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Archive for May, 2013

They Were So Sure It Was a Sears Home! (in Staunton)

May 4th, 2013 Sears Homes 3 comments

When Frank Strassler (Historic Staunton Foundation) was driving me around Staunton on May 1st and 2nd, he pointed out this little bungalow with the blue shutters not once but twice, mentioning that the homeowners had been told - several times - that their home was a Sears kit home.

After looking at it for a moment, I concluded that it was not a Sears Home, but I took a few photos anyway, hoping I could match it up after I got home (where I have more than 2,000 catalog images from other kit home companies).

Thursday night, after the lecture, the homeowners talked with me for a moment and showed me more photos of this very same house, repeating what Frank had said. They’d been told by several people, their home was definitely a Sears House.

I told them that I’d taken several photos and would try to identify the house for them when I got home.

And then tonight (Saturday, May 4th), I was searching through my catalogs for another kit home when I saw an image that rang a bell! It was the little bungalow with blue shutters from Staunton.

So it was a kit house, but it was not a kit house from Sears!

How often does this happen?

Well, about 80% of the time, people who think they have a Sears Home are wrong, but the majority of the time, it turns out that they do have a kit home, but it’s not from Sears.

In the early 1900s, there were six companies selling kit homes through mail order catalogs. Sears was just one of them. Gordon Van Tine was another. The little blue bungalow in Staunton came from Gordon Van Tine.

To read more about the kit homes in Staunton, click here or here.

To contact Rose, please leave a comment below.

A little PS:  The night of my talk (May 2nd), I told the Sears and Roebuck Tombstone Story (a perennial favorite) and someone mentioned that there are a couple Sears and Roebuck tombstones in Thornrose Cemetery in Staunton. I’ve spent many years hunting down a S&R tombstone!  If you know where these tombstones are, please leave a comment below.

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Apparently, it was widely believed that this was a kit home from Sears, but in fact, it was from Gordon Van Tine (another kit home company).

Apparently, it was widely believed that this was a kit home from Sears, but in fact, it was from Gordon Van Tine (another kit home company).

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In fact, its Gordon Van Tine Model 587 (as seen in the 1918 catalog).

In fact, it's Gordon Van Tine Model 587 (as seen in the 1918 catalog).

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Descript

"Notice also the odd touches in the design which make it distinctively different."

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The addition on the side of the house (shown in the first photo above) apparently was put right off the side porch. That bathroom is mighty small.

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Close up of the house shows what a fine match it is!

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This picture was taken before that Nandina got so tall and hid the side windows! Photo is from the Staunton Auditor's office, and I am really, really hoping that the fine folks in the Staunton's Auditor's office don't mind my using this photo.

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A side-by-side comparison of the little house in Staunton and the catalog image.

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And you'll notice that the front door is original, too! Beautiful landscaping, too!

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Check out the details around the front porch.

Check out the details around the front porch.

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This close-up shows the detail of the lattice work around the columns. It's amazing that this lattice work is still intact. The pergola is gone, replaced with a solid roof, but this is a common modification.

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What a pretty house! And now we know - it did *not* come from Sears, but from a mail-order company in Davenport, Iowa: Gordon Van Tine!

What a pretty house! And now we know - it did *not* come from Sears, but from a mail-order company in Davenport, Iowa: Gordon Van Tine!

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To learn more about Go

I sure do hope the owners come back and check my blog!

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To learn more about Gordon Van Tine, please visit Dale’s website here.

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

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Staunton, Virginia: More Amazing Finds

May 3rd, 2013 Sears Homes 2 comments

A couple days ago (May 1st),  I returned to Staunton to do a little more research on the kit homes in the city (in preparation for my talk on May 2nd), and this time, I was driven around by Frank Strassler, head of the Historic Staunton Foundation. It’s a lot easier to focus on kit homes when someone else is doing all the driving, and especially when that someone else knows where they’re going!

We found many kit homes that I’d not seen during a prior visit, and the most intriguing find was the four Harris Brothers kit homes we discovered. Frankly, I suspect there are more than four HB houses in Staunton, but I’m not that familiar with this company and, I have very few of their catalogs.

Harris Brothers (formerly the Chicago House Wrecking Company) was based in Chicago, Illinois. How did four Harris Brothers houses end up in Staunton? And three of them were in the same neighborhood (Sears Hill).

Hopefully, some of Staunton’s history loving residents will poke around a bit more, because I’m sure there are many more hidden architectural treasures just waiting to be found.

And, a little aside:   My favorite memory of the lecture on Thursday evening? I asked the crowd (128 attendees!), “Before there was a World War Two, does anyone know what we called World War One?”

To my utter delight and astonishment, a cacophony of voices replied, “The Great War.”

It was sheer bliss to realize that I was surrounded by so many history lovers. In all my travels, there’s typically a lone voice (or less), that correctly answers that question. The people of Staunton really do love their history, and better yet, they know their history, and that’s such a joy to behold.

To read the first blog I wrote about Staunton’s kit homes, click here.

OOOH, an update! Read about my newest find in Staunton here!

