the correct text, which shows that the house was built in Monongahela, Pennsylvania.

This is the correct text, which shows that the house was built in Monongahela, Pennsylvania.

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So Sears Modern Hmoe #114 (The Concord) was built in Monongahela, PA.

So Sears Modern Home #114 (The Concord) was built in Monongahela, PA (1916 catalog).

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And then I remembered that the photo that Dale sent me, showed a Concord on Lincoln Street in Monongahela. I think its safe to say - its the same house as was featured in the testimonial section of the Sears Catalog in 1916.

And then I remembered that the photo that Dale sent me, showed a Concord on Lincoln Street in Monongahela. I think it's safe to say - it's the same house as was featured in the testimonial section of the Sears Catalog in 1916. (Photo is copyright 2010 Dale Patrick Wolicki and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Side by side comparison shows WHY its so difficult to identify these houses a century later. The whole front porch was removed, dramatically altering the look of the house!

Side by side comparison shows WHY it's so difficult to identify these houses a century later. The whole front porch was removed, dramatically altering the look of the house!

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And while we’re on the topic of identifying old Sears Homes, look at this house (below).

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Dale

The corresponding index identifies this as a Sears Model #114 (The Concord) and yet it doesn't really *look* like a Concord. The roof has been raised a significant amount, creating a larger second floor and also creating an entire third floor. Plus, there's no "cornice dormer" (as with the traditional Concord). In short, this house bears little resemblance to a #114.

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And yet

And yet, it's obviously described as a "C114" in the 1916 catalog. So it *is* a Sears Concord. Of special note is the fact that there's no mention of it being a customized design.

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And unfortunately, in these pre-1920 homes, youre not going to find any marked lumber, making identification ever more difficult.

And unfortunately, in these pre-1920 homes, you're not going to find any marked lumber, making identification ever more difficult. Shown here is the floor joists in a Sears Osborn in Sidney, Illinois. The "C" denoted a 2x6, while a "D" was a 2x8. You get the idea. :)

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To read part I of this blog, click here.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

Click here to see WONDERFUL old photos of a Sears Concord that’s been faithfully and painstakingly restored.

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The 2012 Camry Hybrid: An Ideal Car For House Hunting!

May 22nd, 2012 Sears Homes 11 comments

Driving around looking for kit homes is a whole lot of fun, but one does burn through some gas. Recently, my husband and I purchased the world’s *most* perfect car for house hunting: A 2012 Camry XLE Hybrid.

I’ve been fascinated by the Toyota Prius since its introduction to the American markets in 2001. When I purchased my last Camry in 2003 (Salsa Red Pearl LE), I was torn between the Camry and the Prius.

After much weeping and gnashing of teeth, I opted for the Camry. It was a proven car with an incredible track record. As a freshly divorced woman, I opted for “proven, reliable and staid” over “new, fancy and sleek.”

And yet, as the years rolled by, I paid close attention to the Prius. The hybrid technology was quickly evolving and it was clearly the wave of the future. Each year, the Prius had more features, better technology and improved gas mileage.

And then in 2007, Toyota introduced the Camry Hybrid.

It had been my intention to hang onto the old Camry until it hit 175,000 miles. After all, it was a one-owner car and I kept it in tip-top shape. The Toyota dealer had performed all the maintenance work since Day One. And the car ran like a top.

In February 2011, I heard about a purported Sears Magnolia near Gaffney, South Carolina. Shortly thereafter, I was on my way to personally inspect this rare and elusive kit home.

Somewhere between Charlotte and Gastonia, the “check engine” light came on. I also noticed the smell of gas, and my gas mileage wasn’t too good.

The odometer read 152,000 miles. Suddenly, I had a sinking realization. I was driving an old car.

What was I doing, launching out on a 1,000-mile trip by myself in a car with 152,000 miles?

I made it home without incident, and took the car straight to the shop. It cost $1,300 to get that check engine light to go away.

For the next few long trips, we rented a car. That wasn’t very satisfying.

