Archive

Posts Tagged ‘alton il’

Houses by George (Barber)

December 3rd, 2014 Sears Homes 4 comments

For years, I’ve heard my buddy Dale Wolicki talk about George Barber, and while I didn’t pay as much attention as I should have, I did note that the houses that Dale pointed out as being “Barber designs” were both grandiose and glorious.

Recently, Dale sent me a digital copy of a 1901 George Barber “Modern Dwellings” catalog, and that’s when I started paying a little more attention.

Sears offered entire kit homes (plans and parts) through their mail-order catalogs, but Barber offered designs through a mail-order catalog. For a few bucks, Knoxville-based architect George Barber would send you plans for any one of the many designs offered in his catalogs. It became a wildly successful enterprise for George Barber.

Just like Sears, Barber also offered to customize plans to meet clients’ personal needs, so identifying these houses today can be challenging (just like Sears kit homes).

I’m fairly new to this game, but already enjoying the process of learning more about this fascinating piece of American architectural history.

Thanks to Dale for the original images shown below!

And thanks to Pat Spriggs for discovering and identifying a George Barber design in Norfolk!

Now, if I could just get my hands on a few more catalogs!

:)

*      *       *

Heres the cover of the 1901 catalog that Dale recently sent me.

Here's the cover of the 1901 catalog that Dale recently shared with me.

*

Many years ago, Dale told me that there was an authenticated George Barber house in Norfolk somewhere, but did I know where? I drove around in Ghent a bit and then found it on Fairfax Street. Last week, I found that Pat Spriggs had done the same thing and found it several years ago!

About four years ago, Dale told me that there was an authenticated George Barber house in Norfolk somewhere, but did I know where? I drove around in Ghent a bit and eventually found it on Fairfax Street. Last week, I found that Pat Spriggs had gone out on the same hunt, and discovered this Barber house several years earlier! The image above is about 113 years old, and is from the "Modern Dwellings" catalog (1901).

*

Compare

Comparison with the 1901 image and the picture I snapped last Sunday.

*

Full view of the George Barber house in Ghent (Norfolk, VA).

Full view of the George Barber house in Ghent (Norfolk, VA).

*

When Pat Spriggs and I were talking last week, she mentioned that there was a George Barber house in Riverview (part of Colonial Place/Riverview neighborhood, where I lived for four years). I was incredulous, as I thought Riverview was too new to have Barber houses but then...

When Pat Spriggs and I were talking last week, she mentioned that there was a George Barber house in Riverview (part of Colonial Place/Riverview neighborhood, where I lived for four years in Norfolk). I was incredulous, as I thought Riverview was too new to have Barber houses but then...

*

I drove by the house myself and took this photo, and I must say, By George, I think shes right!

I drove by the house myself and took this photo, and I must say, "By George, I think she's right!" The house has had a significant addition (far right), and the porch has had some changes, but it seems likely that this is a Barber design.

*

Two weeks ago, I was in Alton and couldnt resist getting a picture of this beauty on Liberty Street.

Two weeks ago, I was in Alton, IL and guess what I saw...

*

This beautiful house

I saw a Model #36 on Liberty Street. This house is listed at Wikipedia as a George Barber 36E (and I'm not sure what that means), but it sure is a nice match to the image shown above (Model 36).

*

Did I mention I’d love to find a few more catalogs?

:)

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

*       *       *

A Magnolia in Alton, Illinois?! Sort Of!

September 24th, 2013 Sears Homes 6 comments

About 1999 or so, my [then] husband and I went to an open house in Alton, Illinois where we saw a darling house.

Last month, while I was looking through a 1952 Aladdin Homes catalog, I [re]discovered that darling house! The house my husband and I had toured in 1999 was actually an Aladdin kit house, “The Magnolia.”

In other words, this house - from Aladdin Homes in Bay City Michigan - came from a mail-order catalog and was shipped to the Alton train station in a box car. The house arrived in about 10,000 pieces and came with a detailed instruction book and a promise that an average fellow could have the house assembled in 90 days.

