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Posts Tagged ‘craftsman style bungalows’

Montgomery Ward’s Mail-Order Homes

October 14th, 2014 Sears Homes No comments

Christmas is coming.

Sooner than you think.

And I have just the thing for that “hard-to-shop-for” friend or relative.

A book with hundreds of pictures of old houses! Old Montgomery Ward Kit Houses!

To buy the book, click here.

Whether youre searching for kit homes, or maybe you just love looking at pictures of old houses, this is a thorougly enjoyable read.

Whether you're searching for kit homes, or maybe you just love looking at pictures of old houses, this 347-page book is a thorougly enjoyable read.

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Would you like to browse its pages? :D

Would you like to flip through a few of its pages? :D Scroll on down!

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What makes this

What makes this book so enchanting is that it's TWO books in one! :D Has many vintage catalog images (such as is shown above), with extant photos of Wardway homes - side-by-side. And it's also an itneresting book with lots of history about the mail-order companies of the early 1900s.

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Ext

The left-side page shows the catalog image and right-side image is the real-life example.

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Did you know Montgomery Ward sold Spanish Villa kit homes?

Did you know Montgomery Ward sold Spanish Villa kit homes?

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And they did

It's a fun read with many such examples of Wardway Houses throughout the country.

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Teddy The Dog thinks its a great read!

Teddy The Dog thinks it's a great read!

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Several decades from now, this book will be a timeless classic, like womens suits and VW super beetles!

Several decades from now, this book will be a timeless classic, like women's suits, platform shoes and 1974 VW Super Beetles!

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To buy the book, click here.

To read more about Wardway Homes, click here.

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Why I Love Ferguson, Missouri

October 5th, 2014 Sears Homes No comments

In Fall 2002, I was broke, depressed, lonely and very worried about the future. Months earlier, my beloved mother had died unexpectedly and my marriage of 24 years had ended in divorce.

Those were tough times.

I had one thing going for me: My newly published book, The Houses That Sears Built.

Working 100-hour weeks, I did nothing but promote that book and send out free copies to local media outlets. I slept and I worked. There wasn’t time or money for anything else.

If the book didn’t start selling fast, I’d have to do something I dreaded: Get a real job, and jobs in Alton, Illinois were tough to find.

Sometime in late 2002, I drove around Ferguson, Missouri and found a few Sears Homes. I’m sorry to say I’ve forgotten how it unfolded from there, but I hooked up with a local architect and history lover named Alan. He put me in touch with a couple folks from the city of Ferguson. In time, I was hired to do a survey of the kit homes in the city of Ferguson.

Alan drove me around to the different neighborhoods and it was great fun. Most of what I knew about architecture came from reading books. Alan graciously answered my many simple questions about architecture. I will always remember his kindness and patience.

After I’d identified a few kit homes,  the city had a lovely ceremony, and each Sears Home owner was presented with a beautiful plaque. I was invited to be part of the presentation ceremony.

It was a lovely memory for so many different reasons.

First and foremost, the folks in Ferguson - homeowners, Alan the Architect, city officials and employees  - showed me so much kindness and respect.

Secondly, this was my rubicon.

My divorce had been heart-breaking, but this experience in Ferguson showed me that my work had value and my life had purpose, and that there were people in the world who shared my passion for these old houses.

Some time later, the kit homes in Ferguson were featured on “Show Me St. Louis” (a popular TV show),  and that also warmed the cockles of my heart, and gave me new hope that I could make a career out of this vocation.

In subsequent years, my book and I have been featured on PBS History Detectives, CBS Sunday Morning News, A&E’s Biography, MSNBC, NPR, BBC Radio, and many more. I’ve traveled to 25 states doing surveys and giving talks.

But it all started with the grace and kindess of the many fine folks in Ferguson.

That’s why I love Ferguson so much.

BTW, if you know the addresses of these homes or even street names, please send me a note or leave a comment.  When I did this survey, I didn’t know much about the other kit home companies. I’d love to come back and do a more thorough survey.

Lastly, these images are from 12-year-old slides. The colors are off and the images are grainy.

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One of the reasons there are so many kit homes in St. Louis is because there was a Sears Modern Homes sales center in St. Louis. There were only 40 of these in the country, and these were only placed in areas where sales had been strong. And once a Modern Homes sales center opened, sales were even stronger!

One of the reasons there are so many kit homes in the St. Louis area is because there was a Sears Modern Homes sales center in St. Louis. There were only 40 of these in the country.

