Archive

Archive for July, 2012

The Sears Homes in Somerville, New Jersey

July 9th, 2012 Sears Homes 6 comments

Prior to May 2012, I’d never heard of Somerville, New Jersey.

And then I wrote a blog on the Sears Milton, and on the catalog page that features the Sears Milton, there was a small snippet mentioning that the Milton had also been built in Somerville, New Jersey.

I contacted a few folks in Somerville, and Marge Sullivan was kind enough to respond. Better than just responding, Marge sent photos, too.

In fact, not only did Marge send photos of the Sears Milton, but she also sent photos of several other Sears Homes in Somerville.

For years, I’d suspected that New Jersey was awash in Sears kit homes.

Sears had three mills, and Port Newark (New Jersey) was home to Sears second largest mill. And there were also seven Sears Modern Homes Sales Centers in New Jersey. There were only 40 of these sales centers in the country.

Sears strategically placed sales centers in areas where sales were very strong. Not surprisingly, sales increased in areas that boasted of having a Sears Modern Homes Sales Center.

In New Jersey, their seven sales centers were in Camden, Elizabeth, Hackensack, Long Branch, Newark, Paterson and Plainfield.

To learn more about these unique retail stores, click here.

And perhaps most interesting is that there’s a Sears Altona missing in Somerville. According to the Sears Modern Homes catalog, it was built in Somerville, but folks there are having a tough time finding it.

It may have been demolished or it may have been remodeled beyond all recognition. But we do know that one was built in Somerville, and that  L. B. Thatcher was the original builder. If someone in Somerville has access to a city directory, that last name may help in locating the missing Altona.

Many thanks to Marge Sullivan and also to the Somerville Historic Advisory Committee for sharing these wonderful photos!

To learn more about how to identify Sears Homes, click here.

To read about the Sears Milton in Somerville, click here.

Somewhere in Somerville, theres a Sears Altona!

Somewhere in Somerville, there's a Sears Altona!

*

And according to this, it was built by L.

And according to this, it was built by L.B. Thatcher sometime before 1916.

*

And theres a Sears Milton in Somerville, too.

And there's a Sears Milton in Somerville, too.

*

Thanks to Marge Sullivan and the

Thanks to Marge Sullivan and the Somerville Historic Advisory Committee, we know where the Sears Milton is in Somerville! Photo is copyright 2010, Marge Sullivan and Somerville Historic Advisory Committee (Somerville, NJ) and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

The Sears Arlington, from the 1919 catalog.

The Sears Arlington, from the 1919 catalog.

*

And heres a real beauty in Somerville, NJ.

And here's a real beauty in Somerville, NJ. This house is such a good match to the catalog page that it makes me swoon! For 90+ years, the asbestos, aluminum and vinyl siding salesmen have been kept at bay! This Arlington retains its original siding, columns and windows. Photo is copyright 2010, Marge Sullivan and Somerville Historic Advisory Committee (Somerville, NJ) and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

The Sears Carlin (also known as the Windsor) was for better class workers. Ive often wondered what Sears offered for the lower class workers.

The Sears Carlin (also known as the Windsor) was for "better class workers." I've often wondered what Sears offered for the "lower class workers."

*

Another beautiful example of a Sears kit home in Somerville, NJ.

Another beautiful example of a Sears kit home in Somerville, NJ. It's so delightful to see these homes in largely original condition. Photo is copyright 2010, Marge Sullivan and Somerville Historic Advisory Committee (Somerville, NJ) and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

And what all-American town doesnt have an Americus?

And what all-American town doesn't have an Americus?

*

Actually, there are many All American Towns that do not have an Americus within their borders, but Somerville is not one of them. This Americus is a stunner, and even has its original railings.

Actually, there are many "All American Towns" that do not have an Americus within their borders, but Somerville is not one of them. This Americus is a stunner, and even has its original railings. Photo is copyright 2010, Marge Sullivan and Somerville Historic Advisory Committee (Somerville, NJ) and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

The Cornell (also known as the Davenport) was a non-descript little foursquare, and it was also quite popular.

The Cornell (also known as the Davenport) was a non-descript little foursquare, and it was also quite popular. Shown here in the 1928 catalog, it endured to the bitter end, and was also featured in the 1940 catalog.

*

houses

This Cornell in Somerville is feeling very festive! Photo is copyright 2010, Marge Sullivan and Somerville Historic Advisory Committee (Somerville, NJ) and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

The Berwyn was another hugely popular house for Sears. Its also easy to find with that double-arched entry and long-tall vent in the front gable.

