Home > Uncategorized > And The Winner is… (Part II)

And The Winner is… (Part II)

Earlier this week, I wrote about the “contest” offered by Sears Roebuck, where they invited 100 “up-to-date farmers” to submit their plans for a “modern farm house for the 20th Century.”

Mr. Selck of Evansville, Wisconsin won first prize with his design (Modern Home #189, “The Hillrose”), and second prize was awarded to W. L. Richardson of Cambridge, Iowa for Modern Home #184.

Despite a lot of traveling, I’ve never seen an original Hillrose. However, in 2005, I gave a talk at a $1,000,000 reproduction of the Sears Hillrose in Prophetstown, Indiana.

The house was re-created several years ago by architectural  historians who studied the old pictures and floorplans shown in a Sears mail-order catalog. The Hillrose in Prophetstown is now open to the public, and in addition to the reproduced Sears kit home, there’s also a large working farm on the site.

When there in 2005, I had a thorough tour of the inside and snapped a few photos. As I told the director, I really loved what they’d done with the place. I snapped a few photos (old 35mm slides), which you’ll see below.

In 1916, the Sears Hillrose was offered for less than $2,000. More than 90 years later, the reproduction Hillrose cost more than $1 million.

To read more about The Contest, click here.

Want to join our group on Facebook? Click here.

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The contest was featured in an undated brochure (about 1914).

The contest was featured in an undated brochure (about 1914).

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The first prize design was Modern Home #189, or The Hillrose.

The first prize design was Modern Home #189, or The Hillrose (1914 catalog).

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The cost to build the contemporary Hillrose was $1,000,000.

The cost to build the contemporary Hillrose was $1,000,000.

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Despite my best efforts, I was not able to match the Sears barn. Upon reflection, Im not sure this was a bonafide reproduction kit barn. Memory can be fickle at times, especially when youre relying on a conversation that you had 10 years ago.

Despite my best efforts, I was not able to match the Sears barn to any known Sears kit barn designs. Upon reflection, I'm not sure this was a bonafide reproduction kit barn. Memory can be fickle at times, especially when you're relying on a conversation that you had 10 years ago. That's my little red 2003 Camry to the right of the barn.

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Close-up of the barn.

Close-up of the barn.

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As mentioned in the prior blog, I ended up giving my talk in this barn.

As mentioned in the prior blog, I ended up giving my talk that night inside this barn. Back in the day, I toted around two slide projectors and would show the two slides on two screens, comparing extant houses with vintage catalog images. I was rather relieved when the world went to digital. Organizing all those slides for every talk was a massive undertaking. I finally gave away those slide projectors in 2011 when we moved into a new house.

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The interior of the Hillrose was a thing of beauty.

The interior of the Hillrose was a thing of beauty. It disappears in the shadows, but yes, that's a chamber pot under the bed. The wallpaper was gorgeous, and the rag doll was a nice touch too.

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Is that a Sears light fixture?

Is that a Sears light fixture? Not perfect, but close enough for government work. :)

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For someone whos spent their life trying to figure out how to get back to the 1920s, the kitchen was charming.

For someone who's spent their life trying to figure out how to get back to the 1920s, I'd say the kitchen was utterly enchanting. And who doesn't secretly dream of a turquoise and white cast-iron, wood-fired cookstove?

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Oh

What's not to love?

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And what proper Indiana homestead wouldnt have a Hoosier cabinet?

And what proper Indiana homestead wouldn't have a Hoosier cabinet?

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And properly stocked, too?

And properly stocked, too?

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Do you have an aunt living in one of these towns?

Even though I've never seen an original Hillrose, the 1916 catalog shows that there were Hillroses buit in these cities. Please call your cousin Bertha in Griffith, Indiana and ask her to find the Sears Hillrose there and then ask her to take a photo and send it to the lady in Norfolk. Or maybe your Aunt Beulah in Alvada, Ohio? Or Granny Kittle in Waterman, Illinois? Work with me here. I need a photo of a real life Hillrose. Really I do.

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To read more about The Contest, click here.

Want to join our group on Facebook? Click here.

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  1. ShariD
    January 1st, 2015 at 04:45 | #1

    Rosemary ~ Last summer, when I was still getting around much better than I am these days, my husband and I ventured to Lafayette, Indiana and the Park at Battleground, where the Prophetstown State Park is, specifically to visit this farm museum and the Hillrose.

    After returning, I loaded up all my photos to my computer, and submitted them to the group. I’m pretty sure I put them in an album in the group, so they could all be kept together, and make it easier for folks to find them.

    I will go back to the group pages and see if I can locate it, and link them here if you like.

    I got a ton of interior shots (but didn’t post everything I had due to some duplications and some that weren’t as clear as I’d hoped they would have been.)

    Did you also get to visit the Sears Hampton they had purchased from the original owner’s family in Lafayette? It had been moved intact and as originally built, to the farm to use and their gift shop, and to serve as their representative “tenant farmer’s” home.

    I don’t recall right off when they accomplished that, so I’m not sure if it was there in 2005 or not.

    When we were there, everything was still completely original, including the wallpaper and ceiling paper, and the kitchen sink.

    People had donated a couple of kitchen stoves for the tenant farmer’s home, but there wasn’t a lot of room in that tiny kitchen, so it was a bit crowded. It surely was a wonderful day, and we hated to leave!

  2. ShariD
    January 1st, 2015 at 13:28 | #2

    Rosemary ~ I have been to the group page where all the photos are loaded up, both in albums and individually, and the Files section as well, and I cannot find my pictures anywhere.

    I know I put them in an album, but they seem to have disappeared completely.

    Well, I will dig around on my laptop in a day or so, and see if I can find them on there.

    I’m pretty sure that they are there because I would have had to put them on it in order to share them with the group.

    Happy New Year everyone!

  3. January 2nd, 2015 at 13:20 | #3

    @ShariD
    Shari ~ using the search bar in the group I found the album with no trouble.

    “Hillrose” is what I used. .
    The album is titled July 30, 2013

  4. Jill Grusak
    August 12th, 2017 at 14:31 | #4

    Still looking for the Hillrose in Griffith? Bet I can find it!

  5. August 13th, 2017 at 01:06 | #5

    @Jill Grusak
    No, it was found about a year or so ago. It’s posted in the facebook group. ;)

  6. Jill Grusak
    August 13th, 2017 at 01:09 | #6

    @Jill Grusak
    Never mind I see Carrie found it. I can’t imagine how with the porch missing it looks so different!

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