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Posts Tagged ‘aladdin kit homes’

Modern Home #194: Brighton, Illinois

April 11th, 2012 Sears Homes 1 comment

When I started giving lectures in southwestern Illinois, several people approached me after the talks and said, “You know, there’s a Sears Home on East Center Street in Brighton.”

So many times I drove the length of East Center Street and never saw anything that looked remotely like a Sears House. And so many times I went home and studied Houses by Mail trying desperately to figure out if any of the houses in that field guide matched any houses on East Center Street.

I’ve since learned that 80%, people who think they have a Sears kit home are wrong. Often it turns out to be a kit home from another company, but in 2002, when I was still memorizing the 370 designs offered by Sears, I wasn’t equipped or prepared to figure out if this was something OTHER than a Sears House.

Finally, one day someone gave me a specific address. That helped - a whole lot.

I snapped a photo of the house form several angles and then sat down with my pictures and Houses by Mail and this time, I was not going to give up until I figured this out.

Lo and behold, I found my house. It was a modest little thing, but there it was: Sears Modern Home #194. It had been altered and added onto, but there was no doubt that this was a Sears kit home.

Once I discover and identify a Sears House “in the flesh,” I’ll never miss another one. Seeing these houses in 3-D helps me remember all their architectural nuances. And yet, despite that, I have never seen another #194, or  its close cousins, #193 and #196.

To read about the Sears Kit Homes of Ohio, click here.

To read about the Sears homes I found in Raleigh, NC click here.

To see a short video about my sweet aunt that was killed by her not-so-sweet husband, click here.

Sears Modern Home #193, 194 and 195 (1912)

Sears Modern Home #193, 194 and 195 (1912)

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Floor plan

This house is so small they don't even have room to spell out the word "pantry" on the floor plan. Maybe it's an abbreviation for the word "paltry"?

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Flor plan 2

The second floor shows the smallest bath in the world.

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house

Not a bad-looking little house.

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house

It's been added onto (quite a bit) and someone placed an exterior door to the cellar stairs (which is a good idea anyway), and it's been clad in the ugly garb of vinyl siding, but this is unmistakeably Modern Home #194.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

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“The Betsy Ross,” by Sears

April 8th, 2012 Sears Homes 3 comments

Of the 370 models that Sears offered, 107 Sears Homes were named after cities in Illinois. A few others were named after famous figures in American history, such as the Martha Washington and the Betsy Ross.

The Martha Washington was a massive two-story Dutch Colonial. The Betsy Ross was a diminutive bungalow with a single bedroom. Seems a little unfair for a widow woman who joined the “Fighting Quakers” and made our first flag during the American Revolutionary War.

In 1928, the Betsy Ross was an “Honor Bilt” home, but in prior years, it was a “Standard Bilt” house, meaning it not an especially sturdy house. To learn more about the differences between Honor-Bilt and Standard Bilt, click here.

The fact that it was offered for years as a Standard Bilt house may explain why it’s such a rare model. Standard Bilt homes were not likely to survive these many decades.

In my travels, I’ve only seen two examples of the Betsy Ross: One in Elgin (which Rebecca Hunter found), and one in Effingham, Illinois.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To learn how to identify Sears Homes, click here.

1928 Betsy

The Betsy Ross was a pretty modest little house, and as built, had only one bedroom (with a closet-less dining room that could be used as a second bedroom).

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Betsy Ross

Betsy Ross had a fairly complicated floorplan for such a little house. The dining room is oddly positioned for a "dining room." As a second bedroom, it made much more sense.

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house

Notice the cut-out shutters (with clover leaf) and details on the front porch gable.

Elgin, IL

Rebecca Hunter has authenticated this Betsy Ross in Elgin, Illinois. Notice the "spokes" in the front porch gable. This porch has gable returns, while the original Betsy Ross does not, and yet this house (in Elgin) is most certainly the real deal. Notice also the original shutters and flower boxes.

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Betsy Ross

Betsy Ross- the details

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To learn how to identify Sears Homes, click here.

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A Beautiful Saratoga in Mukwonago, Wisconsin

March 8th, 2012 Sears Homes 1 comment

My great aunt Addie has a lot of friends in Wisconsin. Even though Addie has been dead 111 years, she’s still a popular girl and Addie has more than 450 friends on Facebook.

At this website, my blogs on Addie have been viewed by more than 40,000 people.

And thanks to Addie, I’ve become friends with a woman named Heather who lives in Wisconsin. Heather reminds me of my own daughters. Heather is incredibly intelligent, well-read, sagacious, and best of all, she has a compassionate heart. Smart people are a blast, but when you find someone who’s smart and kind and wise, that’s a wonderful thing.

Heather possesses all those qualities. And she loves Sears Homes, too!

Recently, Heather found and photographed a beautiful old Sears House in Mukwonago, Wisconsin. It’s quite a house, and it’s in largely original condition.

To learn about the “Good, better, best” quality offered in the Sears Roebuck catalog, click here.

Sears Saratoga

Sears Saratoga, as seen in the 1922 catalog. Look at the price!

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Saratoga

Saratoga in Mukwonago, Wisconsin, looking much like it did when it was built more than 90 years ago. (Photo is copyright 2012 Heather Lukaszewski and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Saratoga house

Close-up of the line drawing in the 1922 catalog.

