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Posts Tagged ‘aladdin kit homes’

The Prettiest Little Sears Homes You Ever Did See (in the Chicago Suburbs)

October 4th, 2011 Sears Homes 2 comments

In early 2009, The History Press contacted me and asked me to write a book about the Sears Homes of Illinois.

For more than three weeks, I traveled throughout Illinois, documenting and photographing the Sears Homes from Cairo to Chicago.

My adventure began in early February 2010, when I took the Amtrak to Chicago (from Charlottesville) and the Metra to Elgin, where I met up with Rebecca Hunter in Elgin. For three whole days, Rebecca drove me throughout the northern Illinois suburbs, helping me photograph these amazing Sears Homes. For three whole days, Rebecca allowed me to stay in her home, too!

To learn more about Rebecca, click here. Thanks wholly to Dr. Rebecca Hunter, more than 200 Sears homes have been identified in Elgin. By the way, this makes Elgin the city with the largest known collection of Sears Homes in the country - not Carlinville (as is often misreported).

To learn more about the Sears Homes in Elgin, visit the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin, and check out The Elgin Illinois Sears House Research Project (by Rebecca Hunter). This book is also available for interlibrary loan within the state of Illinois. You can also visit Dr. Hunter’s website at www.kithouse.org.

By the way, if you like what you see, please share the link with others!  :)

To read more about the Sears Homes in the Midwest, click here.

The Sears Normandy: A very rare kit home!

The Sears Normandy: A very rare kit home!

The only Normandy Ive ever seen was in Elmhurst, and  its a pretty one!

The only Normandy I've ever seen was in Elmhurst, and it's a pretty one!

Sears Princeville, as seen in the 1919 cataog.

Sears Princeville, as seen in the 1919 cataog.

Sears Princeville in West Charles.

Sears Princeville in West Chicago, with an enclosed porch.

Another Sears Princeville, and this one is in St. Charles.

Another Sears Princeville, and this one is in St. Charles. Notice, it's been slightly remodeled. I would never have identified this as a Sears House, but Rebecca found it using grantor records. It is a confirmed Princeville, based on old mortgage records. Rest in peace, poor little Princeville. I'm sure you were a beauty back in the day.

An especially odd-looking duck, the #124 didnt last long enough to be granted a name. In 1918, Sears Homes were given names (instead of numbers).

An especially odd-looking duck, the #124 didn't last long enough to be granted a name. In 1918, Sears Homes were given names (instead of numbers).

S

Looking much like it did when built in 1916, this house is in Crystal Lake.

From the 1928 catalog, the Solace was a fairly popular house, but those original pergola ends (front porch) rarely survive the decades.

From the 1928 catalog, the Solace was a fairly popular house, but those original pergola ends (front porch) rarely survive the decades.

This little Solace is in Wheaton.

This little Solace is in Wheaton. Those three windows on the side (descending in size) always catch my eye. A small, clipped-gable dormer was added to this Solace.

Searss Newbury, from the 1936 cataog.

Searss Newbury, from the 1936 cataog.

This Newbury is in Elmhurst, and its a spot-on match to the catalog page.

This Newbury is in Elmhurst, and it's a spot-on match to the catalog page.

Sears Lexington from a late 1920s Sears catalog.

Sears Lexington from a late 1920s Sears catalog.

Sears Lexington in Glen Ellyn, IL

Sears Lexington in Glen Ellyn, IL. Notice the oversized cornice returns, and also that goofy placement of the window/door on the second floor balcony. Very unusual feature.

Sears Hathaway from the 1921 catalog.

Sears Hathaway from the 1921 catalog.

Sears Hathawaay in Elmhurst. This is another very rare house. I dont think Ive seen five in 10 years.

Sears Hathawaay in Elmhurst. This is another very rare house. I don't think I've seen five in 10 years.

Columbine

Columbine, from 1921.

This Columbine in Wheaton has had several changes, but fortunately, the remodelings and additions have been done in a sensitive, thoughtful way.

This Columbine in Wheaton has had several changes, but fortunately, the remodelings and additions have been done in a sensitive, thoughtful way.


