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One of the Most Incredible Blogs I’ve Ever Done…

Thanks to Rachel Shoemaker, I have a fun update to this blog!  Click here to see it!

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Years ago, Rebecca Hunter told me that there had been a Magnolia in Lincoln, Nebraska (one of only eight known Sears Magnolias in the country) that had been destroyed by fire in 1985 or 1986.

And for years, all we’d ever seen was a grainy picture (a copy of a copy of a copy), but today, thanks to the foresight and wisdom of the architectural historians at the Nebraska State Historical Society, I got my first look at an amazing kit house that has been gone for almost 30 years.

The house was extensively photographed a few months before it was razed. And  there just aren’t words to express how delighted and grateful I am to see this almost-forgotten Sears house, from all angles (as shown below) and also from the inside.

If you’re a regular visitor to this site, you probably know all about the Sears Magnolia. If not, you can learn about it by clicking here, here and here.  My favorite blog on the Magnolia is this one, which tells the story of a 92-year-old builder who remembers helping build a Magnolia.

Thanks so much to the wonderful folks at the Nebraska State Historical Society for having the presence of mind to document this wonderful old house before it was razed, and so generously sharing these wonderful photos with me, three decades later.

Looking at these photos took my breath away. It’s so tragic that the house is gone, but at least we can get a good look at our “Maggy,” and remember, this was a house that someone carefully selected from the pages of a Sears Roebuck catalog and then painstakingly erected, more than nine decades ago.

Enjoy the plethora of photos.

All photos below are courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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The Sears Magnolia was featured on the cover of the 1918 catalog.

The Sears Magnolia was featured on the cover of the 1918 catalog.

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The Magnolia  was the crème de la crème of  all kit homes.

The Magnolia was the crème de la crème of all kit homes (1920).

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And thanks to the foresight of theh

And thanks to the foresight of the Nebraska State Historical Society, we have some wonderful photos of the Sears Magnolia that was located at 5901 NW 20th Street in Lincoln, Nebraska. Photo is courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Class

The classic entry of the Magnolia, as seen in 1985. The two-story Corinthian columns were made of poplar and judging from the photo above, they were in pretty rough shape here. It was said that all of the Sears kit homes could be made to fit intto a single boxcar with one exception: The Magnolia. It required two boxcars for shipping. Photo is courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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An imposing view of an imposing house.

An imposing view of an imposing house. Look at the eaves and brackets, as well as the balustrades on the 2nd floor porch and porch roof. In 1985, when these photos were taken, the house was only 60 years old. Photo is courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Another

Didn't I tell you these were wonderful photos? Everything about this house was original, down to the exterior wooden storm door on the 2nd floor porch. Notice the leaded glass fan lite over the front door. Photo is courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Side view

From this side view, you can see a bit of that unique dormer in the attic. Photo is courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Straight on

A view of our Maggy from straight on. Photo is courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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house

The trees obstruct the frontal view, but you can still see those unique front windows. Photo is courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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house house

The sun porch is missing its railings. Still, it's a great view of the side of the house. Photo is courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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hoouse house house

Another great photograph showing the porte cochere. Photo is courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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house house h

There was a balcony on the rear of this Magnolia, probably off the staircase landing. Photo is courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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house house

The upstairs rear corner (shown above) had a spacious "sleeping porch." Photo is courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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house house

The Magnolia was on a massive lot, and was apparently on the edge of Lincoln. Photo is courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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house house house

Close-up of the side. Note the original screen doors off the porte cochere. Photo is courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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houses o

Even in this sad state, its grandeur still shone through. Photo is courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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house house

The home's cypress exterior put up a good fight. I wonder if the house was ever re-painted after it was built (1918-1922). Photo is courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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fireplace

And my favorite part: Thee interior photos. Judging from these pictures, it appears that all the oak trim retained its natural finish and had not been covered in latex paint (a fate suffered by most older homes). Photo is courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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house house

As I pointed out to a friend, these photos are great, but also a little bittersweet. This house was magnificent inside, and now it's gone. Nonetheless, I'm so grateful to have these pictures. Photo is courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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living

Another view of the living room. Photo is courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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house

And a great photo of the Magnolia's entry hall. The living room was to the right and the dining room was to the left. Photo is courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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house house

Close-up of the staircase. Photo is courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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house

See those double-doors at the top of the stairs? They lead to that small balcony at the back of the house. Photo is courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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kitchen

How awesome is this? The kitchen, probably looking much like it did when built in the early 1920s. Photo is courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Den

Judging by the presence of this fireplace, this is probably the den of the Magnolia. The fireplace has a coal-burning grate. Photo is courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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fireplace

And the top of the stairs, showing that small balcony. Photo is courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Please share this link with your old-house loving friends, and perhaps we can find the 9th Magnolia (and maybe the 10th, 11th and so on!).

