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Posts Tagged ‘aladdin plaza’

The Historic (Kit) Homes of Concord, Massachusetts!

June 11th, 2013 Sears Homes 1 comment

My husband and I recently returned from the Boston area, where we visited my daughter. For Sunday lunch, we landed in Concord, Massachusetts and on the way out of town, I spotted an Aladdin kit home - The Plaza.

And what a beautiful Plaza it is!

Much to my chagrin, I was not able to get a photo of this fine home because it’s located on a busy street, and the traffic on that narrow road was unbelievably horrific!

And now, I’m wondering, how many more kit homes are there in this historic Revolutionary town?

If you’re new to this site, you may be wondering, what IS a Sears kit home?

In the early 1900s, you could buy an entire house out of the Sears Roebuck catalog. These were not prefab houses, but real “kits” (with about 12,000 pieces of building materials!). The lumber came pre-cut and numbered to help facilitate construction. Those numbers, together with a 75-page instruction book, and blueprints designed for a novice, enabled a “man of average abilities” to build their own home.

Sears promised that you could have a house assembled and ready for occupancy in 90 days!

When Sears closed their “Modern Homes” department in 1940, all sales records were destroyed, so the only way to find these homes in one by one. In fact, based on my 12 years of experience, more than 90% of the people living in these homes didn’t realize what they had until I knocked on their door and told them.

In the early 1900s, there were six national companies selling these mail-order kit homes. Aladdin was one of those six companies, and it was in business longer than Sears (and sold more houses), but is not as well know.

How many more kit homes are in Concord? I’d love to know!

To learn more about Aladdin, click here.

To read about the Sears house I found in Needham, click here.

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Aladdin was a bigger company than Sears (in terms of selling kit homes) but was not as well known. This image is from Aladdins 1914 catalog.

Aladdin was a bigger company than Sears (in terms of selling kit homes) but was not as well known. This image is from Aladdin's 1914 catalog.

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Roanoke Rapids, NC is an example of a town built by Aladdin.

Roanoke Rapids, NC is an example of a town built by Aladdin.

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The Plaza was a classic bungalow and a popular house for Aladdin.

The Plaza was a classic bungalow and a popular house for Aladdin.

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Aladdin Plaza

The accompanying text pointed to the Aladdin Plaza as a "woman's reward for thrift."

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Plaza

Plaza, as seen in the 1919 Aladdin catalog.

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*house house

The Aladdin Plaza in Concord has had a couple minor changes, but it’s still mighty close to the original catalog image. And, be still my little heart, it still has its original porch railing! Does the owner know that they live in a historically significant kit house? I’d love to know! Photo is from the assessor’s website, and I’m hoping that assessor is a friendly fellow, and doesn’t mind the fact that his lovely photo was “borrowed” for such a historical purpose.

Heres another perfect Aladdin Plaza, and this one is in Roanoke Rapids. Like the house shown above, this one also has its original porch railings.

Here's another perfect Aladdin Plaza, and this one is in Roanoke Rapids. Like the house shown above, this one also has its original porch railings.

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And heres an Aladdin Plaza in my home town, Norfolk.

And here's an Aladdin Plaza in my home town, Norfolk.

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Do you know of any kit homes in Concord? Please leave a comment below!

To learn more about Aladdin, click here.

“The Merry Widow” Is Near Death (In Covington, Virginia)

October 1st, 2012 Sears Homes 3 comments

Recently, my husband and I traveled to Clifton Forge, Virginia (to visit Douthat State Park).

While there in Clifton Forge, we drove over to Covington (to look for kit homes of course). While in Covington, we discovered an old steam locomotive, sitting at the end of Main Street. Now the property of Allegheny Historical Society, Locomotive #701 was originally built in 1911 for Chesapeake & Ohio.

It’s lovingly referred to as “The Merry Widow.”

The merry widow

The Merry Widow was built in 1911 by the Richmond Locomotive Company. It's looking a little rough these days, but it must have been a beauty in its prime. Note the Blue Ridge Mountains in the background. This locomotive came to rest here in 1952.

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This year, The Virginia Rail Heritage region announced that The Merry Widow won the “honor” of being selected as one of the Top Ten Endangered Artifacts in the state. (The competition was sponsored by the Virginia Association of Museums and the Virginia Collections Institute.)

And this beautiful old train is truly an endangered artifact. To see a youtube video of its interior, click here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShFUejzd-4Y

The Chesapeake and Ohio steam engine is a 2-8-0 “Consolidation Class” locomotive. From 1911 to the 1920s, #701 huffed and puffed its way up and down the rails between Ohio and the Great Lakes region. In 1930, it was dedicated to pulling Pullman cars full of happy tourists to a famous historic landmark, The Homestead Resort (in nearby Hot Springs).

