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Posts Tagged ‘bedford’

Lynchburg, Virginia: A Colossal Caboodle of Kit Homes

July 29th, 2014 Sears Homes 7 comments

UPDATED at 7.30 am (Wednesday)!  New photos added below!

Lynchburg is one of the prettiest cities in the prettiest state in the Union, and best of all, it’s blessed with an abundance of kit homes.

In 2004, 2008, and 2011, I spent several hours driving around Lynchburg seeking and finding its kit homes. (In 2008, I was with Dale Wolicki, who identified many Aladdin houses that I might otherwise have missed!)

For years, I’ve tried to stir up interest in these kit homes in Lynchburg but without success. And yet, this really is a lost piece of Lynchburg’s history! Based on my research, 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.

How many of these home’s owners (in Lynchburg) know about their home’s unique historical significance?

I love Lynchburg and I’d love to have an opportunity to give a lecture on this abundance of early 20th Century kit homes in this fine city.

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 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 known. And yet, Lynchburg has more Aladdin Homes than Sears Homes!

Finding these kit homes is just like discovering hidden treasure, and it’s time to spread the happy news of these discoveries!

Come join our group “Sears Homes” on Facebook by clicking here!

To read about the Sears Homes in Vinton, Virginia, click here.

Interested in seeing the kit homes of Bedford? Click here.

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One of my favorite finds in Lynchburg is the Sears Alhambra.

One of my favorite finds in Lynchburg is the Sears Alhambra (1921 catalog).

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And technically, it wasnt even MY find! My buddy Bill Inge discovered this Alhambra many years ago, and shared the address with me. Oh boy, what a house!

And technically, it wasn't even MY find! My buddy Bill Inge discovered this Alhambra many years ago, and shared the address with me. Bill tells me that this Sears House has undergone some significant remodeling since this photo was snapped in 2008. Pity too, because it had its original windows in 2008, even though the parapet and dormer were MIA.

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The Sears Westly was a popular house for Sears, too.

The Sears Westly was a popular house for Sears, too (1916 catalog).

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A splendiferous example of a Westly in Lynchburg!

A splendiferous example of a Westly in Lynchburg!

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The Berwyn was offered in the late 1920s and into the 1930s (1929 catalog).

The Berwyn was offered in the late 1920s and into the 1930s (1929 catalog).

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Its a super-sized Berwyn! About 30% of Sears Homes were customized and the #1 customization was enlarging the house a wee bit.

It's a super-sized Berwyn! About 30% of Sears Homes were customized and the #1 customization was enlarging the house a wee bit.

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The Kilborn was a fine-looking craftsman bungalow, and was a big seller for Sears (1928 Sears Modern Homes catalog).

The Kilborn was a fine-looking craftsman bungalow, and was a big seller for Sears (1928 Sears Modern Homes catalog). The "five or eight rooms" depended on whether or not the 2nd floor was "expanded."

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It was the photographer and not the house thats a little tilted here.

It was the photographer and not the house that's a little tilted here. That purple foundation is interesting. BTW, this was a "windshield survey" and before these homes can be declared "Sears Homes," an interior inspection would be needed.

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The Sears Sunbeam was probably one of their top-ten most popular models. The open porch on the 2nd floor (known as a sleeping porch) often gets closed in.

The Sears "Sunbeam" was probably one of their top-ten most popular models. The open porch on the 2nd floor (known as a "sleeping porch") often gets closed in.

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Pretty

And what a fine-looking Sunbeam it is. I think. As mentioned, this is a windshield survey, and while I'm 90% certain this is a Sears Sunbeam, I'd really need to know the home's exterior footprint to affirm. Note that the sleeping porch has been enclosed. It's rare to see an Sunbeam with the open porch.

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Aladdin had a mill in Wilmington, NC so not surprisingly, I often find more Aladdin kit homes in Virginia than Sears kit homes. Shown above is the Aladdin Pasadena from the 1919 catalog.

Aladdin had a mill in Wilmington, NC so not surprisingly, I often find more Aladdin kit homes in Virginia than Sears kit homes. Shown above is the Aladdin "Pasadena" from the 1919 catalog.