For the next few days, I really struggled to remember where I’d seen that house, and to the best of my recollection, it was not far from our home in Upper Alton (on Pine Street). Memory can be fickle, but I’d bet money that we saw the house on a little cross street not far from Edwards Street.

In 2006, I left Alton and moved to Norfolk, VA (which makes it harder to find kit homes in Southwestern Illinois).

Last week, I was in Alton visiting family and put more than 80 miles on my rental car, criss-crossing the short streets in Upper Alton. I had Garmin set on “slime trail” so that it left a light-blue line on every street that I traversed. (Have I mentioned how much I love my Garmin?)

Despite driving throughout this area many times over a course of several days, I never did find the Aladdin Magnolia. Now I’m starting to wonder if I saw this house in Godfrey (next door to Alton).

This Magnolia would have been built in the early 1950s, and when we saw it in 1999, it looked much like the house shown in this image. In other words, it had not been “remodeled,” so it should be easy to find. I distinctly remember the oversized living room window and the cantilevers under that second-floor balcony. I also remember the scalloped trim on that front gable.

But where is it?

Please leave a comment below if you know this home’s location. And please feel free to share this link with others who might know the answer to my mystery!

Thanks!!

*

The cover of the 1952 catalog.

In 1952, sales of Aladdin kit homes were probably booming. Sears was out of the kit-house business and WW2 was over, and our nation came into a time of previously unknown prosperity and growth. (1952 catalog cover)

*

Boxcar stacking

One of my favorite images from the 1952 catalog is this line-drawing showing a "phantom box car." The sides of the box car were invisible to showcase the intricate stacking of 10,000 pieces of kit house (1952 catalog).

*

Alton has a Magnolia

Alton has a Magnolia, just like this, but where is it?

*

Altons Magnolia

Detail of the first floor. It's a small house, but has a half-bath on the first floor.

*

Alton FP

The second floor has three small bedrooms and an oddly-shaped bath tub.

*

Maggy

Close-up of the Magnolia in Alton. Or is it Godfrey?

*

Garmin

Whoever invented the "slime trail" feature of Garmin is my hero. Back in the day, I used maps and highlighters to figure out which streets I'd traversed. This shows the early hours of my search. By the time I left town Sunday night, almost every street in Upper Alton had the blue slime trail.

*

Have you seen the Magnolia in Alton? If so, please leave a comment below.

To learn more about my other discoveries in River Bend, click here.

To see pictures of my favorite Alton kit house, click here.

*   *   *

Wood River, Illinois and “The Chilton”

September 24th, 2013 Sears Homes 1 comment

For about a dozen years, I lived in Alton, Illinois. In fact, that’s where I researched and wrote The Houses That Sears Built.

Last week, I returned to Alton to visit family.

Of course, I couldn’t resist driving around my old stomping grounds a bit and looking at the old houses. I left the area in Spring 2006. Since then, I’ve acquired many “new” old catalogs and learned a great deal. While in the Riverbend area last week, I made many “fresh” discoveries.

One of the more interesting finds was this Sterling “Chilton” in nearby Wood River, Illinois

Sterling was based in Bay City, Michigan, and was one of six national companies that sold kit homes in the early 20th Century through mail-order catalogs.

They started out life as International Mill and Timber Company, and in 1915, they launched their own line of pre-cut kit homes, and re-named their company, “Sterling Homes.”

Sterling Homes offered construction services for developers and one of their largest clients turned out to be General Motors, which paid for 1,000 houses to be built in Flint Michigan (for GM workers). Their last catalog was printed in 1974. Total sales during their 59 years in business were about 45,000 homes. (Thanks to Dale Wolicki for the stats and facts on Sterling!)

Thanks to Rachel Shoemaker for providing me with the scanned images from the 1917 Sterling Homes catalog!

Learn more about the history of Sterling Homes by clicking here.

*    *     *

The Sterling Chilton, from the 1917 Sterling Homes catalog.

The Sterling Chilton, from the 1917 Sterling Homes catalog.