A bungalow from the Golden West the Osborn was another very popular house. This one is on a corner lot in Annapolis.

A "bungalow from the Golden West" the Osborn was another very popular house. This picture from the 1919 Sears Modern Homes catalog also shows interior views of The Osborn.

Sears Osborn in St. Charles, Illinois

Sears Osborn in St. Charles, Illinois (next door to the Princeville, above).

The Sears Newcastle was a Colonial Revival and a popular design

The Sears Newcastle was a Colonial Revival and a popular design

Sears Newcastle in northern Illinois

Sears Newcastle in Geneva, Illinois

Sears Matoka, another popular Sears Homes

Sears Matoka, another popular Sears Homes

Sears Matoka in St. Charles

Sears Matoka in St. Charles

Sears Fullerton

Sears Fullerton

Sears Fullerton in Aurora, Illinois

Sears Fullerton in Aurora, Illinois

Sears Fullerton in Elgin, Illinois

Sears Fullerton in Elgin, Illinois

Sears Del Rey

Sears Del Rey

Sears Del Rey in Wheaton, Illinois

Sears Del Rey in Wheaton, Illinois

Sears Marina, Model #2024

Sears Marina, Model #2024

Sears Marina (2024) in West Chicago

Sears Marina (2024) in Geneva, Illinois

The Sears Hamilton was a modest, but a big seller for Sears.

The Sears Hamilton was a modest, but a big seller for Sears.

Sears Hamilton in Elgin, IL

Sears Hamilton in Elgin, IL

Perhaps one of their top ten most popular designs, the Sears Crescent was offered in two floor plans, with an expandable attic option in both plans.

Perhaps one of their top ten most popular designs, the Sears Crescent was offered in two floor plans, with an expandable attic option in both plans.

Crescent in Elmhurst, IL

Significantly remodeled Crescent in Elmhurst, IL

The most notable feature on the Americus (shown here from the 1925 catalog) was the oversized front porch roof, unique front columns and the second floor front wall that juts out a little from the first.

The most notable feature on the Americus (shown here from the 1925 catalog) was the oversized front porch roof, unique front columns and the second floor front wall that juts out a little from the first.

Sears Americus in Glen Ellyn, Illinois

Sears Americus in Glen Ellyn, Illinois

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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Where Art Thou, Little Ethel?

September 19th, 2011 Sears Homes 1 comment

Here in Norfolk, we have 16 little bungalows (dubbed, “The Ethel”) that were originally built at another location, and then moved here by George P. Hudson on April 14, 1922.*

Several months ago, we learned that 3,000 miles away (in Dupont, Washington), there are dozens of identical bungalows, built by Dupont for the dynamite factory. Thanks to Lee and Joh from the Dupont Historical Museum in Dupont, Washington,  we now that the little houses were built in Fall 1909.

And then old-house lover and researcher Mark Hardin found another neighborhood of these “Ethel Bungalows” in a little village just outside of Butte, Montana. (It was Mark who found the houses in Dupont, too.) More recently, an Ethel was spotted by Rachel Shoemaker in Oklahoma.

So, our Ethel Bunaglow in Norfolk (which came from somewhere else) is a spot-on match to the company houses in Dupont, Washington,  and Butte, Montana. And there’s also one (and maybe hundreds more) in Muskogee, Oklahoma.

Fellow old-house lover Mark Mckillop took a trip to Dupont, Washington and photographed more than 100 of the houses in that tiny village , and then sent me the photos. His photographs prove (as we suspected) that the Ethel Bungalows in Dupont are indeed identical to the Ethel Bungalows here in Norfolk.

To read more about what we’ve learned thus far, read Part Five of this ongoing (and fascinating) story.

Despite what we’ve learned, many unanswered questions remain. Are these “Ethels” kit homes from Aladdin? Are they pattern book houses? If not, where did DuPont get this design? Why are these houses popping up in several of Dupont’s neighborhoods? And where did the houses in Norfolk come from?

If you’ve any information to contribute, please post a note in the comment’s section below!