The moniker “Merry Widow” came from her single-minded devotion to that task of carrying folks north to Hot Springs, Virginia from Covington. From 1930  to 1952, #701 was the lone engine that ran on that line.

In 1952, a shiny new diesel electric stepped in and #701 was donated to Covington. She has patiently waited in that one spot - literally rusting in her tracks - for half a century.

The condition of this once-grand piece of machinery is precarious, at best. Hopefully, she’ll be restored and reclaimed, rather than relegated to the trash heap. Her placement on the Top Ten List bodes well for her future. Perhaps now she’ll get the attention she deserves.

It’s a beautiful train. I hope it’s not too late to save her.

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Merry

A placard commemorates the dedication.

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Miss

Another view of #701.

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rusty

Can this engine be saved?

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It's looking pretty iffy.

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What a beautiful thing. Hopefully one day, her tender will be filled with coal and water and that old boiler will be fired up again.

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dirty

The air quality in Covington can NOT be helping this artifact. What is billowing out of all those smokestacks? Is this a paper plant?

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houose

Despite three hours of wandering around in Covington, i found only one kit home: The Aladdin Plaza. Ironically, this was found within a block of #701.

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house

The Aladdin Plaza (1919 catalog).

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plague

A badge on the side of the engine shows a manufacture date of 1911.

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plaque

There must be a way to save this old engine.

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To learn about Sears Homes, click here.

To learn more about #701, click here.

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Durham and Its Kit Homes! (Updated!)

May 17th, 2012 Sears Homes 2 comments

On Saturday (May 19th), I’ll be at the Rialto Theater giving a talk on the Kit Homes of Raleigh.

On Thursday (May 17th), Katherine Jordan drove me through Durham (next door to Raleigh) to look for kit homes. And we found a few!

As is typical in this part of the country, we found more Aladdin Kit Homes than anything else. Aladdin (like Sears) sold kit homes through a mail-order catalog, and Aladdin (unlike Sears) had a major mill located in Wilmington, NC., so it’s not surprising that there are so many Aladdins in Durham and surrounding areas.

Want to learn more? Join our group on Facebook!

To see what we found in Raleigh, click here.

To listen to Rose’s interview on WUNC, click here.

To see the photos of kit homes in Durham, scroll on down!

First, my favorite Sears House in Durham - The Sears Alhambra!

First, my favorite Sears House in Durham - The Sears Alhambra!

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Hidden in the Pines is one of the prettiest Alhambras I have ever seen.

Hidden in the Pines is one of the prettiest Alhambras I have ever seen.

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First, one of my favorites! The Aladdin Pomona.

And from Aladdin, one of my favorites! The Aladdin Pomona.

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Due to the remodeling (substitute siding), its hard to see but this is definitely an Aladdin Pomona!

Due to the remodeling (substitute siding), it's hard to see but this is definitely an Aladdin Pomona!

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And even though its got replacement siding, it did retain its original windows!

And even though it's got replacement siding, it did retain its original windows, with their distinctive diamond muntins.

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This is a Sears Lynnhaven (from the 1938 catalog).

This is a Sears Lynnhaven (from the 1938 catalog).

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And the Lynnhaven in Durham had something Ive never seen before: A gabled dormer!

And the Lynnhaven in Durham had something I've never seen before: A gabled dormer!

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And I also saw a house from Gordon Van Tine (yet another kit home company).

And I also saw a house from Gordon Van Tine (yet another kit home company).

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The Durham

This "Colonial Cottage" was a good match to its original catalog image.

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Aladdin

The Aladdin Plaza was a classic early 20th Century bungalow.

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Aladdin Plaza

This Aladdin Plaza in Durham is in perfect condition.

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And literally next door to the Plaza was a perfect little Aladdin Pasadena.

And literally next door to the Plaza was a perfect little Aladdin Pasadena. Notice the classic "Arts and Crafts" porch roof.

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Its somewhat obscured by landscaping, but theres no doubt that this is an Aladdin Pasadena.

It's somewhat obscured by landscaping, but there's no doubt that this is an Aladdin Pasadena.

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Close of the door.

Close up of the door.

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NOT

Through the years, several people contacted me to tell me about this "Sears House" in Durham. THIS IS NOT A SEARS HOUSE! In fact, it is NOT a kit home at all!! It's from a plan book titled, "Standard Home Plans for 1926," and Rachel Shoemaker is the one who figured this out. Again - this is *not* a Sears House, but it came from a plan book!

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To learn more about plan book houses, click here.

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And we spotted a couple Lustons on the same street!

And we spotted a couple Lustons on the same street!

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To learn more about Lustron Homes, click here.

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And this is NOT a kit home, but it is a DAZZLING architectural treasure. Its Art Moderne and one of my all time favorite housing styles - and its right there in Durham!