*

Sterling Homes was based in Bay City, Michigan, and while they were a national company, they were probably one of the smallest companies selling kit homes through mail order.

Sterling Homes was based in Bay City, Michigan. During their 59 years in business, they sold about 45,000 pre-cut kit homes. Shown here is the cover of the 1916 Sterling Homes catalog.

*

I just love these graphics.

I just love these graphics. And notice the political commentary that was written in by some anonymous soul. Charles Evans Hughes ran against Woodrow Wilson in 1916. He put in a good showing and lost by a mere 594,000 votes. If Hughes had won California, we wouldn't have nearly so many high schools named after Woodrow Wilson.

*

The Chiltons

The Chilton had an oversized living room and dining room, and two small bedrooms, one of which had a cedar closet. Notice the "Jack and Jill" bathroom.

*

house house

The base of the columns on that Chilton are what make it really stand out! There's been some debate in our Facebook group as to the purpose of those projections on those stuccoed columns. Rachel suggested it was to have a safe place for your beer while you were out mowing the yard. Sounds pretty smart to me.

*

Close

While not a spot-on match to the catalog image, I am confident that this house in Wood River is a Sterling Chilton. The front door is easy enough to move, and this is a common alteration. Plus, the house has replacement windows, aluminum siding (ick) and aluminum trim (sigh), so it's possible that it's been subjected to many "improvements."

*

View from the other side.

View from the other side. Three windows have been added to the front gable, but the rest of the details on the home's front are very good, including the five brackets and their placement, the broad piece of fascia across the front and the size and shape of the porch wall.

*

House

While the house in Wood River has a few details that are a bit off, this column is a spot-on match, and it's such a unique architectural feature, that I'm willing to bet money that this is indeed the Sterling Chilton.

*

The reason for my return to the St. Louis area: My daughter will soon be married to this fine gent. Theyre sitting in front of the gazebo where their wedding will take place.

The reason for my return to the St. Louis area: My daughter will soon be married to this fine gent. They're sitting in front of the gazebo, gazing at the very spot where their wedding will take place.

*

As a final note, sometime in 1999 or 2000, my (then) husband and I went to an open house in Alton, IL where we saw this house for sale. Its an Aladdin Magnolia. I drove more than 80 miles, criss-crossing every street in Alton looking for this house but could not find it. If you know where this house is, please leave a comment below. Ill be returning to Alton later for my daughters wedding and would love to get a photo of this house.

As a final note, sometime in 1999, my (then) husband and I went to an open house in Upper Alton, IL (near Edwards Street) where we saw this house for sale. Last month, I was looking through the 1953 Aladdin catalog and re-discovered this house. It's an Aladdin Magnolia, and as soon as I saw the image, I remembered seeing this very same house in 1999. When I was in Alton last week, I drove more than 80 miles, criss-crossing every street in the city, looking for this house but could not find it. If you know where this house is, please leave a comment below. I'll be returning to Alton later for my daughter's wedding and would love to get a photo of this house. Thanks!!

*

To join our “Sears Homes” group on Facebook, click here.

To read more about the Aladdin Magnolia, click here.

If you know where that Aladdin Magnolia is, please leave a comment below! And please share this link with your Riverbend Friends!

*     *     *

Cooking - Off the Grid!

November 24th, 2012 Sears Homes 3 comments

As has become our annual tradition, hubby cooked our 18-pound turkey on his Weber Charcoal Grill. It was one of the most delicious birds I’ve ever enjoyed. The best part was that it was cooked 100% “off the grid.”

The charcoal is a no-brainer. Lots of people know how to use charcoal to cook their meat.

But the secret of a well-cooked bird  is the rotisserie attachment which spins the meat at a slow speed. This year, the small but powerful rotisserie motor was powered  by our new “Solar System,” three 15-watt solar panels which we recently installed at The Ringer Ranch.

These three photovoltaic panels convert the sun’s rays into electricity, which is stored in a 12-volt deep-cycle marine battery. The inverter (shown below) converts the 12-volt system into 120 volts, suitable for household use.

To learn more about how we installed these solar panels, click here.

