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Modern Home #158: Did Anyone Love You Enough to Build You?

There are many models of Sears Homes that I have never seen “in the flesh,” and Sears Modern Home #158 is one of them. It was offered only a short time (about 1910 to 1913), and yet, it was an attractive home with a good floor plan.

I hadn’t though much about this particular model until recently, when Sarah in our “Sears House” Facebook group mentioned that she’d found a reference to #158 in a contemporary book.

“Flesh and Bone” (a novel, written by Jefferson Bass and published in 2007), has several lines on our beloved Sears Modern Home #158.

The excerpt reads,

You know one of my favorite things about this house? Guess who created it.”

“Let’s see,” I said. “Surely I can dredge up the name from my encyclopedic knowledge of Chattanooga architects of the early 1900s…”

“Wasn’t a Chattanooga architect,” she grinned.

“Sears.”

“Sears? Who Sears? From where - New York?”

“Not ‘Who Sears’: ‘Sears Who.’ Sears Roebuck, the department store,” she said, pointing to a wall.

There, she’d hung a framed page from the century-old Sears catalog, showing an ad for the house I was standing in. It bore the catchy name “Modern Home #158,” and a price tag of $1,548.

“Houses by mail order,” said Jess. “The house came into town on a freight car, in pieces. Probably four grand, all told, for the kit plus the caboodle.”

“I’m guessing it appreciated some since then.”

“Well, I appreciate it some,” she said.

I’d love to know why author Jefferson Bass picked #158. Does he know of one somewhere? Or did he pick it out of a book at random?

Is there a #158 in Chattanooga, TN (as is described in the story)?

I’d love to know!

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158 1910

In the 1910 Sears Modern Homes catalog (shown here), Model #158 was priced at $1,533. In Mr. Bass' novel "Flesh and Bone," it's given a price of $1,548.

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He got the rice right.

In "Houses by Mail" (a 1985 field guide to Sears Homes - published by the National Trust for Historic Preservation), Sears Modern Home #158 is listed with a low price of $1,548. Seems likely that *this* was the source of Mr. Bass' info. The "four grand" is given as a total price, which is pretty close, and reflects the info shown here.

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Beautiful house, too

Modern Home #158 was a classic foursquare with some a sprinkling of Prairie-style thrown in.

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With servants quarters

Yes, a kit house with servant's quarters.

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FP1

This 2,200-square foot house was unusually spacious for a kit house. And check out the first-floor powder room! Another unusual feature for this era.

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FP2

Two sets of staircases, and lots of space on the second floor.

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And

Modern Home #158 was also shown on the cover of the 1910 Sears Modern Homes catalog (far right).

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  1. Sarah M
    June 16th, 2014 at 21:35 | #1

    Here is the section that describes the outside of the house. Page 128 in the William Morrow hardcover edition:

    “Highland Park proved to be a charming neighborhood, one that I guessed dated back to the late 1800s. The houses ranged from gingerbread-clad Victorians to simple shotgun cottages.

    “Jess’s house was a simple but elegant olf two-story, a design I seemed to remember being called a foursquare — four rooms up, four down, with a chimney flanking each side and a deep porch stretching the width of the front.

    “The exterior of the ground floor was clad in lapped wood siding, painted the green of baby leaves; the second floor was sheathed in cedar shakes, barn red.

    “A second-floor balcony nestled beneath the roof, tucked into an alcove between two front bedrooms. [ . . .]

    “A stone staircase led up to the front porch.

    “The porch was surrounded by a waist-high balustrade whose wide rail was completely covered with ferns and spider plants and red geraniums.

    “The simple lines of the house contrasted with the elaborate front door, which featured leaded glass in the door itself, in a pair of sidelights that flanked it, and in a wide transom above. The dozens of panes, beveled at the edges, diffracted the golden light from inside the house, giving each partial image a rainbow-like aura.”

    It’s a good book so far, but I was TOTALLY excited to read this passage. :)

  2. Gemma
    June 26th, 2014 at 18:52 | #2

    Google Earth shows a Foursquare of a similar description on South Willow. There is another Foursquare in the 1300 block of South 13th.

  3. Jim H
    March 23rd, 2016 at 18:13 | #3

    Here’s a #158 in West Virginia:
    http://www.oldhousedreams.com/2016/03/22/1913-orma-wv/

  4. March 24th, 2016 at 09:41 | #4

    @Jim H
    Jim, you’re my new hero!

    What a house!

    Thanks so much for finding it and identifying it! WOW!

  5. jim pfeifer
    April 14th, 2016 at 13:17 | #5

    If I sent someone a photo of a house, can they help me determine if it is a Sears Roebuck house?

    It is the childhood home of Supreme Commander of NATO, General Wesley Clark.

    I was writing about his childhood, have run across a statement that his childhood home was a SR but I cant really get inside the rental to explore whether joists are numbered etc.

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