And this is NOT a kit home, but it is a DAZZLING architectural treasure. It's known as "Art Moderne" and one of my all time favorite housing styles - and it's right there in Durham!

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The details.

The details of Rose's appearances in Raleigh.

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

To learn more about Rose’s upcoming lecture, 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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Choo-choos in Crewe, and Sears Homes Too!

May 18th, 2011 Sears Homes 1 comment

In the late 1800s, the repair shops for Norfolk and Western’s steam locomotives were based in Crewe, Virginia. In the mid 20th Century, railroads abandoned steam (and their repair shops) and turned to diesel-electric locomotives.  One of the legacies left behind from Crewe’s former glory as a railroad town is a delightful train museum and a few kit homes, from Sears (Chicago) and Aladdin (Bay City, MI).

In late Spring 2011, I traveled through Crewe on my way home from Lynchburg, and found these delightful kit homes.

Enjoy the photos, and as always - please share the link with your real friends and your virtual friends, too!  :)

To read another amazing blog about Crewe, click here.

edison

Aladdin was actually another kit home company that (like Sears) sold their houses through a mail-order catalog. Aladdin started selling their kit homes in 1906, two years before Sears (1908). In Virginia, I've found many more Aladdins than Sears homes, probably because Aladdin had a large mill in Wilmington, NC.

Edison

Aladdin Edison on Route 460 in Crewe.

Aladdin Plaza

Aladdin Plaza from the 1919 catalog.

Aladdin Plaza

Aladdin Plaza in brick.

The Lynnhaven is one of my favorite Sears Homes, because it’s both stylish and practical, and it was one of Sears best selling models.  This house was offered from the late 1920s to the end, when Sears offered their last catalog in 1940.

Railroad towns and kit homes go together naturally, just like carrots and peas. These kit homes would arrive in a boxcar, in 12,000 pieces. Each kit came with a 75-page instruction book and a promise that a man of average abilities could have the house assembled and ready for occupancy in a mere 90 days. In fact, most people needed a little more time than that.

Sears offered about 370 designs of their kit homes, and during their 32 years in the kit home business, Sears sold about 70,000 houses.

Aladdin was a larger company, selling more than 75,000 homes, and they were in business from 1906-1981.

Lynnhaven

Lynnhaven from the 1936 Sears catalog.

Lynnhaven

Lynnhaven in Crewe.

Sears Wexford from the 1936 catalog

Sears Wexford from the 1936 catalog. It was also known as the Bridgeport, but this little home's best chums call it "Wexxie."

Wexxie

This little house is not a spot on match to "Wexxie" but it's distinctive enough that I'd be willing to bet 50 cents it is indeed the real deal.

My favorite find in Crewe was the Sears Lucerne. This is the only Lucerne that I have seen in my many travels, and the one in Crewe is just a spot-on match to the original catalog image! And look at the price!  This darling little house could be yours for $867.

From the 1916 Sears Modern Homes catalog

From the 1916 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Lucerne in Crewe, Virginia

Lucerne in Crewe, Virginia

This view shows that little funny staircase window on the left side. See floorplan for details.

This view shows that little funny staircase window on the left side. See floorplan for details.

Comparison of the two houses

Comparison of the two houses

One of the trains on display at the train museum in Crewe.

One of the trains on display at the train museum in Crewe.

Another view of the choo choo at Crewe-Crewe.

Another view of the choo choo at Crewe-Crewe.

More train coolness at Crewe

More train coolness at Crewe

The little train museum in Crewe is a delight, and well worth your time. It’s staffed by devoted volunteers and it’s a lovely way to spend some time. As a hard-core train buff, I loved the hands-on displays and being able to soak in the happy ambiance of the old Norfolk and Western steam engine (pictured above).

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy one of Rose’s splendiferous books, click here.

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Hopewell’s Historic Kit Homes: And They’re Not in Crescent Hills (Part V)

March 30th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

As mentioned in prior posts, Hopewell, Virginia is the proud owner of eight bona fide Sears homes in the Crescent Hills area.  That’s well and good, but they also have entire neighborhoods of Aladdin kit homes in other parts of Hopewell.   It’s a puzzle why the city invests so much effort in promoting those eight houses, while forgetting about the dozens of Aladdin kit homes. Why, if I were a little Aladdin home in Hopewell, I’d feel sorely neglected!

Most likely, the majority of the Aladdin Kit Homes were ordered by Dupont in 1914, for their dynamite factory in Hopewell.  And there along the waterfront - on Ramsey Avenue - are the Aladdin Wenonah, an Aladdin Brighton, and an Aladdin Plaza.