* Thanks to Norfolk historian David Spriggs for finding that date, and also finding the name of the man who moved them! To learn more about what David learned, click here.

Our Ethel Bungalow in Dupont, Washington. All photos are courtesy of Mark Mckillop and may not be reproduced without written permission.)

Our "Ethel Bungalow" in Dupont, Washington. (This photo is courtesy of Mark Mckillop and may not be reproduced without written permission.)

Ethel

This Dupont Ethel is in largely original condition. (This photo is courtesy of Mark Mckillop and may not be reproduced without written permission.)

Ethel

I wish Mark had taken his chain saw with him. Landscaping is always a problem when photographing old houses. (This photo is courtesy of Mark Mckillop and may not be reproduced without written permission.)

Ethel

This Ethel in Dupont has seen a little modification. Vinyl siding is not a friend of old houses. (This photo is courtesy of Mark Mckillop and may not be reproduced without written permission.)

Ethel

This is such a distinctive little house. Have you seen it in your neighborhood? (This photo is courtesy of Mark Mckillop and may not be reproduced without written permission.)

Next are the photos of our Ethels, which art in Norfolk. As you’ll see from the photos below, they really are a good match to the houses in Dupont, Washington.

House

One of our mystery bungalows on 51st Street. Photo is courtesy of David Spriggs and may not be reused or reprinted without permission from David Spriggs.

Another

Good shot of the two bungalows on 51st Street. This photo is courtesy of David Spriggs and may not be reused or reprinted without permission from David Sprggs.

house

This is one of the houses in Riverview that's in mostly original condition. The little dormer on the side was added in later years.

Close-up of railing

Close-up of railing

Close-up of dormer

This dormer window is a pretty distinctive feature.

another Ethel

Another "Ethel Bungalow" in Riverview

Aladdin promoted itself to companies as a supplier of industrial housing. It was believed that providing housing for workers created a more stable workforce. And that was probably true.

Aladdin promoted itself to companies as a supplier of industrial housing. It was believed that if a company provided housing for its employees, this would create a more stable workforce. And that was probably true. Dupont turned to Aladdin to supply homes for Hopewell, Virginia and Carney Point, New Jersey and Old Hickory, TN. (1919 Aladdin catalog)

To contact Rose, please leave a comment below.

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

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

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Wild, Wonderful West Virginia: Loaded with Sears Homes!

September 15th, 2011 Sears Homes 1 comment

How did Charleston, West Virginia end up with a large collection of kit homes from Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward and Aladdin Homes? Were these homes purchased for industry workers? Were they built by a local builder or developer? Or did word about these well-built kit homes just spread by word of mouth? I’d love to know.

In 2008, Ersela Jordan, Billy Joe Peyton and Henry from the Charleston Historical Society and I toured the area and found many kit homes, from several companies. These early 20th Century kit homes were true kits, and were shipped via rail, arriving at the local train depot in 12,000 pieces. Each kit came with a 75-page instruction book that told the hopeful homeowner how all those pieces and parts went together. Today, finding these homes is especially challenging. Unfortunately, when Sears closed their Modern Homes department in 1940, all sales records were destroyed.

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

To read more about Sears Homes, click here.

The Sears Dover as shown in the 1936 catalog

The Sears Dover as shown in the 1936 catalog

The Sears Dover - with a slate roof - in Charleston, West Virginia. This is one of the prettiest Sears Homes Ive ever seen!

The Sears Dover - with a slate roof - in Charleston, West Virginia. This is one of the prettiest Sears Homes I've ever seen!

Sears Chateau - from the 1932 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Sears Chateau - from the 1932 Sears Modern Homes catalog. Very unusual house and unlike the more "traditional" Sears catalog homes.

Sears Chateau:  In my many travels, this is the only Sears Chateau that Ive seen. Note that the front door was moved from the left side (catalog image) to the middle. The homes living room spanned the full width of the house, so this was a simple change to make. Note the detail on the brick work above the windows.

Sears Chateau: In my many travels, this is the only Sears Chateau that I've seen. Note that the front door was moved from the left side (catalog image) to the middle. The home's living room spanned the full width of the house, so this was a simple change to make. Note the detail on the brick work below the windows. This Chateau is next door to the Sears Dover (pic above).