I’m a car person. I love cars. Many moons ago, I took two years of auto tech at a vocational school in Portsmouth. There’s nothing about cars that isn’t fascinating.

Last month, we rented a 2012 Prius for a weekend trip to Roanoke, Virginia. I fell in love. It was a fun car, full of gadgetry and pie charts and diagrams and all manner of displays. Best of all, we averaged more than 50 mpg on the trip.

The next weekend, we went car shopping. The Prius had been a delight to drive, but I found the seats to be stiff and uncomfortable on our five-hour trek. Plus, it had a harsh ride. I loved the technology but my aching bum wasn’t happy. After more research and reading, I opted for the 2012 Camry Hybrid XLE.

In 2012, the Camry was redesigned and re-engineered. The 2012 model gets eight more miles from a gallon of gas than the prior year’s model. My car is rated at 41 (combined city/highway). The 2011 Camry was rated at 33 mpg.

The 2012 Camry boasts 200 hp (up 13 hp from 2011). The ICE produces 156 horsies, and the electric motor kicks in about 40.  The battery pack (34 nickel-metal hydride modules) eats up a bit of trunk space, and yet the 2012 still has 13.1 cubic feet of suitcase space (2.5 cubic feet more than the 2011).

Under hard acceleration, you could really feel the shift points of those four gears in the 2003. In the new Camry, there are no shift points. The continuously variable transmission is an engineering marvel, picking up energy from two different sources (gas and electric) and transmitting into smooth forward motion of the front wheels.

It is, as promised a “smoother driving experience.”

And best of all, the CVT provides both faster acceleration and better fuel economy. The 2012 Camry Hybrid does 0-60 in 7.6 seconds. Quite impressive for a sedan.

My shiny new Camry now has 1,600 miles on the odometer. Driving on the interstate, I have averaged 40-45 mpg. The faster you go, the poorer the mileage. Last weekend, I traveled to North Carolina. When cruising south on I-85 at 75 mph, my mileage fell to 38 mpg.

The car really shines in the short jaunts around town. Driving through residential streets in Hampton Roads and looking for kit homes, I hit 65+ miles per gallon. That, together with a 17-gallon tank means that you can drive 1,105 miles between fill-ups (as long as you don’t go more than 30 miles per hour).

When I’m out hunting for kit homes, tooling up and down tree-lined residential streets in early 20th Century neighborhoods, I drive about 15 miles per hour. The Camry Hybrid loves that speed.

Toyota has created the perfect car for house hunting: The 2012 Camry Hybrid.

Maybe they should change their jingle to, “Toyota; I love what you do for history.”

Kit home history, that is.

On March 31, 2003, I purchased this sweet ride, a 2003 Camry LE. When I traded it in recently, there were 170,000 miles on the odometer. I hope to see it on the road some day. It wont be hard to recognize. Those are 2004 premium Camry alloy wheels, and it also has four mud flaps. Little Camry, where did you end up?  :)

On March 31, 2003, I purchased this sweet ride, a 2003 Camry LE in Salsa Red Pearl. When I traded it in recently, there were 170,000 miles on the odometer. Most of those miles were happy miles, tooling all over the country, looking at kit homes and hawking my books. I hope to find the old Camry on the road some day. It won't be hard to recognize. Those fine-looking alloy wheels are 2004 premium Camry wheels. Rather anachronistic, but sharp looking!! Little Camry, where did you end up? :)

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And here's the new sweet thing: It's a 2012 Camry XLE Hybrid. The 2012 was redesigned for optimal aerodynamic efficiency. This model has a coefficient of drag (Cd) of 0.27. By comparison, the wedge-shaped Prius has a Cd of 0.25. The rear view mirrors and tail lights have wee tiny fins that help reduce wind resistance.

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Car

The most notable difference between the 2011 and the 2012 are the tail lights. The 2012 tail lights look like a piece is missing. On the 2011, the piece is in place.

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Snazzy

With this little badge, I'm now able to ride in HOV lanes, even if I'm alone in the car.

