Who Doesn’t Love a Story About Ghost Towns?

May 11th, 2018 Sears Homes 6 comments

On May 26th, I’ll be giving a talk on Penniman (with lots of new pictures).

For a variety of reasons, I’m not sure how much longer I will be living in this area, so if you’d like to hear me give a talk on Penniman, please attend this talk in Williamsburg.

And if you’re shopping for the perfect Father’s Day gift - here it is!

Want to learn more about Penniman? Click here.

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Please attend!

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And if you’re shopping for the perfect Father’s Day gift - here it is!

Want to learn more about Penniman? Click here.

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Help In The Garden?

April 12th, 2018 Sears Homes 10 comments

It seems as though winter is finally over, and Teddy and I have been spending time in the yard. She and I have been trying to figure out what type of plants we have here.

If you can help identify these two items, we’d both be very grateful.

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Teddy just came back from the groomer, so she is looking quite clean and well coiffed.

Teddy just came back from the groomer, so she is looking quite clean and well coiffed.

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When I bought the house in October, this "thing" was a bundle of twigs on the ground, and we put up a trellis for it. I thought it was wisteria, but now that the wisteria has blossomed in other places in the yard, I see that it is NOT wisteria. I would be grateful for any insights.

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Is this a flowering plant? Is it an ornamental plant?

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Because I am really concerned that I just spent $200 to put a trellis up for poison ivy (or its ilk).

Or did I just spend $200 to put a trellis up for poison ivy?

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Now flowers yet, but what is it?

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flowers

Shown above is a clipping from a fruit tree in the front yard. I suspect it's an apple tree, but I really don't know. I do think it's a fruit tree of some kind. Any insights?

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Close-up of the blossoms.

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The leaves have little furry edges.

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Teddy and I appreciate your help.

Teddy and I appreciate your help.

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To learn about kit homes, click here.

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Prayers For a Quick Turning…

April 2nd, 2018 Sears Homes 14 comments

To start, a quote from O. S. Guinness:

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The story of Christian reformation, revival, and renaissance underscores that the darkest hour is often just before the dawn, so we should always be people of hope and prayer, not gloom and defeatism. God the Holy Spirit can turn the situation around in five minutes.

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As I sneak up on the two-year anniversary of my husband’s suicide, I seem to be struggling to survive. I am in great need of a “five minute” turn.

There are days that I think that I’m going to be okay, and other days when my sufferings are great.

In the last two years, everything has changed. The first six months after his death, I was in shock, and stumbled around - from pillar to post - trying to find a moment or two of solace. The second six monts, I was still in shock but (thanks to friends), found a rental home.

Last October, I purchased a small brick ranch in Suffolk, Virginia. Last month, I purchased a new car to replace my aging Camry. In the last few weeks, I’ve started looking through all those boxes that were hastily packed two years ago, only to find that I gave away or discarded about 50% of my earthly possessions.

My memory has returned, but most of those memories of life with him are upsetting, unnerving or devastating. There are no good memories left. They’re all tainted.

If you’re reading this, I would be grateful for your prayers for guidance and wisdom and health and wholeness.

In short, a turning of this situation.

Thank you.

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Pink Bathrooms: Extinction Looms

March 24th, 2018 Sears Homes 10 comments

Remember the very first commandment of old house renovation? Thou shalt not destroy good old work.

That’s it.

More than 35% of the garbage at America’s landfills is construction-related waste. That’s a phenomenal amount of debris. What’s worse is this: The replacement materials promoted at contemporary big box stores (in most cases) has a serviceable life of less than 10 years. So that new light gray bathroom with white accents will probably need replacing, and THOSE construction materials will also end up at the city dump.

We have got to stop destroying “good old work” in older homes in the name of keeping up with the Joneses (and the Kardashians).

You know what makes my blood boil? Ads like this.

NOTE: All the houses shown below are in Portsmouth, Virginia.

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Theres a special extra-toasty place in preservation hell for this bank.

There's a special extra-toasty place in preservation hell for this bank. A very special place. A friend sent me this advertisement. It popped up on her Facebook page. Oh, how I loathe this promotion. It feeds into the insanity promoted by HGTV that "old and lovely" is never good enough. And yet odds are that this same bank will spearhead efforts to promote recycling. Not much sense in saving 21 pounds of plastic and yet promoting the destruction of thousands of pounds of "good old work."