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Saratoga window

Detail on the Saratoga's ornate window

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Park Avenue window

And what a perfect match it is to the original picture! (Photo is copyright 2012 Heather Lukaszewski and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Detail on the columns

The columns are also a perfect match to the old catalog image. (Photo is copyright 2012 Heather Lukaszewski and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Column

Column as seen in the 1922 catalog.

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To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To learn more about Aunt Addie’s exhumation, click here.

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The Sears Homes in Washington, DC

March 8th, 2012 Sears Homes 10 comments

As of last month, more than 260,000 people have visited this website. As a result, more and more folks are sending me beautiful pictures of the Sears Homes in their neighborhood, and one of those people is Catarina Bannier, a Realtor in the DC area. (Visit her website here.)

Every house featured below was found and photographed by Catarina.

If you have a bundle of beautiful Sears Homes in your city, please send me your photos. Just leave a comment below (with your email, which will not be publicly visible), and I’ll contact you!

To learn more about how to identify Sears Homes, click here.

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First, my favorite house: The Sears Preston.

First, my favorite house in this bundle: The Sears Preston. The Preston was featured on the cover of "Houses by Mail," and yet it's a rare bird in the world of Sears Homes.

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And here it is in Washington, DC.

And here it is in Washington, DC, complete with its original shutters. Photo is copyright 2011 Catarina Bannier and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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The Sears Westly was a perennial favorite for Sears.

The Sears Westly was a perennial favorite for Sears (1919 catalog).

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This Westly is in shockingly beautiful condition.

This Westly is in wonderfully original condition. Even the original siding (shakes and clapboard) have survived several decades worth of pesky vinyl siding salesmen. Photo is copyright 2011 Catarina Bannier and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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The Sears Fullerton is a beautiful and classic foursquare (1925 catalog).

The Sears Fullerton is a beautiful and classic foursquare (1925 catalog).

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Fullerton

Even though the vinyl siding salesmen have "had their way" with this grand old house, you can still see the classic lines of the Fullerton. Photo is copyright 2011 Catarina Bannier and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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In addition to Sears, there were other companies that sold kit homes in the early 1900s, including Lewis Homes. They were based in Bay City, Michigan. Catarina has found several Lewis Homes in the DC area.

In addition to Sears, there were other companies that sold kit homes in the early 1900s, including "Lewis Homes." They were based in Bay City, Michigan. Catarina has found several Lewis Homes in the DC area.

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The Ardmore is an easy-to-recognize kit home because of its many unique architectural features.

The Ardmore is an easy-to-recognize kit home because of its many unique architectural features. Photo is copyright 2011 Catarina Bannier and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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The Sears Barrington was probably one of their Top 20 most popular homes (1928 catalog).

The Sears Barrington was probably one of their "Top 20" most popular homes (1928 catalog).

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Barrington

This Barrington in DC looks much like it did when built in the late 1920s. Photo is copyright 2011 Catarina Bannier and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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And one of my favorites, the Sears Alhambra.

And one of my favorites, the Sears Alhambra.

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Ive seen hundreds of Alhambras throughout the country but I have never seen one painted orange! Doesnt look too bad!

I've seen hundreds of Alhambras throughout the country but I have never seen one painted orange! Doesn't look too bad! It's a nice orange - kind of a "Popsicle Orange." And the house is in beautiful condition. Photo is copyright 2011 Catarina Bannier and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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And another Lewis Home, the Cheltenham (1922 catalog).

And another Lewis Home, the Cheltenham (1922 catalog).

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This Lewis Cheltenham in DC is in beautiful condition.

I have recurring dreams about a big beautiful 1920s Dutch Colonial that someone has left to me in their will. I'm a sap for a beautiful Dutch Colonial and the Cheltenham is one of the prettiest ones I've ever seen. Photo is copyright 2011 Catarina Bannier and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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On the rear cover of the 1930 Sears Modern Homes catalog, they listed a few of the Sears Modern Homes Sales Offices in the country. They placed these Sears Modern Homes Stores in communities were sales of kit homes were already quite strong, and once these stores were in place, sales (not surprisingly) became even stronger.

In the 1930s, Sears listed the location of their "Sears Modern Homes Sales Offices." They placed these "Sears Modern Homes Stores" in communities were sales of kit homes were already quite strong, and once these stores were in place, sales (not surprisingly) became even stronger. In DC, the Sears Modern Homes Sales Office was on Bladensburg Road.

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To learn more about Sears Homes, visit here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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The Sears Houses That Pat Found (in Ohio)!

February 27th, 2012 Sears Homes 6 comments

Two years ago, when my last computer burped twice and fell over dead, I recovered 35,000 photos from the hard drive. That was two years ago. Since then, I’ve added many more photos, and I’ve received (via email) several hundred photos. Sometimes, it takes me a while to get those photos organized and posted here at the website.

Pat of Ohio sent me these wonderful photos of kit homes in Ohio almost a year ago. They’re wonderful pictures, but even better than the pictures is the note she sent along.

Without your books, we would never have found such excitement and joy! Every time we spot another kit house, whether it be a Sears or an Aladdin, we get so excited! Of course, if my son is with us he just cringes when he sees the camera come out, because he knows many photos will be taken and his trip home will be delayed!