Sears Lexington, from the 1928 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Sears Lexington, from the 1928 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Sears Lexington in Charleston, WV. A real beauty!

Sears Lexington in Charleston, WV. A real beauty!

Sears Alhambra - one of their most popular designs.

Sears Alhambra - one of their most popular designs.

Sears Alhambra dressed in brick, in downtown Charleston

Sears Alhambra dressed in brick, in downtown Charleston

Sears Vallonia, another one of Sears most popular designs

Sears Vallonia, another one of Sears most popular designs

Sears Vallonia in Charleston.

Sears Vallonia in Charleston. Dormer windows have been replaced, but note original porch railings and columns. One of the unusual features on the Sears Vallonia is the small space between the two windows on the dining room bay.

Aladdin kit home: The Maplewood

Aladdin kit home: The Maplewood

A perfect Aladdin Maplewood in Charleston. We found several of these kit homes in one section of town.

A perfect Aladdin Maplewood in Charleston. We found several of these kit homes in one section of town. this Maplewood is in remarkably original condition, and even retains its original batten shutters. Note the detail around the front porch roof.

Gordon Van Tine catalog page.

Gordon Van Tine catalog page. GVT was a large kit home company based in Davenport, Iowa.

Gordon Van Tine Roberts in Charleston

Gordon Van Tine "Roberts" in Charleston

To read more about Sears kit homes in West Virginia, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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Beautiful Sears Homes in Oconomowoc!

September 5th, 2011 Sears Homes 4 comments

Today, I left Addie’s house to drive out to Oconomowoc, WI to hunt for Sears Homes. And not only did I find several, but they’re real beauties!!

Based on my research, more than 90% of the people living in Sears houses did not realize what they had until I knocked on their door and told them (or they read about it here). I’d suspect most of these homeowners (whose houses are shown below), don’t realize they have a kit home.

And what is a Sears House? These were 12,000-piece kits, ordered out of the Sears Roebuck catalog, that were shipped by train to wanna-be homeowners. Each kit came with a 75-page instruction book that told the homeowner how all those pieces and parts went together. Sears promised that a “man of average abilities” could have the house ready for occupancy in 90 days!

Sears offered these homes from 1908-1940, and there are fewer than 70,000 still standing today.

To read about why I was in Wisconsin, click here.

To learn how to identify a kit home, click here.

Sears Mitchell as seen in the 1936 Sears Modern Homes catalog. This was one of their most popular home.

Sears Mitchell as seen in the 1936 Sears Modern Homes catalog. This was one of their most popular home. And it's a real cutie!

What a beauty! And its in pristine condition.

What a beauty! And it's in pristine condition. And a perfect match to the catalog picture above.

P

Sears Lewiston (1928 catalog)

Sears

Like the Mitchell above, this Sears Lewiston is in perfect condition. I wonder if these Sears homeowners in Oconomowoc realize what a treasure they have?

Sears

Sears Arlington from the 1919 catalog.

Sears

Unfortunately, I photographed this from the wrong angle but the other side (not visible here) has the gabled bay, just as it does in the catalog picture.

Sears Berwyn - 1929

Sears Berwyn - 1929

This Berwyn has had some changes, and the small double arch on the front, but...this is most certainly a Berwyn.

This Berwyn has had some changes, and the small double arch on the front has been enclosed and encased in aluminum siding, but...this is most certainly a Berwyn.

And if you look in through the storm door, youll see that the original wooden door is in its right place - for the Sears Berwyn.

And if you look in through the storm door, you'll see that the original wooden door is in its right place - for the Sears Berwyn.

J

Aladdin Pasadena from the 1919 catalog. Aladdin was a bigger company than Sears, but is not as well known these many years later.

And what a pretty, pretty Pasadena it is!

And what a pretty, pretty Pasadena it is!