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Classic good looks.

This light-pink bathroom features classic good looks and will provide decades of service. The tile floor (cartwheel pattern) is already more than 60 years old, and is set in about 6 inches of concrete. With minimal care, this floor will endure another several decades. The same is true for the tile walls.

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The pink tile in this Portsmouth home (Virginia) dates to the mid-1950s, and yet - due to good care and maintenance - it is in like-new condition. The materials used in these mid-century bathrooms will last another 50 years. And yet their modern replacements - fiberglass and plastic junk from big-box stores - will not endure.

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When I was a kid growing up in Waterview (a 1920s/30s middle-class neighborhood), I don't remember seeing anyone "remodel" their bathrooms, and yet by the 1960s/70s, these kitchens and baths were quite old. The pink bathroom featured here has its original sink and toilet. As with the others, it will endure for many more years.

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The same bathroom (shown above) from a different angle. It has a tiled shower and separate tub. It's also beautiful, with the white and pink tile.

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Some pink bathrooms are more subdued than others, but these mid-century tile jobs are typically set in several inches of concrete. When experts recommend retreating to a bathroom during a tornado, this is the type of "safe space" they have in mind. The thick-set mortar bed plus copper pipes plus additional wooden framing makes this one sturdy space.

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My favorite pink bathroom is a deep rose with blue accents.

My favorite pink bathroom is a deep rose with blue accents. I tried to purchase this house (in Waterview) late last year, but it got tangled up in a bidding war, and the price went from $210,000 to almost $270,000 within hours. It was probably this bathroom that drove up the price.

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We have got to stop destroying “good old work.” My current home has a green bathroom. Green is my least favorite color, but I have decided to live with it for a time and see how I feel about in 5 years or so. It may grow on me. I do know this: Society needs to learn that “keeping up with the Joneses” is a path to madness, waste and financial foolishness.

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Save the pink bathrooms!

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NOTE: All the houses shown above are in Portsmouth, Virginia.

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What’s My Happy Color?

March 15th, 2018 Sears Homes 15 comments

Six months ago, a new chapter of my life began when I moved into this house in Suffolk, Virginia. In the 12 months prior to that, I’d often tell people, “I want a house that’s quirky and fun, something that’s solid and well-built, but unique. When people walk into the front door, I want them to think - this LOOKS like something Rosemary would buy!”

And I found it.

As someone who studies old houses, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a floorplan like this. I’m not even sure I can identify what style of house this is.

And on a related note, ever since I replaced the old storm door, I’ve been dreaming about a new color for the exterior shutters. Perhaps brown is the best color to complement the earth-toned bricks, but if you can think of a new color, please let me know.

Thanks in advance for any and all comments.

Want to learn how to identify kit homes? Click here.

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One of this homes most appealing features was that it had been beautifully maintained by its first (and only) owners. And yet, the storm door was a little tired and quite drafty. After it was replaced with the new full-view door but that has inspired me to re-think the shutter color.

One of this home's most appealing features was that it had been beautifully maintained by its first (and only) owners. And yet, the storm door was a little tired and a bit drafty. After it was replaced with the new full-view door (right side) , that inspired me to re-think the shutter color.

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If anyone has any guesses as to the year of manufacture for this door, Id love to know. The house was built in 1976, but surely the door isnt 40 years old - or is it?

If anyone has any guesses as to the year of manufacture for this door, I'd love to know. The house was built in 1976, but surely the door isn't 40 years old - or is it?

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The new storm door was under $200 at Lowes and does a fine job of highlighting that beautiful 1950s-ish looking front door.

The new storm door was under $200 at Lowes and does a fine job of highlighting that beautiful 1950s-ish looking front door. And Teddy the Dog loves it too.

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That front door looks more like something youd find on a 1950s ranch, and its one of my favorite features on this 40-year-old custom-built brick ranch.

That front door looks more like something you'd find on a 1950s ranch, and it's one of my favorite features on this 40-year-old custom-built house.

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As I mentioned above, Ive never seen a floorplan such as Ive seen in this house.

