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Posts Tagged ‘aladdin kit homes’

Sears Modern Home #112 in Enon, Ohio

January 7th, 2012 Sears Homes 2 comments

About an hour northeast of Cincinnati is a wee tiny town named Enon, Ohio. And in that teeny tiny town is an unusual Sears House, known as Modern Home #112.  The distinctive houses (such as #112) are easier to identify because they have some unique details that’ll catch your eye! And with this home’s two-story polygon bay - extending to the third floor - it should be very easy to identify!

Prior to 1918, Sears Homes had numbers, not names. This house was removed from the catalogs sometime prior to 1918. It never had any name, other than Modern Home #112.

Prior to 1918, Sears Homes had numbers, not names. This house was removed from the catalogs sometime prior to 1918. It never had any name, other than Modern Home #112. That distinctive bay on the front does not extend to the first floor.

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Number 112 in Enon, Ohio was photographed from a different angle (than shown in the image above), but there's little doubt that this is the real deal. (Photo is copyright 2012 Cindy Goebel Catanzaro and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

Itd be interesting to know if the owners of this house realize they have a real treasure on their hands.

It'd be interesting to know if the owners of this house realize they have a real treasure on their hands. (Photo is copyright 2012 Cindy Goebel Catanzaro and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

An interesting aside: My husband’s childhood friend - Sam Swauger - lived in Enon for a time. Anyone known Sam?  :)

The first floor of the house

The first floor of the house shows a space for an optional bathroom on the first floor.

And

And there is no space on the second floor for a bathroom. Also, notice that the second floor is much smaller than the first. There is no living space over the kitchen area on the back of the house. This was common in the early 1900s, as it was thought that any area over the kitchen would be too hot and too smelly and unsuitable for living space.

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I found Modern Home #112 in my copy of the 1910 Sears Modern Homes catalog. This is a very rare catalog, and probably one of the more valuable catalogs.

Sears Modern Home #112 can be found in the 1910 Sears Modern Homes catalog (shown here). This is a very rare catalog, and probably one of the more valuable catalogs.

To learn more about identifying kit homes, click here.

To read about Addie Hoyt, click here.

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Classic Arts and Crafts Design: The Sears Ashmore

January 6th, 2012 Sears Homes 11 comments

The Sears Ashmore was not one of Sears most popular designs, but it surely was one of their prettiest, and it was a classic Arts and Crafts bungalow.

And it had a pergola, too!

According to the testimonies that appeared in the catalog, there are Sears Ashmores in Abilene, TX and Fargo, ND.

Ashmore

This bungalow was a classic Arts & Crafts design (from the 1921 catalog).

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And theres one in Abilene, Texas. Can someone run down there and get me a photo? I cant pay you, but Ill send you a signed copy of my book!!  :)

And there's one in Abilene, Texas. Can someone run down there and get me a photo? I can't pay you, but I'll send you a signed copy of my book!! :)

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And theres one in Fargo, too. Can someone run up there and get me a photo?

And there's one in Fargo, too. Can someone run up there and get me a photo?

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The Ashmore was a spacious house with lots of nice features.

The Ashmore was a spacious house with lots of nice features. And it was a departure from the simple foursquares that were the bread and butter of the Sears Modern Homes catalogs. The living room and dining room both have coffered ceilings, and there's a fireplace nook at one end of the massive living room, with a window seat at the other end.

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Heres an image from the 1916 catalog.

Here's an image from the 1916 catalog. Pre-1918 (before Sears Homes had names) this was the C250 model. "The Ashmore" sounds much more elegant.

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According to the page above, there’s also a Sears Ashmore in Fargo, ND! I’d like a photo of that, too.

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The cover of the 1921 Sears Buildign Materials catalog shows an Ashmore in the background.

The cover of the 1921 Sears Building Materials catalog shows an Ashmore in the background.

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Sears must have been very proud of their Ashmore, too. For more than a dozen years, interior views of the Ashmore were featured in two-page spreads. Only the more impressive houses were given two full pages in the old catalogs.