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The back

A built-in 6.1" display panel (with touch screen) shows fuel consumption, tire pressure, audio source, and has a blue-tooth capability (phone contacts, dial pad, etc). Sat-Nav is also built-in. This vehicle came with a *separate* owner's manual for this electronically complicated affair and the Japanese/American translation has a few flaws.

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And when you shift into reverse, the display panel provides a full-view of what youre getting ready to mow down.

And when you shift into "reverse," the display panel provides a full-view of what you're getting ready to mow down.

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Fuel

Fuel efficiency (short term and long term) is also displayed. Check out my "best"!

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The dash

Actual mileage after driving around Portsmouth for about 45 minutes, photographing kit homes. Yes, that's 65.4 miles per gallon.

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The best part? Heated seats.

The best part? Heated seats. I've waited my whole life to have a car with heated seats. Also interesting are the "Eco Mode" and the "EV Mode." The Eco Mode dampens throttle response and tunes down A/C controls to provide maximum gasoline mileage. When you're doing under 25 mph, you can hit "EV Mode" (or stealth mode, as I call it), and the ICE shuts off and you're running 100% electric. Nice and quiet - and super efficient.

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The XLE has 17 alloys, whereas the LE has the 16 steel rims. My 2003 started life with the regular steel rims and by 40,000 miles, all four were bent and had to be replaced.

The XLE has 17" alloys, whereas the LE has the 16" steel rims. My 2003 Camry started life with the regular steel rims and by 20,000 miles, all four were warped and had to be replaced. Further investigation showed it was *probably* a flaw in the manufacturing process.

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tire

And I've also waited my whole life for fog lamps. On a recent foggy day here in Norfolk, they worked as promised!

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nic

At night, before my husband and I toddle off to bed, we gather together in the doorway of the garage and admire our beautiful car - together. "Gosh, that's a pretty car," I tell him. "Yes," he replies, "It's a a nice-looking car." We are proud parents. :)

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car

Analysts estimate that in ten years, all new cars will be hybrids. It's an idea whose time has come. With the new Camry Hybrid, Toyota has managed to put "sweet comfy ride" and "optimal efficiency" together in one fine-looking car.

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And I bought the car at Checkered Flag!

And I bought the car at Checkered Flag in Virginia Beach!

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To place an order for your own sweet ride, click here.

Oh, are you here to read about Sears Homes? Click here.

To learn about kit homes from Montgomery Ward, click here.

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The Concord: A Modern Residence at a Low Cost

May 22nd, 2012 Sears Homes No comments

Sears offered two models called “The Concord.” The “old” Concord appeared in Sears first “Modern Homes Catalog” (in 1908), and remained in the catalog until at least 1918. In 1918, Sears Modern Homes were - for the first time - identified primarily by name, instead of number.

After all, would you rather have a Sears Modern Home #2049 or a Sears Magnolia? Same house, different words.  :)

The “new” Concord was a post 1930s house, and you can read about it here.

Judging from the testimonials, the (old) Concord was a fairly popular house, and yet in my travels, I’ve only seen one. There are a lot of “look-alikes” to the Sears Concord, but most of them have a side-gabled roof, whereas the Sears Concord has a hipped roof.

To see Rose’s latest book on Sears Homes, click here.

To read about a family that dearly loves (and appreciates) their Sears Concord, click here.

The Concord appeared in the very first Sears Modern Home catalog (1908).

The Concord appeared in the very first Sears Modern Home catalog (1908).

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By 1916, the house had become a real favorite, and of the 20 testimonials that appeared on the back page of the 1916 catalog, three of them were written by people whod purchased the Sears Concord.

By 1916, the house had become a real favorite, and of the 20 testimonials that appeared on the back page of the 1916 catalog, three of them were written by people who'd purchased the Sears Concord. This Concord was built by George E. Twiggar of Ossining, NY.

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Heres the text that accompanied the image (above).

Here's the text that accompanied the image (above). Note, there's also built at Havre de Grace, MD by Mr. J. H. Howlett.

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this is 19

This Concord (also known as C114) was built in Roselle Park, NJ.