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And in the early 30s,

Sears only placed these "Sales Centers" in communities where sales were strong.

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Ferguson

Sears Walton as seen in the 1928 catalog.

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Ferguson

I remember the homeowner here was just THRILLED to learn she had a Sears House!

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Leanon

The Lebanon was a popular house for Sears (1921 catalog).

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Lebanon

Lovely Lebanon in Ferguson. Notice the placement of the door next to the one window.

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Marina

Sears Marina (1916)

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Marina

A perfect Marina in Ferguson.

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Lex

The Sears Lexington was one of their biggest and most expensive homes.

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Lexington

Initially, I'd missed this stately Lexington hiding behind the hedge, but this IS a Lexington!

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compare

Nice comparison of the Lexington entryway. Although it's somewhat obscured, you can see the fan light in the 1928 image. The details on the porch are spot on!

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Ferguson

Sears Barrington (1928).

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Pattern book

Although I initially identified this as a Barrington, I'm starting to wonder if it is a pattern book house. These many years later, I do not remember if we went inside this house.

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Gordon Van Tine

In addition to Sears Homes, I also found a Gordon Van Tine home in Ferguson.

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GVT

Very distinctive house!

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Ferguson House

The porch has been enclosed, but this is a lovely GVT #605 in Ferguson.

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Spent years

I have spent many years trying to identify this house. I've yet to find it in any pattern books, kit house catalogs or magazines. But hey - it's only been 12 years. I'm still looking!

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To read about the kit homes I found in Kirkwood, click here.

To learn more about how to identify kit homes, click here.

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The Things We Do For Love (of Sears Homes)

May 9th, 2013 Sears Homes No comments

As a sensitive youngster, Fred Rogers (the “Mr. Rogers”) would sometimes become alarmed when he heard about bad things happening in the world. His mother comforted Fred by telling him, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

It saddens me to think about how many Sears Homes have been razed or lost to horrific and insensitive remodeling.

In the world of historic architecture, where the losses are much bigger than the wins, it’s really important to “look for the helpers.”

One such helper is a man in Georgetown, Texas named Will Moore.

Will is a builder from that area, and in 2006, he learned that a Sears Avondale was in trouble. Some local folks owned the lot underneath the Avondale, and it was their intention to move the Avondale out “to the country,” so they could build their own home on the city lot.

Will had a sinking feeling that the little Avondale would not fare well, sitting out in a field, far from town, perhaps forlorn and forgotten. He negotiated a deal with the home’s owners and purchased the house, and had it moved six blocks over to a lot he owned on Elm Street.

That was 2006. Seven years later, he’s still working on the 1,600-square foot bungalow, pouring a whole lot of time, energy and money into the old Sears House.

“It’s been a lot of work,” he told me during a recent phone conversation, “And there have been a lot of issues. Some people might say call them ‘headaches,’ but I’m glad I did this. I saved the house. I’m a real history buff and a preservationist, and that’s the reason that I did this.”

And before the house could be moved, someone had to shave off those beautiful oversized eaves.

Will explains,

The city told me the house could only be thirty feet wide for the move, so I had to cut the eaves off both sides of the house to comply.And of course, the chimney, the front porch and the brick foundation were all knocked down to make the move. Those three items, plus the rebuilding of the roof, took a couple years to complete.

Presently, the home is still under renovation. After rebuilding the roof, the chimney, the porch, and finding matching brick for the underpinning, I have concentrated on the exterior. At sometime during its past life, the home was covered with vinyl siding. When I removed that, I found the underlying siding to be in such a state that it all needed to be replaced.

That required all the old siding to be removed, along with the window, door and corner trim. Additionally, code requirements would not allow me to use the original windows, and I have replaced those with new, but using the original design.

The new siding will be Hardieplank, but with small exposure. Even with new siding and efficient windows, the facade of the home will be very much in keeping with the 1914 look. In order to allow for modern efficiency, I blew insulation into the walls while I had the exterior exposed.

Will has promised to provide more photos as the restoration continues. And I’ve also asked for a few interior photos.

I hope someday I can make it down to Georgetown and meet this fellow, who has done so much for this wonderful old kit house, and who has done so much to save a historic structure in his community.

The news of Will’s faithful restoration of this old house has brought me much joy.

Will Moore of Georgetown, Texas is definitely, one of the “Helpers.”

To read more about the Avondale, click here.

