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Posts Tagged ‘arts and crafts’

“My Brentwood is the Admiration of the Town”

August 18th, 2013 Sears Homes 6 comments

In terms of actual sales numbers of kit homes, Aladdin was actually a bigger company than Sears, but these many years later, they’re not as well known. “Sears Homes” is to kit homes what Kleenex is to disposable tissues. It’s become a generic term, that is over-used and frequently wrong.

More than 80% of the people who think they live in a Sears Home are wrong, and yet the majority of these misinformed souls *do* live in a kit home, but it’s often a kit house from another company, such as Aladdin (or Gordon Van Tine, or Lewis Manufacturing, or Sterling, or Montgomery Wards).

Here in the Southeastern United States, most of our kit homes are from Aladdin, and that’s probably because of the proximity to Wilmington, NC where Aladdin had a massive mill.

One of my favorite Aladdin houses is the Brentwood. It’s a classic Arts & Crafts house with lots of flair. Best of all, it’s easy to identify because of its many unique architectural features.

Enjoy the pictures, and if you know of an Aladdin Brentwood near you, please contact me!

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here or here.

Interested in learning more about Aladdin? Click here!

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Whats not to love? The Aladdin Brentwood as seen in the 1919 catalog. What a house!

What's not to love? The Aladdin Brentwood as seen in the 1919 catalog. What a house!

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Spacious

I love it that the small balcony (second floor) is not off the "master bedroom," but the "owner's room." The guy who's making the payments on this joint gets the Romeo and Juliet balcony. Darn tootin'!

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I love the last paragraph: "A Tennessee owner says, 'My Brentwood is the admiration of the town. It was ready for plastering two weeks after the first nail was driven.'" The first line of this ad also reflects this theme.

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One of my favorite Brentwoods, right here in my neck of the woods. This house is in Hampton, VA and is in stunningly beautiful condition.

One of my favorite Brentwoods, right here in my neck of the woods. This house is in Hampton, VA and is in stunningly beautiful condition. My research shows that the home's original owner was an electrician. I wonder if he built the house himself? Often tradesman would do just that.

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Another Brentwood in nearby Newport News. Sadly, this gorgeous old house is in East End, which is crime-ridden and quite unsafe. Before long, this house will probably be another footnote of our local history.

Another Brentwood in nearby Newport News. Sadly, this gorgeous old house is in East End, which is a very crime-ridden and unsafe area. Our local news is full of stories of shootings and stabbings in East End. Before long, this house will probably be another footnote of our local history.

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Back to the happy Brentwoods: Heres a beauty in Chapel Hill, NC.

Back to the happy Brentwoods: Here's a beauty in Chapel Hill, NC.

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Roanoke Rapids, NC has a massive collection of Aladdin Kit Homes, including this Brentwood.  Roano

Roanoke Rapids, NC has a massive collection of Aladdin Kit Homes, including this Brentwood.

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Scotland Neck, NC (near Roanoke Rapids) also is home to many Aladdin kit homes.

Scotland Neck, NC (near Roanoke Rapids) also is home to many Aladdin kit homes. This Brentwood needs a little love, but it's still in pretty good shape.

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Years ago, I discovered this Aladdin Brentwood in Mattoon, IL.

Years ago, I discovered this Aladdin Brentwood in Mattoon, IL. It's been rode hard and put away wet, but it's still solid and true. The hardest part about finding these classic old kit homes in the tiny towns of the Midwest is that they're often in very sad condition and/or neglected.

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The Brentwood as seen in the 1914 Aladdin catalog.

The Brentwood as seen in the 1914 Aladdin catalog.

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To learn more about Aladdin kit homes, click here.

To contact Rose, please leave a comment below.

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One of the Prettiest Sears Homes I Ever Did See…

June 6th, 2013 Sears Homes 4 comments

Last year in early June, I drove all through Charlotte, NC and despite spending more than three hours in that city, I found only a handful of kit homes.

And then yesterday, Andrew Mutch sent me a link to this kit house in Charlotte that’s currently for sale, and not only is it a Sears House, but it’s a Corona!

The Corona was described as a “True Bungalow” and that may be the most accurate description that ever appeared in the Sears Modern Homes catalog. It was a classic Arts & Crafts bungalow, and was full of quirky, unique and stunning features that would warm the cockles of any bungalow lover’s heart.

Sometime in Fall 2013, I’ll be in the Charlotte area (again) and I’d love to see this house “in the flesh.” Plus, the presence of this house tells me that despite spending three hours in Charlotte NC, I must have missed the “sweet spot” of kit homes.