The Berwyn was another hugely popular house for Sears. It's also easy to find with that double-arched entry and tall vent in the front gable. (1929)

*

Is this little house in Somerville a Berwyn? My first impression is yes, it is. Its missing the long tall vent in the front gable, but replacing that with a double-sash window would be easy to do. The rest of the house is a spot-on match.

Is this little house in Somerville a Berwyn? My first impression is yes, it is. It's missing the long tall vent in the front gable, but replacing that with a double-sash window would be easy to do. The rest of the house is a spot-on match. Photo is copyright 2010, Marge Sullivan and Somerville Historic Advisory Committee (Somerville, NJ) and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

Sears Lewiston, as

Look, it has an "S" on the chimney, and that's how you can tell it is a Sears Home! WRONG. That silly legend has persisted for many years, but it is NOT true. The "S" is just a stylistic element and has nothing to do with identifying a Sears House. (1930 catalog)

*

Is this a Sears Lewiston in Somerville? On this house, it might be good to see a little more info. That metal casement window on the edge

Is this a Sears Lewiston in Somerville? Very possibly, and yet... On this house, it might be good to get a little more info. Is that a metal casement window on the left side? If so, that's a little worrisome. This style of house was hugely popular after WW2, and in my research, the quasi-Lewistons I've found with that metal casement window are always post-WW2. On the other hand, it's also very possible that this window was added in later years. The original wooden casement window that would have been in this spot was notoriously drafty. Photo is copyright 2010, Marge Sullivan and Somerville Historic Advisory Committee (Somerville, NJ) and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

The Martha Washington is one of my favorite Sears Homes. (1921 catalog)

The Martha Washington is one of my favorite Sears Homes. (1921 catalog)

*

Sears

The Martha Washington in Somerville is another beauty in original condition. Notice the darling benches (hopefully under repair in this photo), also appear in the original catalog picture above. Photo is copyright 2010, Marge Sullivan and Somerville Historic Advisory Committee (Somerville, NJ) and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

Sears

Sears Modern Home #138. Pretty rare house.

*

Of all the Sears Homes in Somerville, this is my favorite, Sears Modern Home #138.

Of all the Sears Homes in Somerville, this is my favorite, Sears Modern Home #138. And - as with the other Sears Homes in Somerville - this one is in beautiful condition! Photo is copyright 2010, Marge Sullivan and Somerville Historic Advisory Committee (Somerville, NJ) and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

And my friend Rachel recently discovered a Sears Cedars in Somerville. Itd be great to get a photo of that one, too!

And my friend Rachel recently discovered a Sears Cedars in Somerville. It'd be great to get a photo of that one, too!

*

Do you know where the Sears Altona is in Somerville? If so, please leave a comment below!

To read the next blog, click here.

*

Sears Modern Home #138 in Somerville, NJ

July 7th, 2012 Sears Homes No comments

There are several dozen Sears Homes that I have never seen “in the flesh,” but thanks to the kindness of fellow kit house aficionados, I’m “discovering” more of these rare houses. Hopefully by sharing these photos here, more and more of these rare Sears Kit Homes will be discovered.

Some years ago, the Somerville Historic Advisory Committee discovered that they had a Sears Modern Home #138 in their city. The house had been moved years ago (to prevent its being demolished) and yet even now, it’s still in delightfully original condition and even retains its original cobblestone chimney.

Many thanks to Marge Sullivan and the Somerville Historic Advisory Committee (Somerville, NJ) for sending these photos to me, and granting permission to publish them here.

Somerville has an abundance of kit homes. To see the Sears Milton in Somerville, click here!

SMH 128

Sears Modern Home #138 was offered only in the 1913 catalog, according to "Houses by Mail" (a field guide to Sears Homes published in 1985).

*

Sears

First floor of the Sears Modern Home #138. Nice-size pantry!

*

Sears

Three bedrooms AND a bathroom!

*

Sears

Sears #138 in Somerville, NJ. Photo is copyright 2010, Somerville Historic Advisory Committee (Somerville, NJ) and may not be used or reproduced without written permission. This house was moved from another location (in Somerville) and during the move, the cobblestone columns and cheeks were lost, but the fireplace survived the move!

*

Nice match!

Nice match to the #138 in Somerville!

*

To read about the Sears Milton in Somerville, click here.

To learn more about how to identify Sears Homes, click here.

*   *   *

The Belmont: Practical and Graceful

July 6th, 2012 Sears Homes 2 comments

In February 2010, I was in Mattoon, Illinois doing research for my book, The Sears Homes of Illinois.

My friend (old house lover and local historian) Joyce St Michael spent the day with me as we tooled around Mattoon and Charleston. Joyce drove me to this darling little bungalow and said, “Rebecca Hunter was here a few years ago and she said this is a Sears Belmont.”