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Number 19

It's a shame they didn't include a name here.

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Either these were very fast-growing trees, or he didnt send his snapshot to Sears until years after the house was finished.

Either these were very fast-growing trees, or he didn't send his snapshot to Sears until years after the house was finished. It's in Norwalk, Ohio.

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House

"The nicest house in town!"

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Carrollton

This Concord is looking a little rough. It's in Carrollton, IL.

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Dale in Monongahela, PA

Concord (sans porch) in Monongahela, PA. Photo is copyright 2010 Dale Patrick Wolicki and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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But wait, theres more!

But wait, there's more! According to the 1916 Sears catalog, the Concord was also built in these cities. As mentioned above, this was apparently a popular house.

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Houses

And Mr. Morton built a Sears Concord in Bristol, Virginia, which is about seven hours from my home in Norfolk. Still, I'll have to go check it out some time.

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To read about the other Concord, click right here.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To read the next blog, click here.

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Sears Home in Terrell, Texas? A Mystery! UPDATED!!

May 21st, 2012 Sears Homes 16 comments

UPDATED!!  A kind soul in Terrell has supplied photos of the Autrey’s home!  Scroll on down to see the house that Josephus built!

Judging by my email, there aren’t a lot of Sears Homes in Texas.  And yet, while reading the old testimonials in the 1916 Modern Homes catalog, I discovered that Josephus Autrey built a really big Sears House in Terrell, Texas (just outside of Dallas).

Josephus: What a great name! And I love the photo of his newly-built home that Josephus sent in to Sears. It’s the only photo that I have ever seen where the happy homeowner lined the whole family up in front of the house! Very endearing!

In late 1910 or early 1911, Josephus built his Sears Modern Home #118. According to the testimonials, it had some alterations. For one, it appears to have a bigger footprint and two dormers were added to the attic (on the side of the house). The porte cochere was added, and the porch was enlarged.

“Don” (see comments below) did some research and found that poor Josephus died in 1914, leaving behind a wife and five children, who apparently moved out of the house soon thereafter. Poor Josephus never really got to enjoy his beautiful Sears House.

Readers have told me that this is now known as The Felder Home. That seems rather curious, as Josephus must have toiled for many months to build this house from a kit. It must have taken many months to assemble a house of this size and complexity.

I’d love to learn more about this house and Josephus.

Josephus probably ordered his kit home out of this catalog.

Josephus probably ordered his kit home out of this catalog (1910-1911).

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The Sears Modern Home #118.

The Sears Modern Home #118.

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Josephus own words.

Josephus' own words.

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Number 118 was also built in these cities.

Number 118 was also built in these cities.

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Located in Alton, Illinois, this #118 is in decent shape.

Located in Alton, Illinois, this #118 is in decent shape.

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This #118 is in Westfield, Illinois (near Mattoon).

This #118 is in Westfield, Illinois (near Mattoon).

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And heres the house that Josephus built.

And here's the house that Josephus built.

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Close-up of the Autrey fam.

Close-up of the Autrey fam.

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UPDATED! Thanks to Jim Klenke, we now have a contemporary photo of the Autrey’s Sears House.

The House That Josephus Built - sometime in the early 1910s!

The House That Josephus Built - sometime in the early 1910s! Many thanks to Jim Klenke who provided the above photo! It's so fun to see the house in real life! (Photo is copyright 2012 Jim Klenke and can not be used or reproduced without written permission. )

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The roofline has changed a bit (perhaps a roof or attic fire?), but theres no doubt that this is the house that Josephus built in the early 1910s. Poor Josephus died in 1914, so he did not have many years in this house.

The roofline has changed a bit (perhaps a roof or attic fire?), but there's no doubt that this is the house that Josephus built in the early 1910s. Poor Josephus died in 1914, so he did not have many years in this house. BTW, look closely and you'll see a fireplace mantel on the front porch. I don't think that's original to the house. (Photo is copyright 2012 Jim Klenke and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

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The Breakfast Nook: Practical, Useful and Just Darn Cute!

