Archive

Archive for January, 2019

Road Trip!

January 12th, 2019 Sears Homes 5 comments

I’m thinking about hitting the road, and taking a long trip.

In the last few weeks, I’ve met so many wonderful people (all of whom are history lovers) and each and every one of those people have brought me such a blessing. Each encounter has lifted me up a bit, and helped speed my progress.

These days, I crave beauty and light.

Maybe I need to go looking for beauty and light, and see what I find. It might be great fun to go meet new people and see new sights and look at old kit homes, and just see what happens along the way.

Someone even mentioned, it might make for an interesting series of blogs: Seeking Sears Homes and Finding Peace.

I’ll be leaving my home in Suffolk, Virginia in a few weeks and heading south and then west. If you’ve got a beautiful old soul, a passion for history, a heart full of love for the weary wanderer, and an appreciation for us creative types and you’d like to meet The Author Formerly Known As Rose, please leave a comment below.

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Boo asks, will you come to my party? Maybe the question is, Can I come to YOUR party?

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Perhaps its time to take my love of houses on the road.

Perhaps it's time to take my love of houses on the road.

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My father

My father thought he was posing me for a picture, but I was actually assessing the thermal efficiency of these original wood windows. If only I'd been able to talk, I could have given them an ear full.

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These days, I crave beauty and light. Intensely.

These days, I crave beauty and light. Intensely.

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Architectural History and “Facebook” are Just Not Compatible

January 7th, 2019 Sears Homes No comments

“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.”

That’s a quote from Jonathan Swift, who died in 1745. (For the youngsters, that was a couple years before the internet was invented.)

There’s a photo of a purported “Sears Roebuck” house that has now had millions of views (thanks to Facebook), and people are eating it up with a spoon.

As a historian, it is painful to see misinformation spread like wildfire.

First and foremost, if it’s a “Sears kit house,” it should look like a Sears kit house. If it can’t be matched to one of the 370 designs that Sears offered in their 38 years in this business, then you’ll have to find other ways to authenticate (original blueprints, marked lumber, shipping labels, etc.). Absent that, it’s just not a Sears House.

And if it was built pre-1908, it can not be a “Sears & Roebuck” house.

Every now and then, I’ll try to jump into these frays on Facebook and I’ll state, “It’s a lovely house but it’s not a Sears House” and invariably, I’ll hear the same comments from the percipient literati of that site:

1) You don’t know everything. Maybe it’s a new model.

2) And what makes you think you’re an expert?

3) The Realtor couldn’t post that if it wasn’t true.

4) My grandmother said it is, and you say it’s not. You’re just wrong. Accept it.

5) U R a moran.

And worse. Much, much worse.

Take a gander at these photos. They’re worth a lot of words!

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FF

The listing states that this house was built in 1926. Okay, that's believable - IF they used building materials salvaged from a house built in 1885. This house predates the 20th Century. Of that, I am sure. Thin porch posts, frippery and fretwork and gable ornaments are all classic indicators of a late 19th Century house.

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FF

Yes, it's a great house but it is NOT a Sears House.

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Allegedly, this house (Edison, TN) was destroyed by fire recently.

Allegedly, this house (Edison, TN) was destroyed by fire recently.

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Nice

Nice porch on this not-a-sears-kit-home house!

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If it is a Sears House, it should look like a Sears House! Heres the Sears Whitehall, side-by-side with the original catalog image.

If it is a Sears House, it should look like a Sears House! Here's the Sears Whitehall, side-by-side with the original catalog image. Those two pictures are a good match!

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Come see Rose in person on Monday night!

Want a laugh? Check out these pictures from Zillow.

Penniman Houses in Norfolk! Enjoy the pictures!

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If I Could Wave a Magic Wand…

January 6th, 2019 Sears Homes 1 comment
Four months ago, my heart stopped for a bit and I got a glimpse of heaven. Ever since that day (September 5th, 2018), I’ve had a new view on life*, and it’s time for me to enjoy whatever remains, because some times, everything can change in the blink of an eye.
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Despite that little “hiccup,” one thing that hasn’t changed: I’m still hopelessly in love with early 20th Century American houses and automobiles and all the accoutrements.
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If I could wave a magic wand, I’d go back to the 1920s, for that is where I would love to be. Perhaps when I travel to heaven on a permanent basis, I’ll find my 1920s lifestyle!
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1921 Martha Washington

The Sears Martha Washington (1921) is one of my favorites. I've always had a soft spot for a handsome Dutch Colonial, and this one is a beauty!