He now has a standard question before we leave the house: “Are you guys going to be looking at more houses? Because if you are, I’m staying here. You guys are obsessed!”

Below are a few of the kit homes that Pat found in Ohio.

First, the catalog page. Heres the Sears Windsor, also known as the Sears Carlin, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

Here's the Sears Windsor, also known as the Sears Carlin (1919 catalog).

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Sears Windsor in Willoughby, Ohio. Photo is copyright 2011 Pat Burton and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

Sears Windsor in Willoughby, Ohio. Photo is copyright 2011 Pat Burton and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Sears Kilborn, from the 1928 catalog.

Sears Kilbourne, from the 1928 catalog.

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Sears Kilborn, also in Willoughby Hills, Ohio.

Sears Kilborn, also in Willoughby Hills, Ohio. Photo is copyright 2011 Pat Burton and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Sears Americus, from the 1928 catalog.

Sears Americus, from the 1928 catalog.

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Sears Americus in Willoughby, Ohio.

Sears Americus in Willoughby, Ohio. Photo is copyright 2011 Pat Burton and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Sears Conway, from 1921.

Sears Conway, from 1921.

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Heres a darling Conway tucked behind the trees in Mayfield Heights, Ohio.

Here's a darling Conway tucked behind the trees in Mayfield Heights, Ohio. Photo is copyright 2011 Pat Burton and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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One of my favorites, the Dover, from 1928.

One of my favorites, the Dover, from 1928.

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And here it is in Mentor, Ohio.

And here it is in Mentor, Ohio. Still has its original batten shutters! Photo is copyright 2011 Pat Burton and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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The Sears Rodessa, from the 1928 catalog.

The Sears Rodessa, from the 1928 catalog.

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The Sears Rodessa in Mayfield Heights, Ohios.

The Sears Rodessa in Mayfield Heights, Ohio. Photo is copyright 2011 Pat Burton and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Sears Westly, as seen in the 1916 catalog.

Sears Westly, as seen in the 1916 catalog.

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Apparently, Mentor Ohio has many Sears Homes, such as this Westly. And so many of these homes have their original siding! entor Ohio.

Apparently, Mentor Ohio has many Sears Homes, such as this Westly. And so many of these homes have their original siding and railings. This is a real beauty. Photo is copyright 2011 Pat Burton and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Another favorite of mine, The Willard, a classic neo-tudor (1928 catalog).

Another favorite of mine, The Willard, a classic neo-tudor (1928 catalog).

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Altered, but still identifiable.

Altered, but still identifiable. One of the classic features of the Willard are those three windows on the left (in this photo). This house is in Lyndhurst, Ohio. Photo is copyright 2011 Pat Burton and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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The Sears Barrington was also a popular house (1928 catalog).

The Sears Barrington was also a popular house (1928 catalog).

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And this sweet thing is in Willoughby.

And this sweet thing is in Willoughby. Photo is copyright 2011 Pat Burton and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Pat also found a house by Harris Brothers (a competitor of Sears). The J-181 was a very popular house for Harris Brothers.

Pat also found a house by Harris Brothers (a competitor of Sears). The J-181 was a very popular house for Harris Brothers.

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And heres the J-181 in Hudson, Ohio.

And here's the J-181 in Hudson, Ohio. Photo is copyright 2011 Pat Burton and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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To keep reading about Sears Homes, click here.

To learn how to identify kit homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s books, click here.

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Sears Kit Homes in My Town: Norfolk, Virginia

January 24th, 2012 Sears Homes 8 comments

How many Sears Homes does Norfolk have? A whole bunch. In fact, Norfolk has more than 80 kit homes from a variety of kit-home companies, including Aladdin, Sears, Lewis Manufacturing, Harris Brothers and Gordon Van Tine.

In 2004, a local college went scouting for kit homes in Norfolk. I read their finished report and was not surprised that they missed most of these 80+ kit homes. This is a work that I have dedicated my life to, and it’s not a project one can endeavor to undertake on a spare weekend.

When I first started hunting for kit homes in Norfolk, I was expecting to find a couple dozen - at the most. I was surprised (and delighted) to find so many of them, and in diverse group of neighborhoods, such as West Ghent, Ingleside, Larchmont, Ocean View, Park Place, Colonial Place, Riverview, Lafayette Winona and more.

Born and raised in Portsmouth, I’ll always be a “Portsmouth Girl.” In 1995, our little family left Hampton Roads and moved to the St. Louis area, where we lived for 11 years.  In 2006, I moved back to the area, met and married a nice guy who worked for the city of Norfolk, and that’s when Norfolk became my new home.

I’m still learning how to navigate the labyrinthine streets, and still making new discoveries. Who knew Norfolk could be so much fun?  :)

To read about the Sears Homes I found in Newport News, click here.

The Sears Roanoke, as shown in the 1920 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

The Sears Roanoke, as shown in the 1920 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

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Of all the houses Ive found in Norfolk, this is far and away my #1 favorite. This is an older picture, but its a perfect Sears Roanoke in Norfolk (off of Colley Avenue). The owner (Robert) loves his beautiful Roanoke, and Ive never come across *anyone* who loves (and respects) the historical significance of his Sears House, more than this fellow. The house is a gem, and thanks to Robert, this 90-year-old home has been faithfully and meticulously restored.