Despite a whole lot of driving around throughout Watertown, Wisconsin, I found only one Sears Home in the entire city. That was a surprise. I spent more than two hours driving around the early 20th Century neighborhoods and saw many beautiful (and well-maintained) homes on spacious and attractive lots (so it was a fun two hours!).

In addition to Sears, I was on the lookout for Aladdin (based in Bay City, MI), and Lewis Manufacturing (Chicago) and Gordon Van Tine (Davenport, Iowa) and Montgomery Ward and Sterling (Bay City) but found only this one lone kit home.

However, it’s a real beauty!

j

The Strathmore was one of my favorite Sears Homes, and it was not that popular a model (based on the number I've found). And yet, there's one in Watertown, Wisconsin.

The Strathmore in Watertown had a small dormer added to the second floor. Other than this one minor change, its a darn good match!

The Strathmore in Watertown had a small dormer added to the second floor. Other than this one minor change, it's a darn good match!

Pretty much every meal Ive had in Wisconsin has involved cheese of some form - and I LIKE IT!  Wisconsin is full of beautiful landscapes such as this dairy farm just outside of Oconomowoc.

Pretty much every meal I've had in Wisconsin has involved cheese of some form - and I LIKE IT! Wisconsin is full of beautiful landscapes such as this dairy farm just outside of Oconomowoc.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To read more about Addie, click here.

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The Sears Berwyn: A Real Cutie Pie

July 19th, 2011 Sears Homes 3 comments

The Sears Berwyn was an extremely popular house for Sears, and probably one of their top 20 best selling homes.

Sadly, due to their popularity, I’ve also seen them in a variety of mutated forms. See pictures below.

One of the defining features of the Berwyn is that enclosed arch on the front porch. Also look at the roofline along the back wall. That’s also an important feature for identifying the Sears Berwyn. In the mid-1930s, the Berwyn got a name change and became known in the Sears Modern Homes catalogs as The Mayfield.

Last week, whilst driving around Hampton, Virginia with Pat Spriggs, I found this Berwyn with a broken arch support. Few things in life are more painful!

Who thought itd be a good idea to put in wrought iron on this porch?  Sheesh. Sears Berwyn in Hampton, VA.

Who thought it'd be a good idea to put in wrought iron on this porch? Sheesh. Sears Berwyn in Hampton, VA.

Close-up of the broken arch support.

Close-up of the broken arch support.

Sears Berwyn as seen in the 1929 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Sears Berwyn as seen in the 1929 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

White Sulphur Springs (Virginia/West Virginia border) also has a little Berwyn. This one is clad in cement siding.

White Sulphur Springs (Virginia/West Virginia border) also has a little Berwyn. This one is clad in cement siding.

Heres a Berwyn in Elgin, Illinois.

Here's a Berwyn in Elgin, Illinois. It's also clad in substitute siding.

And who thought *this* was a good idea?

And who thought *this* was a good idea? This is in Kirkwood, MO.

B

This Berwyn is looking much like its original catalog page (as shown above and below). It's in Rock Falls, IL.

This is what makes identifying Sears Homes so difficult: Remodeling and expanding.

This is what makes identifying Sears Homes so difficult: Remodeling and expanding. This Berwyn is in Lynchburg, VA.

Open wide!  Dale found this Berwyn in State College, Pennsylvania. Photo is courtesy of Dale Wolicki and can not be used or reproduced without permission.

Open wide! Dale found this Berwyn in State College, Pennsylvania. Photo is courtesy of Dale Wolicki and can not be used or reproduced without permission.

In later years, the Berwyn was known as The Mayfield. Same house, different name.

In later years, the Berwyn was known as The Mayfield. Same house, different name.

Is there a Mayfield in your neighborhood? If so, send me a photo!

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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A Fine-Looking Sears Avondale In Chelsea, Oklahoma!

July 7th, 2011 Sears Homes 2 comments

Chelsea, Oklahoma is a wee tiny town about an hour from Tulsa, and for decades, a big fancy Sears Saratoga got all the attention as the only Sears House in town. Recently, I’ve been working with Rachel Shoemaker to identify more Sears Homes in the area, and while “driving” the streets of Chelsea (via Google Maps), I found this beautiful Sears Avondale tucked away on Vine Street (about a block away from the Saratoga).