May 21st, 2012 Sears Homes 2 comments

The other day, my husband told me that he’d like a nook for Christmas.

“I’ve always wanted one too,” I told him excitedly, “but I don’t think there’s room in our kitchen! They sure are cute, aren’t they? And I could pick out some 1950s fabric for the seat cushions.”

Turns out, he was talking about the eReader sold by Barnes and  Noble.

Drat.

Built-in breakfast nooks became wildly popular in the early 1920s and ever moreso in kit homes.  After Dr. Lister’s Germ Theory went mainstream, people couldn’t get out of their massive manses fast enough. The grand Victorian home fell from favor with a resounding thud.

The Bungalow - due to its simple design and germ-killing ease - became America’s Favorite House.

Downsizing a house from 2,500+ square feet to 1100 square feet isn’t easy, and it was the dining room that took one for the team.

Architects dealt with the small spaces by making the best use of every square foot, and no room was designed more efficiently than the kitchen.

The morning meal could now be taken at a built-in table, nestled neatly away in a corner or a specially designed nook. It was an idea whose time had come, and it was also practical and “step saving” (a popular concept at the time). It was easier for the lady of the house to set up and clean off a small table in the kitchen than fiddling with the big fancy wooden table in the dining room.

To read the next fascinating blog, click here.

To read about the exhumation of Addie Hoyt, click here.

My favorite image is from the 1923 Gordon Van Tine catalog. Gordon Van Tine also sold kit homes, and their kitchen nooks were shown in the catalogs - in COLOR!

My favorite image is from the 1923 Gordon Van Tine catalog. Gordon Van Tine also sold kit homes, and their kitchen nooks were shown in the catalogs - in COLOR!

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Not surprisingly, the built-in breakfast table in the grandiose Sears Magnolia was also pretty fancy!  (1921 catalog).

Not surprisingly, the built-in breakfast table in the grandiose Sears Magnolia was also pretty fancy! (1921 catalog). Check out that floor!

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The Sears Ashmore had

The Sears Ashmore was also a pretty fancy house, but this built-in breakfast table is downright pedestrian.

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This floorplan for the Sears Ashmore shows the placement of their nook.

This floorplan for the Sears Ashmore shows the placement of their nook.

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Montgomery Wards offered nooks in their kit homes, too. This photo came from the Montgomery Wards Building Materials catalog.

Montgomery Wards offered nooks in their kit homes, too. This photo came from the Montgomery Wards Building Materials catalog.

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The Sun

In 1921, you could order a built-in breakfast alcove from the Sears catalog for your own home. It was made with quality materials and look at the price!!

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The Sunrise!

"The Dawn" had a unique design, and had to be placed near a window. When the crepuscular rays of the dawn hit the side wall, the table automatically lowered into place.

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Wow

Notice the rays striking the wall where the table was located? Pretty neat, huh?

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Another

In 1935, nooks were still offered - and quite popular.

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This nook appeared in Norwood Sash and Doors Building Materials catalog (1924). Norwood Sash and Door (in Norwood Ohio), supplied a lot of millwork for Sears kit homes.

This nook appeared in Norwood Sash and Door's Building Materials catalog (1924). Norwood Sash and Door (in Norwood Ohio), supplied a lot of millwork for Sears kit homes.

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This nook appeared in the Pacific Ready Cut Homes catalog. PRCH was based in Los Angeles, and they sold about 40,000 kit homes during their 30 years in business. They stopped making kit homes in the late 1930s and started making surfboards.

This nook appeared in the Pacific Ready Cut Homes catalog. PRCH was based in Los Angeles, and they sold about 40,000 kit homes during their 30 years in business. They stopped making kit homes in the late 1930s and started making surfboards.

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Aladdin Homes (based in Bay City, MI) also offered a built-in breakfast nook in their houses.

Aladdin Homes (based in Bay City, MI) also offered a built-in breakfast nook in their houses.

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Even Popular Mechanics offered a built-in breakfast table for their handy readers. But this one had an added benefit.  You could sleep on it.