Of all the houses I've found in Norfolk, this is far and away my #1 favorite. This is a perfect Sears Roanoke in Norfolk (off Colley Avenue). The owner (Robert) loves his beautiful Roanoke, and I've never come across *anyone* who loves (and appreciates) the historical significance of his Sears House, more than this fellow. The house is a gem, and thanks to Robert, this 90-year-old home has been faithfully and meticulously restored.

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The Sears Lebanon, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

The Sears Lebanon, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

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Another treasure of a house, and also in good condition. Its on 28th Street, just off Colley Avenue.

Another treasure of a house, and also in good condition. It's on 28th Street, just off Colley Avenue. See the small pieces of wood that jut out under that dormer window? Those are the old supports that held up the flower boxes (seen in original catalog image).

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The Whitehall is easy to identify with that two-story bay window (1926).

The Whitehall is easy to identify with that two-story bay window (1926).

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Next door to the Sears Lebanon is this Whitehall (27th Street).

Next door to the Sears Lebanon is this Whitehall (28th Street).

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Sears Argyle (1919 catalog).

Sears Argyle (1919 catalog).

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This sweet little Sears Argyle is hidden away in the 900-block of 28th Street.

This sweet little Sears Argyle is hidden away in the 900-block of 28th Street.

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Heres another Argyle in Ocean View.

Here's another Argyle in Ocean View.

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The Alhambra was another popular Sears kit home.

The Alhambra was another popular Sears kit home.

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Heres a modified Alhambra on Westover Avenue in Ghent.

Here's a modified Alhambra on Westover Avenue in West Ghent. It's one of three exact models, all in a row. A distinctive feature of the Alhambra is the three squared-bay windows.

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The Alhambra floorplan shows those three squared bays.

The Alhambra floorplan shows those three squared bays.

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One of my favorites is the Harris Brothers La Grange (1923 catalog).

One of my favorites is the Harris Brothers "La Grange" (1923 catalog).

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There are two of these in Ocean View. Heres one on Capitol Avenue.

There are two of these in Ocean View. Here's one on Capitol Avenue. Notice the curved front porch, and casement windows flanking the fireplace.

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Not surprisingly, there are many Aladdin kit homes in Norfolk. Aladdin was a bigger company than Sears, and remained in business un 1981. Aladdin had a huge mill at Wilmington, NC.

Not surprisingly, there are many Aladdin kit homes in Norfolk. Aladdin was a bigger company than Sears, and remained in business un 1981. Aladdin had a huge mill at Wilmington, NC.

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There are two of these Aladdin Edisons right next door to ODU in the 800-block of 46th Street.

There are two of these Aladdin Edisons right next door to ODU in the 800-block of 46th Street.

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Aladdin Virginia from the 1919 Aladdin catalog.

Aladdin Virginia from the 1919 Aladdin catalog.

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Aladdin Virginia on Virginia Avenue in the state of Virginia!

This Aladdin "Virginia" is on Virginia Avenue in the state of Virginia (in Colonial Place). It's in wonderful condition and it's a spot-on match to the original catalog image.

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The Aladdin Pasadena and there are three of them in Norfolk.

There are three Aladdin Pasadenas in Norfolk.

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This Aladdin Pasadena is in the 1600-block of LaSalle Avenue in Lafayette-Winona.

This Aladdin Pasadena is in the 1600-block of LaSalle Avenue in Lafayette-Winona.

Its turned sideways on the lot, which made the initial identification a little challenging, but theres no doubt that this is a Pasadena. Look at the detail around the front porch.

It's turned sideways on the lot, which made the initial identification a little challenging, but there's no doubt that this is a Pasadena. Look at the architectural details around the front porch. This house is on 49th Street in Norfolk.

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Close-up of the porch on this sideways Pasadena.

Close-up of the porch on this sideways Pasadena.

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The Aladdin Winthrop is easy to identify with those four bricks columns on the porch, only two of which have wooden columns extending to the porch roof.

The Aladdin Winthrop is easy to identify with those four bricks columns on the porch, only two of which have wooden columns extending to the porch roof. Another interesting feature is the window in the side of the dining room bay.

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This Aladdin Winthrop is even the same colors as its original catalog image. Its in the 3000-block of Tidewater Drive.

This Aladdin Winthrop is even the same colors as its original catalog image. It's in Lafayette Winona, and it's in beautifully original condition!

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The Sheffield as seen in the 1919 catalog.

The "Sheffield" as seen in the 1919 catalog.

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This one is in Lafayette-Winona.

This one is in Lafayette-Winona, and it's a perfect match!

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The Aladdin Pomona, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

The Aladdin Pomona, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

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The Aladdin Pomona in Lafayette-Winona.

The Aladdin Pomona in Lafayette-Winona. The windows have been changed but it's undoubtedly a Pomona. And it's in a neighborhood with several Aladdins!

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The Plaza was a grand house, and spacious too.

The Plaza was a grand house, and spacious too.

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And here is my #1 favorite kit house in all of Hampton Roads: The Aladdin Plaza, in beautifully original condition.

And here is my #1 favorite kit house in all of Hampton Roads: The Aladdin Plaza, in beautifully original condition.