As I mentioned above, I've never seen a floorplan such as I've seen in this house. On the other side of that full-view storm door is this massive chimney, rising up from the floor to the ceiling. It provides privacy, so that you can't peak in the front door and see the living room.

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The living room (and the wood stove insert) is on the other side.

The living room (and fireplace with wood stove insert) is on the other side of that large brick chimney. You can see a bit of the front door behind that fireplace (with the old storm door). The space on the right is the stairwell that leads to the basement garage.

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Its a mighty narrow stairwell that leads to the basement/garage, and its built with concrete block walls. I have not been able to figure out why a staircase would need to be built like a bomb shelter.

It's a mighty narrow stairwell that leads to the basement/garage, and it's built with concrete block walls. I have not been able to figure out why a staircase would need to be built like a bomb shelter.

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Within that front foyer are two steps which lead to the living space. I spend my life thinking about houses and I cant even come up with a name for this particular style.

Within that front foyer are two steps which lead to the living space. I spend my life thinking about houses and I can't even come up with a name for this particular style. I suppose it's a brick ranch, but this sunken foyer is quite unique!

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Back to the question at hand - what color shutters do I want?

Back to the question at hand - what color shutters do I want? Or is brown simply the best choice? The roof is also brown. However, the brown storm door is gone!

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Shutter

Things were a lot more green when I bought the house in early October 2017. I'm looking forward to seeing that pretty green color again!

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Thanks in advance for any and all comments.

Want to learn how to identify kit homes? Click here.

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Boardwalk Empire and Sears Kit Homes

March 13th, 2018 Sears Homes 7 comments

The last few weeks, I’ve been watching Boardwalk Empire (HBO), set in 1920s Atlantic City. It’s centered around the real life story of prohibition-era gangster Enoch Johnson, who’s known as Enoch (”Nucky”) Thompson on the show.

From the start, one of my favorite characters has been Nelson Van Alden (Michael Shannon). Beginning with the second season, there’s a running story line about Van Alden (and his wife Sigrid) purchasing a kit home in 1923.

Of course, that piqued my interest!

Nonetheless, as is often the case with period dramas, there’s so much wrong with the facts behind this particular story line. I tried hard to ignore the many errors but ultimately decided to write a blog instead. :)

The story line suggests it’s a house from Bennett Homes, but the dialogue between Nelson and Sigrid makes it clear that this house came from Sears & Roebuck. It seems that the writers used those company names interchangeably.

Check out the pictures below (and their captions) to get the real story.

Thanks to Rachel for help identifying a few of these images!

Read about a large number of Sears kit homes in Atlantic City.

Want to learn how to identify kit homes? Click here.

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Boardwalk

Nelson Van Alden (played by the inimitable Michael Shannon) is shown at his desk studying the pages of a 1922 Bennett Homes Catalog. When I first glimpsed this, I let out a little "oh my goodness" happy noise.

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Nelson

It's actually a Hollywood mock-up and not a real catalog. The front cover was probably pulled from an online source, and the rear cover is (apparently) from a reprint of the Bennett catalog. The storyline says that Nelson and Sigrid are living in Cicero, and yet they're buying a house from Bennett Homes from Towanda, New York? Cicero is just outside of Chicago, Illinois (home of Sears and Roebuck). Further, this cover is altered. Bennett Homes were *not* prefabricated. More on the cover below. NOTE: I'm not savvy enough to figure out how to remove close captions without taking a course at a local community college.

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1922 cover

Here's the cover of the 1922 Bennett Homes catalog that Nelson is examining above. It's quite different than the image shown above. And you'll note that the word "pre-fabricated" does not appear anywhere on the cover. Neither do the children or the man (shown in the screen shot with Nelson).

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Rear cover

Shown here is the true rear cover for the catalog that Nelson is examining in the first image. You'll note that it is color - not black and white (as seen on "Boardwalk Empire").

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stripped

This is a shot of the "Sears & Roebuck House" (as it's described in the show). If you look closely at this house, you'll discover that it's a brick house that has been covered in diagonal planks, to replicate the look of a partially finished house. Notice the window frames, and the bracketing under the stoop. They're disappearing under the many layers of siding. Those are the clues that tell me - this house was dressed up with that fresh lumber to create the look they sought. The style of this house doesn't match ANY of the models offered by Sears, Gordon Van Tine, Bennett or any of the kit home companies with which I am familiar. Odds are good it's just a bungalow somewhere from the 1920s.

