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Archive for June, 2012

Riverside or Claremont?

June 27th, 2012 Sears Homes 3 comments

Friend and fellow-Sears House aficionado Cindy Catanzara Goebel sent me some photos and asked, “Is this a Sears Riverside or Claremont?”

I didn’t have a clue, so I dug out the old catalogs and studied the two models.

And then I learned something new.

The Sears Riverside and the Sears Claremont are the same house - down to the details. The floor plans are identical, as are the room dimensions. Why did Sears use two different names on one house design?

Just to confuse us 70+ years later, I suppose.  :)

In the late 1920s, this little Cape Cod was known as The Claremont. Sometime in the early 1930s, it was renamed The Riverside.

Cindy found this house by searching old mortgage records. According to her research, the house was built in 1929, and the original mortgage amount was $4,600.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To see pictures of the big fancy Sears Houses, click here.

The Sears Riverside, as seen in the 1934 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

The Sears Riverside, as seen in the 1934 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

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The Sears Claremont appeared in the 1928 catalog.

The Sears Claremont appeared in the 1928 catalog.

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Not much difference between the two houses!

Not much difference between the two houses! The Claremont (1928) is on the right, and the Riverside is on the right. Why, they even have the same bushes in the front!!

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Riverside floorplan

The Riverside was 24' by 36'.

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And so was the Claremont.  :)

And so was the Claremont.

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So, the Riverside/Claremont (Rivermont?) was the same house. But it was a very attractive Cape Cod.

So, the Riverside/Claremont (Rivermont?) was the same model with two names (1928 and 1934). And, best of all, it was a very attractive Cape Cod.

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And here is the Clareside (Rivermont?) in Mechanicsburg, Ohio.

And here is the Clareside (Rivermont?) in Mechanicsburg, Ohio. Notice the chimney on the end wall. Is there a fireplace in that 9x10 bedroom? I doubt it. Most likely, the wall was removed between the living room and bedroom, creating a more spacious living room. (Photo is copyright 2012 Cindy Goebel Catanzaro and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Another view of the Claremont and Riverside.

Another view of the Claremont and Riverside. (Photo is copyright 2012 Cindy Goebel Catanzaro and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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house

This photo really shows that asymmetrical gable kissing the ground on one side. Very distinctive feature. (Photo is copyright 2012 Cindy Goebel Catanzaro and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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To read the next fascinating blog, click here.

To read about the other kit houses in Mechanicsburg, click here.

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Albert Brown’s Awesome Old House in Mechanicsburg, Ohio

June 26th, 2012 Sears Homes 6 comments

In 1912, Albert Brown of Mechanicsburg, Ohio sent a lovely letter to Gordon Van Tine (a kit home company), praising House #126, which he’d recently purchased of them.  Albert was so enamored of the house that (he said in  his letter), it was his intention (in 1912) to buy and build two more houses and one barn from Gordon Van Tine (based in Davenport, Iowa).

In fact, Albert asked Gordon Van Tine for a placard for his house, identifying it as one of their own homes.

Gordon Van Tine published Albert’s letter in their 1913 mail-order catalog (and Albert’s letter is shown below).

We don’t know if Albert ever purchased or built those other two houses, or if Gordon Van Tine ever provided him with a placard for his house, but we do know that Albert bought his barn, and built it at the back of the lot, adjacent to House #126.

It’s pretty darn fun to rediscover this lost piece of history and “connect all the dots,” based just on a name and a short testimony found in a 1913 mail order catalog.

So, are there two more Gordon Van Tine houses there in Mechanicsburg, thanks to Albert? I’d love to know!

Thanks to Rachel Shoemaker for digging into this story and finding this amazing house (and getting an address!), and thanks to Cindy Goebel Catanzaro for taking so many wonderful photos!

To learn more about Gordon Van Tine kit homes, click here.

Want to learn how to identify kit homes? Click here.

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House #126 as it appeared in the 1913 Gordon Van Tine catalog.

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house 2

Close-up of the house that Albert selected (1913).

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testimony

Albert Brown's testimony appeared under #126 in the 1913 catalog.