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This is one of my favorite houses in Lynchburg. Its a *perfect* Pasadena.

This is one of my favorite houses in Lynchburg. It's a *perfect* Pasadena.

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Even has the original lattice work on the side porch.

Even has the original lattice work on the side porch.

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The Pasadena at a later date (about 2011).

The Pasadena at a later date (about 2011).

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Another Lynchburg Pasadena, just down the road.

Another Lynchburg Pasadena, just down the road.

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One of Aladdins best selling models was the Marsden (1916 catalog).

One of Aladdin's best selling models was the Marsden (1916 catalog).

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Oh yeah baby. There it is. Be still my heart.

Oh yeah baby. There it is. Be still my heart.

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The Pomona was a classic Arts & Crafts bungalow and also hugely popular.

The Pomona was a classic Arts & Crafts bungalow and also hugely popular.

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Flared columns and all, heres my sweet thing.

Flared columns and all, here's my sweet thing. Do they know they have a kit home? PRobably not.

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And I saved the best for last! The Aladdin Georgia, from the 1919 catalog.

And I saved the best for last! The Aladdin Georgia, from the 1919 catalog.

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Pretty house, isnt it?

Pretty house, isn't it?

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Twinkies! In Lynchburg! Two Georgias, side by side.

Twinkies! In Lynchburg! Two Georgias, side by side.

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And a third Georgia in another part of town.

And a third Georgia in another part of town.

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The Aladdin Edison was a very modest, simple house.

The Aladdin Edison was a very modest, simple house.

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Lyunch

And this one has a pretty stone wall in front.

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The Aladdin Avalon was a classic Dutch Colonial (1931 catalog).

The Aladdin Avalon was a classic Dutch Colonial (1931 catalog).

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The Assessors photo is a dandy, and it captures the Aladdin Avalon from the same angle as the old catalog image! Good job, Mr. Assessor!

The Assessor's photo is a dandy, and it captures the Aladdin Avalon from the same angle as the old catalog image! Good job, Mr. Assessor! And it's a fine exampe of the Avalon!

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And what would a city be without a kit house from Wards?

And what would a city be without a kit house from Montgomery Wards?

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Hopefully, the foundation is good and strong so it wont tip over. This is a Montgomery Ward Carlisle with a pretty big dormer added on!

Hopefully, the foundation is good and strong so the house won't tip over to the left. This is a Montgomery Ward "Carlyle" with a pretty big dormer added on! It needs a little love, but it has original siding and original windows!

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Aladdin

The Aladdin Colonial was quite a house. It was Aladdin's crème de la crème.

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This is

This is not the crème de la crème of Lynchburg housing. This house is now the poster child for insensitive remodeling. Interestingly, it's owned by Lynchburg College. This house has really had a hurtin' put on it.

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Did you enjoy the pictures? If so, please share the link with friends!

And leave a comment for Rose! I’m living on love here!  :D

To read about the Sears Homes in Vinton, Virginia, click here.

Interested in seeing the kit homes of Bedford? Click here.

There’s a missing kit home in Lynchburg. Read about it here.

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Still reading? :D On a personal note, I’ve been trying to move to the Lynchburg/Bedford area since 1994, but life had other plans. I do hope I get there - one day. It’s my favorite part of the country - and I have seen a LOT of the country!

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Dr. Malone’s Hamilton in Capleville, Tennessee (Part II)

December 8th, 2012 Sears Homes 9 comments

What a difference a day makes!

Early this morning, I posted the information about Dr. Malone and his Sears Hamilton at a forum and a kind soul did some research on her own and sent me this link.

That link sends you to a narrative, written by Dr. Malone’s daughter. It’s an incredibly detailed life about growing up in the Sears house in Capleville.

It’s a long detailed (and wonderful) story, and I’ve reprinted a few highlights below.

I spent many hours in the swing on the front porch at Mama and Papa’s. That way I could see the patients who came to Papa (Dr. F.M. Malone) for any and all their ills. The Dr’s office had an entrance off the screened porch, back side. Real often I sneeked around to listen to their complaints. On one such day I heard Papa ask the man, who had given his name as Bob Jones, if Jim Jones was any relation. The man said, “Lawsy, Doc., He’s liable to be My Pa”.