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The Sears Avondale was one of Sears most popular homes.

The Sears Avondale was one of Sears most popular homes. The Avondale was built as a model home for the Illinois State Fair (in Springfield) in 1909, and was wholly furnished with items from the 1,400-page Sears and Roebuck catalog. Pre-1918, Sears Homes had model numbers instead of names, so for this postcard, it was identified as merely a "bungalow."

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Another postcard shows the fancy interior of the Avondale.

Another postcard shows the fancy interior of the Avondale (with all those furnishings from Sears). The dining room was unusually large for a typical Sears House, measuring 23 x 14 feet.

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The 1919 Sears Modern Homes catalog shows the dining room, which was massive.

The 1919 Sears Modern Homes catalog shows the living room, which was 21 by 14 feet. The oak columns and screen (on the right) were an upgrade.

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house

The Avondale was one of Sears larger (and better) homes, with two spacious bedrooms and one teeny tiny bedroom.

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And it was praised by many thousands!

And it was "praised by many thousands"! Was that because it had a croquet set in the front yard?

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Avondale

Sears would ask their customers to send a snapshot of the house after it was completed. Was this the photo that Mr. Logan (the home's original builder) sent to Sears? It might have been. He sure got the angle just right! BTW, is that snow on the roof, in Georgetown, TEXAS?? Photo is courtesy Will Moore and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Comparison of the Avondales, with the catalog (left) and Mr. Logan's dream home (right).

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But wheres Mr. Logans croquet set?

But why doesn't 's Mr. Logan's house have a croquet set on the front lawn?

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Another shot of Mr. Logans Avondale, shortly after it was built.

Another shot of Mr. Logan's Avondale, shortly after it was built (about 1914 or 1915). And there in the front yard is George Logan Junior's baby buggy. Photo is courtesy Will Moore and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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house

George Logan Jr., with his mother on the front porch of the Sears Avondale. The Avondale's current owner, Will Moore, told me that he was present when Mr. Logan (now 92) saw this photo recently. "It was an emotional moment for him," said Will. "He had never seen the photo before." There's so much that's wonderful about this photo, but my favorite part is that Mom is showing Junior a family photo album. And Junior appears to be wholly captivated. Photo is courtesy Will Moore and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Fast forward about 91 years, and heres a photo of George Logan, Jr., sitting in the kitchen of the Avondale. Shortly after Will Moore purchased the house, Mr. Logan visited Mr. Moore. It was a happy day for both. a visit.

Fast forward about 91 years, and here's a photo of George Logan, Jr., facing the camera. Shortly after Will Moore purchased the house, Mr. Logan visited Mr. Moore. It was a happy day for both. Photo is courtesy Will Moore and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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house house

The Avondale, pre-move. Unfortunately, those beautiful eaves had to be shaved off before it could be relocated to its new lot. Photo is copyright 2006 Will Moore and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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house house

Another shot of the Avondale, before the move. Photo is copyright 2006 Will Moore and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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house house

Post move, the house is missing its eaves, but the new fireplace is finished, and looks beautiful. Will took out those four stained glass windows and put them in a safe spot. Photo is copyright 2006 Will Moore and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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house house

Tyvek wrap goes up before the new Hardiplank siding goes up. Due to local building codes, Will had to replace the original windows, but he did a good job of matching them to the old windows. The brickwork is all new as well. Photo is copyright 2006 Will Moore and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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house house hosue

My favorite part of this story was hearing about how much George Logan Jr. enjoyed this old photo of him and his mother, on the front porch of their Avondale. I can only imagine the emotional ties he must have to this old house - the house built by his own father (George Logan Sr.) almost 100 years ago. In fact, this was the very house where George Logan, Jr. was born. These houses are such an important piece of our history, for so many different reasons. Photo is courtesy Will Moore and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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To contact Rose, please leave a comment below.

To read more about why Sears Homes matter, click here.

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The Other Magnificent Miltons: In Ohio and New Jersey

June 2nd, 2012 Sears Homes 6 comments

The Sears Magnolia gets all the press, but before the Magnolia, Sears offered another “Magnificent Mansion”:  The Sears Milton.

To my delight and astonishment, we have one in Stanley, Virginia. Read all about that one here.

According to the 1916 Sears catalog, the Sears Milton was also built in Fayette, Ohio (and other cities as well).

Milton

This little snippet appeared in the Spring 1916 "Sears Modern Homes" catalog, which tells us that the Miltons in these cities were built pre-1916.