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house 3

And here is Albert's house as it appears today. It's a real beauty, and a lovely match to the 1913 catalog image. If you look at the lower right of this photo, you can see the barn that Albert purchased in later years. (Photo is copyright 2012 Cindy Goebel Catanzaro and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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hosue 4

Notice the oval window in the front gable, and the small vestibule.

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house

This house in Mechanicsburg is in wonderfully original condition. I wonder if the current owners know about Albert, and his story? I wonder if they realize that they have a kit home? (Photo is copyright 2012 Cindy Goebel Catanzaro and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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hosue detail

Close-up of that ornamental window. (Photo is copyright 2012 Cindy Goebel Catanzaro and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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house six

And a view from the side of the house. (Photo is copyright 2012 Cindy Goebel Catanzaro and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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And my favorite photo of all!  Cindy managed to get inside this house and found a vintage photo hanging on the wall. Is this Albert and friends? Oh, how Id love to know!!

And my favorite photo of all! Cindy managed to get inside this house and found a vintage photo of #126 hanging on the wall. Is this Albert and friends? Oh, how I'd love to know!!

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Close up of the folks. Who are these people?

Close up of the folks. Who are these people? They obviously love their dogs!

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barn too

Albert was so dazzled by the House #126 that he purchased this barn in later years.

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house house

Nice barn!

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house hosue barn

And here is Albert's GVT barn, sitting on the back edge of the lot. (Photo is copyright 2012 Cindy Goebel Catanzaro and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Again, many thanks to Rachel Shoemaker for finding this house in Mechanicsburg (with a little help from Ancestry.com) and thanks to Cindy Goebel Catanzara for running out to Mechanicsburg to get these wonderful photos!

Want to learn more about Gordon Van Tine? Click here.

Read more about these amazing kit homes by clicking here.

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Another Gordon Van Tine Kit Home in Lake Mills, Wisconsin!

June 25th, 2012 Sears Homes 1 comment

In September and November 2011, I traveled to Lake Mills, Wisconsin to do more research on my Aunt Addie, who was allegedly murdered by her husband, Enoch Fargo. It’s a fascinating story and you can learn more about that here.

Whilst there, I discovered a handful of kit homes in Lake Mills. Click here to see photos of those houses.

More recently, my friend Rachel sent me a picture of a very unique house sold by Gordon Van Tine. Immediately, I recognized it as a house I’d seen in Lake Mills. I asked folks in Lake Mills if they could get me a photo of the house and they gladly obliged. Scroll down to see this very interesting house!

And as Rachel Shoemaker observed, the GVT #126 was also built in Mechanicsville, Ohio (according to the testimonial in the 1913 catalog) and she also found one in Fayette, Ohio!

From the 1913 Gordon Van Tine house

House Plan #126 from the 1913 Gordon Van Tine catalog.

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1913 catalog

Close-up of #126. Note the flare at the bottom of the dormer's columns.

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house

Close-up of the floorplan.

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Lake Mills

A small snapshot at the bottom of the catalog page shows an interior shot of the living room. Notice the heavy drapes over the entrance to the stairwell.

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Dawn Stewart

Here's what I *think* could be GVT #126 in Lake Mills (on Lake Street). (Photo is copyright 2012 Dawn Stewart and may not be used or reproduced without permission.)

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Joeylynn Mattson

Another shot of the GVT #126. Notice that the front door is not centered on the Lake Mills house and yet the catalog house has a centered door. However, the living room spans the entire width of the house, so this would be a simple change to make. (Photo is copyright 2012 Joeylynn Mattson and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Angie Hallmark

A better view of that front door. (Photo is copyright 2012 Angie Hallmark and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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compare dawn

Is this the GVT #126? I'm still not sure, but it's mighty close. That flare at the bottom of the dormer is a very unusual feature, and the house in Lake Mills is a beautiful match to the catalog image. The rest of the features are so very close that it does seem likely that the house in Lake Mills is the GVT #126. (Photo on the left is copyright 2012 Angie Hallmark and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Addie

And here's the reason I became interested in Lake Mills in the first place. The above is a picture of my great Aunt Addie (on the left) and her sister, my great grandmother (Anna Hawley Hoyt Whitmore). Addie and Anna were the children of Julia Hawley Hoyt and her husband, Homer. Julia and Homer's families both had deep roots in the Lake Mills area, and their children were born and raised in Jefferson County. According to "A History of Lake Mills," Addie was shot and killed by her husband in 1901. Addie was 29 years old at the time.