Rachel hopped in her car and ran right out to Chelsea to get good photos (shown below), and as we continue to work together on this project, I’m sure we’ll find many more Sears Homes in the area. Click here to see the Sears Homes we found in Tulsa!

The Saratoga was a big fancy Sears House, but the Avondale was a close second! This house was a classic bungalow with a decided prairie-style influence. Look at the oversized eaves and low hip roof.

What’s even more interesting is that the Saratoga got all the press as being the FIRST Sears Home in Oklahoma, but was it? The Avondale was also offered in 1912 (when construction started on The Saratoga). What if the Avondale was actually the first Sears Home in Oklahoma!

Enjoy the pictures below. And if you know of any Sears Homes in Oklahoma, please leave a comment below.

To read about the Sears Saratoga, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

(All photos of extant homes are used courtesy of Rachel Shoemaker and can not be reproduced with permission.)

Catalog picture of the Sears Avondale

Catalog picture of the Sears Avondale (1919 catalog). The Avondale was a beautiful house and had many upgrades available, such as stained glass windows in the front rooms.

The Avondale was built a

The Avondale was built the Illinois State Fair (late 1910s) and furnished with items from the Sears Roebuck catalog. This post card shows the Avondale at the State Fair. Note the stained class windows on the front and flanking the fireplace. Nice house, and popular too.

Another post card shows the interior the of the Avondale. Pretty darn fancy.

Another post card shows the interior the of the Avondale. Pretty darn fancy.

Catalog page also shows interior views.

Catalog page also shows interior views.

Floorplan shows how spacious this house was.

Floorplan shows how spacious this house was. The dininr room was 23 feet by 14 feet, with a bay window. The front bedroom was 13 by 16. For a house of this vintage, these were very large rooms, or in the idiom of the day, "quite commodious."

Sears Avondale in Chelsea, OK. Was this the first Sears House in Oklahoma? Itll be fun to find out!

Sears Avondale in Chelsea, OK. Was this the first Sears House in Oklahoma? It'll be fun to find out!

Close-up of the unusual window arrangement down the side.

Close-up of the unusual window arrangement down the side.

Close-up of that disinctive bay window, and the grouping of three porch columns on the (now enclosed) front porch.

Close-up of that disinctive bay window, and the grouping of three porch columns on the (now enclosed) front porch.

To read more about kit homes in Tulsa, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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Homart Homes: I Know Where You Live (Part II)

July 4th, 2011 Sears Homes 1 comment

From 1948-1951, Sears sold prefabricated houses known as Homart Homes. These small houses were shipped by truck (not train) and arrived in sections measuring 4′ by 8′ to 8′ by 8′. Fasteners were included with these diminutive homes, and the houses were bolted together at the site. They were very modest homes with very simple lines and shallow roofs. Most were 600-850 square feet.

Based on some educated guessing from reading old catalogs, fewer than 3,000 Homart Homes were built.

And now I need a little help from my friends. The 1949 Homart Homes catalog lists several addresses where Homart Homes were built. I’d love to have photos of these houses to publish at this site. I’d be so grateful if someone could get me a photo of these houses. When photographing houses, remember to remain on a public right-of-way (street or public sidewalk) when shooting your photos.

The addresses (as found in the 1949 Homart Homes catalog) are:

Albert C. Helm, 615 North 10th Street, Monmouth, Illinois.

R. W. Countryman, 614 E. Avenue, Nevada, Iowa.

Dale Keeth, 495 Melmore Street, Tifflin, Ohio

Lawrence Clemen, 1845 University Avenue, Dubuque, Iowa

Harold Snell, 426 4th Street, LaSalle, Illinois

Clarence Wyman, Cerro Gordo, Illinois

Richard J. Gilbert, Gox 565, New Glarus, Wisconsin

Jeffrey Hicks, Route 2, Box 479, Pekin, Illinois

Elmer Timm, 3238 Schlueter Road, Madison, Wisconsin

Pictures from the original Homart Homes catalog is below. The house you’re photographing should bear some slight resemblance to these modest homes below. Rarely, cities will re-number houses, so these addresses are not guaranteed to be Homart Homes, but it’s 99% likely that they are. Because these homes are so modest, they often undergo extensive remodeling.