The “big house” as referred to by Kiline, had a parlor on one side dawn stairs troll and Papa’s office on the other.

They were separated by a front hall with sliding doors. The stairway in the front hall went to 4 large bedrooms & one bath room. There was no running water, but a tub was in the bath roost.

Water for the tub had to be brought up the steps by buckets. However there was a drain for the dirty water to run out. Down stairs, behind the parlor was the dinning roost, butlers pantry and kitchen. The screened in porch off from the kitchen housed the cistern, with a pump. A door in the kitchen went down to the cellar.

To some it might have been a basement. Canned goods, sweet potatoes, & empty jars found a home there. If there was a storm brewing Mama always rounded us all up to find shelter there too.

There was a fire place in each room, but in the winter Mama & Papa’s bed room was the only one heated after supper. Everyone gathered there. Since there was no radio or T.V. we played games. Dominoes and Logomiky were favorites.

Logomiky was cards that had beautiful pictures and letters to spell with. Often Papa entertained me with post cards that he had saved from far away places. He kept them in his desk by the fireplace. Sometimes Mama was busy with sewing. The back bed room, with a stairway to the attic didn’t have a fireplace.

The attic fascinated me. I could imagine a store place of wonderful things. Forbidden to go there, made it all the more interesting. One day Maxey and I, slipped away from the adults and crawled up on our hands and knees. The opening was one big hole. Soon we were disillusioned and ready to come down.

It looked much more dangerous from that view. Maxey said, “Tuie, (his name for me) how we gona get down?. I was only 3, but I said, “Just turn loose and fall down Bu”. This he did and hit his eyebrow on the foot of an if iron bed. I just stayed were I was. Of course he screamed with pain and help name. Papa h..d to sew up his wound. This was u scar that he carried to his grave. After everything had cooled down, he was asked; “Why did you fall down?”, His explanation was “Tuie told we to.”

Read the rest here.

Now, if I could just find the living descendants of Dr. Malone and/or the current owners of this fine old house!  :)

To read Part One of this blog, click here.

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Sears Hamilton, as seen in the 1908 catalog.

Sears Hamilton, as seen in the 1908 catalog.

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Dr. F. M. Malones own Hamilton in Capleville, TN.

Dr. F. M. Malone's own "Hamilton" in Capleville, TN, shortly after it was built in 1909.

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Dr. Malone spoke in glowing terms about his new Sears Home.

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To read the prior blog (Part I), click here.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

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Dr. Malone’s Hamilton in Capleville, Tennessee

December 8th, 2012 Sears Homes 7 comments

Sears started offering kit houses in 1908, but when was the first Sears Home sold?

Well, for years, we believed that the first order for a Sears House wasn’t actually received until 1909 (based on info gleaned from the Sears archives in Hoffman Estates, IL).

But now, it seems that that information may not be correct.

When Dr. F. M. Malone purchased his Sears Modern Home #102 in late 1908 or very early 1909, it was probably one of the first Sears Homes built in the country and yet (to complicate our life even further) he customized this design a bit!

The Sears Hamilton (Modern Home #102) was a traditional-looking foursquare and with the passage of 100 years or so, this simple (and yet spacious) house would be mighty hard to differentiate from other foursquares.

So, where is Dr. Malone’s home? Somewhere in Capleville, Tennessee.

If I were queen of the world (and that moment should be arriving soon), I’d find this house, contact the owners and present them with a plaque that reads, “One of the first Sears kit homes built in the country.”

That is a pretty cool designation.

UPDATE:  I was contacted by Dr. Malone’s granddaughter (see first comment below), and she reports that this house was razed many years ago.  While I’m grateful for the update, I’m saddened to know that the house is now gone.

The Sears Hamilton was first offered in the first catalog (1908) and Dr. Malone must have snatched it up immediately.

The Sears Hamilton was offered in the first "Modern Homes" catalogs (1908) and Dr. Malone must have snatched it up immediately. He ordered it (about an eight-week lead time) and had it finished and photographed in time for it to appear in the 1909 catalog.