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To learn more about Gordon Van Tine houses, click here.

To read what the funeral director told me about Addie’s burial, click here.

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Sears Homes - on Facebook!!!

June 25th, 2012 Sears Homes 3 comments

In the last 30 days, I’ve received more than 100 emails asking for information on Sears Homes. In short, I’m sorry to say that I just really don’t have the time to read (much less answer) individual emails.

This website was created (and is maintained) with the hope that I can address and answer some of the many questions I’m asked (again and again) about Sears Homes.

Plus, it’s a lot of fun to have a venue where I can share all these pretty pictures of our Sears Houses.

If you have some awesome photos that you’d like to share (on this blog), please leave a comment below and I’ll get back with you.

But better yet, if you’re really in love with Sears Homes (as so many people are), please join our group on Facebook, named “Sears Homes.”

It’s a large group of people who know as much (and maybe even more) than I do about Sears Homes, and they’re always interested in learning more. And the magic of Facebook is that you can post and share photos with ease!

Come join us!

To read the next awesome story on Sears Homes, click here.

To learn about Wardway Homes, click here.

Sears Homes are a lot of fun, but Im no longer able to answer individual emails. Please join our group at Facebook!!

Sears Homes are a lot of fun, but I'm no longer able to answer individual emails. Please join our group at Facebook!!

To learn more about Sears fanciest kit home, click here.

To read about the Sears House featured on the cover of the catalog (shown above), click here.

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The Other Magnificent Miltons: In Ohio and New Jersey, Part II

June 22nd, 2012 Sears Homes 3 comments

Three weeks ago, I wrote a blog about the Sears Miltons that were located in Fayette, Ohio and Somerville, New Jersey.

On June 13th, an article appeared in the State Line Observer (Fayette newspaper), telling the story of our lost Milton. Reporter David Green received good reader response to that article but surprisingly, no one knows where our Milton is located. (An aside: Do any readers know how to provide a link to this story? I could not find it online. Title is, “”In Search of the Sears Modern Home” and it appeared on June 13th in the State Line Observer.)

What makes this really interesting is, Fayette is not that large and the Sears Milton is that large! It’s a very distinctive house!

How could it go missing?

On a more positive note, Marge Sullivan of Somerville sent me some wonderful photos of the Milton in New Jersey. The address of this Milton was found by Researcher Extraordinaire Rachel Shoemaker.  :)

So where is our Milton in Fayette? It’s a mystery. And what about the Sears Milton in New York City? Where did it go?

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To read more about the Milton, click here.

Sears Milton as seen in the 1916 Modern Homes catalog.

Sears Milton as seen in the 1916 Modern Homes catalog.

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Spacious house and a good floor plan!

Spacious house and a good floor plan!

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Sears Milton in Stanley, Virginia - and its a beauty!

Sears Milton in Stanley, Virginia - and it's a beauty!

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As of 1916, we know that the Milton was built in several other cities.

As of 1916, we know that the Milton was built in several other cities.

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And heres the Sears Milton in Somerville, NJ. Photo credit is

And here's the Sears Milton in Somerville, NJ. (Photo is copyright 2012 Marge Sullivan and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Sears Milton at Christmas time!

Sears Milton at Christmas time (in 2001). (Photo is copyright 2001 Marge Sullivan and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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If you know the locations of these other Miltons, please leave a comment below!

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To read more about the Milton, click here.

Make That FIVE Sterling Kit Homes in Anderson, South Carolina.

June 19th, 2012 Sears Homes 3 comments

In yesterday’s blog, I talked about the four Sterling kit homes that I found in Anderson, South Carolina.