Even "Popular Mechanics" offered a built-in breakfast table for their handy readers. But this one had an added benefit. You could sleep on it.

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But it really does not look too comfortable.

But it really does not look too comfortable. It was probably an effective deterrent for turning away overnight guests: "Sure, we have room for you! Honey, go fold out the BREAKFAST TABLE for Aunt Sally and Uncle Kermit."

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Ladies Home Journal featured this nook in their 1924 magazine.

"Ladies' Home Journal" featured this nook in their 1919 magazine.

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Last but not least, a real live nook in Greenville, Illinois, in the most perfect Lynnhaven that you ever did see. Note, awesome rooster towels do not convey.

Last but not least, a real live nook in Greenville, Illinois, in the most perfect Lynnhaven that you ever did see. Note, awesome rooster towels do not convey.

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To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

And I must confess, I made all that up about the breakfast table that lowers itself when the sun’s rays hit it.  :)

Did you enjoy this blog? Please share the link with others, and leave a comment below!

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Speaking of Sears Homes in Georgia…

May 20th, 2012 Sears Homes 4 comments

Eleven months ago, I wrote about Sears Home #119 in Martinez, Georgia. It was built by R. Lyle and it was also one of Sears largest kit homes.

Some time later, a reader named Stacey tracked down an old plat map that showed the location of the R. Lyle property near Martinez. Unfortunately, I’m geographically challenged and I’m not sure what this plat is telling me.

Are you good with maps? If so, maybe you can help me figure out just where in Martinez this house is located. Please leave a comment below if you have any information.

Somewhere in Martinez, there’s a Sears Modern Home #119 in hiding!

To see photos of another extraordinary Sears House in Georgia, click here.

To read the original piece about the Sears House in Martinez, click here.

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Ive circled the spot where the Lyle farm is located, but where *is* this?

I've circled the spot where the Lyle farm is located, but where *is* this?

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House

Close-up of map, showing R. T. Lyle parcel, but where is it - exactly?

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Mr. Lyles house in 1915.

Mr. Lyle's house in 1915.

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Testimonial

These cities also have a Sears Modern Home #119.

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Original catalog page

Original catalog page from 19116.

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To learn more, click here.

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Modern Home #124 in Lincolnton, Georgia

May 20th, 2012 Sears Homes 8 comments

Last week, I posted photos of Sears Modern Home #124 in different parts of the country. Rachel Shoemaker then discovered that there was another “Model 124” in Lincolnton, Georgia and she sent me a link with a photo.

I sent a couple inquiries out, asking if anyone near Lincolnton could get some photos for me. Steve and Teresa Howland responded and said, “Sounds like a fun project. We’ll get a photo for you!”

And then yesterday, after I returned home from my five-day trek to North Carolina, I found a plethora of beautiful photos in my email, courtesy of Steve and Teresa Howland.

As I’ve always said, all the nicest people love old houses and history.  :)

And these are wonderful photos!

To read the previous blog about Sears Modern Home #124, click here.

To hear Rose’s recent interview on WUNC (with Frank Stasio), click here.

The original catalog page, featuring #124 (1916).

The original catalog page, featuring #124 (1916).

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The #124 in Lincolnton, Georgia! Oh my, what a beauty!

The #124 in Lincolnton, Georgia! Oh my, what a beauty! And look at how even the brick chimneys are a perfect match! Most likely, the Ionic columns were not original to the house, but are replacements. (Photo is copyright 2012 Steve and Teresa Howland and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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And our view

This photo really shows off that dramatic overhang on the third-floor. I'm not sure why anyone would design a house with this feature. Is there a tangible benefit or was this done for appearance's sake? Because it's a pretty odd feature! (Photo is copyright 2012 Steve and Teresa Howland and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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As I said, these photos are wonderful! Another view of this wonderful house in Lincolnton, Georgia.

Another view of this wonderful house in Lincolnton, Georgia. (Photo is copyright 2012 Steve and Teresa Howland and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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And looking straight on!