Rebecca was right!

And it’s a beautiful house in mostly original condition.

Perhaps even more interesting, this is the only Sears Belmont that I’ve seen.

house

As seen in the 1920 catalog.

*

house 1920

Close-up of the floor plan.

*

house in Mattoon

The Belmont in Mattoon, IL.

*

And there are Bel

And there are Belmonts in these cities, too!

*

house

Close-up of the house.

*

house

Comparison of the catalog pic and actual house.

*

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To learn more about Aunt Addie’s exhumation, click here.

*   *   *

Andy Griffith: 1926 - 2012

July 3rd, 2012 Sears Homes 3 comments

As a child of the 1960s, I grew up watching The Andy Griffith Show on television and loved each and every episode and each and every character.

My mother would tell me that “Aunt Bea” reminded her a lot of her own mother, Florence Appleby, a woman who died nine years before I was born.

In September 2010, my husband and I finally made it to Mount Airy where I visited the “original Mayberry.” It was delightful to see a town built up around the legend of “Andy Taylor.”

It’s not surprising that, in his retirement, Andy Griffith returned to North Carolina. In fact, he settled in Manteo, about 100 miles south of Norfolk. In 2000, Andy Griffith came to Norfolk’s Sentara Hospital to have heart surgery. He came into town via ambulance (from Manteo) and used a pseudonym. It’s said that he was concerned about becoming “uninsurable” (a real problem as an actor), if people found out about his heart troubles.

Apparently, it was not a problem for him.  In 2007, he landed a role in one of my favorite movies, Waitress.”

Throughout the decades, The Andy Griffith Show has remained my favorite television sitcom - period. Nothing else even comes close.

Rest in peace, Andy.

While in Mt. Airy, we visited the Andy Griffith museum. In front of the museum is this delightful statue.

While in Mt. Airy, we visited the Andy Griffith museum. In front of the museum is this delightful solid-bronze statue.

*

Andys boyhood home is in Mt. Airy and is available for rental.

Andy's boyhood home is in Mt. Airy and is available for rental.

*

Sometimes people forget that it is a rental now.

Sometimes people forget that it is a rental now.

*

In downtown Mt. Airy, youll see Andys Galaxy 500 parked outside the cafe.

In downtown Mt. Airy, you'll see Andy's Galaxy 500 parked outside the cafe.

*

Pilot Mountain is not far from Mt. Airy and is incredibly beautiful. On the show, it was called, Mount Pilot.

Pilot Mountain is not far from Mt. Airy and is incredibly beautiful. On the show, it was called, "Mount Pilot."

*

To learn more about Andy Griffith, click here.

To read the next blog, click here.

*   *   *

The Berwyn: Monotony Relieved!

July 2nd, 2012 Sears Homes 1 comment

The Sears Berwyn (named for a city in Northern Illinois) was one of their most popular houses, and it’s a cutie-pie of a house, too!

The double-arched front porch makes it easy to identify.

The Berwyn as seen in the 1929 catalog.

The Berwyn as seen in the 1929 catalog.

*

The text in the 1929 ad promises that monotony is relieved.

The text in the 1929 catalog promises that monotony is relieved in the Berwyn.

*

Small house, but thoughtful floor plan.

Small house, but thoughtful floor plan.

*

By 1938, the Berwyn hadnt changed much.

By 1938, the Berwyn hadn't changed much, but it had a new name.

*

This Berwyn

This long thin vent on the front gable is a distinctive feature on the Berwyn. The cement-based siding was probably added in the 1950s. This snowy house is in Elgin, IL.

*

This Berwyne is in Kirkwood, MO and some not-so-thoughtful vinyl siding installing wreaked havoc with that double-arched opening.

This Berwyne is in Kirkwood, MO and some not-so-thoughtful vinyl siding installing wreaked havoc with that double-arched opening.

*

SJe

Another Berwyn with the cement-based siding (White Sulphur Springs, VA).

*

This house in Rock Falls, Missouri is also

This house in Rock Falls, Missouri is clad in aluminum siding.

*

And this Berwyn is in my neck of the woods, Hampton, Virginia.

And this Berwyn is in my neck of the woods, Hampton, Virginia. The wrought-iron post is not a good idea.

*

The Berwyn was one of a handful of houses that made it into the very last Sears Modern Homes catalog (1940).

The Berwyn was one of a handful of houses that made it into the very last Sears Modern Homes catalog (1940). In this catalog, it was renamed the Mayfield.

*

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To read about Teddy the Wonder Dog, click here.

*   *   *