Click here to read more about that.

Well, when I was in Anderson, I took a photo of another house that I couldn’t readily identify, but it triggered a memory. This morning, I sat down and went through the 1928 Sterling Homes catalog and realized that my “triggered memory” was The Sterling Classic. This now represents the FIFTH house from Sterling Homes that I found in Anderson.

It’s a pretty distinctive house and there’s little doubt (especially with the other four houses) that this could be anything but another Sterling Home.

Again I wonder - how in the world did Anderson - 800 miles due south from Bay City, Michigan, end up with so many Sterling Homes? And are there MORE than five? I’m sure there are. My knowledge of Sterling Homes is truly pitiable. My buddy Dale Wolicki is the expert on Sterling.

But even a blind squirrel finds an acorn from time to time, and I happened to find five Sterlings in Anderson. I’m confident there are many more.

And if anyone can get me a better photo of this little house, I’d be profoundly grateful.  :)

The FIFTH Sterling kit house in Anderson is the Classic (1928 catalog).

The FIFTH Sterling kit house in Anderson is the "Classic" (1928 catalog).

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Nice floorplan, too.

Nice floorplan, too.

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The Classic

The Classic had several distinctive features, such as the two matching "picture" windows on the home's front and that small, low dormer. But most distinctive is that front porch. The four piers extend beyond the home's walls and the porch column sits within those four piers. Now that's very unusual.

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The close

Close-up on that unusual feature.

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And heres the Classic in Anderson.

And here's the "Classic" in Anderson.

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Take a look at the front porch detail.

Take a look at the front porch detail. It shows that column sitting within the space created by the four piers. This is a good match!!

Again - how did Anderson end up with so many Sterling Homes? I’d love to know.

To learn more about Sterling Homes, click here.

To read more about the Sterling Homes in Anderson, click here.

If you’re able to get me a better photo of this house, please leave a comment below!

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Wow! THREE Sterling Homes in Anderson, SC!

June 18th, 2012 Sears Homes 11 comments

Recently I was visiting family in Pickens, South Carolina and whilst there, I drove more than 400 miles throughout the Western part of the state, seeking kit homes. Sadly, there are not many kit homes in this part of the country.

However, I did find one city in South Carolina that had several kit homes: Anderson, South Carolina.

And there in Anderson, I found not one but three (and possibly four) kit homes from Sterling Homes (based in Bay City). Better yet, one of those kit homes was Sterling’s crème de la crème - the Vernon.

This was their biggest and best kit home, and this was the first Sterling Vernon that I’ve ever found.

And it was a beauty!

I’d love to know if the owners of this house realize that they have a kit home!

And in addition to the Vernon, I also found a Van Dyke and a Ma Cherie, also from Sterling.

UPDATED:  I’ve identified ANOTHER Sterling Home in Anderson! Click here to read the latest blog!!

To read about the OTHER kit homes I found in Anderson, check back in a few days. I’ll be adding those photos soon.

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The Sterling Vernon was featured on the cover of their 1928 catalog.

The Sterling Vernon was featured on the cover of their 1928 catalog.

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The Vernon was their biggest, fanciest house.

The Vernon was their biggest, fanciest house.

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house

And according to this, it was the house of YOUR dreams!

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Here it is in Anderson, SC.

Do the owners of this "Vernon" know that they have a kit home?

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Close-up on the details.

Close-up on the details.

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Sterling

The Sterling Vernon as seen in the 1928 catalog.

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The Ma Cherie

The Ma Cherie was a beautiful bungalow offered by Sterling. Pay attention to the details around the front porch.

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Anderson

This house in Anderson is a spot-on match to the Sterling "Ma Cherie." And it's in beautifully original condition. Look at the details on the front porch. All the details are perfect.

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Another picture of the Ma Cherie in Anderson.

Another picture of the Ma Cherie in Anderson.

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The Van Dyke was another popular house for Sterling.

The Van Dyke was another popular house for Sterling.

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And

Another beautiful match. This Van Dyke is less than two blocks from the Vernon.

