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The Willard: A Two-Story English Cottage

December 5th, 2012 Sears Homes 3 comments

The Neo-Tudors (also called Tudor Revivals) have always had a special place in my heart. They’re cute, practical and distinctive.

The Sears Willard was one of their most popular designs, and because of its many distinctive features, it’s easy to spot.

Scroll on down to see several real-life examples of The Willard.

The Sears Willard was the house featured in a promotion showcasing affordable monthly payments.

The Sears Willard was the house featured in a promotion showcasing affordable monthly payments. It's a darling house, and the payments aren't too bad either.

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The Sears Willard, as seen in the 1928 catalog.

The Sears Willard, as seen in the 1928 catalog.

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Think you may have a Willard? Wont be hard to figure out if you can get inside! Look at the many unique features on this floorplan!

Think you may have a Willard? Won't be hard to figure out if you can get inside! Look at the many unique features on this floorplan!

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It is a darling house!

It is a darling house!

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In all my house-hunting career, Ive never photographed a Sears Willard from the right angle. Something in my muscle memory demands that I take the photo from THIS angle.

In all my house-hunting career, I've never photographed a Sears Willard from the right angle. Something in my muscle memory demands that I take the photo from THIS angle. Nonetheless, you can see a few of those distinctive features from this angle. Notice the three windows in a row on the right side, and the dainty cornice return. Also notice the nine lites (windows) in the front door. This brick Willard is in Colonial Heights, VA.

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This house is photographed from the correct angle, but its not my photo.

This house is photographed from the correct angle, but it's not my photo. This Willard is in Bowling Green, Ohio and the photo was taken by Dale Patrick Wolicki (copyright 2010, and can not be reprinted or used without written permission).

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And heres another Willard

This Willard was not photographed by me, but you can see that Rebecca Hunter (the photographer) has the same problem with muscle memory that I do. (Photo is copyright 2010 Rebecca Hunter and can not be reprinted or used without written permission). We just yearn to photograph this house from the three-window side.

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Galax, Virginia is a fun little town with lots of rolling hills which makes photography a bit challenging.

Galax, Virginia is a fun little town with lots of rolling hills which makes photography a bit challenging. Lots of utility wires in this photo, but it's definitely a Willard (with a modified dormer) in Galax. Unfortunately, as built, that dormer (with a flat roof in front of the dormer window) leaks like a sieve, so people often build out the dormer to enclose that flat spot.

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One fine little Willard in Peoria, Illinois.

One fine little Willard in Peoria, Illinois. Again, from the wrong angle.

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Here's the lone Willard photo I have taken from the correct angle. It's in Crystal Lake, IL.

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And another fine Willard in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

And another fine Willard in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Look at the angle. Sigh.

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To visit Dale’s website, click here.

To visit Rebecca’s website, click here.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

Interested in Wardway (Montgomery Ward) kit homes? Click here.

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The Sears 264P202! What a House!

December 1st, 2012 Sears Homes No comments

Before 1918, Sears Homes were given numbers, not names. From a marketing perspective, it was brilliant to assign names to these models. After all, would you rather tell Mum and Dad that you’re buying “Sears Modern Home #2089″ or that you’ve just purchased The Magnolia?

Pre-1916, some of these houses had very long model numbers, such as the house shown here. It was apparently a fairly popular house for Sears, as I’ve got four real-life examples below, and yet it was offered only for a few short years, appearing last in the 1916 catalog.

Does this look like a Sears House to you? Didnt look like one to me, either, but it is! Its the venerable 264P202, and judging by the photos below, its a design that you should memorize, because it was apparently fairly common!

Does this look like a Sears House to you? Didn't look like one to me at first, but it sure is! It's the venerable 264P202, and judging by the photos below, it's a design that you should memorize, because it was apparently fairly common! This one is in Benld, IL.

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An interesting aaside: Do you know how Benld got its name? A fellow named Ben L. Dorsey purchased the land foor its rich mineral rights (coal, really) and it was developed into a tiny town. The name “Dorsey” was already taken, so Ben L. Dorsey chose the name “Benld,” a combination of his first name and subsequent initals.

For the flatlander tourist, it might help you to know that it’s pronounced, “Benn-ELD.”

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The original catalog page (1916) shows that this house sold for

The original catalog page (1916) shows that this house sold for $1,165 and by 1917, it was gone. In 1918, Sears Homes were given names instead of numbers. The 264P202 never had a name, so we know it was gone by 1918.

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housse house

This wonderful example of a 264P202 is in Okawville, IL. Look at the detail on the columns! It's a real beauty in original condition, but...

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A broader view shows that this old house has been converted into a Funeral Home, and that brick ranch globbed onto the side is actually a not-so-sensitive addition.

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This 264P202 is in West Chicago. Of the four examples shown on this page, three of these homes have porte cocheres.

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Close-up of the original catalog image (1916).

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House in Arkansas

Here's one in Searcy, Arkansas that is being offered for sale at $128,000. In the listing, this house is described as "One of the last Sears Roebuck houses left in White County."

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To learn more about “one of the last Sears Roebuck houses in White County,” click here.

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The house in Searcy has a bathroom thats in beautifully original condition.