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Gordon Van Tine was another mail-order kit home company that was based in Davenport, Iowa.

Gordon Van Tine was another mail-order kit home company that was based in Davenport, Iowa. This design ("The Roberts") was one of their most popular houses.

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This Roberts is in Ocean View and is beautiful condition!

This "Roberts" is in Ocean View and is beautiful condition!

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The Glenn Falls was one of Sears biggest and best kit homes (1928 catalog).

The Glenn Falls was one of Sears biggest and best kit homes (1928 catalog).

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And this one is in West Ghent!

And this one is in West Ghent!

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The Sears Avondale was a popular house.

The Sears Avondale was a popular house (1919 catalog), and spacious, too.

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And this one is on Victorian Avenue. Its well-hidden by the trees, but theres no doubt that its a Sears Avondale.

And this one is on Victoria Avenue. It's well-hidden by the trees, but there's no doubt that it's a Sears Avondale. This is a mirror image of the catalog page above. Notice the large bay window? It's on the "flip side" of the catalog picture.

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The Sears Vallonia was one of Sears best-selling homes (1925 catalog).

The Sears Vallonia was one of Sears best-selling homes (1925 catalog).

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Located in Ocean View (on Mason Avenue), its been converted into a duplex, but its definitely a Vallonia.

Located in Ocean View (on Mason Avenue), it's been converted into a duplex, but it's definitely a Sears Vallonia, with an enlarged dormer.

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Sears Westly, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

Sears Westly, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

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And a Sears Westly on Tennesee Road. This was a real surprise, because most of these houses are post-1940s.

And a Sears Westly on Tennessee Road. This was a real surprise, because most of the houses on this street are post-1940s.

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And heres a Sears Westly (now a duplex, sadly) in Ocean View.

And another Sears Westly (now a duplex, sadly) in Ocean View.

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The Sears Barrington was a popular house (1929 catalog).

The Sears Barrington was a popular house (1929 catalog).

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This Barrington is in Ocean View, and its a good match to the catalog picture.

This Barrington is in Ocean View, and it's a good match to the catalog picture.

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The Sears Americus is also easy to identify, because that bumped-out wall on the second floor does not exist on the first floor.

The Sears Americus is also easy to identify, because that bumped-out wall on the second floor does not exist on the first floor. The porch roof also catches my eye, because it juts out beyond the home's main wall, and is shaped like a sideways "V."

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This Americus is in Park Place is in the 600-block of 27th Street. Park Place has several kit homes.

This Americus is in Park Place is in the 600-block of 27th Street. Park Place has several kit homes. There's a special place in hell for the guy who did this siding job. Look what he did to the eave brackets. Plus, like so many other Sears Homes in Norfolk, it's been turned into a duplex.

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There is not one, but two Aladdin Venuses (or woult that be Venii?) in Park Place.

There are two Aladdin "Venuses" (or would that be "Venii"?) in Park Place.

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This Aladdin Venus still has its original casement windows. Its on 38th.

This Aladdin Venus still has its original casement windows. It's on 38th Street.

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And this Aladdin Venus is on 36th Street.

The Venus was offered in two floor plans. There was a Mama Bear-sized Venus and a Papa Bear-sized Venus. This one (on 36th street) is the larger model. The one on 38th Street (shown above) was the smaller model.

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Norfolk is also home to many plan book houses. Plan books were akin to kit homes, but with plan book homes, you ordered the blueprints and a list of building materials that would be needed. The actual building materials were then obtained locally.  This house shown here is a Homebuilders Carrville.

Norfolk is also home to many "plan book" houses. Plan books were akin to "kit homes," but with plan book homes, you ordered the blueprints and a list of building materials that would be needed. The actual building materials were then obtained locally. This house shown here is a "Homebuilder's Carrville."

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And heres a pristine example in Ocean View.

And here's a pristine example in Ocean View. The Ocean View home has straight gables, unlike the catalog image, which has the clipped gables. That minor alteration would have been easy to do.

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Putting these photos together took about 50 hours of work (spread out over a period of months). Looking for kit homes is always fun, but after a few hours, both Teddy and I come back home dog tired.

Putting this blog together took about 50 hours of work (spread out over a period of months). Finding these early 20th Century kit homes is always fun, but also a bit tiring. After a few hours of "house hunting," Teddy and I usually return home "dog tired."

As mentioned, there are more than 80 kit homes in Norfolk. The above are just a few of them.

Please share this link with friends!

To learn more about the kit homes in Ocean View, click here.

To see pictures of kit homes in Colonial Place, click here.

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A Not-So-Nobby Neighborhood in Newport News With Numerous Kit Homes!

January 21st, 2012 Sears Homes 11 comments

It’s called, “East End,” and it’s a badly blighted, crime-ridden part of the otherwise lovely, history laden city of Newport News (Virginia). Despite the fact that I’m a native of Tidewater, I never knew this neighborhood existed, until I stumbled upon it while looking for a particular house in Hampton!

After my fortuitous stumble into East End, I discovered a Sears kit home I had never seen before. After 12 years of playing with kit homes, that doesn’t happen too often these days. And yet here it was, in Newport News, which is next door to Norfolk (where I live). To learn more about these early 20th Century kit homes, click here.