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And this is frustrating! I saw this house in Anderson but neglected to get a photo!

And this is frustrating! I saw this house in Anderson but neglected to get a photo! It was near the other kit homes shown above.

Updated!  This house is at 2309 Edgewood Avenue in Anderson, SC. My kingdom for a photo of this house!!

And this house actually makes FOUR Sterling Homes in Anderson (so the blog title is now in error!).

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How did Anderson end up with so many kit homes from a small company in Bay City, Michigan? It’s a real mystery.

If you have any info to add, please leave a comment below.

To learn more about Sterling Homes, click here.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

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The Jefferson: A True Example of Southern Colonial Architecture

June 12th, 2012 Sears Homes No comments

For 12 years, I’ve been looking hard for the Sears Jefferson. This style of house is fairly popular and look-alikes aren’t too hard to find.

However, the genuine article, the Sears Jefferson is very difficult to find.

In fact, the only one I know of is in Carbondale, Illinois, and I didn’t find it. Rebecca Hunter did.

When I visited the Jefferson in person, my biggest surprise was the lead-glass window over the front door. You don’t find those too often in kit houses. This was a fancy house and it came with all the accoutrements.

To learn more about identifying Sears Homes, click here.

To read about the Aladdin Villa, click here.

The Sears Jefferson (1936 catalog).

The Sears Jefferson (1936 catalog).

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Fancy writing for a fancy house!

Fancy writing for a fancy house!

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Spacious, too.

Spacious, too. The Jefferson had more than 2,400 square feet.

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A close-up of the house (1936 catalog).

A close-up of the house (1936 catalog).

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And here it is in Carbondale.

Carbondale's "Jefferson" is a perfect match, down to the details. Notice the railings.

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Another angle

The Jefferson is perfectly symmetrical with nine windows on the front. Most of the "look-alike" houses I've seen have paired windows. And many have a small parade porch centered on the second floor (over the front entry). Lastly, pay attention to the entry.

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Close-up on that fancy entry to the Jefferson.

Close-up on that fancy entry to the Jefferson.

To read the next fascinating blog on Sears Homes, click here.

To hear an amazing story about my amazing Aunt Addie, click here.

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One Year Ago Today…

June 10th, 2012 Sears Homes 3 comments

One year ago today (June 10th), I sat at my father’s bedside, held his 91-year-old hand in mine and told him, “I love you. I forgive you. And I release you.”

We were alone in that tiny room at the assisted living facility (my husband, my father and I), and yet we were in the company of “too many angels to count.”

It was a holy, spiritual moment that I will never forget.

As I said at his eulogy on June 20th, 2011, “my father came into this world surrounded by love, and 91 years later he stepped out of this world, again surrounded and embraced by love. It was a good ending.”

To read more about Thomas H. Fuller, click here.

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My father in 2003, in Portsmouth, Virginia.

My father in 2003, in Portsmouth, Virginia. He was 84 years old here.

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About 1977, shown with his twin brother, Ed.

About 1977, shown with his twin brother, Ed.

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My father shown here with his father, Edgar A. Fuller.

My father shown here with his father, Edgar A. Fuller. This picture was taken inside Edgar's home on 14th Street in Santa Monica (about 1977).

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Dog

Dad sits on the edge of Eddie's bed, trying not to upset the dog (about 1971).

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About 1964, my father

Mid-1960s, my father in Santa Monica, in front of his childhood home at 213 14th Street.

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My father loved California.

My father loved California. He's admiring the oranges in his parent's back yard.

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My father with this father.

My father with this father in 1966.

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Our family in 1966, enroute to California from Portsmouth, Virginia. My father purchased a new car for the trip, a 1957 Cadillac.

Our family in 1966, enroute to California from Portsmouth, Virginia. My father purchased a "new" car for the trip, a 1957 Cadillac. We made the 3,000-mile trek in seven days.

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About 1959

My father holding his newest offspring in Summer 1959. BTW, that's me in his lap and my brother Tom sitting beside us. The beautiful bed in the photo had been my father's bed since 1935. It was made in the 1890s and had been an Exhibition Piece at the 1894 World's Fair.