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One of the distinctive features of the Hamilton is this indented porch on the rrear of the house.

One of the distinctive features of the Hamilton is this indented porch on the rear of the house.

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The floorpplan was spacious

That's the biggest kitchen I've ever seen in these original Sears Homes.

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The Hamilton (also known as #102) was offered by Bachman Toys for model railroading.

A diminutive version of the Hamilton (also known as #102) was offered by Bachmann Toys for model railroading (in the 1980s). Nice example o f Sears Modern Home #102!

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The 1909 Sears Modern Homes catalog is probably the rarest of these catalogs. Its in this catalog that I found Dr. M

The 1909 Sears Modern Homes catalog is probably the rarest of these catalogs. It's in this catalog that I found Dr. Malone's testimonial on the Sears Hamilton. These catalogs had about a six-week lead time, and most of the testimonials in this catalog speak to the quality of Sears building materials (because there were so few house sales in those early days). Dr. Malone's testimonial was one of four testimonials that actually described the building of a "Sears Modern Home." In that his house was finished by 1909, in time to appear in this catalog, it must have been ordered in late 1908 or very early 1909.

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Wow

It's the most thorough and loquacious testimonial I've seen in these old catalogs.

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And

And here is "Picture #9" also known as Dr. Malone's Sears Hamilton. Likely, this is one of the first Sears Homes built. In fact, I'd be so bold as to guess it was probably one of the first 20 Sears Homes built in the country.

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What the heck is that on the second floor? Is it a sliding glass door? Sure looks like it. But this came from a 1909 cataalog, well before the advent of such inventions.

What the heck is that on the second floor? Is it a sliding glass door? Sure looks like it. But this came from a 1909 catalog, well before the advent of such inventions. And look at the front porch roof. Dr. Malone had a good time making it difficult to identify this house as a Sears Hamilton (from the street, anyway).

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Is Dr. Malone’s house still standing? Do the current owners realize they’re living in a piece of America’s architectural history? Do they know that they own one of the first Sears Homes built?

Inquiring minds want to know!

To learn more about the Sears Hamilton, click here.

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Where Art Thou Hamilton?

September 16th, 2012 Sears Homes 3 comments

When Dale and I visited Bedford, Virginia in 2008, we drove around for some time, striving to find the Sears Hamilton that (according to the Sears catalog) had been built there in the mid-1910s.

Dale drove slowly and methodically throughout the county (and the city) while I scoured the landscape for any foursquares with a hipped roof.

We found many kit homes along the way, but we never found our Hamilton.

On my various hard drives, I have about 35,000 photos and yet I don’t have any photos of a real live Sears Hamilton.

If anyone has a photo to share, I’d be very grateful to receive it.

As a side note, The Hamilton was also the name Sears gave to a modest bungalow with clipped gables (circa 1930s). The Hamilton I’m looking for is a large foursquare.

Sears Hamilton, as seen in the 1916 catalog.

Sears Hamilton, as seen in the 1916 catalog.

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By 1916, this had already become a popular house! But where are they now?

By 1916, this had already become a popular house! But where are they now?

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Nice floorplan, too.

Nice floorplan, too.

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The house has

The house has several distinctive features. Note the inset back porch which extends the full length of the long kitchen. Also noticed the 4/1 windows on the front. The one side (right side above) extends significant further than the left side.

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porch

Close-up on that back porch.

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The Hamilton was also offered as a wee tiny kit house for model railroads.

In the 1980s, the Sears Hamilton was also offered by "Spectrum" as a wee tiny kit house for HO model railroads. And this one has only 172 pieces! Notice that it's a little different from the house above? That's because they modeled it after the 1908 design. In 2001, I purchased and built this small model house. It took some time, but it was worth the effort because finally, I'd have my very own "Sears kit House." Sadly, it was lost in "The Great Divide" (divorce).

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1908

Here's the Hamilton as seen in the 1908 catalog. It's a perfect match to the model above and slightly different from the 1916 version. The dormers in the 1908 house are shed dormers, and in 1916, they were hipped. The front center window (second floor) has diamond muntins in 1908.