The Plaza sits at the end of Ramsey, and I’d just love to know - do these homeowners know that they’re sitting in a piece of Americana, enjoying their restful slumbers in a historically significant kit home, that was shipped in from Bay City, Michigan via boxcar, with 12,000 pieces of house?  And what about the city itself? Are they aware of these precious architectural gems that sit within its borders, uncelebrated, unheralded and unprotected?

It’d be a dandy idea for the city - at the very least -  to put a placard in front of these homes, identifying them as Aladdin kit homes, or perhaps include them on their tourism brochures. Urbana, Virginia has ONE Sears House, and look what they’ve done!

A city full of architecturally significant homes is a terrible thing to waste.

Click on these links to read Part I, Part II, Part III or Part IV of “Hopewell’s Historic Homes.”

Aladdin Plaza as shown in 1919 Aladdin catalog

Aladdin Plaza as shown in 1919 Aladdin catalog

Aladdin Plaza in Hopewell, very near the waterfront

Aladdin Plaza in Hopewell, very near the waterfront

To read Part VI, click here.

Click on these links to read Part I, Part II, Part III or Part IV.

Click here to buy Rose’s book.

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Harrisonburg’s Surprising Bunch of Sears Homes

March 15th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

In Fall 2010, my hubby and I were driving home from Elkins, WV and took a detour through Harrisonburg. In less than 30 minutes, I found a plethora of kit homes in this beautiful little mountain town. To learn more about Sears Modern Homes, click here.

In brief, Sears Homes were sold as pre-cut kit homes from the Sears catalog. These 12,000-piece kits came with a 75-page instruction book and a promise that a “man of average abilities” could have one assembled and ready for occupancy in 90 days!  When Sears closed their “Modern Homes” department in 1940, all sales records were destroyed, so the only way to find these homes in one by one.

To admire the beautiful pictures, scroll on down!  :)

To read about another amazing collection (in Rocky Mount), click here!

Sears Willard, as seen in this 1928 promotional ad

Sears Willard, as seen in this 1928 promotional ad

Sears Willard in Harrisonburg. Note, the dormer has been altered a bit but thats a very common repair as this is the site of frequent roof leaks.

Sears Willard in Harrisonburg. Note, the dormer has been altered a bit but that's a very common "repair" as this is the site of frequent roof leaks. One distinguishing feature of the Willard are those three windows on the right side (in this photo).

The Sears Westly was a popular little house. Notice how the roof in the rear is truncated. Theres a wee tiny window on the back wall.

The Sears Westly was a popular little house. Notice how the roof in the rear is truncated. There's a wee tiny window on the back wall.

Hidden behind the shrubs is a darling Carlin!

Hidden behind the shrubs is a darling Carlin!

Notice the roofline in this picture!

Notice the roofline in this picture!

Sears Lynnhaven from the 1938 catalog

Sears Lynnhaven from the 1938 catalog

Sears Lynnhaven in Harrisonburg!

There ought to be a law against parking cars in front of Sears Lynnhavens!

Sears Lynnhaven

Sears Lynnhaven just outside of Harrisonburg in Franklin. And what a beauty!

Sears Attleboro, as seen in the 1936 catalog.

Sears Attleboro, as seen in the 1936 catalog.

Sears Attleboro (also hidden by the landscaping)

Sears Attleboro (also hidden by the landscaping)

Sears Elsmore, from the 1919 catalog

Sears Elsmore, from the 1919 catalog

Still hidden by the vegetation, and also obscured by a lot of remodeling, but theres a Sears Elsmore hiding underneath all that vinyl.

Still hidden by the vegetation, and also obscured by a lot of remodeling, but there's a Sears Elsmore hiding underneath all that vinyl.

In addition to Sears, I also found houses from Aladdin, a company based in Bay City. Aladdin had a large mill in Wilmington, NC and not surprisingly, Ive found more Aladdin kit homes in Virginia and North Carolina, than Sears Homes.

In addition to Sears, I also found houses from Aladdin, a company based in Bay City. Aladdin had a large mill in Wilmington, NC and not surprisingly, I've found more Aladdin kit homes in Virginia and North Carolina, than Sears Homes.

Aladdin Plaza - in the flesh!

Aladdin Plaza - in the flesh! Note the large addition on the porch. Not what one might call a "sensitive" remodeling.

GVT

And I found a Gordon Van Tine home in Harrisonburg. This company was based in Davenport, Iowa and was also a large, national kit home company.

Is it a GV #605?  Hard to know for sure without getting inside, but it sure looks like it.