Sears must have been very proud of their Ashmore, too. For more than a dozen years, interior "views" of the Ashmore were featured in two-page spreads. Only the more impressive houses were given two full pages in the old catalogs. The dining room (shown above) is outfitted with classic Arts & Crafts pieces. The oak wainscoting (topped with plate-rail) is shown, but not the coffered (beamed) ceiling.

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Another

One end of the 23-foot-long living room had a window seat (shown above).

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And the other end had a fireplace nook.

And the other end had a fireplace nook.

Arts & Crafts bungalows were all about nooks. Heres a breakfast nook, complete with classic trestle table.

Arts & Crafts bungalows were all about nooks. Here's a breakfast nook, complete with classic trestle table. According to the floor plan, that's an ironing board in the wall to the right of the nook.

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And heres the worlds most beautiful Ashmore. Not too found of the color, but it is in wonderfully original condition. Its in Waverly, Illinois and its featured in my book, The Sears Homes of Illinois.  The A&C movement was characterized by earthy colors of browns, tans, dark green and other muted colors. Electric blue with yellow trim doesnt do it for me.

And here's the world's most beautiful Ashmore. Not too fond of the color, but it is in wonderfully original condition. It's in Waverly, Illinois and it's featured in my book, "The Sears Homes of Illinois." The A&C movement was characterized by earthy colors of browns, tans, dark green and other muted colors. Electric blue with yellow trim doesn't do it for me. But thank goodness, it's in original condition and the vinyl siding salesmen have not decimated it.

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Doesnt that warm the cockles of your heart?

Doesn't that warm the cockles of your heart? Compare it to the house above, and you'll see it's a perfect match. My oh my, that's a sweet-looking house!

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Awesome

If this doesn't make your heart leap with joy, you should stop what you're doing right now and make sure that you still have a heart beat. Look at these porches. This sweet thing in Waverly still has its original porch railings.

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This beautiful Ashmore is in Cincinnati. Apparently, blue is a really popular color for the Ashmore! Photo is copyright 2011 Donna Bakke and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.

This beautiful Ashmore is in Cincinnati. Apparently, blue is a really popular color for the Ashmore! Photo is copyright 2011 Donna Bakke and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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And heres one in Ocean View (Norfolk), Virginia.

And here's one in Ocean View (Norfolk), Virginia. Isn't it dreamy?

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To become fascinated by yet another old story that Rose is involved in, click here.

To read about how and why the bungalow became so popular so fast, read here.

If you’ve visited this site more than ten times in the last year, state law requires that you leave a detailed and thoughtful comment below.

Okay, not really, but I wish you would.

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The Prettiest Kit Homes You Ever Saw in Tahlequah, Oklahoma (Second Update)

December 31st, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

Dear friend and indefatigable researcher Rachel Shoemaker has found an abundance of kit homes in Oklahoma, and now she’s found FOUR kit homes in Tahlequah, Oklahoma!

What is a kit home? Kit houses typically arrived by train in 12,000 pieces and came with a 75-page instruction book that told the homeowner how all those pieces and parts went together.  Each kit included everything you would need to finish your dream home, including 750 pounds of nails, 27 gallons of paint and varnish, 10 pounds of wood putty, 72 coat hooks, roofing shingles, door knobs, lumber, windows, flooring…well you get the idea. It really was a complete kit.

Homes sold by Sears and Roebuck are the most well-known, but in addition to Sears, there were five other national companies selling kit homes through a mail-order catalog (Gordon Van Tine, Aladdin, Lewis Manufacturing, Sterling and Harris Brothers).

Tahlequah also has  kit homes from Aladdin , and Gordon Van Tine, in addition to Sears.

It’s not surprising that Tahlequah has Aladdins, as Aladdin had huge mills in Mississippi and Louisiana. Aladdin (in Bay City, MI) was in business from 1906-1981.  There are more than 75,000 Aladdin kit homes in the country (compared with about 70,000 Sears Homes). Sears started offering homes by mail order  in 1908 (two years after Aladdin), and in 1940, they closed  their Modern Homes Department once and for all.

Tahlequah also has the  fanciest home offered by Gordon Van TineGVT sold about 50,000 kit homes from 1910 - 1945. They were based in Davenport, Iowa, but sold kit homes throughout the country.

