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Posts Tagged ‘Chapel Hill’

Ardara: Contrast to the Commonplace

June 4th, 2012 Sears Homes 5 comments

After my talk in Raleigh (May 19th), a woman named Lydia introduced herself to me (and purchased several of my books!). She said that she had family members living in a fine Sears House in Chapel Hill.

That was puzzling, because I had driven through Chapel Hill the day before, and I had only seen Aladdin kit homes, no Sears.

However, while in Chapel Hill, I’d become flustered by the vast amounts of pedestrian traffic (and non-thinking students stepping off curbs right in front of vehicles) and the trees: Massive, leafy, bushy, house-obstructing trees.

Within 30 minutes of arriving into Chapel Hill, I abandoned my search and returned to my hotel in Raleigh.

Had I missed a Sears House in Chapel Hill? It was a distinct possibility.

Soon after I arrived back home to Norfolk, Lydia contacted me and emailed a photo of this fine Sears House in Chapel Hill.

The photo she emailed was a beautiful Sears Ardara.

I’ve not seen many Ardaras in my travels. In fact, I’ve only seen four: One in Zanesville, Ohio, two in Elgin, Illinois and one in Crystal Lake, Illinois. And soon, I hope to visit this Ardara in Chapel Hill!  :)

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To read about Buster Keaton’s kit house, click here.

The Ardara first appeared in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

The Ardara first appeared in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

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In both the 1921 and 1928 catalogs, it was offered with and without the attached garage.

In both the 1921 and 1928 catalogs, it was offered with and without the attached garage. This is from the 1928 catalog, and if you compare it with the image above, you'll see the price actually had dropped by 1928.

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This is one of my favorite descriptions (taken from the 1928 catalog). The Ardara is "notable for its contrast to the commonplace...pleasingly combines Oriental and Occidental architecture." And the garage has "the same treatment as the house." Awesome!

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Notice that it has a Music Room. In the late 1920s, this could have a couple meanings.

Notice that it has a "Music Room." In the 1921 version, this room was identified as a den. In 1928, this could have a couple meanings. The phonograph and the radio were all the rage in the late 1920s, and in some of these old floorplans, you'll see this identified as a "radio room," or "space for phonograph." Or it might have been a designated space for the family piano. In this time period, it was expected that most people would own a piano.

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The Sears Ardara in Chapel Hill. What a beauty!  This photo is copyright 2012 Paige Warren and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.

The Sears Ardara in Chapel Hill. What a beauty! Note the oversized cornice returns. This is one (of many) eye-catching features on this Colonial-style house. (This photo is copyright 2012 Paige Warren and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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And heres a picture of the same Ardara in the late 1920s, soon after it was built.

And here's a picture of the same Ardara in the 1920s, soon after it was built. The small gable (at the top of the roof) was original to the house, and the dormer was added in the 1950s. (This photo is courtesy of the Wade family and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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The Ardara, soon after it came into the Warren family (February 1944). he in 1944.

The Ardara, soon after it came into the Wade family (February 1944). The dormer (shown in the contemporary photo above) was added in the 1950s to create living space on the second floor. (This photo is courtesy of the Wade family and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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The Ardara

The Ardara, as seen in the 1921 catalog.

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An Ardara in Crystal Lake, IL.

An Ardara in Crystal Lake, IL.

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A very sad Ardara in Elgin, IL. (This photo was taken in 2003.)

A very sad Ardara in Elgin, IL. (This photo was taken in 2003.)

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To learn more about what I found in Chapel Hill, click here.

Look at the abundance of Sears Homes I found in Raleigh, NC.

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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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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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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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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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