To read Part I (more info on Homart Homes), click here.

To see pictures of Sears Modern Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

Homart Homes were very modest prefab homes offered after WW2. Today, its nearly impossible to find these houses, because they were so plain and in subsequent years, most have been covered with substitute sidings.

Homart Homes were very modest prefab homes offered after WW2. Today, it's nearly impossible to find these houses, because they were so plain and in subsequent years, most have been covered with substitute sidings.

Small

For the most part, these were very modest homes.

small

Look at the size of the rooms in this first house!

bigger

This was their most spacious Homart Home, but you can see from the photo below, this is also a pretty modest house. One of the bedrooms is 7 feet by 9 feet. As long as Junior never outgrows his crib, this should work just fine.

bigg

This was the largest Homart Home offered in the 1950 catalog, and it's not very big at all.

Homart Homes arrived in sections, which were bolted together.

Homart Homes arrived in sections, which were bolted together.

These porches could be a clue in identifying Homart Homes. Every Homart Home offered in the 1950 catalog had this unique configuration on the front stoop.

These porches could be a clue in identifying Homart Homes. Every Homart Home offered in the 1950 catalog had this unique configuration on the front stoop.

A variation of that unique woodwork around the stoop.

A variation of that unique woodwork around the stoop.

An old Sears Homart (prefab house) sits on the edges of the city, not far from the Sears Mill in Cairo, IL

An old Sears Homart (prefab house) sits on the edges of the city, not far from the Sears Mill in Cairo, IL. Homart Homes were post-WW2 Sears Homes that were shipped out in sections, which were then bolted together at the building site. These were radically different from "Sears Modern Homes" which were pre-cut kit homes. And usually, they just don't "age" as well as the sturdier "Modern Homes" (Honor Bilt homes).

To learn more about kit homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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And a $1 Good Faith Deposit…

June 24th, 2011 Sears Homes 1 comment

In the early 1900s, you could sit down with a Sears Roebuck catalog and order a complete house. After selecting the perfect house, buyers were asked to send in a $1 “good faith” deposit to Sears Roebuck and by return mail, the hopeful homeowners receive a Bill of Materials List and full set of blueprints.  If you liked what you saw, you’d send in the balance of your money, and that $1 deposit was credited toward the final purchase price.

A few weeks after the order was placed, a boxcar containing 12,000 pieces of house would arrive at a nearby train depot.

A 75-page leather-bound instruction book, with the homeowner’s name embossed in gold on the cover, gave precise directions on the proper placement of those 30,000 pieces of house. The book offered this somber (and probably wise) warning:  “Do not take anyone’s advice as to how this building should be assembled.”

In anticipation of our big move, I’ve started going through my papers and boxes and sorting things out. I found two of these early 1910s original “Bill of Materials” list. One went to a friend that owns a Sears Modern Home #111; the other went into a pile of items that I have donated to Old Dominion University Library’s “Special Collections” and is now known as “The Papers of Rosemary Thornton” (I love that).

The super-heated attic in my 1925 house was not a proper repository for these priceless, precious old documents and I’m gladdened they’ve gone to better places. And I’m also glad to know that - thanks to modern technology - the originals will be preserved forever and the electronic images of those originals can now be shared with a larger audience through this website (which now gets 500 hits per day).

Look closely at these pages below, and you’ll see a fascinating piece of American history.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

 dj

This document, together with a full set of blueprints, could be yours for $1. If you liked what you saw, Sears credited the $1 to your final purchase price. This was one of two "Building Materials" lists that I found whilst cleaning my attic.

These pages were all hand typed, one by one.

These pages were all hand typed, one by one.

Incredible history within the pages of this 100-year old document.

The pages of this 100-year old document contain an incredible piece of America's architectural history.

Below is a picture of Modern Home #111, The Sears Chelsea.

To read another article on Sears Homes, click here.