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Dad

My father was always very photogenic. I always had a very large forehead that caught the camera's glare (about 1960).

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Ed and Father, in 1956.

Ed and Father, in 1956. They lived in Shea Terrace (Portsmouth) at the time. Check out the 1953 Pontiac in the background.

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My father was a WW2 Army Veteran.

My father was a WW2 Army Veteran. This photo was the early 1940s.

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My father at age six.

My father at age six.

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In the mid-1990s, I visited my fathers home and a friend of his answered the door. As I stood on the stoop, she stared at me - slackjawed - and didnt move. Finally, I started to push past her while asking, Everything okay? She replied, I aint never seen a daughter who looked so much like her father.

In the mid-1990s, I visited my father's home and a friend of his answered the door. As I stood on the stoop, she stared at me - slackjawed - and didn't move. Finally, I started to push past her while asking, "Everything okay?" She replied, "I ain't never seen a daughter who looked so much like her father. You look just like him." A little disconcerting for a 30-something woman to be told she's the twin of her 70-something father. And yet, this photo of my father from 1922 really showcases that. This could have been a photo of me.

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Baby

My father and his twin brother in 1919. My grandmother captioned this photo with "Whenever Junior (right side) and Thomas (left) are together, Junior reaches out and takes Thomas' little hand." It was this photo that enabled me to forgive my father. Seeing his innate, God-given child-like innocence opened "the eyes of my eyes" and healed my heart.

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My father in 2007, at my wedding. He was 87 years old here. Photo is copyright Dave Chance and can not be used without written permission.

My father in 2007, at my wedding. He was 87 years old. Photo is copyright Dave Chance and can not be used without written permission.

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As I told my father in the last days of his life, he was not always part of my life, but I never stopped loving him.

And I never will.

To read more about “Innocence Rediscovered,” click here.

“Strikingly Handsome!” - The Sherburne

June 8th, 2012 Sears Homes 7 comments

One of my personal favorite Sears Homes is the Sherburne. For one thing, it’s quite distinctive (and easier to identify than a very simple little house). And, it’s just so pretty. I love the lines, the big front porch, the steeply pitched roof and all those windows.

Enjoy the photos!

Strikingly handsome

The 1921 catalog described the Sherburne as "Strikingly handsome."

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And popular (1920)

And apparently, it was popular too (1921).

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Spacious

The first floor had three spacious rooms.

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Favorite graphic 1916

My favorite graphic of all time comes from the 1916 catalog, and features the Sherburne. Mom and Dad are living in squalor here, eyeballing the "plans" for their new house, The Sherburne. Look at their circumstance! The house they're in now has GAS lights! The curtains are threadbare, the rug is worn and tired, and the library table is so pedestrian! Such a primitive structure!

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Kids wow

But Dad and Mom are already dreaming The American Dream and they've sent in their $1 good faith deposit to Sears. They have started on the path to the "Materialization" of their great dream. And it's a Sears Sherburne!

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More weirdness

And now they're moved up to the "Realization" of their wonderful dream! The manifestation of all that dreaming (and working) is an imposing, three-story Sears Sherburne!

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Happy ending

And what follows "Anticipation, Materialization and Realization"? Gratification! The kids are dancing a jig! Mom and Dad are happy, happy, happy! And look at the house! They now have electric lights! And a phonograph! And a mantel clock and artwork on the walls! Why, even the library table has grown a marble top. They now have a thick, plush rug!

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house in Rudyard

This Sherburne is in Rudyard, Michigan (and is the house mentioned in the testimonial above). This photo is copyright 2010 Dale Wolicki and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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House in Urbana

This beauty is in Urbana, Illinois. I love the colors on this house. This photo is copyright 2008 Rebecca Hunter and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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decature

And this one is in Decatur, Illinois.

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pictures of house

In the 1916 catalog, the Sherburne was $800 less than 1921.

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Scary guy

In both the 1916 and 1921 catalogs, this scary guy is on the front porch.

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To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To read about my other favorite Sears kit house, click here.

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