And looking straight on! I think this is her best angle! (Photo is copyright 2012 Steve and Teresa Howland and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Awesome details around the door!

Awesome details around the door. I am still puzzled by those columns. Are they wood or cement? They're pretty substantial looking. The bracing on the underside of the eaves was not original to the house. These were often added to support the oversized eaves, which sometimes sag with age. Who among us doesn't understand the angst of having our once-sturdy eaves start to sag a bit? (Photo is copyright 2012 Steve and Teresa Howland and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Look at the details!

Look at the details! I'm not sure what the purpose of that little hole was, but it's an interesting little feature. (Photo is copyright 2012 Steve and Teresa Howland and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Wow!

Wow! Now that's a good match!! And a beautiful photo, too! (Photo is copyright 2012 Steve and Teresa Howland and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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So, there are more of these!  Do I have any readers in these cities?  :)

So, there are more of these! Do I have any readers in these cities? :)

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And last but not least, a heart-felt thank you to Steve and Teresa Howland for driving out to Lincolnton, Georgia and taking the time to get such wonderful photos!  As is evidenced by the last photo above, they did a first-rate job in getting the angle just right, so it’s a perfect match to the original catalog page!

Thanks Steve and Teresa!

To learn more about kit homes, click here.

To read another blog that showcases another “random act of old house kindness,” click here.

To listen to my favorite “Georgia” song, click here.

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“This Two-Story Bungalow is Fast Becoming a Great Favorite…”

May 18th, 2012 Sears Homes 13 comments

Do you like “quirky”? Then you’ll love this Sears House!

In the opening paragraph of the catalog page, the prosaic writers described Modern Home #124 as “a great favorite.”

It’s certainly one of my favorites - for so many different reasons!

For one, it’s very easy to identify. You’re not going to drive past this house without remembering it!

For another, in all my travels, it doesn’t have any “look-alikes.” In other words, I’ve not seen any similar designs offered by any other kit home companies (such as Aladdin, Lewis, Gordon Van Tine, Harris Brothers, Sterling, etc.), and I’ve not seen anything like #124 offered in any plan books.

And thirdly, it’s just an interesting house with some quirky (and lovable) features.

So take a look at the pictures below and tell me, have you seen this house? If so, send me a photo!

And according to the catalog, these houses have been built in Texarkana, Arkansas, Washington, DC, Greenwich, Rhode Island, Grand Rapids, Michigan,Montvale, New Jersey or Youngstown, Ohio. And if you’re in New York state, there were 124s built in Brooklyn, Dunkirk and New York city.

If you’re near those cities, I would love to see photos of our #124 today!  :)

To learn more about how to identify kit homes, click here.

From the 1916 catalog

From the 1916 catalog

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It was also featured in the Seroco Paint Catalog (Seroco - Sears Roebuck Company).

It was also featured in the Seroco Paint Catalog (Seroco - Sears Roebuck Company).

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Good floor plan - and spacious too.

Good floor plan - and spacious too.

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This bungalow was pretty large!

This bungalow was surprisingly large! And lots of closet space, too.

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As of 1916, it had been built in these cities. As of 1918, it was gone from the catalog.

As of 1916, it had been built in these cities. As of 1918, it was gone from the catalog.

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Heres a lovely #124 in Augres, Michigan. Photo is coypright 2010 Dale Patrick Wolicki and may not be used or reproduced without written permission. So there.

Here's a lovely #124 in Augres, Michigan. (Photo is coypright 2010 Dale Patrick Wolicki and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Taylorville

Sears Modern Home #124 in Taylorville, IL.

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Crystal Lake

#124 in Crystal Lake, Illinois.

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Same house in Crystal Lake (2003).

Same house in Crystal Lake, photographed in 2003.

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The 124 was first offered in the very first Sears catalog (1908). It apparently was a strong seller, and appeared in their catalogs under 1917. It was probably removed because it looked a little dated in 1918.

The 124 was first offered in the very first Sears catalog (1908). It apparently was a strong seller, and appeared in their catalogs under 1917. It was probably removed because it looked a little "dated" in 1918.