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Sears Modern Home #119

June 15th, 2011 Sears Homes 6 comments

My dear friend Rebecca Hunter found a Sears Modern Home #119 in Iowa (in 2003) and she got a nice photo.  Other than that ONE house she found in Iowa, I’ve never laid eyes on a #119, which is pretty remarkable. But we know that there was one built in Martinez, Georgia, by R. T. Lyle sometime before 1915. That was 95 years ago!

Below is an actual snapshot from the 1916 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

If this house is still standing, I’d love to get a photo. Anyone near Martinez?  :)

House

Sears Modern Home #119 in Martinez, Georgia.

Way down south

"It is a roomy and substantial structure..."

It *is* a roomy structure!

It *is* a roomy structure! Image is from the 1916 catalog.

S

Pre-WW1, bedrooms were called "chambers" - not sure why.

119

#119 as seen from the Rebecca's motorcycle. Note the porch's unusual roofline, and the gable peak atop the house. Photo is courtesy of Rebecca Hunter.

house

And all for under $1,800.

And it can also be found in these cities!

And it can also be found in these cities!

To learn more about Sears Homes in Georgia, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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Cape Charles, Virginia: One of My Favorite Places on Earth!

June 13th, 2011 Sears Homes 4 comments

In 2004, I was invited to Cape Charles to give a talk on Sears Homes. Even though I was born and raised in Portsmouth, Virginia (about an hour away), I’d never seen this waterfront community on the Eastern Shore. During my time there, I stayed at the Cape Charles House Bed and Breakfast and the owners (Carol and Bruce) were so good and kind to me.

In fact, everyone in Cape Charles treated me like royalty. A girl can grow accustomed to that in a hurry!

The entire Eastern Shore is a gem, but Cape Charles is an especially well-polished jewel of a city.

And about those Sears Homes…

It was surprising to find so many kit homes in this little fishing village. And yet, we found several. And there was also an Aladdin kit home, too.  Scroll on down for the virtual tour of kit homes in Eastern Shore. And if you know of any others in the area, drop me a note.

To read more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s books, click here.

C

As shown in the 1912 Sears Modern Homes catalog, this was an interesting house with that crazy oversized eave. In all the #126s I've seen, some additional support has been added to that porch roof. It's inevitable that it'll sag in time.

F

Floorplan for the 126 shows those chamfered corners on all four sides, as well as in the porch indent.

Here it is, in Cape Charles

Here it is, in Cape Charles. Note the detail of the bracketing under the eaves. The front porch has been closed in, but this is definitely a #126.

Detail of eaves on #126

Detail of eaves on #126

Sheffield

Sheffield as seen in the 1919 Aladdin catalog.

Heres an Aladdin Sheffield in Cape Charles, Virginia (on the Eastern Shore)

Here's an Aladdin Sheffield in Cape Charles, Virginia (on the Eastern Shore)

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This was one of Sears biggest and nicest homes.

This was one of Sears' biggest and nicest homes.

Right down the street from the Sheffield (see above) is the Sears Glenn Falls. Although its partly obscured by the trees, you can see the familiar lines of the Glenn Falls.

Right down the street from the Sheffield (see above) is the Sears Glenn Falls. Although it's partly obscured by the trees, you can see the familiar lines of the Glenn Falls.

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The Pheonix is one of Sears most unusual kit homes. Interesting design and lots of fun details.

The Pheonix is one of Sears' most unusual kit homes. Interesting design and lots of fun details.

Sears Pheonix - in the flesh - in Cape Charles, Virginia

Sears Phoenix - in the flesh - in Cape Charles, Virginia

Side view of the Pheonix

Side view of the Pheonix

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Sears Somerset

Sears Somerset

The porch has been altered, but Id be willing to be money that this is indeed a Sears Somerset.

The porch has been altered, but I'd be willing to be money that this is indeed a Sears Somerset.

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Sears Walton

Sears Walton

This Walton is one of two, side by side, in Cape Charles, Virginia

This "Walton" is one of two, side by side, in Cape Charles, Virginia

Is your house a Sears House? Click here to learn more.

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