The house in Searcy has a bathroom that's in beautifully original condition. Left is the 1916 Modern Homes catalog. Right side is the house in Searcy.

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Nice floor plan.

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To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To see an abundance of awesome photos of the house in Searcy, click here.

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The Flossmoor: Good Dental Advice or a Sears House?

November 29th, 2012 Sears Homes 5 comments

Or maybe both?

Yes, the Flossmoor was a Sears House that was offered for a short time in the late 1910s. By 1923, it was gone.

The massive cornice returns make it easy to identify. Another eye-catching feature is the clipped gable and the grouping of three windows on the front.

The 1920 Sears Modern Homes catalog promised, “You will like this.” Apparently, that statement was more hopeful than realistic. In my travels, I’ve only see a couple of these unique houses. Is there one in your neighborhood? If so, stop what you’re doing, get a photo and send it to me.  :)

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Flossmoor 1920

Massive cornice returns, clipped gables and the three windows on the home's front make the Flossmoor an easy house to identify (1920).

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This Flossmoor was built in Evansville, Indiana and was featured in the 1919 Modern Homes catalog. Is it still standing?

This Flossmoor was built in Evansville, Indiana and was featured in the 1919 Modern Homes catalog. Is it still standing? Do the owners know what they have?

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Mr. F. M. Hills of Evansville, Indiana shouldn't be too hard to find! :)

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According to the text in the 1920 catalog,

According to the text in the 1920 catalog, The Flossmoor was also built in these cities. Notice there's supposedly one in New York City!

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Look at the size of that reception hall! Also, note the "good morning" stairs.

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The floorplan was quite simple.

The floorplan was quite simple. A small hallway makes maximum use of the small footprint. Squeezing four small bedrooms out of this floorplan is pretty impressive.

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Nice house, isn't it? Another feature is that unusually small attic window.

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And heres the real life example in Batavia, Illinois.

And here's the real life example in Batavia, Illinois. Be still my heart.

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To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To see more photos of the Sears Homes of Northern Illinois, click here.

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The Sears Castleton: A Four-Bedroom Four-Square

April 6th, 2012 Sears Homes No comments

The Sears Castleton is fairly easy to identify because it has a number of distinctive features. The most distinctive feature is that “hanging bay window” on the side, which extends up to the roofline. That’s something you don’t see too often.

On the red Sears Castleton (shown below), it has the classic Castleton dormer with three windows, and the hipped dormer comes right off the ridge of the primary roofline. That’s also a unique feature.

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Sears Castleton as seen in the 1916 catalog.

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Sears Cat

This Castleton in Peoria, Illinois does not have the Castelton porch columns, but rather has the traditional Sears porch columns found on the Sears Woodland.

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This Castleton had the tradition Castleton columns, but has a different dormer! (Aurora, IL)

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As is typical of four-squares, it has four rooms on the four corners of the house, but look at the size of the "den"!

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The front bedroom is a mere 7'7" wide. Pretty darn tiny.

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To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To learn more about Wardway Homes, click here.

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

October 4th, 2011 Sears Homes 2 comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Sears Normandy: A very rare kit home!

The Sears Normandy: A very rare kit home!

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

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

Sears Princeville, as seen in the 1919 cataog.

Sears Princeville, as seen in the 1919 cataog.

Sears Princeville in West Charles.

Sears Princeville in West Chicago, with an enclosed porch.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This little Solace is in Wheaton.

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

Searss Newbury, from the 1936 cataog.

Searss Newbury, from the 1936 cataog.

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

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

Sears Lexington from a late 1920s Sears catalog.

Sears Lexington from a late 1920s Sears catalog.

Sears Lexington in Glen Ellyn, IL

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

Sears Hathaway from the 1921 catalog.

Sears Hathaway from the 1921 catalog.

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

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

Columbine

Columbine, from 1921.

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

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


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

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

Sears Osborn in St. Charles, Illinois

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

The Sears Newcastle was a Colonial Revival and a popular design

The Sears Newcastle was a Colonial Revival and a popular design

Sears Newcastle in northern Illinois

Sears Newcastle in Geneva, Illinois

Sears Matoka, another popular Sears Homes

Sears Matoka, another popular Sears Homes

Sears Matoka in St. Charles

Sears Matoka in St. Charles

Sears Fullerton

Sears Fullerton

Sears Fullerton in Aurora, Illinois

Sears Fullerton in Aurora, Illinois

Sears Fullerton in Elgin, Illinois

Sears Fullerton in Elgin, Illinois

Sears Del Rey

Sears Del Rey

Sears Del Rey in Wheaton, Illinois

Sears Del Rey in Wheaton, Illinois

Sears Marina, Model #2024

Sears Marina, Model #2024

Sears Marina (2024) in West Chicago

Sears Marina (2024) in Geneva, Illinois

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

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

Sears Hamilton in Elgin, IL

Sears Hamilton in Elgin, IL

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

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

Crescent in Elmhurst, IL

Significantly remodeled Crescent in Elmhurst, IL

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

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

Sears Americus in Glen Ellyn, Illinois

Sears Americus in Glen Ellyn, Illinois

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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