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Rear

This gives a better picture of the brackets on the stoop. Notice also that the windows are 2/2 (two lites - or panes - over two panes). Sears didn't offer 2/2 windows - ever. In fact, if I am trying to identify a potential kit house, I look at the windows first, and if they're 2/2, I discount it.

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next one

This shows the neighbor's brick bungalow, and notice, there's a billboard at the end of the street.

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Perfection in a box

"Perfection from a Box" is a lovely thought. So while the dialogue says that this is a Sears & Roebuck house, the imagery suggests it's a Bennett house. I suspect that the writers were using those terms (Sears - Bennett) interchangeably.

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Long view

Here's another view of those solid brick (not brick veneer) bungalows. And notice that the other houses are 6/6 windows, which would have been more typical in 1923. When Bennett (or Sears or Gordon Van Tine or the other companies) did an entire community of kit homes, they did NOT use the same model again and again. Nelson and Sigrid allegedly live in Cicero, Illinois. It would be interesting to know where these brick bungalows are located.

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copper

And there's this. I'm not sure what's happening under this kitchen sink, but I do know that copper plumbing was not in wide-spread use until the late 1940s or early 1950s. In 1923, it would have been galvanized supply lines and lead pipes for drains - typically. And those gate valves? Definitely not from the 1920s. Then again, neither is the plywood panel behind Nelson Van Alden.

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A native Norwegian, Sigrid struggles with her English. Another recurring them in this story line is that the house has many deficiencies, which is also not accurate. Sigrid asks Nelson repeatedly if he's contacted "The Sears Roebuck" to get these deficiencies addressed. In fact, customer satisfaction with these 12,000-piece kits was very high.

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Lots of dialogue on inferior

Through several episodes, Sigrid complains bitterly about problems with the house. This is a great line where Nelson explains that he has been in contact with Mr. Roebuck. In real life, Alvah Curtis Roebuck was no longer involved with the company in the 1920s, but was in Florida, making many very poor investments in land. He was bankrupted later, and in the 1930s, took a job at Sears & Roebuck cutting ribbons for the opening of new retail stores.

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When Bennett or Sears or the other kit home companies built entire neighborhoods, they mixed it up a bit as shown in the catalog page above (1923).

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Cicero is within 3 miles of Homan an Arthington Street (the home of Sears & Roebuck in the 1920s).

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Nelson is one dapper fellow.

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Read about a large number of Sears kit homes in Atlantic City.

Want to learn how to identify kit homes? Click here.

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Before Calling the Fire Department, I Cleaned The House…

February 28th, 2018 Sears Homes 16 comments

Early this morning, I detected an acrid smell in my bedroom, and it was the distinctive smell of an electrical fire.

Admittedly, I have a hypersensitive sniffer, and the smell was intense - to me. I walked throughout the house looking for its source. I walked outside, hoping that it was someone else’s problem. It was not.

Next, I went into the basement and that’s when the smell was most intense. There was no source that I could find, yet the light bulbs in the basement had a blue haze around them. Something was burning.

Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t find the source.

Upstairs, I spent 10 minutes doing a whirlwind clean of the house, throwing things in closets and running around picking up. Because I had a feeling that when I called the fire department, exciting things would happen.

After the house was tidy, I dialed the non-emergency police number and told the dispatcher what was happening and asked if they could come out without the sirens. She said, “M’am, I don’t think so. And by the way, please evacuate the home.”

In less than three minutes, two fire engines arrived at my house and I’ve never met a nicer bunch of fellows. They walked through the basement and pulled out a heat camera and saw that one breaker on the box was hot. A fireman then looked at the water heater and he showed me that the wiring around the bottom element had burned up - thoroughly.

So while I’m very grateful for this good outcome, I wonder, do I invoke the home warranty people who drove me to hard liquor last time, or do I just shell out the money myself? Because I sure do need a new water heater!

To read one of my favorite blogs about heroes, click here.

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It was an exciting day here at the Peaceful Palace

It was an exciting day here at the Peaceful Palace.