Tahlequah, Oklahoma was the original capital of the Cherokee Nation in 1838. According to Wikipedia, Tahlequah became a settlement in 1832. The Cherokees also beat the United States to the punch (so to speak) in adopting prohibition well before the temperance movement was even a gleam in Lyman Beecher’s eye. According to Oklahoma Genealogy, in 1841, Cherokee councils enacted a law prohibiting the sale “ardent spirits” within the Cherokee Nation.

To learn more about kit homes, click here.

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

To learn more about Addie Hoyt Fargo, click here.

Aladdiin

The quality of lumber found in these early 20th Century kit homes was first rate. Framing members were #1 southern yellow pine from Louisiana and Mississippi. It was first-growth lumber that grew slowly and naturally in virgin forests.

Aladdin Cape Cod, as seen in the 1923 catalog. This catalog page shows one floor plan (L-shaped), but in later years, it was offered in three floorplans, one of which was rectangular. .

Aladdin Cape Cod, as seen in the 1923 catalog. This catalog page shows one floor plan (L-shaped), but in later years, it was offered in three floorplans, one of which was rectangular.

Close-up of the Aladdin Cape Cod

Close-up of the Aladdin "Cape Cod"

And here it is, in the flesh! An Aladdin Cape Cod in stunningly original condition!  Even retains its original casement windows!

And here it is, in the flesh! An Aladdin "Cape Cod" in stunningly original condition! Even retains its original casement windows! (Photo is copyright 2011, Rachel Shoemaker and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

An Aladdin Wenonah, as seen in the 1917 catalog.

An Aladdin Wenonah, as seen in the 1913 catalog.

Aladdin Wenonah in Tahlequah.

Aladdin Wenonah in Tahlequah. The porch has been altered, but that's not a big deal. Porches are often changed through the years, and this house is probably close to 100 years old. (Photo is copyright 2011, Rachel Shoemaker and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

is this

Sears Modern Home #126 looked a lot like an early 20th Century train station.

Is this

Notice the inset porch and chamfered corners.

Is this

Is this Sears Modern Home #126? Sure looks a lot like it to me. (Photo is copyright 2011 Doug Moore, and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

GVT Roberts as seen in the 1921 catalog.

GVT Roberts as seen in the 1921 catalog.

GVT Roberts in Tahlequah, OK

GVT Roberts in Tahlequah, OK, and it's a beauty! Like the house above, this also has the two-story porch on the left side. (Photo is copyright 2011, Rachel Shoemaker and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

Rober

The GVT Roberts has had several additions through the years, but still looks much like the catalog page shown above. (Photo is copyright 2011, Rachel Shoemaker and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

Im not sure why this house has a periscope.

I'm not sure why this house has a periscope. (Photo is copyright 2011, Rachel Shoemaker and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

Street signs are printed in both English and in Cherokee language.

Street signs are printed in both English and in Cherokee language. (Photo is copyright 2011, Rachel Shoemaker and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

To contact Rachel Shoemaker, send her an email at ffshoe@olp.net

Rachel has done extensive research on the kit homes in Oklahoma, and has traveled countless miles, researching and documenting these historically significant homes. We’re both puzzled as to how and why so many kit homes landed here, but it’s time that someone hired Rachel to do a proper survey of this impressive collection of Oklahoma’s architectural treasure trove of kit homes. Heretofore, all the work she’s done has been at her own expense.

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A Fascinating Little Tidbit about WLS and Sears

December 29th, 2011 Sears Homes 10 comments

“What does WLS stand for?” is a question I often ask lecture attendees.

After giving more than 200 lectures in 25 states, only two people have answered this question correctly.

I’ll give you a hint. It has to do with Sears and Roebuck.

Thanks to eBay, I’ve located and purchased all manner of Sears Modern Homes ephemera, and one of my treasures is this employee newsletter. In fact, it was the very first edition of the “WLS” employee newsletter! Published in early 1925, it featured an interesting story titled, “The House The Kelly’s Built,” which told the story of a next-door neighbor  (Mr. Kelly) who’d hired “Jerry” (a 12-year-old boy) to help him build his newly purchased Sears kit home, The Clyde.

