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Posts Tagged ‘515 Nansemond Street’

Waterview (Portsmouth, Virginia) and Their Plan Book Houses

October 20th, 2015 Sears Homes 4 comments

An old friend (Margee) contacted me and said that her daughter had recently purchased a home in Waterview, our old stomping ground. Margee and I grew up together on Nansemond Street in Waterview, and we share many happy memories of that place and time.

Margee was wondering if the house was a kit home.

Here’s the answer.  :)

Margees daughter purchased this house in Waterview.

Margee's daughter purchased this 1930s house in Waterview. Like so many Waterview homes, it's a 1920s/30s two-story home with brick veneer and a Buckingham slate roof - the crème de la crème of all slate roofs. These homes are very well built and solid, and with minimal care and some love, this house will last another 100 years.

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Here's a view of the house as seen on Google.

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And heres a view of the house as seen in the 1927 Homebuilders Catalog.

And here's a view of the house as seen in the 1927 Home Builder's Catalog. Margee's daughter does *NOT* have a kit home, but it is a "Pattern Book" house. Pattern book homes were NOT the same as kit homes, but they were similar.

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With

With pattern book homes (such as "Home Builders" shown here), you'd select the house of your dreams and then you'd receive detailed blueprints and a list of the building materials you'd need for your new home. With kit homes, everything came in a one package - the design, blueprints and building materials.

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Brief review:

Kit house - everything in one package: Design, blueprints and building materials.

Pattern book house - design, blueprints and a LIST of the building materials you’d need to purchase to build your new home.

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Pattern book homes were hugely popular in the 1920s and 1930s (which is when the house in Waterview was built), and the 1927 book shown here had more than 1,000 pages.

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Many thanks to Google for getting the house from the same angle! The house in Waterview is brick, while the image from the pattern book is frame, and the side porch has been enclosed. Nonetheless, I'd say it's the same model.

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A little information on the front page tells more about the how-tos of buying a pattern book house.

A little information on the front page tells more about the "how-tos" of buying a pattern book house.

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Waterview is awash in pattern book houses, and Ive spent years trying to find the house of my youth (in Waterview) in a pattern book. Heretofore, Ive been unsuccessful.

Waterview is awash in pattern book houses, and I've spent years trying to find the house of my youth (in Waterview) in a pattern book. Heretofore, I've been unsuccessful.

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The older I get, the more I realize, Im an old soul lost in a love of all things historic, and thats ever more apparent when I reflect on memories of Margee, my childhood friend. When I think of Margee, this is where my mind travels.

Here's a picture of Margee and me in the late 1960s. That's my brother Tommy on the far left (guitar guy), and then me (sleepy girl), Margee, and my brother Eddie on the far right.

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To learn more about the amazing collection of pattern book homes in Waterview and nearby areas, click here.

Do  you think you have a kit home? Learn how to identify these early 20th Century treasures here.

Nostalgia buff? Read more about my own happy memories of Waterview here.

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How to Properly Identify a Sears Magnolia

November 27th, 2012 Sears Homes 10 comments

Nary a week passes that someone doesn’t send me a note, happily reporting that they’ve spotted a Sears Magnolia in their neighborhood.

And 99.99% of the time, they’re wrong.

Priced at about $6,000, the Sears Magnolia (sold from 1918-1922) was Sears biggest and fanciest kit home. And despite lots of searching, only seven Sears Magnolias have been found.

Like most of the 370 designs of houses offered by Sears, the Magnolia was purposefully patterned after a popular housing style: The Southern Colonial. Here in Hampton Roads, there’s a Southern Colonial Revival in many of our early 20th Century neighborhoods.

However, the Sears Magnolia - the real deal - has several distinctive features that distinguish from “look-alikes.”

The photos shown below give some visual clues on how to identify the Sears Magnolia (the real deal).

The Sears Magnolia was their biggest, fanciest and most expensive home. It was offered from 1918-1922. The picture here is from the 1921 catalog.

The Sears Magnolia was their biggest, fanciest and most expensive home. It was offered from 1918-1922. The picture here is from the 1921 catalog. If you look closely at the badge that shows the price, you'll see that the Magnolia was also known as #2089.

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After World War One (The Great War),

After World War One (The Great War), lumber prices went sky high. Sears catalogs had about a six-week lead time (from creation to publishing). Due to the volatility of building material costs, Sears couldn't keep up on the price info. As an alternate, they just stuck price sheets into the pages of the Sears Modern Homes catalog. See the Magnolia above? This shows the profound reduction in cost, in the Spring 1921 Sears catalog.