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I sure do like having a basement!

I sure do like having a basement!

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Basement

Here's the culprit. That little bit of nothing generated enough bad smells to fills the house with an odor.

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To read one of my favorite blogs about heroes, click here.

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Compartmentalizing the Sacred Spaces

February 25th, 2018 Sears Homes 5 comments

As my friends know, I consider the Open Floor Plan to be a plague spot on American architecture, and it’s a plague that continues to spread.

The home I recently purchased in Suffolk has lots and lots of walls and a few doors, and I’m a big fan of walls and doors.

Nonetheless, one of my favorite rooms in the house - the den at the southeastern end of the house - had two cased openings but no doors.

The den has become my “nest” where I can curl up on the couch and watch TV or just look out the large sliding glass door into the peaceful back yard. In the morning, sunlight streams in through the three capacious windows. It’s the only room in the house that has windows on three of its four sides.

I wanted doors, but didn’t want to obstruct any of that wonderful light in the contiguous rooms (kitchen and dining room).

So I came up with a plan. Check out the pictures to see my unique idea.

To read one of my favorite blogs, click here.

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As Teddy demonstrates, there is no door between the kitchen and the den. Not good. I need doors and lots of them.

As Teddy demonstrates, there is no door between the kitchen and the den. Not good. I need doors and lots of them. My "nest" can be seen in the background. And yes, that's an enormous stuffed horse.

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And when I curl up on my nest (on the couch in the den), I can see the kitchen. Not good. The kitchen should not be seen or heard. I dont want to think about the kitchen. Ever.

And when I curl up on my nest (on the couch in the den), I can see the kitchen. Not good. The kitchen should not be seen or heard. I don't want to think about the kitchen. Ever.

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So I had an idea...and it started with these doors.

So I had an idea...and it started with these doors. These are bifold doors, ordered from Lowes Hardware. I purchased two sets of these doors (on sale) 24" wide, so that the two sets would match my 48" cased opening.

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They arrived expeditiously and in fine shape. I removed the hinges and patched the small holes left behind. The hinges were surface mount (not mortised), so it was easy to patch the screw holes.

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Bypass

I also purchased this "bypass closet door track kit." It's designed for closet doors, and the "bypass" allows for two doors to be on the same track. According to the weight specs, it was more than sturdy enough to support my discombobulated French Doors.

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Next, I installed a double bypass track in the top of the doorway. This is a track that lets two doors slide past each other.

Next, I installed the track in the doorway. It was one inch too long and had to be cut down. Installation was very simple and fast. I didn't use the screws that came with the kit, but opted for something more substantial.

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Next, I affixed the corresponding rollers to the top of these wooden french doors.

Next, I affixed the corresponding rollers to the top of these wooden doors.

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With the track in place, installing the doors was quite simple.

With the track in place, installing the doors was quite simple.

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And they worked so well!

And they worked so well!

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And looked so pretty!

And looked so pretty!

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After a brief moment of admiration, I pulled them down for painting.

After a brief moment of admiration, I pulled them down for painting. The doors were of excellent quality, and the glass was covered with plastic to protect the glass during painting. I applied one coat of primer and two coats of paint. This was the most time-consuming process of all. These doors sat in my den (on sawhorses, atop plastic) for quite some time.

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After

After the painting was done, they were reinstalled (which took a few seconds). Even with the paint slopped over the edges, they looked quite attractive.

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And once completed, it looked fantastic.

And once completed, it looked fantastic.

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They can be opened partially.

They look good partially shut...

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Or fully

Or shut all the way.

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Even the dinette set (in the kitchen) is happier.

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Before and After photos (actually, theyre in the wrong order).

"Before and After" photos. Actually, they're in the wrong order. The "after photo" is on the left. Oops.

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Best of all, I can sit on my couch and not see the kitchen very well!

Best of all, I can sit on my couch and not see the kitchen! Mission accomplished.

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Id thought about installing something like this, but it was too big and bulky and didnt fit the style of the house. Plus, I didnt have the wall space.

Originally, I'd thought about installing something like this, but it was too big and bulky and didn't fit the style of the house. Plus, I didn't have the wall space. And it would cut off the light from the other rooms. Not good.