Hubby proudly points out his delicious turkey spinning on the grill.

Hubby proudly points out his delicious turkey spinning on the grill.

*

Look

Our three 15-watt solar panels are on top of the shed roof.

*

The electrical items (inverter, solar controller and battery) are inside the shed.

The electrical items (inverter, solar controller and battery) are inside the shed. Notice the orange extension cord coming out of the inverter? That is powering the rotisserie.

*

The most amazing part is that the solar panels were charging the battery *faster* than the rotisserie motor was drawing off power.

The most amazing part is that the solar panels were charging the battery *faster* than the rotisserie motor was drawing off power. And this was at 8:00 am.

*

Safety first. Hubby uses the five-gallon bucket to keep the cords out of the wet dew.

Safety first. Hubby uses the five-gallon bucket to keep the cords out of the wet dew.

*

It was indeed a most splendiferous bird!

It was indeed a most splendiferous bird!

*

Want a “solar system” of your own? We did it for $351 (total cost). To buy your own, click here.

*

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

*

To read about a very happy Thanksgiving in 1918, click here.

*   *   *

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s Official: I’m Now a Ham (Part V)

November 20th, 2012 Sears Homes 3 comments

One of the most interesting features  of Ham Radio is that its operators are expected to have access to alternative energy sources during times of regional or national emergency.

After all, what good is it to have a Ham Radio if you can’t use it when the power goes out?

For as many years as I can remember, I have been utterly fascinated by alternative energy sources. Capturing a tiny drop of the sun’s massive nuclear-reactive power (386 billion billion megaWatts) is a  fascinating concept.

After several tours of Mike Neal’s very own “Radio Shack,” and after receiving several helpful tutorials on this topic from Mr. Neal (and lots of specific guidance), I was ready to take the plunge.

My “solar project” started in earnest about a month ago when Mike sent me an email to let me know that Harbor Freight was having a sale on solar panels. This was the very set that Mike had at his house and he said it was “a good solar set-up for the money.”

With a $30 coupon (gifted to me from a fellow Ham), I got the $229 solar panels for $159. (The original price for the panels was $229, with a sale price of $189. The $30 coupon got me to $159.)

Because I’m highly allergic to crowds and shopping areas and loud noises and small children and fluorescent lights, I paid the extra six bucks to have the unit shipped directly to my house. It was well worth it.

It took about 12 hours to install the whole rig, and my oh my, it was a fun project. And watching those photovoltaic cells turn the sunlight into electricity is every bit as fascinating as I’d thought it would be.

If I were queen of the world (and it shouldn’t be long now), I’d recommend that every homeowner in America have a set of these on their roof. It was a great learning experience. And I’ve shared all the nitty-gritty details below.

To read more about my experiences with Ham Radio, check out Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV of this series.

House shed

The little shed in our back yard is now electrified, thanks to these three solar panels on the roof. Each panel produces 15 watts, for a total of 45 watts.

*

solar thunder

I'm not sure why a corporation would adopt the name "THUNDERBOLT" for their solar products. Nonetheless, it's a sound value and seems to be a well-made product.

*

Solar panels

The solar panels were set on a 2x4 which was fastened with screws into the roof and painted flat black. The PVC frame was secured to the 2x4 with 3/4" metal pipe clamps. This will enables us to change the angle of the panels (for winter and summer) without any major disassembling.

*

house house house

This shot shows the panels and 2x4 more closely. In a mere 12 hours, the solar panels have already been assaulted by both birds (far left) and pine straw (bottom).

*

Thinking about how to get the leads into the little shed took some thinking.

Figuring out how to get the leads into the little shed took some thinking. In the end, I decided to drill a hole (3/4") through the 2x4 (and the roofing sheathing below). I reasoned that it'd be easier to patch a clean hole through a piece of lumber rather than trying to patch a hole in an irregular surface (such as an old roofing shingle).