Is it a GV #605? Hard to know for sure without getting inside, but it might be. The house above looks wider than the #605.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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A Nice Bunch of Houses in Lafayette/Winona (Norfolk, VA)

February 21st, 2011 Sears Homes 2 comments

When I first started playing with kit houses  in 1999, Sears Homes were my specialty. It had taken me  several months to memorize all those 370 designs that Sears offered during their 32 years in the kit house business (from 1908-1940). Before long I realized I had to start learning the designs offered by other companies, too. Working with friends Dale and Rebecca, we made countless copies of our dusty old kit home catalogs and organized those thousands of pages into a comprehensive field guide to kit homes sold by Aladdin (Bay City, MI), Lewis Manufacturing (also Bay City), Sterling Homes (Bay City, too), Harris Brothers (Chicago), Gordon Van Tine (Davenport, Iowa), and Montgomery Ward (Chicago).

And when I moved to Norfolk in 2006, I was surprised to find a prevalence of Aladdin kit homes in the area. Aladdin, I later learned, had a mill in Wilmington, NC (a lot closer to Hampton Roads than Chicago and Bay City!).

Below are some of the kit homes I’ve found in the Lafayette/Winona section of Norfolk. The most remarkable find was the Montgomery Ward Model #101. Unfortunately, the subject house in the Lafayette area has endured a great deal of insensitive remodeling which has altered its appearance.

First, my favorite: The Aladdin Plaza on Lafayette Blvd. The catalog image (from a 1919 catalog) is shown first:

Aladdin Plaza as shown in 1919 Aladdin catalog

Aladdin Plaza as shown in 1919 Aladdin catalog

One of my all-time favorite Aladdin Plazas is in Norfolk, Virginia, about three miles from my home in Colonial Place.

One of my all-time favorite Aladdin Plazas is on Lafayette Blvd in Norfolk. It's in wonderful condition and looks much like the line drawing.

The Pomona (named after the city in California) was a classic Arts & Crafts bungalow.

The Pomona (named after the city in California) was a classic Arts & Crafts bungalow.

Aladdin Pomona

Aladdin Pomona, complete with white picket fence! Unfortunately, the windows have been replaced, but it does have its original siding.

Aladdin Pomona

Trees, cars, boats, and miscellaneous little people prevented a better photo, but this is a nice little Aladdin Pomona, and it still has the original diamond-muntin window in the living room.

Aladdin Pasadena from the 1919 catalog

Aladdin Pasadena from the 1919 catalog

Little old cottage from Pasadena...

Little old cottage from Pasadena...

If you look close, youll see what the original porch looked like on this house.

If you look close, you'll see what the original porch looked like on this house.

And you can see the remnant of the beams on this house in Lafayette.

And you can see the remnant of the beams on this house in Lafayette.

The Aladdin Sheffield was a popular house. I know of three in Norfolk.

The Aladdin Sheffield was a popular house. I know of three in Norfolk.

This Aladdin Sheffield is a real treasure, and even has the bumped out vestible as shown in the original catalog drawing.

This Aladdin Sheffield is a real treasure, and even has the "bumped out" vestibule as shown in the original catalog drawing.

Aladdin Shadowlawn from the 1919 catalog

Aladdin Shadowlawn from the 1919 catalog. Note, this Shadowlawn has a porte cochere.

And its porte cochere is still in use!

And its porte cochere is still in use!

The Aladdin Winthrop

The Aladdin Winthrop. Awnings not included.

The distinguishing feature of this Aladdin Winthrop are those windows in side fo the bay and the four windows across the front. Also note how the frotn porch spans the full width of the house.

The distinguishing feature of this Aladdin Winthrop are the windows in side of the bay and the four windows across the front. Also note how the front porch spans the full width of the house. This was a special delight because I'd missed this one on prior trips through the 'hood and just found it this week!

And onto Sears!  This is the Sears Elsmore - a hugely popular house for Sears

And onto Sears! This is the Sears Elsmore - a hugely popular house for Sears

My favorite feature of this house is that its painted the same colors as the catalog picture!! Notice, it has the recessed entry way.

My favorite feature of this house is that it's painted the same colors as the catalog picture!! Notice, it has the recessed entry way.

Sears Alhambra from the 1919 catalog

Sears Alhambra from the 1919 catalog

If anyone knows the owners of this house, Id love to find out if its a Sears Alhambra. It might be, but I wouldnt bet money on it. An interior inspection would reveal if this is indeed a true Sears Alhambra.

Sears Alhambra? Eh, maybe. Maybe NOT. If anyone knows the owners of this house, I'd love to get inside and find out if it's a Sears Alhambra. It might be, but I wouldn't bet money on it. An interior inspection would reveal if this is indeed a true Sears Alhambra.

Sears Alhambra in Portsmouth, Virginia (my home town)

**THIS** is what an Alhambra should look like! This house is in the 1500-block of County Street in downtown Portsmouth.

Sears Argyle from the Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Argyle from the Sears Modern Homes catalog

This Argyle has some wear and tear on it, but you can still see a sweet little Argyle hiding in there. This is just outside the border of the Lafayette Winona area.

