Home > Uncategorized > Pottstown - Where Have You Been All My Life?

Pottstown - Where Have You Been All My Life?

Becky Gotschall initally contacted me through Facebook, and said that she’d found “a few kit homes” in her neck of the woods.

Inspired by her enthusiasm, I started “driving the streets” of Pottstown, Pennsylvania (via Google Maps™) and discovered this masculine-looking foursquare.

The house tickled a memory but I couldn’t quite remember where I’d seen it before. Next, I sent an email to Rachel and asked her to take a “quick peek” through her 23,939 catalogs and see if she could find this foursquare.

And amazingly, she did.

Rachel found it in her 1917 Sterling Homes catalog, and even emailed me the original scan.

As with the last blog, this house was also “discovered” through a collaborative effort involving myself, Rachel and Becky, who not only got this whole thing started, but went out and got some beautiful pictures of the grand old house.

Thanks so much to Rachel and Becky for discovering a Sterling “Imperial” which is one house I’ve never seen before!

To read about our other discoveries in Pottstown, click here.

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

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Sterling Something

The Sterling "Imperial" was one fine-looking foursquare (1917).

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1917

The pantry has a little access door for the ice box (1917). This was known as "the jealous husband's door," because it obviated the need for that dapper ice man to enter the home, and provided access through a small door on the porch. The Imperial was a traditional foursquare, with four rooms within its squarish shape. There's also a spacious polygon bay in the living room.

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house 12

Check out the "Maid's Room" on the second floor. As with the Vernon, it's directly over the kitchen, because that's the worst room on the second floor.

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House House

Close-up of that "interior view" shown above.

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My, but that's a handsome home. That three-window dormer must be pretty massive inside that attic. What makes it striking is that horizontal wood belt course just above the first floor, with clapboards below and shakes above.

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housei

Looks like it walked off the pages of the Sterling catalog! The columns and railing are original and in good condition. Photo is copyright 2015 Becky Gotschall and may not be used or reproduced with written permission.

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House house

Looks majestic from all angles! Photo is copyright 2015 Becky Gotschall and may not be used or reproduced with written permission.

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HOUSE HOUSE

From this angle, you can see that cute little house in the back. Photo is copyright 2015 Becky Gotschall and may not be used or reproduced with written permission.

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Hey wait a second. Did that cute little tree come with the kit?

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housie

The same tree shows up in the current image! Photo is copyright 2015 Becky Gotschall and may not be used or reproduced with written permission.

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If you’d like to visit another very fun kit home website, click here.

Want to read more about “The Jealous Husband’s Icebox Door”?

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  1. Becky Gottschall
    September 2nd, 2015 at 15:19 | #1

    What a great house! I loved the little shed in the back.

    They have electric candles in the window that make it look so cozy.

  2. Elvis newton
    September 2nd, 2015 at 16:24 | #2

    How does one get to the attic room? No evidence of any stairs going up from the 2nd floor.

    Or, is that just some elevated area in each of the front bedrooms ?

  3. September 3rd, 2015 at 06:27 | #3

    That’s a really good question, Elvis, and I don’t know the answer! You’re right - there is no evidence of access from the second floor to the third.

    Might just be a scuttle inside a closet.

    That doesn’t seem too convenient!

  4. Al
    February 14th, 2016 at 21:05 | #4

    I discovered the Sterling Imperial early last year when looking for foursquare floor plans.

    When I could not manifest anything beyond that one black and white 1916-17 photo, I stopped looking for it.

    It’s very interesting to see an actual one especially since Sterling claimed this to be their most popular house plan at the time and until now no real world examples were photographed.

    Also great to see one so well preserved despite the stucco siding. I would like to replicate this house for myself.

    There are several homes here in Maine that appear to be kit homes but I haven’t seen any sterling imperials.

    I appreciate this post.

  5. Candace Taylor
    February 23rd, 2017 at 14:52 | #5

    We recently found the blueprints for our 1920 “Kit” home showing it as “The Imperial” “B” from Timberland Lumber Company, Bay City Michigan.

    The blueprint has no mention of “Sterling” or “Sears” although we were told by previous generations (who lived here) that it was a Sears kit home, which I am now doubting.

    The blueprints are exactly as above except there was a (1)vestibule at the door entry and (2) the closet in the front left bedroom has a larger closet extending along the back wall with the entry door from the hall on the right side. The stairs to the attic are directly above the other staircase from the front left bedroom.

    The blueprint shows double glass french doors between the LR and DR and a “sleeping porch” on the back of the far left BR. Our home is in the historic district of Ellicott City, MD.

  6. March 1st, 2017 at 20:50 | #6

    Candice, you do in fact have a Sterling Homes Imperial, one of their most popular models offered 1915 to 1930.

    If you look up in the attic you may actually find the “Sterling Homes” mark stamped on exposed rafters. The Timberland Lumber Company was one of many companies, including Sterling Homes, belonging to International Mill and Timber of Bay City Michigan.

    International Mill and Timber started as a contractor for Aladdin Homes in 1913 but entered the pre-cut housing industry in 1915 with Sterling Homes.

    In its efforts to catch up with the larger pre-cut housing companies such as Aladdin and Sears, Sterling Homes took on a lot of debt.

    Creative bookkeeping kept the company afloat and the creditors away.

    One of the tricks was to enter new Sterling Home orders on the books of affiliated companies such as Timberland.

    Creditors forced Sterling Homes into bankruptcy in 1922 and it took 10 years to resolve all the claims. I spent a week at the Federal Archives in Chicago looking at old bankruptcy records for Sterling Homes. I hope to have a Sterling Homes website up sometime this year.

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