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So where are our Hamiltons? I don’t know, but I’d love to find out, and I’d love to have a photo!

To read more about Sears Homes, click here.

To read about the Sears Homes in Roanoke, click here.

To read the most recent blog, click here.

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The Sears Alhambra: A Spanish-Flavored Foursquare

January 10th, 2012 Sears Homes 3 comments

The Sears Alhambra was a classic foursquare with a splash of mission style added for good measure.

Here in Hampton Roads, I’ve found 10 Alhambras, which really is a testimony to the popularity of this Sears kit home. In Ohio, there are probably hundreds. (Ohio seems to have a whole lot of Sears Homes in general and Alhambras in particular.)

Click here to see even more photos of America’s Alhambras.

Click here to see the blog titled, “Alhambra Abuse.”  (Warning: It’s not pretty.)

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This appeared on page 2 of the Sears Building Materials catalog (1921)

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Close-up of the letter written by A. C. Goodall.

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Alhambra

The beautiful Alhambra - as seen in the 1921 Building Materials catalog.

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Sears Alhambra in Portsmouth, Virginia (my home town)

Sears Alhambra in Portsmouth, Virginia (my home town). This house is in the 1500-block of County Street, and it's surrounded by blocks and blocks of empty lots, razed during a redevelopment period in Portsmouth's history. I can't help but wonder - how many Sears kit homes now sit in the Suffolk landfill from this neighborhood?

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Sears Alhambra as seen in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Sears Alhambra as seen in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

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One of the most beautiful Alhambras even seen in captivity! This is in Peotone, IL and the photo is copyright 2010 Dale Wolicki, and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

One of the most beautiful Alhambras even seen in captivity! This is in Peotone, IL and the photo is copyright 2010 Dale Wolicki, and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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A real beauty in Bedford, Pennsylvania.

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Another beautiful Alhambra in Nebraska. This photo is copyright 2010 Nathan Sonnenchein, and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

Another beautiful Alhambra in Nebraska. This photo is copyright 2010 Nathan Sonnenchein, and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Like its Virginia cousin, this Alhambra is also painted a light yellow. This pretty house is in Lexington, Virginia.

Like its cousin in Portsmouth, this Alhambra is also painted a light yellow. This pretty house is in Lexington, Virginia.

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Another vote for the beige pant job!  This perfect Alhambra is in Raleigh.

Beige seems to be a favorite color for the Alhambra. This is in Raleigh.

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We have four of these houses in Ghent (Norfolk). Im confident that theyre Alhambras - and the floorplan is a spot-on match - but the spanish extras are not there.

We have four of these houses in West Ghent (Norfolk). I'm confident that they're Alhambras - and the floorplan is a spot-on match - but the spanish extras are not there.

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Another view of the house in West Ghent. You can see its got the two bay windows on the side - just like a real Alhambra!

Another view of the house in West Ghent. You can see it's got the two bay windows on the side - just like a real Alhambra!

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And this is a Sears Alhambra, sans Spanish-flavored extras!

There are four of these "plain-Jane Alhambras" in Norfolk. Three are in West Ghent (shown above) and this one is in Ocean View (Norfolk). Note, it's a little different from the three in West Ghent, as it has the porch (covered and open) that matches the traditional Alhambra.

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This Alhambra has also had some of its unique architectural elements stripped away, but you can still see its an Alhambra!

This Alhambra has also has also lost some of its unique architectural elements, but you can still see it's an Alhambra! This is in Lynchburg, VA.

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Sears Alhambra in Gaffney

Sears Alhambra in Gaffney, SC. My favorite color: Lavender!

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Sears Alhambra in Portsmouth, Virginia (Cradock area)

Alhambra in Portsmouth, Virginia (Cradock). I discovered this Alhambra when an elderly gent attended my lecture in Port Norfolk (Portsmouth). We had four people show up for that lecture, so I was mighty glad when he and his wife appeared, and increased the audience size by 50%! After the talk, he invited me to see this Alhambra, and he had the original blue prints!

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Alhambra Interiors - as seen in the 1921 catalog.

