Home > Uncategorized > Do You Have 60 Seconds to Save a Sears House? (Part IV)

Do You Have 60 Seconds to Save a Sears House? (Part IV)

I’m saddened to report that the demolition of the Pop Culture House at Bowling Green State University is apparently going forward.

Yesterday (August 6th) contractors were seen at the site, removing a few windows and some artifacts in preparation of the building’s demolition.

This, despite a truly valiant effort on the part of BGSU staff and faculty and friends to save this house.

This, despite the presentation of a petition with more than 2,100 signatures to BGSU president Mary Ellen Mazey.

The “powers that be” at BGSU apparently prefer that students learn about their history via pricey textbooks and pretty pictures, rather than “hands on.” Given a chance to preserve a piece of true Americana, the college has opted to destroy this “one-of-a-kind” kit house and send hundreds of thousands of pounds of debris to the landfill. (To read about what makes the Pop Culture house truly unique, click here.)

In “The Slate Roof Bible,” author Joseph Jenkins reports that 28% of the volume of debris at landfills is construction and demolition debris.

I’m of the opinion that BGSU should immediately suspend any and all classes related to environmental sciences. They’ve just sent a message - to their community and their students and their staff - declaring boldly that recycling is a dandy plan, but only when it’s really convenient and super easy.

How many pounds of recycled materials does BGSU collect each year and turn over to a recycling center? How many years of recycling bottles and cans will it take to offset the 300,000+ pounds of house they’re sending to the landfills today?

If a person paid attention to behaviors (which are better indices than fancy words), the take-away message from BGSU is, “Recycling is a dandy plan, but only when it’s really convenient and super easy.”

To say that I’m sickened and disgusted by this whole affair would be a gross understatement.

Given the tremendous urgency with which this building has been rushed to demolition, you’d think that the Pop Culture House harbored smallpox, diphtheria, spanish flu, anthrax, polio and the bubonic plague.

It does not.

The biggest sin committed by the Pop Culture House is that it stood in the way of a proposed college expansion. The house had the misfortune of being built on a piece of land that would one day be owned by a college that lacks vision, and also lacks respect for this uniquely American piece of cultural and architectural history.

At the very least, the house should have been moved to another site.

Preliminary estimates placed the cost of moving the house at about $18,000. The cost to demolish the structure is probably not far from the cost to move it.

At the very, very least, the lumber in the house should be salvaged. The quality of building materials (lumber) used in this 1931-built home are the likes of which we will never again see in this country. To read more about that, click here.

Yesterday (August 6th) contractors were seen at the site, removing a few windows and some artifacts in preparation of the building’s demolition.

It’s a sad day for BGSU.

Very sad indeed.

To read more about this house that will soon be nothing but an empty lot, click on the links below.

Part I.

Part II.

Part III.

How to Move a House.

To read an excellent blog that talks more about the ecological importance of preserving this house, click here.

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The Pop Culture House (photographed August 2, 2012).

The Pop Culture House (photographed August 2, 2012). This house was ordered from Montgomery Ward, but was based on a kit home design offered only by Sears Roebuck. The Sears House was the Lewiston.

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The Sears Lewiston, as seen in the 1929 Sears catalog.

The Sears Lewiston, as seen in the 1929 Sears catalog.

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As of yesterday, workers had begun removing the windows in preparation for demolition. Why the rush? Who knows.

As of yesterday, workers had begun removing the windows in preparation for demolition. Why the rush? Who knows. What I do know is it is very sad and a great loss for the community. Photo is copyright 2012 Raymond I. Schuck and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Another

The picture of the home's side shows the windows being removed. Photo is copyright 2012 Raymond I. Schuck and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Soon all these building materials will be a massive pile of rubble at a landfill somewhere in Ohio. Sickening.

Soon all these building materials will be a massive pile of rubble at a landfill somewhere in Ohio. Sickening. Photo is copyright 2012 Raymond I. Schuck and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Those asbestos flakes must be pretty smart if they know that they have to stay behind the red tape.

That asbestos must be one smart mineral if it knows that it has to stay behind the red tape. Photo is copyright 2012 Raymond I. Schuck and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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A picture of the house in happier days. The house was ordered from Montgomery Wards in late 1931. The photo above is early 1932, soon after the home was completed. It was shipped by train and arrived in a boxcar with 12,000 pieces of house. Virgil Taylor was the homes buyer, builder and first owner.

A picture of the house in happier days. The house was ordered from Montgomery Wards in late 1931. The photo above is early 1932, soon after the home was completed. It was shipped by train and arrived in a boxcar with 12,000 pieces of house. Virgil Taylor was the home's buyer, builder and first owner.