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house

This is a Martha Washington on Baltimore Street in Bedford, Virginia. This house has been beautifully maintained through the decades, and is one of the prettiest examples in the country.

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This would be my kitchen, but I might update with some knotty pine cabinets.

This would be my kitchen, but I might update with some knotty pine cabinets. One day. Maybe. Or maybe not. I do like this kitchen - a lot. Just need to find a vintage stove. And a 1920s microwave. Oops.

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My favorite image is from the 1923 Gordon Van Tine catalog. Gordon Van Tine also sold kit homes, and their kitchen nooks were shown in the catalogs - in COLOR!

The kitchen might have to be altered a bit to make room for my dining nook. This is a must have. In 1969, I visited the Heeley family on Riverside Drive (Portsmouth, Virginia) and saw a kitchen nook tucked within a bay window. I was a mere lass of 10, but I was smitten. I need me a nook.

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My Living

My living room would look like this.

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Beck

And this would be my dreamy sunporch. This is a picture from the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog, featuring the Alhambra, but in fact, the Martha Washington and the Alhambra have the same floorplan. So...this will work! I love everything about this room.

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And

Years ago, I was at a bungalow convention in Los Angeles ("Bungalow Heaven") and I met a husband and wife that were dressed in 1920s period clothing and came into the event driving a 1920s automobile. I stared at them for the longest time and I thought that they were the luckiest (and probably happiest) couple in the world. Yes, I would wear vintage clothing too! :D

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Desuenburg 1923

And if we're busy waving that magic wand around, I'd have this parked in the driveway of my 1921 Martha Washington. It's a 1923 Duesenberg Model A, touring car. Baby will you drive my car?

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Baby, will you drive my car?

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Norfolk and Penniman: A Talk on January 14th! OPEN TO ALL!

January 2nd, 2019 Sears Homes 4 comments

Everyone loves the story of a ghost town, and the story of Penniman is especially intriguing because so little is known about this WW1-era village, which was home to more than 15,000 people at its peak!

And, it’s especially important to Norfolk, because about 70 houses from Penniman were transported by barge to Norfolk and surrounding communities.

Monday night (the 14th), I’ll be giving a fun talk on Penniman for the Colonial Place/Riverview Civic League at the Eggleston Garden Center at 110 LaValette in Norfolk (near the Norfolk Zoo).

The talk (a PowerPoint presentation with more than 140 vintage photos) starts at 6:30 and there will be books to sell (and sign) after the talk.

Penniman is truly an awe-inspiring story about a World War One munitions plant in Virginia that has been forgotten and almost lost to history.

DuPont’s 37th munitions plant was staffed by mostly women, who worked assiduously to load TNT into 155mm and 75mm shells.

All are invited to come out and learn more about this lost chapter of Virginia’s history!

To read more about Penniman, click here.

Learn about one of the war workers here.

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Freckles

The caption on this photo says simply, "Freckles: The Trial of All of Penniman." At a lecture someone asked me, "How do you know that the caption was referencing the DOG?"

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Thanks to Steve Beauter, we have pictures like this, showcasing life at Penniman. Steve found this on eBay.

Thanks to Steve Beauter, we have pictures like this, showcasing life at Penniman. Steve found this photo album on eBay.

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His initials are "SC" and he started work on Spetember 10, 1918, but who is this young man?

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fdf

This fob (issued by DuPont) was worn on the worker's lapel, and it also helped quickly identify him as a munitions worker when he was out and about in Williamsburg. Young men who were not at the front were known as "slackers" and it was a pejorative.

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After Penniman closed, the houses were put on barges and about 70 of the houses landed in Norfolk.

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Penniman was vital to the war effort, and yet its story has been lost to time.

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Rose will sell (and sign) books after the talk.

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To read more about Penniman, click here.

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