This Argyle has some wear and tear on it, but you can still see a sweet little Argyle hiding in there. This is just outside the border of the Lafayette Winona area.

Original image from an early 1910s Montgomery Ward catalog. This is Wardway Model #101.

Wardway #101

Wardway #101. My favorite find of the day. This house has been severely aluminized and the original windows are nothing but a memory, but this house has several very unique characteristics that make me think it's probably the Wardway #101. Two of those unique features are bay windows on the front and side. The porch has been extended around to the side (fairly recently, judging by the joinery) and the substitute siding has really distorted the home's original appearance.

To see more pictures of the kit homes in Hampton Roads, click here.

To buy a copy of Rose’s book, click here.

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The Kit Homes of Colonial Place (Norfolk, Virginia)

February 19th, 2011 Sears Homes 3 comments

From 2002-2006, I gave about 200 lectures in 24 states and the #1 most frequently asked question I received was, “Do you live in a Sears Home?

No, I don’t, but I do live amongst them.  :)

In January 2007, I was married to a Norfolk resident and in February 2007, we moved into a 1925 center-hallway Colonial Revival in Colonial Place.

It’s not a kit house, but there are several here in Colonial Place and Park Place (and one in Riverview). Most of the kit homes in Norfolk are not from Sears, but Aladdin. Based in Bay City, Michigan, this was another mail-order kit house company. They had a large mill in Wilmington, North Carolina, so it’s not surprising to find so many Aladdin kit homes in our area.

Enjoy the photos!

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!

Aladdin Virginia on Virginia Avenue in the state of Virginia! This is one of my favorite kit homes - ever. It's in wonderful condition and it's a spot-on match to the original catalog image! Part of what makes this house such a treasure is that it's in original condition.

Wow.

Wow.

Wow

What a beauty.

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Aladdin Plaza

Aladdin Plaza as seen in the 1919 catalog.

An interesting aside: The Pungo Grill in Virginia Beach is also an Aladdin Plaza. Click here to learn more.

Perfect Aladdin Plaza. Just perfect.

Perfect Aladdin Plaza. Just perfect.

The Pomona (named after the city in California) was a classic Arts & Crafts bungalow.

The Pomona (named after the city in California) was a classic Arts & Crafts bungalow.

This Pomona has seen some changes in its many decades of life, but still retains its classic lines.

This Pomona has seen some changes in its many decades of life, but still retains its classic lines. Notice the eave brackets, and compare them to the original catalog picture.

The Aladdin Venus was one of their most popular houses.

The Aladdin Venus was one of their most popular houses.

Close-up of the Aladdin Venus

Close-up of the Aladdin Venus

Looking a little rough around the edges, this Aladdin Venus still retains many original features.

It's had siding added and original railings removed, but this Aladdin Venus still retains many original features. There's a second Aladdin Venus in Park Place on 35th Street.

Notice the original wooden casement windows are still in place, now hidden behind double-hung aluminum storm windows.

Notice the original wooden casement windows are still in place, now hidden behind double-hung aluminum storm windows.

Aladdin Sheffield

Aladdin Sheffield

Despite the fact that the front porch on this house is quite different from the Aladdin Sheffield (pictured above), Im still quite certain this house is an Aladdin kit home. The Sheffield has a number of quirky details that are unusual, and the subject house has each and every one of those quirks.

Despite the fact that the front porch on this house is quite different from the Aladdin Sheffield (pictured above), I'm still quite certain this house is an Aladdin kit home. The Sheffield has a number of quirky details that are unusual, and the subject house has each and every one of those quirks. Unfortunately, this is not a great photo, and the angle is wrong. One of the funny features of the Sheffield is the fireplace chimney on the other side. It cuts right through the eaves of the second-floor dormer window (as does this Sheffield in CP).

Aladdin Lamberton

Aladdin Lamberton

Its done up pretty in brick, and its had many modifications, but Im 97.736% certain that this is an Aladdin Lamberton.

It's done up pretty in brick, and it's had many modifications, but I'm 97.736% certain that this is an Aladdin Lamberton.

This is the only Wardway House I know of in Colonial Place. Like Sears, Montgomery Ward also sold kit homes. To learn more about Wardway Homes, click here.

Sears sold about 70,000 houses during their 32 years in the kit home business. Montgomery Ward sold about 25,000 homes. Not surprisingly, there are very few Wardway Homes in Hampton Roads area.

This is the only Wardway House I know of in Colonial Place. Like Sears, Montgomery Ward also sold kit homes. To learn more about Wardway Homes, click here.

Seems like this house should be located on Michigan Avenue, since it is the Wardway Michigan. Ive always wondered how we ended up with a Michigan Avenue in a neighborhood named after the 13 original colonies.