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UPDATE!  Rachel Shoemaker - the indefatigable researcher - has found another #124 in Lincolnton, GA at the corner of Humphrey and Dallas. It sure would be nice to have a photo!!  Anyone near Lincolnton?

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To read the next fascinating blog, click here.

To learn about Sears biggest and fanciest house, click here.

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Durham and Its Kit Homes! (Updated!)

May 17th, 2012 Sears Homes 2 comments

On Saturday (May 19th), I’ll be at the Rialto Theater giving a talk on the Kit Homes of Raleigh.

On Thursday (May 17th), Katherine Jordan drove me through Durham (next door to Raleigh) to look for kit homes. And we found a few!

As is typical in this part of the country, we found more Aladdin Kit Homes than anything else. Aladdin (like Sears) sold kit homes through a mail-order catalog, and Aladdin (unlike Sears) had a major mill located in Wilmington, NC., so it’s not surprising that there are so many Aladdins in Durham and surrounding areas.

Want to learn more? Join our group on Facebook!

To see what we found in Raleigh, click here.

To listen to Rose’s interview on WUNC, click here.

To see the photos of kit homes in Durham, scroll on down!

First, my favorite Sears House in Durham - The Sears Alhambra!

First, my favorite Sears House in Durham - The Sears Alhambra!

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Hidden in the Pines is one of the prettiest Alhambras I have ever seen.

Hidden in the Pines is one of the prettiest Alhambras I have ever seen.

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First, one of my favorites! The Aladdin Pomona.

And from Aladdin, one of my favorites! The Aladdin Pomona.

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Due to the remodeling (substitute siding), its hard to see but this is definitely an Aladdin Pomona!

Due to the remodeling (substitute siding), it's hard to see but this is definitely an Aladdin Pomona!

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And even though its got replacement siding, it did retain its original windows!

And even though it's got replacement siding, it did retain its original windows, with their distinctive diamond muntins.

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This is a Sears Lynnhaven (from the 1938 catalog).

This is a Sears Lynnhaven (from the 1938 catalog).

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And the Lynnhaven in Durham had something Ive never seen before: A gabled dormer!

And the Lynnhaven in Durham had something I've never seen before: A gabled dormer!

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And I also saw a house from Gordon Van Tine (yet another kit home company).

And I also saw a house from Gordon Van Tine (yet another kit home company).

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The Durham

This "Colonial Cottage" was a good match to its original catalog image.

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Aladdin

The Aladdin Plaza was a classic early 20th Century bungalow.

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Aladdin Plaza

This Aladdin Plaza in Durham is in perfect condition.

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And literally next door to the Plaza was a perfect little Aladdin Pasadena.

And literally next door to the Plaza was a perfect little Aladdin Pasadena. Notice the classic "Arts and Crafts" porch roof.

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Its somewhat obscured by landscaping, but theres no doubt that this is an Aladdin Pasadena.

It's somewhat obscured by landscaping, but there's no doubt that this is an Aladdin Pasadena.

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Close of the door.

Close up of the door.

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NOT

Through the years, several people contacted me to tell me about this "Sears House" in Durham. THIS IS NOT A SEARS HOUSE! In fact, it is NOT a kit home at all!! It's from a plan book titled, "Standard Home Plans for 1926," and Rachel Shoemaker is the one who figured this out. Again - this is *not* a Sears House, but it came from a plan book!

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To learn more about plan book houses, click here.

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And we spotted a couple Lustons on the same street!

And we spotted a couple Lustons on the same street!

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To learn more about Lustron Homes, click here.

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And this is NOT a kit home, but it is a DAZZLING architectural treasure. Its Art Moderne and one of my all time favorite housing styles - and its right there in Durham!

And this is NOT a kit home, but it is a DAZZLING architectural treasure. It's known as "Art Moderne" and one of my all time favorite housing styles - and it's right there in Durham!

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The details.

The details of Rose's appearances in Raleigh.

To learn more about how to identify kit homes, click here.

To learn more about Rose’s upcoming lecture, click here.

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