Many thanks to Sharon Yoxsimer (Realtor in Charlotte, NC) for giving me permission to use these photos at my website. To visit Sharon’s website, click here.

And unspeakable thanks to the home’s owners who have done such a stellar job of keeping their home in original condition. The photos below tell a story of a painstaking, thorough and breath-taking restoration. This home is a beauty!

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

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The Corona was one of my favorites. It truly was a classic bungalow.

The Corona was one of my favorites. It truly was a classic bungalow.

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Corona

Notice the beamed ceilings in the living room and dining room (shown here by dotted lines). In the living room, there were built-in bookcases with leaded glass doors flanking the fireplace. The kitchen had a breakfast nook (two benches and table).

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It was a very spacious house, too!

The original floorplan provided for five bedrooms, three upstairs and two down.

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Corona

The distinctive features of the Corona are that cross-gabled front porch roof and the gabled dormer that is actually centered squarely on the primary roof. Also note the lites (small panes of glass) over the living room window. These are also present on the dining room window. (Photo is copyright 2013 Sharon Yoxsimer and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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An image from the 1921 catalog shows that centered dormer.

The 1921 catalog shows that centered dormer, and the lites over the living room window.

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Beautiful front porch

The front porch looks like something out of a magazine. I'd love to know where the rock in those columns came from. Are they native stone? And check out the vintage fixtures. (Photo is copyright 2013 Sharon Yoxsimer and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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licing room

Lots of built-ins in the dining room, too. Notice the book-case colonnades that separate the living room from the dining room. The Corona also offered solid oak wainscoting for the dining room, topped with plate rail. What a fine home! (Photo is copyright 2013 Sharon Yoxsimer and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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A view of the fireplace shows the built-in bookcases. (Photo is copyright 2013 Sharon Yoxsimer and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Room

I'm not sure which room this in, and I doubt that this is an original fireplace, but it sure is a beauty! This particular mantel and tiled-surround is too fancy for your typical Sears House, but it fits right in with the "True Bungalow Effect." (Photo is copyright 2013 Sharon Yoxsimer and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Another fireplace thats just too nice for a little kit house, but

Another fireplace that's just too nice for a little kit house, but as with the other, it is beautiful and fits right in. Only a die-hard purist such as myself would figure out that it's not original. And in fact, it is a beautiful match to the surrounding wainscoting. (Photo is copyright 2013 Sharon Yoxsimer and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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And if you look real close at the inlaid wood ove the mantel, youll see a Sears Solace.

And if you look real close at the inlaid wood over the mantel, you'll see a Sears Solace.

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house

This is the kitchen but it's been significantly enlarged. When built, the Corona had a kitchen that was a mere 8 feet by 13 feet. That's pretty tiny. (Photo is copyright 2013 Sharon Yoxsimer and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Kitchens been updated.

Older kitchens are notoriously dark but this space looks like it's awash in light. I'd love to know how they created all this extra space! (Photo is copyright 2013 Sharon Yoxsimer and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Before the remodel, the kitchen probably looked a lot like this.

Before the remodel, the kitchen probably looked a lot like this.

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This appears to be the first-floor bathroom, complete with a water-saver toilet and Kohler Memoirs sink. Nice touches, and the claw-foot tub was in vogue when this house was built. (Photo is copyright 2013 Sharon Yoxsimer and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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The original Corona bathroom (as seen in the 1918 catalog) would have looked something like this.

The original Corona bathroom (1918 catalog) would have looked something like this.

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Also in the 1918 catalog is a picture of the homeowners little girl, tending to Dollies croupy cough, by running lots of hot water in the dual-faucet sink. This was a big breakthrough in modern American housing, to have not only running water, but steamy hot water on tap! The old folks stories of taking a hot tub bath in the kitchen every Saturday night was based on the fact that a hot water resevoir was attached to the side of the old cast-iron cook stove.

Also in the 1918 catalog is a picture of the homeowner's little girl, tending to Dollie's croupy cough, by running hot water in the sink. This was a big breakthrough in "modern American housing," to have not only running water, but steamy hot water on tap! I love this picture, but I'm not sure if the little Mommy is dealing with Dollie's upper respiratory infection or maybe Dollie said a bad word and she's getting her mouth washed out with soap. Given Dollie's body language and facial expression, plus the bar of soap nearby, I'd say she got caught saying "the mother of all bad words."