*

solar

Using stretchy weatherproofing tape (which probably has a much better name), I bound those three wires (from the three solar panels) together and fed them through the hole into the shed's interior. I purposefully used a lot of tape so it would fill the 3/4" hole. For the tiny gaps that remained, I used a compound putty substance (again, don't know the name but it looks a lot like Silly Putty). Back in the day, a contractor friend told me it was called "Dum Dum" because you use it to patch a dumb mistake. However, I'd like to point out that it should be called "Smart Smart" in this particular application.

*

Inside,

Inside, the wires drop down from above and into the controller (right side on the shelf above the battery). From there, the wires go into the 12-volt deep cycle Marine battery. Another set of wires carries the power from the battery back to the inverter (left side on the shelf). The inverter turns the 12-volt current into 120 volts (for household use).

*

The

The controller that came with the solar panels is quite impressive. The digital display is large and easy to read, and reports on the battery power (12.4 volts shown here). For $159, it's a pretty fancy set-up and a darn good deal.

*

Another nice bonus that came with this set are these 12-volt LED lights. They do a good job of illuminating the dark corners of our little shed.

Another nice bonus that came with this set are two of these 12-volt LED lights. They do a good job of illuminating the dark corners of our little shed. They plug into the front of the controller (as shown in the picture of the controller above).

*

The inverter (shown above) was not included in the kit. This 750-watt inverter also came from Harbor Freight. I also got it on sale. As I recall, it was $69 on sale for  $49, and I found a $10 coupon. Final price $39.

The inverter (shown above) was not included in the kit. This 750-watt inverter also came from Harbor Freight. I also got it on sale. As I recall, it was $69 on sale for $49, and I found a $10 coupon. Final price $39.

*

Part of the problem I encountered was that, despite my reading and studying, I didnt understand a whole lot about how these things work.

Part of the problem I encountered whilst doing this project was, despite my reading and studying, I didn't understand a whole lot about how all these things work together. I asked Mike Neal, "What's the difference between a 200-watt inverter and a 750-watt inverter?" Fact is, a 200-watt inverter was whole lot cheaper. Mike explained, "Think of the battery as a bucket full of water. You can draw that water out with a swizzle stick or a milk-shake straw. The 200-watt inverter is a swizzle stick. The 750-watt inverter is a milk-shake straw."

*

The

The other helper in this project was my wonderful neighbor, Mike Mancini. I told him that I needed a deep-cycle marine battery and he got me a good deal on one at a local marine parts supply company. Plus, he gave me a ride out to the place and then hefted it out of his truck and out to my shed. This battery weighs about 50 pounds. I set it up on cinder blocks to make it easier to access, and I put the OSB down because I'd heard that batteries might discharge if placed directly atop masonry.

*

Fie dollahs

You may notice the fine-looking wires shown in the picture above (of the battery). I bought these booster cables at General Dollar Store and paid $5 for the whole affair. I then cut the wires off from the clips and used them for the controller-to-battery run and the battery-to-inverter run. It's 10-gauge stranded copper wire.

*

The

The last part of the project required anchoring the panels to the roof. In that the panels sit so high above the roof, they'll become a dandy sail in strong winds. Our solution was to tether the pvc frame to the opposite side of the shed. For the tether, I used 10-gauge stranded copper grounding wire. May seem like a waste, but I recently bought a spool of it to ground a couple antennas and masts and such. Seems I had about 400 feet left over from those other projects.

*

Solar

Close-up of the tether on the PVC frame. It's not super taut, but it doesn't need to be. It's anchored into the steep side of the shed roof with an eye-bolt.

*

Hubby and I spent countless hours figuring out the correct angle for these panels. There were many factors such aas the many tall trees in our yard,

Hubby and I spent countless hours figuring out the correct angle for these panels. There were many factors such as the big old tall trees in our yard. After the "Solar System" was all set up, we were both AMAZED and pleased to see that it started charging immediately. What was so amazing? It was a dark, cold, gloomy overcast day. I can hardly wait to see how it does with a little sunlight!

*

Total cost of the entire project:

Solar Panels - $159 plus $6 shipping (and tax)

Interstate battery - $114

750-watt inverter - $39

Battery terminals - $8

Wiring - $5  (thanks Dollar General!)