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First, my favorite find in Staunton.

First, my favorite find in Staunton. Shown above is Modern Home #2028 from the 1923 Harris Brothers catalog (courtesy of Dale Wolicki).

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Now thats a big house!

It looks like a massive house, but in fact, it's 22 feet wide and 29 feet deep.

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Originally, I snapped this photo just because it seemed like a good idea. Sometimes, something will trigger a memory, and I didnt consciously remember having seen this house, and yet...

Originally, I snapped this photo just because it seemed like a good idea. Sometimes, something will trigger a memory, and I didn't consciously remember having seen this house, and yet, when I got back to my hotel and started going through the old catalogs, I realized it was a perfect match to the Harris Brothers #2028!

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And, as a nice bonus, I even managed to snap my one photo from the perfect angle! Though not easily seen in the photo above, the house in Staunton has the two bay windows, just as it should!

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The other three Harris Brothers homes were in one neighborhood: Sears Hill. Shown above is Modern Home #1017 from the 1923 Harris Brothers catalog (courtesy of Dale Wolicki).

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The HB 1017, as seen in 1923.

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And here's the 1017 in Staunton! Look at the unique window arrangement on the home's front. And check out those unique columns, and the bracketing under the eaves. It was tough to get a good photo, but the little attic window is also a spot-on match to the catalog page. The house is 24 feet' wide and 36 feet deep. The dimensions of this house (shown above) seem to be a good match! The line drawings (from the original catalogs) are sometimes a little bit off in scale and proportion.

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If you look down the side, youll see its a good match there, too.

If you look down the side, you'll see it's a good match there, too. BTW, Staunton is very hilly, and I learned that it's tough to get good house photos in hilly neighborhoods! And, the angle skews the proportions. Short of carrying a 20-foot stepladder around on top of the Camry, I'm not sure how to solve this.

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HB # 1025 was another "favorite" find for me, and yet another kit home that I'd never seen before. From the 1923 Harris Brothers catalog (courtesy of Dale Wolicki).

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HB # 1025 was another favorite find for me, and yet another kit home that Id never seen before.

HBClose-up of HB #1025. From the 1923 Harris Brothers catalog (courtesy of Dale Wolicki).

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At the lower right of that catalog page (seen above), is an actual photo of a HB #1025. This photo shows off those beautiful six casement windows on the front.

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Be still my heart!!! Heres a real life example

What a fine house! Here's a real life example of HB #1025. And look at those pretty casement windows! Were it not for those original windows, I'm not sure I would have recognized this 90-year-old kit home.

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Another view of those wonderful old casements. By the way, apparently this house is for sale. Someone should contact the owner and let them know - this is a kit house!

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Close-up of the porch columns.

Close-up of the porch columns. And this house still has its original gutters.

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HB #1007 was one of their more popular designs, however... It's also a house that has several "twins." Given that Staunton's #1007 is within three houses of the other two HB homes, I'm going to assume that the model in Staunton is indeed from Harris Brothers.

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Nice house, isnt it?

Nice house, isn't it? Love the rocking chairs!

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Stauntons own HB #1017.

Staunton's own HB #1017.

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While we were out driving around, I also spotted a Sears Woodland. The Woodland is an eye-catcher because it has those two full-sized windows flanking the front door.

While we were out driving around, I also spotted a Sears Woodland. The Woodland is an eye-catcher because it has those two full-sized windows flanking the front door. And it has an unusual window arrangement down the right side (as shown here). This image is from the 1919 catalog.

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The small attic dormer is missing but other than that, this is a great match. Due to landscaping, I was not able to get a good photo of that right side, but it does match the catalog image.

The small attic dormer is missing but other than that, this is a great match. Due to landscaping, I was not able to get a good photo of that right side, but it does match the catalog image. Was the house built sans dormer, or was it removed during a roofing job? Hard to know, but I'd guess that it was built this way. And, this house is next door to the big Harris Brothers foursquare (#2028).

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Another fun discovery on this most recent trip was the Sears Winona in Staunton.

Another fun discovery on this most recent trip was the Sears Winona in Staunton (1938 catalog).

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This house was offered in two floorplans (in 1938). The floorplan shown here is a match to the house in Staunton.

This house was offered in two floorplans (in 1938). The floorplan shown here is a match to the house in Staunton. It squeezes three bedrooms into 960 square feet.

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Close-up on the Winona.

A key feature in identifying this very simple house is the small space between those two windows in the gabled bay (dining room).

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What a nice match!

What a nice match!

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And the other side is a good match, too!

And the other side is a good match, too!

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Despite two days of driving around, we never did spot the Stanhope (Aladdin) purchased by Mr.

Despite two days of driving around, we never did spot the Stanhope (Aladdin) purchased by Mr. Linkenholer.

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As seen in the 1919 catalog, heres a picture of the Aladdin Stanhope.

As seen in the 1919 catalog, here's a picture of the Aladdin Stanhope. Where's Mr. Linkholer's Stanhope? I'd love to know!

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

To read more about the kit homes of Staunton, click here.

To contact Rose, please leave a comment below!

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