Jerry’s father (Mr. Thomas) was incredulous when he heard about this. After all, housebuilding is a difficult trade, for seasoned and experienced craftsman. When Jerry tries to explain that it’s a Sears kit house, with a 75-page instruction book, and numbered framing members (for easy assembly), his father chastises him for his impunity and reminds him that he is not to interrupt his elders.

It has a happy ending, as Mr. Kelly (the new Sears Homeowner) explains to Mr. Thomas (Jerry’s dad), that it is a very easy house to build, and when completed, it’ll be a real dandy of a home.

There are three important take-away lessons from this story.

1)  Building a kit home (12,000 easy pieces) was considered to be a simple task by the people who lived in the early 20th Century.

2) It was acceptable (and even common practice) to hire 12-year-olds for hard work.

3) Mr. Thomas was a horse’s ass.

To read another fascinating story about a murder in Lake Mills, click here.

Here

This short story appeared in the first edition of an employee newsletter issued for employees of Sears Roebuck. The name of the newsletter was "WLS."

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Lumber was numbered to facilitate construction

Framing members were marked with a three-digit number and a letter (D is for 2x8s, C for 2x6s, B for 2x4s). This mark, together with a 75-page instruction book, made assembly easy for even the novice homebuilder.

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The house that the Kellys are building (with young Jerrys help) is the Sears Clyde, a very modest and popular bungalow.

The house that the Kellys are building (with young Jerry's help) is the Sears Clyde, a very modest bungalow. Because it is such a modest house, it often gets severely remuddled through the passing decades. Identifying these simple houses is very difficult.

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Clyde

The Clyde, as seen in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

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At least 98.76% of the time, the bay window in a little bungalow such as this is used for the dining room. The Clyde is an odd exception. In this little house, that bay on the side is for a bedroom, and the bathroom is right behind it. This is a useful detail for identifying The Clyde, as you should expect to see a bathroom vent roof pipe behind the bay.

At least 98.76% of the time, the bay window in a little bungalow such as this is used for the dining room. The Clyde is an odd exception. In this little house, that bay on the side is for a bedroom, and the bathroom is right behind it. This is a useful detail for identifying The Clyde, as you should expect to see a bathroom vent roof pipe behind the bay.

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This little Clyde in Cairo, IL is not feeling very well, and yet - it is definitely a Sears Clyde. That lowered platform on the front porch is still in place, but obscured by this white sedan. The gable ornaments and porch details are gone, and someone thought itd be a swell idea to do a thatch effect roof (shudder), but its a Sears Clyde.

This little Clyde in Cairo, IL is not feeling very well, and yet - it is definitely a Sears Clyde. That lowered platform on the front porch is still in place, but obscured by this white sedan. The gable ornaments and porch details are gone, and someone thought it'd be a swell idea to do a "thatch effect roof" (shudder), but it's a Sears Clyde.

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WLS

WLS stood for "World's Largest Store." The famous Chicago radio station, WLS, actually began as a promotional tool for Sears. The station signed on in 1924 with farm reports and weather information. Sears sold the radio station in the fall of 1928. Back in the day, call signs had meanings. Here in Norfolk, we had WGH which stood for "World's Greatest Harbor."

To read Part II, click here.

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

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Aladdin Shadowlawn in Concord, NC - And Now I Know WHERE!

December 27th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

Last week, I published a blog about a beautiful Aladdin Shadowlawn I found in Concord, NC.  At the time, I couldn’t find the address. My addresses are stored in notebooks, and they’re not in any particular order. Retrieving an address from a trip made long ago can be pretty challenging.

However, once the hoopla of Christmas had settled a bit in the Thornton Home, I went looking for that address in Concord. And I found it! This Aladdin Shadowlawn is on Grove Street.

BTW, when I was in Concord, I was on my way to another North Carolina city, so I didn’t do a “proper” and extensive survey of Concord, but I do remember finding some other Aladdin kit homes there, including, an Aladdin Pomona, and an Aladdin Sheffield, and this Aladdin Shadowlawn (see below).

It’s not surprising that this part of North Carolina is so loaded with kit homes, because Aladdin had a major mill in Wilmington, NC. In fact, Roanoke Rapids has one of the largest collections (and most impressive collections) of Aladdins in the country! It’s worth the trip, I promise!