Incidentals - about $20 (zip ties, pipe clamps, tape)

Total investment:  $351

Entertainment value: Endless!  :)

*

To learn more about why Ham Radio is so relevant and important TODAY, click here.

To read about Sears Homes, click here.

If you wish to contact Rosemary, please leave a comment below.

*

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

GVT #605: Exceptionally Well Planned!

July 13th, 2012 Sears Homes 5 comments

From 1995-2006, I lived in Southwestern Illinois, specifically Elsah, Alton and later, Godfrey.

While I was living in this area, I became enchanted with the topic of Sears Homes, and I spent countless hours of my life driving around Southwestern Illinois, staring at the pre-1940 architecture, hoping to find (and identify) a few kit homes.

One of my favorite finds in Alton was this Gordon Van Tine Model #605. Gordon Van Tine was another company that (like Sears) sold entire kit homes through a mail-order catalog. Number 605 was one of their more popular models. There are three of these houses in Alton. If someone in Alton could get me photos of the other two, I’d be very grateful!

To learn more about Gordon Van Tine, click here.

Gordon Van Tine #605 as seen in the 1922 catalog.

Gordon Van Tine #605 as seen in the 1922 catalog.

*

The testimonial at the bottom of the page gives an address for Model #605 in California! My kingdom for a picture of THIS house!

The testimonial at the bottom of the page gives an address for Model #605 in California! My kingdom for a picture of THIS house!

*

Floorplan for #605

Floorplan for #605

*

And heres my favorite #605 - in Alton, Illinois. What a beauty!

When I first started doing research in Alton, several people told me that *this* was a Sears kit house. As I started to learn about these other kit home companies, I finally realized that it *was* a kit house, but it was a kit home from Gordon Van Tine. In my experience, this is a common mistake. About 80% of the people who THINK they have a "Sears Home" are wrong. The majority DO have a kit home, but it's from another company.

*
To read the next fascinating blog, click here.

To learn more about Gordon Van Tine, click here.

Need to buy a house in Southwestern Illinois? Click here.

*   *   *

The Dandy Dundee in Alton, Illinois

June 1st, 2012 Sears Homes No comments

When I first started researching Sears Homes in 1999, I was living in Alton, Illinois. By 2002, I had driven the city many, many times, finding all the Crescents, and Gladstones, and Starlights and Craftons and Westlys - in short, all the most popular, easy-to-identify models.

In my spare time, I’d alternately study the old catalogs and then cruise around town, hoping to discover something new.

In late 2002, I drove down Park Avenue in Alton and discovered the Sears Dundee. It’s the only one I’ve ever found and - thank goodness - as of March 2010 (when this photo was taken), it was still in beautifully original condition.

To read more about Sears Homes, click here.

The Dundee from the 1921 catalog.

"The Dundee" from the 1921 catalog.

*

By 1928, the house had undergone some changes.

By 1928, the house had undergone some changes. The square footage was increased by extending the home's length, and the price increased a mere $58 (from 1921 to 1928).

*

The floor plan in 1921

The floor plan in 1921 showed two wee-tiny bedrooms, with a small mudroom on the rear.

*

Sears Homes

In the 1928 floor plan, the kitchen and the rear bedroom have increased by two linear feet.

*

The 1921 catalog showed a front view of the Dundee.

The 1921 catalog showed a "front view" of the Dundee.

*

The Sears Dundee in Alton, ILlinois.

The Sears Dundee in Alton, Illinois. Between landscaping and hills, it was impossible to get a photo from the same angle as the catalog image.

*

porch

The Dundee in Alton is a little larger than the Sears Dundee, but it's likely that this house was either customized when built or added on to, later in life. Because of the distinctive ornamental detail on the porch roof, I am confident this really is the Sears Dundee.

*

Had this house been covered in crappy vinyl siding, I would never have discovered it.

Had this house been covered in crappy vinyl siding, I would never have discovered it. That distinctive gable on the front porch was the item that caught my eye!

*

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To read about a big fancy Sears House in New York City, click here.

*   *   *