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A page from the 1931 Montgomery Ward catalog.

A page from the 1931 Montgomery Ward catalog.

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Virgils Wardway home had the Rexford door hardware.

Virgil's Wardway home had the Rexford door hardware. Photo is copyright 2012 Raymond I. Schuck and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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The front door on his neo-tudor was also a classic Wardway design.

The front door on his neo-tudor was also a classic Wardway design.

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A view of Virgils very own front door - from Wards.

A view of Virgil's very own front door - from Wards. Photo is copyright 2012 Raymond I. Schuck and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Lumber from inside the house shows it was indeed from Montgomery Ward.

Lumber from inside the house shows it was indeed from Montgomery Ward. This reads, "From Montgomery Ward & Co., Davenport, IA." Orders for Montgomery Ward's homes were fulfilled by Gordon Van Tine in Davenport, Iowa. Photo is copyright 2012 Raymond I. Schuck and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.

Moving a house is better than demolition. This Sears Lynnhaven was moved in the 1980s and is still standing in its new location, home to a very happy family.  (Muncie, IN)

Moving a house is better than demolition. This Sears Lynnhaven was moved in the 1980s and is still standing in its new location, home to a very happy family. (Muncie, IN)

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To read about the other kit homes in Bowling Green, Ohio (safely out of the reach of BGSU), click here.

To contact BGSU president Mary Ellen Mazey, send her an email:  mmazey@bgsu.edu

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  1. Karyn Cleavely
    August 7th, 2012 at 10:38 | #1

    This really upsets me. I don’t understand what these people are thinking, if they are thinking at all.

    Just sent this note to Ms. Mazey via email:

    Dear Ms. Mazey,

    I am just writing to tell you how disappointed I am that BGSU is demolishing the Pop Culture house on your campus. This is a truly unique house, and you are sending it to a landfill.

    I grew up in a Sears Kit house, a Westly, in Wadsworth, Ohio. So I’m an Ohio girl myself, and am ashamed that a fellow Ohioan could be so cavalier with our history.

    I told my husband just yesterday that if we won the lottery, I would buy back my old house and restore it to its original glory. Now here you are, with the money - no lottery win needed - and you still choose to throw away this piece of American history.

    My Westly was a very common one from Sears, yet I would still keep it if I could. Your Lewiston. a Sears design from Wardway, is so rare! Instead of spending all that money to demolish it, and then filling up space in a landfill, you could have chosen to move it and let someone have a chance to restore this beautiful house.

    I guess we’re teaching our next generation that recycling and preservation is only viable if it’s cheap and easy. Very saddened by and disappointed in BGSU, and my heart breaks for this house that still has so many stories to tell if it were allowed.

    Sincerely,
    Karyn Cleavely

  2. Rachel Shoemaker
    August 7th, 2012 at 10:59 | #2

    This is obviously a power issue with this president.

    She could have easily halted the demolition until other arrangements could be made or all options explored.

    She has been given all of the information that supports the historical and architectural value of this house yet she ignores all of it. The students and taxpayers have clearly spoken yet she chooses to ignore them.

    I guess she has forgotten who pays her salary?

    I wonder what other things she has planned and is scheming to force upon the students? I can show you a Sears house that is in far worse shape than this in Tulsa that is being saved.

    This woman is not resourceful at all. She is controlling. She has no respect for history. If I were a student there I would start a petition for her immediate dismissal.

  3. Jan
    August 7th, 2012 at 12:22 | #3

    Did they even try to sell this house in any attempt to allow someone to come forward and move it?

    This is so sad. Since they are determined to raze this house, I do hope that they will salvage every door, knob, fixture, etc. that they can and allow those pieces to live on.

    I would love to have one of the doorknobs with a plate just knowing where it came from.

  4. Tina Coupe
    August 7th, 2012 at 14:07 | #4

    I am saddened and disappointed they chose to demolish this historical landmark. :-(

  5. Steve
    August 8th, 2012 at 08:26 | #5

    I have what I believe is a Rosita model home based on exact same floor plan layout, exterior profile, and anecdotal testimony from the previous owners.

    It is in quite poor shape and I am planning to demolish it very soon.

    Is there any demand for either the house entire or parts thereof? I would like to give this house to somebody simply in exchange for it’s removal.

    Thanks.

  6. Debbie
    August 8th, 2012 at 10:30 | #6

    I never saw this story on the national news. Too bad. Perhaps that would have made a difference. I wonder if the alumni of the school learned of this?

    All very shameful.

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