Aladdin was one of six national mail-order companies that sold entire kit homes through their catalogs. The houses typically arrived by train in 12,000 pieces and came with a 75-page instruction book that told the homeowner how all those pieces and parts went together. Today, there are about 75,000 Aladdin kit homes in the country (compared with about 70,000 Sears Homes in the country).

While Sears is a more well-known name in the kit home business, Aladdin actually was around a lot longer. Sears started in 1908; Aladdin started in 1906!

In 1940, Sears called it quits, and closed their Modern Homes department. Aladdin continued to sell kit homes until 1981.

More than 90% of the people living in these historically significant homes didn’t realize what they had until I knocked on their door and told them! Aladdin Kit Homes were sold from 1906-1981. (Sears, by comparison, was out of business by 1940.)

To learn more about identifying kit homes, click here.

To learn about the Aladdin Homes in Rocky Mount, click here.

To learn more about the massive collection of Aladdin kit homes in Roanoke Rapids, click here.

The Aladdin Shadowlawn was a big, beautiful kit home, and theres a perfect Shadowlawn in Concord, NC.

The Aladdin Shadowlawn was a big, beautiful kit home, and there's a perfect Shadowlawn in Concord, NC. Image is from the 1919 catalog.

And here it is, a perfect Shadowlawn in Concord, but what is the address?

And here it is, a perfect Shadowlawn in Concord, but what is the address?

Somewhere in Concord, I think I saw a Plaza, too.

Somewhere in Concord, I think I saw a Plaza, too.

And an Aladdin Pomona.

And an Aladdin Pomona.

In Roanoke Rapids, NC, youll find this *perfect* Aladdin Pomona and the best part - it really is ON the railroad tracks!

In Roanoke Rapids, NC, you'll find this *perfect* Aladdin Pomona and the best part - it really is ON the railroad tracks! As I recall, there is a Pomona in Concord.

Aladdin

Aladdin offered some pretty fancy houses, too, such as this Aladdin Villa.

If you love kit homes, you have to visit Roanoke Rapids. It was a town built by Aladdin, and it was a wide variety of Aladdin ki

If you love kit homes, you have to visit Roanoke Rapids. It was a town built by Aladdin, and it was a wide variety of Aladdin kit homes, including this Aladdin Villa (Aladdin's biggest kit home).

Aladdin

Aladdin was a kit home company based in Bay City that sold more than 75,000 kit homes during their 75 years in the kit home business.

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Aladdin was a large, impressive company and here in the Southeast, most of the kit homes that I've found are from Aladdin,

Aladdin also sold entire cities of their kit homes, and their mill was in Wilmington, which would explain why there are so many Aladdin kit homes in North Carolina.

Aladdin also sold entire cities of their kit homes, and one sterling example is Roanoke Rapids, NC. In that small town, we've found more than 60 Aladdin Kit Homes, including some of Aladdin's biggest and fanciest homes.

Aladdin Homes were made with quality materials - first growth lumber out of virgin forests - the likes of which we will never again see in this country.

Aladdin Homes were made with quality materials - first growth lumber out of virgin forests - the likes of which we will never again see in this country.

My favorite graphic from the 1914 Aladdin catalog.

My favorite graphic from the 1914 Aladdin catalog.

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To learn more about the massive collection of Aladdin kit homes in Roanoke Rapids, click here.

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The Aladdin Shadowlawn in Concord, North Carolina - But WHERE is it?

December 21st, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

Several years ago, I drove through the 1920s neighborhoods in Concord, NC and found several kit homes from Aladdin on the beautiful, tree-lined streets. I was on my way to a more distant land, and it was very early in the morning. Due to the poor lighting, I could only get one decent photo. However, I remember finding several Aladdin kit homes on one street.

Now, these many years later, I don’t remember how many Aladdins that I found, but I saw an Aladdin Pomona, and an Aladdin Sheffield, and this Aladdin Shadowlawn (see below). It’s not surprising that this part of North Carolina is so loaded with kit homes, because Aladdin had a major mill in Wilmington, NC. In fact, Roanoke Rapids has one of the largest collections (and most impressive collections) of Aladdins in the country! It’s worth the trip, I promise!