Alhambra Interiors - as seen in the 1921 catalog.

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Close-up of the Alhambra Living Room

Close-up of the Alhambra Living Room.

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And the dining room.

And check out that chandelier in the dining room.

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A matching Alhambra garage was offered in the late 1910s!

A matching "Alhambra" garage was offered in the late 1910s!

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To see more pictures of Sears Alhambras, visit All Things Alhambra, part 2.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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Two Delightful Surprises in Bedford, Pennsylvania

November 19th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

In 2005, a dear friend and I drove The Lincoln Highway from New Jersey (not too far from Fort Lee), and hopped off somewhere in Illinois . Along the way, one of my favorite sites was Dick Dunkle’s Art Deco Gulflex Gas Station in Bedford, PA. It was a treat to see such a piece of early 1930s commercial architecture in such beautiful condition.

Dick Dunkles Gulflex Gas Station in Bedford is in wonderful condition!

Dick Dunkle's Gulflex Gas Station in Bedford is in wonderful condition!

And just down the road on Route 30, I found this darling little Alhambra!

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Sears Alhambra in darn good condition.

Sears Alhambra as seen in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Sears Alhambra as seen in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

To learn more about the Sears Alhambra, click here.

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Lost in Lynchburg! (Virginia)

February 2nd, 2011 Sears Homes 1 comment

My friend Rebecca is working on a new project and asked me to find this 1910s kit home in Lynchburg, Virginia. Most folks have heard of Sears Kit Homes, but in addition to Sears, there were six companies selling kit homes through mail order. Their names were Gordon Van Tine, Montgomery Ward, Aladdin, Harris Brothers, Lewis Manufacturing and Sterling Homes.

According to Rebecca, there’s a Sterling Windemere in Lynchburg. She found a testimonial in an old Sterling Homes catalog and the location listed for this house was Lynchburg. I’ll be driving up to Lynchburg soon to find this house. If anyone knows the address or area, it sure would be helpful to have that!

Please leave a comment below with the address or write me at thorntonrose@hotmail.com.

Note, one of the distinctive features of this house is that paired staircase landing window (midway up the side wall). That’s a fairly unusual feature, as most landing windows were single. Also note the grouped columns (three on the corners), with the brick foundations. And note how the second-floor windows come right up to the eaves of the house. Lastly, there’s a hipped dormer in the attic with two small windows. On the home’s front (first floor), the door is to the side and there are three windows in the living room.

There are a gazillion foursquares in Lynchburg, but I’m hoping to find THIS foursquare! Thanks for your help!

Sterling Homes The Windemere from the 1917 catalog

Sterling Homes "The Windemere" from the 1917 catalog.

Heres a photo of a Sterling Windemere in Bay City, Michigan. Photo is courtesy of Dale Patrick Wolicki.

Here's a photo of a Sterling Windemere in Bay City, Michigan. Note the paired windows on the stair case landing. Photo is courtesy of Dale Patrick Wolicki.

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This image is from the 1917 Sterling Homes catalog. It was to be a demonstration of how quickly (and easily?) a Sterling Windemere could be erected on a lot. After two days of work, the house was sheathed in.

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This picture shows how close the house was to completion by the fourth day.

Windemere

Proving the superiority of Sterling pre-cut homes, this Windemere was built on this lot in just 11 days. Note, this did not include the fireplace chimney and windows. This view shows the other side of the Windemere which (unfortunately) is quite non-descript.

Sterling Homes was based in Bay City, Michigan. Heres a picture from the cover of their 1917 catalog.

Sterling Homes was based in Bay City, Michigan. Here's a picture from the cover of their 1917 catalog.

To learn more about identifying kit homes, click here.

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Is That A Sears Kit Home? 9 Easy Ways to Tell

August 15th, 2010 Sears Homes 7 comments

The number one question I’m asked again and again - How do you identify a Sears Kit Home?

First, begin by eliminating the obvious. Sears sold these homes between 1908-1940. If your home was built outside of that time frame, it can not be a Sears catalog home. Period. Exclamation mark!

