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Circled Head Dormer: The Happy Lorain

If a mother could have favorites, the Sears Lorain would be on my Top Ten list. I’ve always had a soft spot in my house-shaped heart for Cape Cods, and the Lorain is a classic example of a 1930s Cape Cod.

In 1933, The Lorain was offered with the rounded dormer, but in later years, the design was changed into a gabled dormer. Personally, I prefer the round design (or “circled head” as Sears called it), but I suspect it was a problematic issue for the neophyte home builder, so it was changed.

In 2005, I visited New Jersey where an independent film maker did a one-hour documentary on the restoration of her Lorain (in NJ). It was well done, but I don’t know if she ever sold the film. It was titled, “Restoring Lorain.”

The filming of that one-hour documentary was a blast, and the woman film maker and her sister showed me great kindness and respect during my time with them. Maybe that’s why the Lorain is one of my favorites! :)

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Thanks so much to Rachel Shoemaker for sharing this image from her 1930 Sears General Merchandise catalog! What a wonderful ad, featuring the Lorain!

Thanks so much to Rachel Shoemaker for sharing this image from her 1930 Sears General Merchandise catalog! What a wonderful ad, featuring the Lorain!

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Now thats good writing!

Now that's good writing!

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1933 Lorain

In the 1933 Sears Modern Homes catalog, the Lorain had a "Circled Head Dormer" (as shown above). Check out the arched porch roof with pediment. Down the side there's a bedroom window (full size) and two small windows (bath and kitchen). This is another distinctive feature to help identify the Lorain.

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Hey, whats Dad doing here? Mowing the neighbors yard?

Hey, what's Dad doing here? Mowing the neighbor's yard? Why, that's not even a Sears House in the background! The humanity!!

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1936

In 1936, the Lorain still had its "circled head dormer." And lots of flowers in the flowerboxes.

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By 1938

In 1938, the round dormer was replaced with a gabled dormer. The flowers remain.

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1936

I love reading this stuff (1936 catalog).

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1936

This is a darling little house, and check out the cut-out shutters (1936).

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One fave Petersburg

And it has a star. Hmmmm. How quaint. Nonetheless, this Lorain in Petersburg, WV is in darn good condition. If only I'd remembered to pack my battery-powered chain saw to deal with troublesome landscaping. That bush is right in the way of everything.

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PETERSBUR

Another angle of the Lorain in Petersburg, WV.

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Claremont NH

Not only does this Lorain in Claremont, NH retain its original windows (and storm windows), but it has its original cut-out shutters, too. How exciting is that?

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FP 1936

Nice sized rooms, but a tiny little bathroom.

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1936

No bathroom upstairs? Eek.

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1938

The 1938 Lorain.

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house alton

Here's an example in Alton, IL. That wooden deck railing is a special kind of ugly.

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Elgin

Yikes. This poor dear in Elgin, IL needs a emergency dormer-ectomy performed.

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  1. Angela
    December 27th, 2014 at 13:46 | #1

    What a cute house! I wonder if the film maker has posted the video online someplace where we can all view it. I know I’d love to see it.

  2. Jan
    December 28th, 2014 at 11:00 | #2

    Not only does the dormer need fixin’, but take a look at what they have done to the rounded detailing on the front porch by closing in behind it with siding!!

    Not sure what they gained by doing this to the front porch.

  3. Jacodi Pierce
    January 7th, 2015 at 13:50 | #3

    Do you by chance know where I can order or find a pdf. of the original instruction manual for the Lorain?

  4. Andrew Mutch
    January 7th, 2015 at 20:12 | #4

    @Jacodi Pierce
    I’ve seen the construction manual for Sears kit houses online. But the ones offered were not house-specific.

    Blueprints for a Lorain would have house-specific details but I’ve yet to see a set for the Lorain.

  5. Emily
    February 14th, 2018 at 22:54 | #5

    I just came across this when I found a documentary on youtube and was looking for more info on it. I think this may be what you’re looking for: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVfCT_iNsos

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