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The Magnolia had more than 2,900 square feet (as built). The first floor was pretty busy.

The Magnolia had more than 2,900 square feet (as built). The first floor was pretty busy.

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Heres a close-up of the kitchen

Here's a close-up of the kitchen area and butler's pantry. Notice that there''s a downstairs "lavatory." Pretty upscale for 1921.

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My favorite Magnolia. This one is in Benson, NC.

A picture-perfect Magnolia in Benson, NC.

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And this one is in Canton, Ohio.

And this one is in Canton, Ohio.

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The lumber in Sears Homes was numbered, as is shown in this graphic from the rear cover of the 1921 catalog.

The lumber in Sears Homes was numbered, as is shown in this graphic from the rear cover of the 1921 catalog. The mark is on one end of the lumber, and also on the face of it (typically about 6-8" from the end). "B" was for 2x4s, "C" was 2x6s, "D" was 2x8s.

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Heres a real life example of the marks.

Here's a real life example of the mark on the lumber.

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The Magnolia was also known as Modern Home #2089. If you look closely, you'll see the number 2089 scribbled on this 2x8. This is the basement of the Benson Magnolia. When the house was being prepared for shipment out of the mill in Cairo, Illinois, the model number was written on a few of the framing members. To the right is the name of the family that originally placed the order for this house.

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The Magnolia was offered with both Corinthian (as shown here) and Ionic columns. I havent figured out if this was an option, or if it was dependent on what year the house was ordered.

The Magnolia was offered with Ionic columns, but they're often replaced as they age. The Sears Magnolia's columns were wooden and hollow. Yet I've found that most "Southern Colonials" (with these two-story columns) have concrete columns. If you think you've found a Magnolia, go rap on the columns and if they're made of something other than hollow wood, then it is NOT a Magnolia.

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The entry hall of a Sears Magnolia in Irwin, PA.

The entry hall of a Sears Magnolia in Irwin, PA. The details matter. Notice over the door, there's an arched fan light. Many "look-alikes" have a square transom over the door. Learn how to pay attention to these many details.

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Noticee these very disctinctive windows on the Magnolia. Does the house youre looking at have these very samee windows? If not, its probably not a Sears Magnolia.

Notice these very distinctive windows on the Magnolia. Does the house you're looking at have these very same windows? If not, it's probably not a Sears Magnolia.

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If it dooesnt look like this, its not a Magnolia!  :0

If it doesn't look like this, it's not a Magnolia! :)

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Here's another example of a Magnolia (located in West Virginia).

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And another

And another beautiful Magnolia in Syracuase, NY. (Photo is courtesy of Mariel Proulx and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To read another really awesome story on Sears Homes, click here.

My favorite blog (an interview with a man who built a Magnolia) is here.

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Do You Live in a Sears House?

November 9th, 2010 Sears Homes 1 comment

As the author of several books on kit homes, I’ve given more than 200 lectures in 25 states, and the #1 question I’m most frequently asked is, “Do you live in a Sears House?”

The short answer is, no, I do not live in a Sears House. However, I love old houses and I love old things. It’s my love of old things that compelled us (me and the new hubby) to purchase a 1925 Colonial Revival home. It’s a real beauty and it’s also a real money pit. My husband and I have spent an inordinate amount of time and money restoring the grand old home to its former glory.

To read more about my house, click here.

(Story continues below the photos.)

Pretty in pink

1925 Colonial Revival Home in Norfolk ,Virginia.

Our home as it appeared in 1948.

Our home as it appeared in 1948.

I have always loved old houses. I was born and raised in a 1925 Colonial Revival, much like the house I own now. That house was in Waterview, a 1920s neighborhood in Portsmouth Virginia.  My childhood home was built in 1925, and it was a solid brick home with a slate roof. Notice how similar it is to the house I now own in Norfolk?

My family home in Waterview (Portsmouth) as seen in April 1956, when we moved in.

My family home in Waterview (Portsmouth) as seen in April 1956, when we moved in.

In February 2006, my husband and I were looking for homes in Norfolk and that’s when I saw this house (see picture above) and immediately fell in love. I literally grabbed him the lapels and said, “I have to have this house.” Admittedly, it was a ridiculously emotional reaction, occasioned by the fact that it was very similar to the home in which I was born and raised.

As I’ve told many friends, it’s a breathtakingly beautiful wooden sculpture, and incredibly, we get to live and move and have our being within the four walls of this artistic creation.