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With these French Doors, the sunlight still fills the house!

With these French Doors, the sunlight still fills the house! Total cost was $280 for the two sets of bifold doors (seen above) and about $35 for the hardware.

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To read one of my favorite blogs, click here.

Read more about the open floor plan (and why it’s so evil) here.

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Ladies, Where Are Your Names (and Stories)?

February 19th, 2018 Sears Homes 1 comment

While little is known about the men who worked at Penniman, even less is known about the women of Penniman, and yet, the majority of the workforce at DuPont’s 37th munitions plant were women.

Loading TNT powder into 75mm and 155mm shells was a nasty bit of business, and the women suffered deleterious effects from this work. The health problems associated with the work was so common that it had a name: TNT poisoning. Both medical journals and journals on industrial hygiene talked about this phenomenon at length.

TNT caused multitudinous problems to health, but perhaps the most severe was this: It damaged the bone marrows ability to produce white blood cells, and without white blood cells, the body can’t effectively fight off infection.

And then the Spanish Flu came to Penniman.

The death count at Penniman was so high that local papers said the numbers were unbelievable. Stories in the press said that coffins were stacked “rafter high” at the Penniman depot, day after day.

A lesser, but more obvious effect of TNT poisoning, was that it turned the women’s skin a bright yellow. (TNT was a relatively new invention, created by Joseph Wilbrand [in Germany] in 1863 as a yellow dye.) The workers at Penniman  were known as “Canaries” because of this dramatic change in their appearance.

In a desperate bid to mitigate the effects of TNT poisoning, the women workers at Penniman were given special uniforms, that were cinched at the ankles, waist and wrist to keep the ultra-fine TNT powder from lodging on their skin. Most women wore scarves around their neck.

I would love to know more about these women and to hear their story. Right now, I only have names for a handful of the women workers at Penniman, including Penelope Johnson and Sadie Bowers.

It’d be so helpful to know more about these women and their life at Penniman.

To read more about the Canaries, click here and here.

Want to learn about one of my personal heroes? Click here.

Thanks to the generosity of the family of Dr. John Henderson, I’m now in possession of “The Penniman Projectile,” which has a picture of the female workers in their uniform!

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This image, from the 1918 Ladies Home Journal, shows the uniform of a munitions worker.

This image, from the 1918 Ladies' Home Journal, shows the uniform of a munitions worker.

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And this image, from the December 1918 Penniman Projectile shows the female workforce at Penniman.

This image, from the December 1918 "Penniman Projectile" shows some of the female workforce on the shell-loading lines at Penniman in their DuPont-issued uniforms. Notice the caps! The men (seated) look quite dour.

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Itd be lovely to know more about the women of Penniman. I do know that the YWCA was the heart of Camp Penniman (as it was known), and for several weeks, the YWCA offered morality speakers to help the young, and oftimes naive women, stay away from mashers and sailors.

It'd be lovely to know more about the women of Penniman. I do know that the YWCA was the heart of Camp Penniman (as it was known), and for several weeks, the YWCA offered "morality speakers" to help the young and oftimes naive women stay away from mashers, soldiers and sailors.

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To read more about the Canaries, click here and here.

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Richmond: Replete with Recherché Kit Homes

February 14th, 2018 Sears Homes 4 comments

My late husband loved Richmond. In the beginning of his legal career, he had lived in Richmond and worked as a clerk for a judge with the Supreme Court of Virginia. I’m sorry to say that I don’t remember the judge’s name.

Wayne always seemed pleased that I could identify these homes at 60 paces. I would whip out the original catalog image so that he could see and compare the archival image with the extant property. He seemed to truly enjoy this.

“Well lookie there,” he’d say, almost whimsically. “I don’t know how you do this, Rosemary. It’s quite remarkable.”

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In October, I gave a well-attended talk in Onancock, Virginia (Eastern Shore). That was a good talk. Standing in front of that crowd, I felt alive again. My brain started coming back online. Old neural pathways fired up again. My heart felt a surge of joy it hadn’t experienced in some time. It was a lovely memory of who I was, and who I could be again.

Returning to my hotel that night, I laid in the brass bed with its luxuriant duvet and thought to myself, “I’m going to be okay.”