The next day I returned to East End to get a better photo of this Sears House, and I found several more kit homes. I returned a couple days later and spent 90 minutes driving to and fro in this neighborhood. It’s my hope and prayer that this research might encourage the important people in Newport News to think about what can be done to preserve and protect this truly remarkable collection of kit homes.

As I told my husband, this is the type of discovery I’d expect to make in a Chicago suburb (where there’s an abundance of kit homes). Here in Virginia, I’ve never seen anything quite like this. And due to the straitened economic circumstances of this neighborhood, some of these houses are in largely original condition. (In addition to the Sears kit homes, I also found several houses from Aladdin, which also sold entire kit houses through mail order. In fact, I found more Aladdin kit homes than Sears!)

The research and writing of this blog consumed many, many hours of my life. Please share this link with others, who may have any interest in our cultural and architectural history.

Enjoy the many photos and please leave a comment below.

To read about the kit homes I found in Hampton, click here.

The first house that caught my eye was this Sears Model #119. Its a grand old house, and the house in Newport News is the first one Ive seen in person.

The first house that caught my eye was this Sears Model #119. It's a grand old house, and the house in Newport News is the first one I've ever seen "in the flesh."

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Hard to believe, but someone built this house from a kit. These houses arrived via train, and came with 12,000 pieces and a 75-page instruction book. I can only imagine how hard it was for this homes original builder to leave this wonderful home. More than 50% of the time, these homes were built by average men and women who were just trying to capture a piece of the American Dream.

Hard to believe, but someone built this house from a kit. These houses arrived via train, and came with 12,000 pieces and a 75-page instruction book. I can only imagine how hard it was for this home's original builder to leave this home that he'd built - with his own hands - for his family. These homes were built to last for GENERATIONS, and they were made with superior quality building materials. This house is on Marshall Avenue.

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Side-by-side comparison of the two houses.

Side-by-side comparison of the two images.

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The Hathaway was a cute little house, and affordable, and probably not too tough to build.

The Hathaway was a cute little house, and affordable, and probably not too tough to build.

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Here it is, in PRISTINE condition. Notice that even the original lattice work is still in place, and is a spot-on match to the catalog image. Just incredible! Probably one of my favorite finds!

Here it is, in PRISTINE condition, and sitting unobtrusively on Hampton Avenue (in Newport News). Notice that even the original lattice work is still in place, and is a spot-on match to the catalog image. Just incredible! Probably one of my favorite finds!

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A comparison of the two images shows

A comparison of the two images. What a treasure!

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Just as I was getting ready to head home, I turned down 26th Street and lo and behold, what did I see, but a PERFECT Aladdin Brentwood smiling back at me!

Just as I was getting ready to head home, I turned down 26th Street and lo and behold, what did I see, but a PERFECT Aladdin Brentwood smiling back at me! This image (shown here) is from the 1914 Aladdin catalog. This is a classic Arts & Crafts design, and a beautiful house.

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A perfect Aladdin Brentwood. Made me gasp out loud, followed by paroxsyms of great joy.

A perfect Aladdin Brentwood. When I happened upon this house, I made a high-pitched happy noise, followed by paroxysms of great joy. But this poor old Aladdin Brentwood is in rough shape, and needs quite a bit of work. The balcony's railing (upper left of photo) is literally falling off the house. This house is across the street from the Pearl Bailey Public Library.

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Side by side comparison to the two houses.

Side by side comparison to the two houses. Pretty sweet house!

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The Aladdin Venus, as seen in the 1919 Aladdin catalog.

The Aladdin Venus, as seen in the 1919 Aladdin catalog. The L-shaped front porch is a distinctive feature on the Aladdin Venus.

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And here it is.

What is it about this color and Aladdin Homes in East End?

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Another very nice match.

Another very nice match. As a side note, photographing this house was very difficult, as it was on the right side of the road on a one-way street (26th Street), and I wasn't prepared to park the car, and hoof it to the house just to get a good shot.

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The Sears Westly, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

The Sears Westly, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

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And heres a Sears Westly.

And here's a Sears Westly in good condition on 23rd Street.

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Again, a very sweet match to the original catalog picture!

Again, a very sweet match to the original catalog picture!

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The Aladdin Marsden was probably one of their top five most popular houses.

The Aladdin Marsden was probably one of their top five most popular houses.

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Look at the deatil of the brickword around the chimney!

Look at the detail of the brickwork on the chimney!

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And its for Better class workers!

This Sears Home was for "Better class" workers!

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Ouch.

Ouch. At least the satellite dish is dressed up for the holidays.

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Compare

Poor little "Carlin."

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Lewis Manufacturing was yet another early 20th Century kit home company.

Lewis Manufacturing was yet another early 20th Century kit home company.

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I suspect this *may* be a Lewis Pelham, but Im not convinced.

I suspect this *may* be a Lewis Pelham, but I'm not convinced. There are a lot of things that are "just right" and match the Pelham very nicely. Notice the squared bay with a shed roof, and the four round columns on the front porch. It's a good match to the Pelham, but not perfect. Hard to see here, but in "person" you can tell that four windows in that gabled dormer were removed and sided over. And check out the action on the back roof. This classic bungalow is becoming an A-Frame. Icky.

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If you look closely at these windows, you can seem that a few have been blanked out and covered up.

If you look closely at this dormer, you can see that a few windows have been removed and covered up.