The nine easy signs follow:

1) Look for stamped lumber in the basement or attic. Sears Modern Homes were kit homes and the framing members were stamped with a letter and a number to help facilitate construction. Today, those marks can help prove that you have a kit home.

2) Look for shipping labels. These are often found on the back of millwork (baseboard molding, door and window trim, etc).

3) Check house design using a book with good quality photos and original catalog images. For Sears, I recommend, “The Sears Homes of Illinois” (all color photos). For Wardway, there’s “The Mail-Order Homes of Montgomery Ward.”

4) Look in the attic and basement for any paperwork (original blueprints, letters, etc). that might reveal that you have a Sears home.

5) Courthouse records. From 1911 to 1933, Sears offered home mortgages. Using grantor records, you may find a few Sears mortgages and thus, a few Sears homes.

6) Hardware fixtures. Sears homes built during the 1930s often have a small circled “SR” cast into the bathtub in the lower corner (furthest from the tub spout and near the floor) and on the underside of the kitchen or bathroom sink.

7) Goodwall sheet plaster. This was an early quasi-sheetrock product offered by Sears, and can be a clue that you have a kit home.

8 ) Unique column arrangement on front porch and five-piece eave brackets (see pictures below).

9) Original building permits. In cities that have retained original building permits, you’ll often find “Sears” listed as the home’s original architect.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

To read another article, click here.

Lumber was numbered to facilitate construction

Lumber was numbered to facilitate construction

Numbers

The numbers are usually less than an inch tall and will be found near the edge of the board.

The Sears Magnolia was also known as Model #2089

See the faint markings on this lumber? This mark was made in blue grease pencil and reads, "2089" and was scribbled on the board when the lumber left Cairo, Illinois. This was a photo taken in a Sears Magnolia in North Carolina. The Sears Magnolia was also known as Model #2089

Sears Magnolia was also known as #2089

Sears Magnolia was also known as Model #2089.

Shipping labels can also be a clue that you have a Sears Homes

Shipping labels can also be a clue that you have a Sears Home.

"The Sears Homes of Illinois" has more than 200 color photos of the most popular designs that Sears offered and can be very helpful in identifying Sears Homes.

Ephemera can help identify a house as a Sears Home

Ephemera can help identify a house as a Sears Home. This picture came from an original set of Sears "Honor Bilt" blueprints.

Ephemera

Ephemera and paperwork can provide proof that you do indeed have a Sears Home.

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Plumbing fixtures - such as this bathtub - can provide clues, as well. I've found this "SR" (Sears Roebuck) stamp on bathtubs, sinks and toilets. On the sink, it's found on the underside, and on toilets, it's found in the tank, near the casting date.

Goodwall Sheet Plaster

Goodwall Sheet Plaster was sold in the pages of the Sears Modern Homes catalogs. This was a "fireproof" product that was much like modern sheetrock.

About two dozen of Sears most popular designs had a unique column arrangement that makes identification easier. The Vallonia was one of those 24 Sears Homes with that unique column arrangement.

About two dozen of Sears most popular designs had a unique column arrangement that makes identification easier. The Vallonia was one of those 24 Sears Homes with that unique column arrangement.

Close-up of the columns.

Close-up of the columns.

And in the flesh...

And in the flesh...

Houses should be a perfect match to original drawings found in the Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Houses should be a perfect match to original drawings found in the Sears Modern Homes catalog. This is where people get into trouble. They ignore the details.

Sears Mitchell in Elgin, Illinois.

Sears "Mitchell" in Elgin, Illinois.

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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 Raleigh, looking PERFECT!

Sears Winona in Raleigh, looking PERFECT!

Sears Auburn in Halifax, NC

Sears Auburn

And a dazzling Auburn in Halifax, NC.

And a dazzling Auburn in Halifax, NC.

Sears Pheonix from the 1919 Modern Homes catalog.

Sears Pheonix from the 1919 Modern Homes catalog.

And a lovely Sears Pheonix in Newman, IL. Photo is courtesy Rebecca Hunter.

And a lovely Sears Pheonix in Newman, IL. Photo is courtesy Rebecca Hunter.

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Send Rose an email at thorntonrose@hotmail.com

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