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My dear friend Dale tells me that maybe it’s time to expand my horizons. He’s usually right about these things. The revised (and improved) Penniman book will be out soon. And after I do a little promoting and lecturing on that topic, maybe I can find a job at a local hardware store. I like hardware stores.

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If you read the captions below, you’ll find that surveying the kit homes of Richmond was a collaborative effort (as it always is). In many cases, I consulted with co-author Dale Wolicki on the Gordon Van Tine and Aladdin Houses, who affirmed that some of my “suspects” were (or were not) kit homes.

Sometimes, I sent Rachel Shoemaker a few emails to ask if she recognized a design. Richmond artist Melissa Burgess went out into a busy road with her camera to get the perfect shot of a Sears Avalon for me.

Other Richmond folks shared pictures with me (and are credited below). Molly Todd gave up an entire day to drive me throughout the older Richmond neighborhoods. This wasn’t just my work. This involved many people over a period of years.

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To read one of the original blogs on Richmond, click here.

Read about Penniman and and Richmond here.

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This is one fine house: The Sheraton.

This is one fine house: The Sears Sherburne.

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I remember the day I found this house. It was such a thrill. My daughter was flying into the Richmond airport and I arrived extra early so that I could tool around and find the kit homes. This was Summer 2012, and my life was so different then.

I remember the day I found this house. It was such a thrill! A Sherburne right here in Richmond! My middle daughter was flying into the Richmond airport and I arrived extra early so that I could tool around and find the kit homes before her flight arrived. This was Summer 2012.

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In 2014, I was invited to Richmond to give a talk on Sears Homes, and several delightful women accompanied me on that tour of Richmond. The woman hosting the tour lived in this house. It tickled a memory, but it took me some time to find this house.

In 2014, I was invited to Richmond to give a talk on Sears Homes, and several delightful women accompanied me on that "tour of Richmond." The woman hosting the tour lived in this house. It tickled a memory, but it took me some time to identify this house.

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I spent countless hours in my home office, studying old catalogs to match Mollys house, but I found the house.

I spent countless hours in my home office, studying old catalogs to match Molly's house, but I found the house. It's a delightful Gordon Van Tine #628. Gordon Van Tine, based in Davenport, Iowa, started selling kit homes in 1910.

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GVT

To my surprise, there are many Gordon Van Tine homes in Richmond.

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Heres a lovely example of a Gordon Van Tine

Here's a lovely example of a Gordon Van Tine#507. Photo is copyright 2012 Taber Andrew Bain and may not be used or reproduced without written permission. There I go again with that silly copyright stuff. I'm such a silly girl.

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This was one of my favorite finds, and quite memorable! As I recall, Molly was driving us around in her Lexus SUV and I saw this sweet house peeking out behind some heavy vegetation.

This was one of my favorite finds, and quite memorable! As I recall, Molly was driving us around in her Lexus SUV and I saw this sweet house peeking out behind some heavy vegetation. Image above is courtesy of Rachel Shoemaker.

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And thanks to a slew of helpful researchers, we were able to establish that this GVT is the very same house featured in the testimonial

And thanks to a slew of helpful researchers, we were able to establish that this GVT is the very same house featured in the testimonial (lower left from the catalog image above). I well remember what a happy event that was - to find this very rare Gordon Van Tine home right there in Richmond.

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And Molly found this house on her own. When she first contacted me about it, I could hardly believe that this house - offered by Lewis Manufacturing in Bay City - was in Richmond, Virginia.

And Molly found this house on her own. When she first contacted me about it, I could hardly believe that this house - offered by Lewis Manufacturing in Bay City - was in Richmond, Virginia.

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According to my buddy Dale, this is a very rare house, and thats not surprising. Its quite massive for a kit home!

According to my buddy Dale, this is a very rare house, and that's not surprising. It's quite massive for a kit home! Photo is copyright 2014 Molly Todd and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Richonm

I've spent countless hours of my life playing with various artwork programs and creating "side-by-side views." This highlights the details around the front entry.

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assess

Aladdin kit homes are more prevalent here in southeastern Virginia. Aladdin had a mill in North Carolina (about three hours from Richmond). The "Madison" (shown above) was one of their best selling homes.