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From the 1910 catalog, this is the Sears Model #123.

From the 1910 catalog, this is the Sears Model #123.

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This house in East End is SO close, but just not quite right.

This house in East End is SO close, but just not quite right. This house has so many odd architectural details (the pedimented porch, the two different-size dormers on the side, the bay under the larger dormer), but it's not 100% perfect.

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At the end of the day, Teddy and I were tired, and ready to come home.

At the end of the day, Teddy The Amazing House Hunting Dog was tired, and ready to move on to the next adventure - LUNCH! We'd both had an exciting day with lots of fun discoveries, but we were glad to come home and chow down on some tasty kibble.

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I’m confident that there are many more kit homes in this small part of Newport News, and I hope to return one day (with a driver), and do a little more searching. It’s hard to focus on houses when there are so many people milling about in the street.  :(  Plus, while I was in this area, I saw TWO drivers blow past stop signs, without even pausing to glance at traffic. Scary. And then sometime last night, some poor soul was shot repeatedly in this very area.

Please leave a comment below, and please share this link with friends, via Facebook, twitter or even plain old email!

To learn more about the kit homes of Hampton Roads, click here.

To read about kit homes in nearby Hampton, click here.

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Lost in Schenectady!

January 16th, 2012 Sears Homes No comments

In 2004, Dale Wolicki invited me and Rebecca to visit him in Michigan. One of our stops was Bay City, where we saw all manner of Aladdin kit homes, including “The Oxford.” Our wonderful tour guide (Dale), told us that the photograph of the Oxford model (shown in the 1931 catalog) was the very same Oxford that had been built in Bay City. It was the “original model,” and the only Oxford in Bay City.

Sears was the most-well known of the kit home companies, but Aladdin was bigger.  Aladdin was the first kit home company, starting business in 1906. Sears started two years later, in 1908. Aladdin outlasted all the others, remaining in business until 1981. Sears sold about 70,000 kit homes. Aladdin sold more than 75,000.

To learn more about Aladdin, click here.

I’ve only seen two Oxfords in my travels. The first was in Bay City, MI and the second was in Lorain, Ohio. And apparently, there’s a third one in Schenectady, NY (according to the testimony below).

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The flared front gable makes this house very distinctive. Image is from the 1931 catalog.

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And theres one

And there's one in Schenectady, NY, built by Mr. and Mrs. H. L. Newell.

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Heres the house we saw that day with Dale. Its in Bay City, and is the same house shown in the 1932 catalog above.

Here's the house we saw that day with Dale. It's in Bay City, and is the same house shown in the 1931 catalog above. This photo was taken in 2004. Must have been July, because there's no snow on the ground.

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Flo

I love this floorplan. Notice the "Radio Room" on the first floor! This was a room dedicated to that most important appliance - the radio! Today, we build entertainment centers bigger than this!

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Secon

The largest bedroom is a mere 12 by 13. Not very big!

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The 1931 catalog had a two-page spread on the Oxford.

The 1931 catalog had a two-page spread on the Oxford, and yet the captions mention that some of these images are NOT pictures of the Oxford.

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My favorite feature in this little 1931 catalog are the interior views.

My favorite feature in this little 1931 catalog are the interior views. The caption states that two small bedrooms were turned into one large bedroom.

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Living

Nice big living room. Love the furniture.

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Kit

But this classic 1931 kithcen is the best room in the house.

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And it has a breakfast nook.

And it has a breakfast nook. I have a thing for breakfast nooks. Again, this is apparently NOT the Oxford's kitchen because there's no provision for a breakfast nook in the floorplan.

Click here to read more about breakfast nooks.

The cover of the 1931 Aladdin catalog is a study unto itself.

The cover of the 1931 Aladdin catalog is a study unto itself.

To read more about the cover of this Aladdin catalog, click here.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

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The Sears Alhambra: A Spanish-Flavored Foursquare

January 10th, 2012 Sears Homes 4 comments

The Sears Alhambra was a classic foursquare with a splash of mission style added for good measure.

Here in Hampton Roads, I’ve found 10 Alhambras, which really is a testimony to the popularity of this Sears kit home. In Ohio, there are probably hundreds. (Ohio seems to have a whole lot of Sears Homes in general and Alhambras in particular.)

Click here to see even more photos of America’s Alhambras.

Click here to see the blog titled, “Alhambra Abuse.”  (Warning: It’s not pretty.)

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This appeared on page 2 of the Sears Building Materials catalog (1921)

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Close-up of the letter written by A. C. Goodall.

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Alhambra

The beautiful Alhambra - as seen in the 1921 Building Materials catalog.

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Sears Alhambra in Portsmouth, Virginia (my home town)

Sears Alhambra in Portsmouth, Virginia (my home town). This house is in the 1500-block of County Street, and it's surrounded by blocks and blocks of empty lots, razed during a redevelopment period in Portsmouth's history. I can't help but wonder - how many Sears kit homes now sit in the Suffolk landfill from this neighborhood?

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Sears Alhambra as seen in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Sears Alhambra as seen in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

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One of the most beautiful Alhambras even seen in captivity! This is in Peotone, IL and the photo is copyright 2010 Dale Wolicki, and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

One of the most beautiful Alhambras even seen in captivity! This is in Peotone, IL and the photo is copyright 2010 Dale Wolicki, and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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A real beauty in Bedford, Pennsylvania.