Seems like this house should be located on Michigan Avenue, since it is the Wardway Michigan. I've always wondered how we ended up with a Michigan Avenue in a neighborhood named after the 13 original colonies.

In addition to kit homes, we also have pattern book houses in CPRV, such as this Regent from a 1926 pattern book. Interested homebuyers would order blueprints from a pattern book. Typically, your purchase price would also include a detailed inventory of all the building materials youd need for your new home.

In addition to kit homes, we also have "pattern book houses" in CPRV, such as this "Regent" from a 1926 pattern book. Interested homebuyers would order blueprints from a pattern book. Typically, your purchase price would also include a detailed inventory of all the building materials you'd need for your new home.

This Regent is a perfect match to the pattern book page (above). THeres another Regent in Larchmont.

This "Regent" is a perfect match to the pattern book page (above). THere's another "Regent" in Larchmont.

In addition to Sears, Aladdin and Wardway, there was also Lewis Manufacturing. Heres a Lewis Manufacturing kit home, The San Fernando. BTW the bungalow craze started (in the early 1900s) in California, hence all the Californian names for these bungalows!

In addition to Sears, Aladdin and Wardway, there was also Lewis Manufacturing. Here's a Lewis Manufacturing kit home, The San Fernando. BTW the bungalow craze started (in the early 1900s) in California, hence all the Californian names for these bungalows!

Is this a Lewis San Fernando? Hard to tell for sure, but it sure looks like it. However, this is precisely why its so difficult to identify kit homes. Closeness does not count. Precision does.

Is this a Lewis San Fernando? Hard to tell for sure, but it sure looks like it. However, this is precisely why it's so difficult to identify kit homes. Closeness does not count. Precision does.

And onto the kit homes in Park Place…

Like Colonial Place, Park Place also has several kit homes. This house (see picture below) was from Gordon Van Tine, a kit home company based in Davenport, Iowa. As you can see from the original catalog picture, it was a fine and spacious home.

Park Place

The ad promises that this is an "exceptionally well planned" home!

Is this a Gordon Van Tine #703? Again, without inspecting the homes interior, its hard to be sure.

Is this a Gordon Van Tine #703? Again, without inspecting the home's interior, it's hard to be sure.

Another spacious foursquare is the Aladdin Wenonah.

Another spacious foursquare is the Aladdin Wenonah.

The Wenonah was an unusual home and this is the only one Ive seen in my many travels. Its in Park Place.

The Wenonah was an unusual home and this is the only one I've seen in my many travels. It's in Park Place.

Whitehall

Sears Whitehall, as seen in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Whitehall

Whitehall in the flesh on 26th Street.

Sears Lebanon. Note the flowerbox in front of the second floor windows.

Sears Lebanon. Note the flowerbox in front of the second floor windows.

Lebanon in Park Place area

Sears Lebanon on 26th Street. This Lebanon is missing its flower box, but still has the wooden support brackets jutting out from the wall.

Sears Americus

Sears Americus

Americus in nearby Park Place

This Sears Americus still retains so many of the unique features that make it so distinctive. Notice how the front porch roof extends well beyond the home's width? And the second floor juts out a bit (on the right) but the first floor is flat across the front. Unfortunately, those eave brackets have been covered in great gobs of aluminum. Ick. This house has been converted into a duplex (sigh) and is on a main drag in Park Place.

My pretty pretty house on Gosnold

My pretty pretty house on Gosnold is not a Sears House.

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

To read about the Sears Homes in Hampton Roads, click here.

To buy Rose’s book (and get it inscribed!), click here.

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An Abundance of Sears Homes in Raleigh, NC

February 9th, 2011 Sears Homes 12 comments

In May 2012, I gave a talk on the Sears Homes in RaleighClick here to read more about that.

To my astonishment and delight, I found an impressive number of kit homes in this part of North Carolina, including Sears, Harris Brothers, Lewis Homes, Montgomery Ward, Gordon Van Tine and more!

Kit homes are historically significant for too many reasons to go into here, but in short, these homes were ordered from a mail-order catalog and were shipped in about 12,000 pieces, arriving via boxcar at the local train station. The kits came with 75-page instruction books and a promise that “a man of average abilities” could have one put together and ready for occupancy in 90 days!

Here are a few examples of the many pretties I found during my travels to Raleigh.

If you know of the location of a Sears Home, please leave a comment below.

Continue reading (Part II) here.

Read about what I found in Chapel Hill by clicking here!

Listen to Rose’s inteview on WUNC (with Frank Stasio) here.

Not surprisingly, the Mordecai Historic District has several kit homes, including an Aladdin Plaza!

Not surprisingly, the Mordecai Historic District has several kit homes, including an Aladdin Plaza! This image is from the 1919 Aladdin catalog.