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And heres my little pretty in Richmond, Virginia.

And here's my little pretty in Richmond, Virginia.

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Heres another fun one.

Harris Brothers was originally known as Chicago Wrecking Company, and later became "Harris Brothers Company."

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Im not sure which trip it was when I first spotted this house, but it was a very popular model for Harris Brothers.

I'm not sure which trip it was when I first spotted this house, but it was a very popular model for Harris Brothers. It's a beautiful match to the original catalog page - stucco finish and all!

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We found a Harris Brothers 1513 in another part of town.

We found a Harris Brothers 1513 in another part of town.

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F

Every detail on this Harris Brothers 1513 is spot on.

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Finding this kit home offered by Aladdin was another happy moment in Richmond.

Finding this kit home offered by Aladdin was another happy moment in Richmond. I wasn't sure that we'd found this rare "Ardmore" so I corresponded with my co-author Dale, and he affirmed that it was the real deal.

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When I spotted this house, I had Molly go forward, and backward, and forward and backward, as I struggled to eyeball the many details. She was a wonderful chaffeur and as I recall, we circled the block many times until I was satisfied with my many pictures.

When I spotted this house, I had Molly go forward, and backward, and forward and backward, as I struggled to eyeball the many details. She was a wonderful chauffeur and as I recall, we circled the block many times until I was satisfied with my many pictures.

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The Sears Avalon was found in several spots throughout Richmond.

The very popular Sears "Osborn" was found in Richmond.

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The Sears Avalon

This Sears Osborn looks much like it did when built in the 1910s.

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Several Sears Avalons were found throughout Richmond.

Several Sears "Avalons" were found throughout Richmond. Check out the detail on the chimney. Those three vents on the cross gable are also distinctive.

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And

My oh my, what a match. And thanks to Melissa for taking that ladder out to that road for the perfect shot! Picture is copyright 2014 Melissa Burgess and may not be used or reproduced without written permission. So there.

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Another Avalon in Richmond, Virginia.

Another Avalon in Richmond, Virginia, also a delightful match to the catalog image.

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This is my favorite Avalon in Richmond. It retains its original details, right down to the railing!

This is my favorite Avalon in Richmond. It retains its original details, right down to the railing!

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The Sears Westly was one of their most popular models.

The Sears Westly was one of their most popular models. If a neighborhood has only five Sears Homes, chances are one of them is a Westly.

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I identify so well with this Westly. Its had a hard life but its still standing.

I identify so well with this Westly. It's had a hard life and bears a few scars, but it's still standing.

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This is another fun house.

This is another very rare pre-WW1 Sears Home. I've seen only one other "190" and that was in Illinois.

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Here

The polygon bay - first floor and second floor - is its defining feature. Also notice the cornice returns on steroids. This house (as is shown in the catalog) has a stucco finish.

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The Sears Stratford is one of my favorite designs. This neo-tudor is so pretty and has such pretty lines.

The Sears Strathmore is one of my favorite designs. This neo-tudor is so pretty and has such pretty lines and is well proportioned.

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My husband and I were driving through Richmond together when I spotted this house. He was duly impressed that I spot these homes at 60 paces. I would always whip out the original catalog image so that he could compare the two images. Well lookie there, hed say to me. I dont know how you do this, Rosemary. Its quite remarkable. That was a good day.

My husband and I were driving through Richmond together when I spotted this Strathmore. It's in beautiful condition and it has a Buckingham Slate roof. Buckingham Slate is the finest slate roof, and weighs about 1,400 per square.

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W

Sometime in early 2014, Wayne and I traveled to Richmond, where he appeared before the Supreme Court of Virginia to try a case involving a police recruit that died during training exercises. We arrived the day before and strolled around Richmond. We both went out shopping the week before to buy new clothes for this occasion. Never for a moment did I take him for granted. Never for a moment.

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My first trip through Richmond was July 4th 2010, and it was my 51st birthday. I saw this flag draped across a residential street and snapped a photo. I knew that I would like Richmond. That was my thought in 2010.

My first trip through Richmond was July 4th 2010, and it was my 51st birthday.

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To read one of the original blogs on Richmond, click here.

Read about Pennimand and Richmond here.

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