To learn more about the Sears Magnolia, click here.

Thanks again to the Nebraska State Historical Society for having the presence of mind to document this wonderful old house before it was razed, and so generously sharing these wonderful photos with me, three decades later.

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  1. Robin Untz
    July 9th, 2013 at 22:10 | #1

    Bittersweet find. Thank goodness the Nebraska State Historical Society took pictures and shared them with us, so sad to know that this Maggie is no longer standing. The pictures are beautiful even if she wasn’t in her prime.

  2. Jeannie Kottra
    July 9th, 2013 at 23:03 | #2

    What a treat to be able to view these photos! Such a beautiful home.

  3. July 10th, 2013 at 02:32 | #3

    Rosemary, that room with the fireplace and columns and ‘funky’ windows is the exterior side of living room.

    Those windows should be like that per the interior picture from the 1918 catalog as well as a set of French doors that open to the sun parlor.

    The dining room windows and exterior French doors to the porte cochere are like that too on the interior.

    I think it is so the window heights will be the same as the front windows with the small lites since there is a set in both the living room and dining room.

    It is so cool to see the interior like this, almost the exact as the interior from the 1918 catalog!

    I bet the recent Magnolia folks in West Virginia would like to see that special interior layout that was in the 1918 catalog.

  4. July 10th, 2013 at 06:25 | #4

    @Rachel Shoemaker
    Rachel, you are 100% right. That’s exactly what’s going on with that living room. I changed the caption after getting your comment.

    And now that you’ve sent me those interior photos, that makes a lot more sense.

    The historical society did such a good job photographing this house, and it seems like they used those “interior shots” from the 1918 catalog to frame their contemporary photos.

    That’ll be tomorrow’s blog!

    Thanks so much for sending me those catalog images!! It helped me “orient” myself inside the Magnolia!

  5. Angela
    July 10th, 2013 at 07:57 | #5

    I’m speechless. What a beautiful house.

    You said so much with the phrase “Even in its sad state, it’s grandeur still shows through”. I see countless older houses that fall into disrepair because everyone wants to move into new cookie cutter Mcmansions with no character.

    I am so happy to get a glimpse inside a Maggy. The kitchen was so charming. Thanks for this great post, Rose.

  6. Kim Krangnes
    July 10th, 2013 at 13:41 | #6

    Hi Rose!

    My husband and I are considering a purchase of a home that is reported (by the listing agent) to be a Sears home.

    After scouring your blog and the internet at large, I’m unable to find a match. Is there any way that I can send you a link to the home’s photo, in hopes of having it identified with a model name?

    It was built in 1929, in Anderson, IN.

    Thanks!
    Kim

  7. July 10th, 2013 at 15:01 | #7

    @Kim Krangnes
    Kim,

    I tired to send you an email but it bounced. Please send the photos to me at Rosemary.ringer@gmail.com.

  8. Maria
    July 11th, 2013 at 11:09 | #8

    It was eerie looking at these pictures since I live in a Magnolia. It looks like someone walked in and took pictures of my house!

  9. August 26th, 2013 at 11:36 | #9

    @Maria
    Maria,

    I’d love to see some photos of your Magnolia!

    Rose

  10. August 26th, 2013 at 13:07 | #10

    @Sears Homes

    Me TOOOO!

  11. Amanda Mason
    March 1st, 2015 at 21:52 | #11

    Hi Rose! I absolutely love your website. Thanks so much for the research and interesting insight.

    I own a 1920s bungalow, but sadly is not a kit home. I live in Lincoln, Ne and was so disappointed to read of the demolished Magnolia.

    Lincoln seems to be doing a better job restoring its history recently, thank goodness. Keep up the amazing work!

    Amanda Mason

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