This Aladdin Plaza sits high on a hill in Mordecai (Raleigh)

This Aladdin Plaza sits high on a hill in Mordecai (Raleigh)

Another favorite house (of mine) and a popular house for Sears: The Crescent.

Another favorite house (of mine) and a popular house for Sears: The Crescent.

Sears Crescent (also in the Mordecai area)

Sears Crescent (also in the Mordecai area)

Sears Whitehall, as seen in the 1925 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Sears Whitehall, as seen in the 1925 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Sears Whitehall, also located in the Mordecai area of Raleigh

Sears Whitehall, also located in the Mordecai area of Raleigh

Mordecai has several Sears Homes, including this Sears Sunbeam. Note how the rear roof is much shorter than the front side of the roof. Also note how the large shed dormer comes off the ridge of the roof.

Mordecai has several Sears Homes, including this Sears Sunbeam. Note how the rear roof is much shorter than the front side of the roof. Also note how the large shed dormer comes off the ridge of the roof.

This Sears Sunbeam is a lovely example and in original condition.

This Sears Sunbeam is a lovely example and in original condition. The tin roof is a very nice touch.

The Sears Sunbeam was offered in two versions: One had the open sleeping porch and one had a glassed-in porch. Below is a catalog picture of the house with the enclosed porch, which is more similar to the house pictured above.

The Sears Sunbeam was offered in two versions: One had the open sleeping porch and one had a glassed-in porch. Above is a catalog picture of the house with the enclosed porch, which is more similar to the house in Mordecai.

Sears Argyle, from the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog. Note the big bold columns on the homes front, and the faux beams around the eaves.

Sears Argyle, from the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog. Note the big bold columns on the homes front, and the faux beams around the eaves. Also note how the porch overhangs on one side, extending beyond the home's exterior wall.

The Sears Argyle, near the downtown area.

The Sears Argyle, near the downtown area.Classic and beautiful!

Harris Brothers

This is the Harris Brothers Ardmore, and it's not hard to spot this house with that unusual second floor poking up out of that roofline! (Vintage catalog image supplied by Dan Becker.)

Here it is: THe Harris Brothers kit home, the Ardmore. Id bet money that the owners have no idea that they have a kit home from a small, Chicago-based company.

Here it is: THe Harris Brothers' kit home, the Ardmore. I recently learned that the owner knows all about the home's unique origins!

Aladdin Sheffield, as seen in the 1919 Aladdin catalog. This is an interesting house with its dramatic oversized eaves and hooded dormers.

Aladdin Sheffield, as seen in the 1919 Aladdin catalog. This is an interesting house with its dramatic oversized eaves and hooded dormers.

Aladdin Sheffield in Raleigh

Aladdin Sheffield in Raleigh. This house is in wonderfully original condition.

Wardway (Montgomery Ward) Mt. Vernon, a very popular house

Wardway (Montgomery Ward) Mt. Vernon, a very popular house

Wardway Mt. Vernon - in the flesh!

Wardway Mt. Vernon - in the flesh!

And one of my favorite Sears Homes, The Kilborne.

And one of my favorite Sears Homes, The Kilborne.

I wonder if theyd sell me this house for $2,499?

I wonder if they'd sell me this house for $2,499?

Sears Alhambra from 1923 Modern Homes catalog

Sears Alhambra from 1923 Modern Homes catalog

Sears Alhambra in Raleigh!

Sears Alhambra in Raleigh!

The Sears Winona, as featured in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog. The house in Raleigh (see below) is just a spot-on match, a rarity in a house of this age!

The Sears Winona, as featured in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog. The house in Raleigh (see below) is just a spot-on match, a rarity in a house of this age!

Sears Winona in downtown area (Raleigh, NC)

Sears Westly from the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Westly from the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog

It may not look like a Westly to you at first glance but youll have to trust me on this. It is! The small porch on the dormer has been enclosed to create more space in an upstairs bedroom. This is a common modification, as these areas often leak.

It may not look like a Westly to you at first glance but you'll have to trust me on this. It is! The small porch on the dormer has been enclosed to create more space in an upstairs bedroom. This is a common modification, as these Westlys often leak around that porch area upstairs.

From this angle

From this angle, you can see a bit of that truncated roof on the rear, identifying it as the Sears Westly. Well, it's one of many key identifying features.

Most likely, this really is the tip of the iceberg. In fact, this is about half of the photos I took whilst in Raleigh.

Please share this link with others, and/or contact a local historical organization in Raleigh and urge them to do something to preserve this amazing piece of Raleigh’s history.

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

To buy Rose’s book (and get it inscribed!), click here.

To contact Rose, leave a comment below.

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PS.  And I found several kit homes in Hillsboro, too. I’ll try to post those on another blog entry later.

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