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Another beautiful Alhambra in Nebraska. This photo is copyright 2010 Nathan Sonnenchein, and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

Another beautiful Alhambra in Nebraska. This photo is copyright 2010 Nathan Sonnenchein, and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Like its Virginia cousin, this Alhambra is also painted a light yellow. This pretty house is in Lexington, Virginia.

Like its cousin in Portsmouth, this Alhambra is also painted a light yellow. This pretty house is in Lexington, Virginia.

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Another vote for the beige pant job!  This perfect Alhambra is in Raleigh.

Beige seems to be a favorite color for the Alhambra. This is in Raleigh.

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We have four of these houses in Ghent (Norfolk). Im confident that theyre Alhambras - and the floorplan is a spot-on match - but the spanish extras are not there.

We have four of these houses in West Ghent (Norfolk). I'm confident that they're Alhambras - and the floorplan is a spot-on match - but the spanish extras are not there.

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Another view of the house in West Ghent. You can see its got the two bay windows on the side - just like a real Alhambra!

Another view of the house in West Ghent. You can see it's got the two bay windows on the side - just like a real Alhambra!

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And this is a Sears Alhambra, sans Spanish-flavored extras!

There are four of these "plain-Jane Alhambras" in Norfolk. Three are in West Ghent (shown above) and this one is in Ocean View (Norfolk). Note, it's a little different from the three in West Ghent, as it has the porch (covered and open) that matches the traditional Alhambra.

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This Alhambra has also had some of its unique architectural elements stripped away, but you can still see its an Alhambra!

This Alhambra has also has also lost some of its unique architectural elements, but you can still see it's an Alhambra! This is in Lynchburg, VA.

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Sears Alhambra in Gaffney

Sears Alhambra in Gaffney, SC. My favorite color: Lavender!

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Sears Alhambra in Portsmouth, Virginia (Cradock area)

Alhambra in Portsmouth, Virginia (Cradock). I discovered this Alhambra when an elderly gent attended my lecture in Port Norfolk (Portsmouth). We had four people show up for that lecture, so I was mighty glad when he and his wife appeared, and increased the audience size by 50%! After the talk, he invited me to see this Alhambra, and he had the original blue prints!

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Alhambra Interiors - as seen in the 1921 catalog.

Alhambra Interiors - as seen in the 1921 catalog.

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Close-up of the Alhambra Living Room

Close-up of the Alhambra Living Room.

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And the dining room.

And check out that chandelier in the dining room.

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A matching Alhambra garage was offered in the late 1910s!

A matching "Alhambra" garage was offered in the late 1910s!

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To see more pictures of Sears Alhambras, visit All Things Alhambra, part 2.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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The Sears Avondale - and There’s One Hiding in Greeley, Colorado!

January 9th, 2012 Sears Homes 33 comments

Updated! To read the latest and see contemporary photos of the house, click here

There’s a Sears Avondale somewhere in Greeley, Colorado and that’s remarkable for two reasons.

One, Sears Homes aren’t that common in the “Far West” (as that area was known in the early 1900s), and two, of the 370 models offered by Sears Roebuck, the Avondale was one of their finest homes. The Avondale in Greeley was built by W. H. Senier, a member of one of the pioneer families of Greeley.

Scroll on down to see an actual photo (from 1916) of this Sears Avondale in Greeley.

To read more about Sears Homes, click here.

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Noothing like old photos

This photo first appeared in the 1912 Sears Modern Homes catalog. It's a great photo and you can see that - when built in 1910 or 1911, Mr. Senier's house had stained glass windows. This was an upgrade, and it's likely that the home's interior had some fancy upgrades as well.

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A clearer photo of the Avondale, from the 1919 Sears Modern Homes catalog

A clearer photo of the Avondale, from the 1919 Sears Modern Homes catalog

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This whouse

This "bungalow" was the Sears Avondale, replete with stained-glass windows.

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Nice inside, too.

Nice inside, too.

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And heres a real-life example in Effingham, IL.

And here's a real-life example in Effingham, IL.

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And one in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (Photo is courtesy of Rachel Shoemaker, and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

And one in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (Photo is courtesy of Rachel Shoemaker, and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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The best of both worlds: Large antenna mounted on Sears Avondale in Litchfield, Illinois

And a very fine Avondale in Litchfield, Illinois.

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And a two-story Avondale in Elmhurst, Illinois. This was built as an Avondale (one-story) and enlarged in later years.  Thanks to Rebecca Hunter for showing me this house. I couldnt have found it on a bet.

And a two-story Avondale in Elmhurst, Illinois. This was built as an Avondale (one-story) and enlarged in later years. Thanks to Dr. Rebecca Hunter for finding this house and showing it to me. I would have never have found it on my own.

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Catalog picture of the Sears Avondale

Catalog picture of the Sears Avondale from 1919.

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And the Avon

The Avondale was a popular house for years. It's shown here in the 1910 catalog.


If you’ve any idea where our Greeley Avondale might be lurking, please leave a comment!

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

To read about the results of Addie’s autopsy, click here. (Addie’s sister - Anna Hoyt Whitmore - lived in Denver for 50 years.)

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