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house in Corona

The Corona in Charlotte has two full bathrooms. This appears to be a second-floor bathroom, tucked in neatly under the eaves. Notice the hexagon tile with the black border, and the subway tile on the walls. Nice touches. The bathroom sink and faucets are a nice reporduction, but they're actually pre-Corona (1916). However, I can forgive that little detail. :) (Photo is copyright 2013 Sharon Yoxsimer and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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bathroom

I'm not sure where this bathroom is located, but it may be another angle of the second-floor bathroom shown in the picture above. Very nicely done. (Photo is copyright 2013 Sharon Yoxsimer and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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In all my travels, I have never seen a Sears kit home with a transom on an interior door, so I suspect these were added, but they are very practical and in this case, beautifully done and a nice addition.

In all my travels, I have never seen a Sears kit home with a transom on an interior door, so I suspect these were added, but they are very practical and in this case, beautifully done and a good-looking addition. (Photo is copyright 2013 Sharon Yoxsimer and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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To read more about the Corona, click here.

To read about the other kit homes I found in Charlotte, NC, tap here.

BTW, I was kidding about that “Sears Solace” on the mantel top.  :)

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The Kit Homes of Chapel Hill, NC

May 24th, 2012 Sears Homes 1 comment

Chapel Hill is a city full of hazards for a house hunter such as myself.

First, there are the trees. Lots and lots of mature trees, which makes it difficult to see the houses.

Secondly, there are bushes. Ligustrums, Photinias, Hollies, Nandina and Wax Myrtles are everywhere. And they’re really big, too!

Third, it’s a college town, full of students who think nothing of stepping off the curb in front of a slow-moving Camry. That was just scary.

And last, the streets are very narrow and labyrinthine, winding to and fro.

And that’s how I missed the Ardara (or so I tell myself). There’s a famous Sears House in Chapel Hill, built in the 1920s and still occupied by its original resident! I’d love to get a high-resolution photo of this house, because I never saw it!  :(

Perhaps next time I’m in the area, someone will drive me around. That makes house-hunting much easier!

However, I did see that the town has a “Rosemary Street,” and better yet, of the three kit homes I found, two of them are on Rosemary Street!

Now that’s a fine town!

Brentwood

In North Carolina, I've found far more Aladdin kit homes than Sears. Aladdin (like Sears), sold kit homes through a mail-order catalog. Aladdin had a mill in Wilmington, NC so it's not surprising that there are so many Aladdins in this part of the country.

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house

The Brentwood (shown above) was one of Aladdin's biggest houses. It's a classic "Arts & Crafts" design, and was offered in the 1910s and 1920s.

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chapel hill

Located on Rosemary Street, this Brentwood is in incredibly beautiful shape. The owners obviously love their home. After discovering this house, I did something that I *never* do anymore. I parked the car and walked up the driveway and knocked on their door. I'm highly allergic to people, and yet, this sweet thing was worth it. No one answered, so I'm hoping if they read this blog, they'll leave a comment. I'd love to see the inside some time. This house is in amazingly original condition and has been beautifully maintained. The owners get my award for "Most Beautiful Aladdin Brentwood in the United States."

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Aladdin

A comparison of the Aladdin Brentwood (catalog image and Chapel Hill house).

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The Harris Brothers

Harris Brothers was yet another kit home company, based in Chicago.

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Due to that darn landscaping, I could not get a good photo

Due to that darn landscaping, I could not get a good photo but if you look closely at the fireplace chimney, windows and porch overhang, you can see that this is a Harris Brothers N-1000. And it has the rounded porch (as shown in the catalog page).

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The Aladdin Inverness

The Aladdin Inverness had a very interesting roofline!

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And that roofline makes it easy to identify!

And that distinctive roofline makes it easy to identify! Notice the three brick pillars that just kind of sit there, with no purpose in life (other than serving as a plant stand).

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And here it is!

Also located on Rosemary Street (yay!), this little house is a perfect example of the Aladdin Inverness. Even has the three brick pillars out front! This house is near downtown. I wonder if the folks in Chapel Hill know that it's a kit house?

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ahoseComparison of the two houses. Pretty sweet, huh?

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And the one that got away...

And the one that got away. Somewhere in Chapel Hill is a Sears Ardara. I'd love to get a photo of this house. I can't believe I missed it!

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

To read about the large collection of Aladdin kit homes in Roanoke Rapids, click here.

Or if you’re tired of reading about houses and want to read about my shiny new horseless carriage, click here.

Did you enjoy the blog? Please leave a comment!

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Classic Arts and Crafts Design: The Sears Ashmore

January 6th, 2012 Sears Homes 17 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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