Aladdin was a mail-order company that (like Sears), sold entire kit homes through their catalogs. The houses typically arrived by boxcar in 12,000 pieces and came with a 75-page instruction book that told the homeowner how all those pieces and parts went together. Today, there are about 75,000 Aladdin kit homes in the country, and about 70,000 Sears Homes in the country. More than 90% of the people living in these historically significant homes didn’t realize what they had until I knocked on their door and told them! Aladdin Kit Homes were sold from 1906-1981. (Sears, by comparison, was out of business by 1940.)

If someone could tell me the name of the street where this Shadowlawn is located, we’d also know the proximity of the OTHER kit homes (for they were very close by).

So, please leave a comment below if you know where this house is! And please look for the other Aladdins on the same street!

To learn more about identifying kit homes, click here.

To learn about the Aladdin Homes in Rocky Mount, click here.

To learn more about the massive collection of Aladdin kit homes in Roanoke Rapids, click here.

The Aladdin Shadowlawn was a big, beautiful kit home, and theres a perfect Shadowlawn in Concord, NC.

The Aladdin Shadowlawn was a big, beautiful kit home, and there's a perfect Shadowlawn in Concord, NC. Image is from the 1919 catalog.

And here it is, a perfect Shadowlawn in Concord, but what is the address?

And here it is, a perfect Shadowlawn in Concord, but what is the address?

Somewhere in Concord, I think I saw a Plaza, too.

Somewhere in Concord, I think I saw a Plaza, too.

And an Aladdin Pomona.

And an Aladdin Pomona.

And Im 98% confident I saw an Aladdin Sheffield just across the street and down a few doors from that Shadowlawn.

And I'm 98% confident I saw an Aladdin Sheffield just across the street and down a few doors from that Shadowlawn.

Aladdin also sold entire cities of their kit homes, and their mill was in Wilmington, which would explain why there are so many Aladdin kit homes in North Carolina.

Aladdin also sold entire cities of their kit homes, and their mill was in Wilmington, which would explain why there are so many Aladdin kit homes in North Carolina.

Aladdin Homes were made with quality materials - first growth lumber out of virgin forests - the likes of which we will never again see in this country.

Aladdin Homes were made with quality materials - first growth lumber out of virgin forests - the likes of which we will never again see in this country.

My favorite graphic from the 1914 Aladdin catalog.

My favorite graphic from the 1914 Aladdin catalog.

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To learn more about the massive collection of Aladdin kit homes in Roanoke Rapids, click here.

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A Kenmore House - by Montgomery Ward!

October 5th, 2011 Sears Homes 2 comments

Sears started selling kit homes in 1908. Montgomery Ward followed suit in 1909.

Sears started offering financing (mortgages) on their kit homes in 1917. Montgomery Ward reluctantly began offering mortgages in 1925.

In 1931, Montgomery Ward saw the writing on the wall and got out of the kit home business. Sears followed suit in 1934 (but re-entered the game in 1935, and closed down the kit home business once and for all in 1940).

Sears and Wards had a lot in common.

One night, I was going through the pages of my 1927 Wardway Homes catalog and found that one of Montgomery Ward’s modest little houses was named, “The Kenmore.”

Interesting name for a Montgomery Ward product!

Was the #2 mail-order giant poking a stick in the eye of the #1 mail-order giant?

What I do know is, Sears first used the brand name “Kenmore” in 1913 for one of their better-quality, portable sewing machines. It sold for $6.75 (including cabinet-grade wooden cover).

Six years later, the Kenmore name disappeared from the Sears catalogs and didn’t reappear until 1934.

Who knows why Ward’s chose the name Kenmore for one of their most-modest kit homes. However, it’s now an interesting little footnote in the history of American merchandising history and kit homes.

To learn more about Wardway Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

The Montgomery Ward Kenmore (1927)

earlier

1910s Wardway catalog. Note the "possible changes" offered.

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Above is the floor plan for the Wards "Kenmore." Pretty modest little house. That rear bedroom is a mere seven feet wide. Today, we'd call that a walk-in closet.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

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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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