The 1912 Sears Modern Homes catalog does not have The Milton, but it does appear in the 1916 catalog. Its final appearance was in the 1919 catalog, so it wasn’t offered for too many years.

In 1916, the price was $1,619 and by 1919, it had jumped to $2,491, an eye-opening 54% increase. The Milton was not offered as a pre-cut house.

As mentioned above, this was a big fancy house, and it shouldn’t be hard to find and identify. The Milton was built in New York City, Fayette, Ohio, Norfolk, Nebraska and “other cities” (such as Stanley, Virginia).

Each month, more than 30,000 readers visit this website. I’m hoping and praying a few of them have connections in Somerville, NJ, Fayette, OH, Norfolk NE, and New York City. It sure would be fun to find the Miltons in these towns.

And it’d be ever better to get a few photos of this old kit house.

To learn more about how to identify kit homes, click here.

Do you know where this house is in Fayette? If so, I really *need* a photo!  :)  To contact me, please leave a comment below!

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The Sears Milton as seen in the 1916 catalog.

The Sears Milton as seen in the 1916 catalog.

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Floorplan for the Sears Milton

Floorplan for the Sears Milton

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Sears Milton in Stanley, Virginia

Sears Milton in Stanley, Virginia

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To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

Are you able to get a picture of the Miltons in these other cities? If so, please leave a comment!

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A Sears House Designed by “Uncle Sam”!

May 28th, 2012 Sears Homes 1 comment

The banner at the top of the catalog page identifies The Wabash as “Uncle Sam’s Idea.”

According to the accompanying text, this house was “planned and designed by United States Government architects.”

The house appeared in the Spring 1920 catalog, about two years after “The War to End All Wars” had finally ended (November 1917).

According to the original catalog page, The Wabash was built in Illinois (Hamlet, Ohio, Atlanta, Williamsfield, Farmer City, Cerro Gordo) and Indiana (Hoover and Indianapolis).

If any readers are near those towns, I’d love to get a photo!!  :)

To read about a Sears House at the other end of the price spectrum, click here.

To learn more, click here.

1920 catalog

The Wabash, as seen in the 1920 catalog. And only two columns!

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house up close

Take a look at the columns, Instead of the typical grouping of three columns at the corners, this house has only TWO. I guess that's how they made the house so darn affordable.

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text

Interesting text from the catalog page (1920).

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catalog

They must have thought a lot of the house because it was "featured" in the 1920 catalog, and had a two-page spread with interior shots.

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floorplan

This floorplan is a puzzle. No bathroom and yet there's an open space "cement floor" that appears to be a mud room of sorts. Seems like a waste of space in such a small house.

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dust trap

This "dust trap" is really intriguing. I suspect it was a place to dispose of ashes and such.

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house house

And what a fine kitchen it was! Did it really have subway-tile wainscoting? You can see the "dust trap" beside the wood box (beside the sink).

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house text

A little more info on the "handy fuel box" and "dust trap."

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house house

Spacious living room/dining room area.

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house house house

Sure would be nice to have a photo of the Wabash. It was built in these cities.

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To read the blog written one year ago today, click here.

“Different People Like Different Things…”

May 25th, 2012 Sears Homes 2 comments

Or so my husband tells me - frequently.

But I’d have to say that Sears Modern Home #190 was not one of their better designs - in terms of attractiveness.

Perhaps others thought so, as well, because I’ve only seen one of these kit homes and it was in a tiny town in Illinois. Sears Modern Home #190 was gone well before 1918 (when Sears Homes were given names). I’ve only seen it in the 1912 catalog. It’s not in the 1910 and it’s not in the 1916, so apparently, it didn’t last too long.

Ick

From the 1912 catalog.

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icky two

An unusual floor plan, for sure. Plus, it has a coat closet?? That's unusual. The polygon bay (first and second floor) is the most prominent feature on this little house and makes it easy to identify. On a house of this vintage, you may find a centered bay on the first floor, but it's unusual to see it extend to the second floor.

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ickey three

Kind of has a face only a mother could love.

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icky four

Is this Sears Modern Home #190? The porch roof is different (shed vs. hip), but porches get rebuilt , plus there was a tornado that went through this area in the 1930s and did a lot of damage to a lot of porches. My first impression (and second and third) is that this *is* the #190.

Sears Modern Home #190.

This actually looks *more* like Modern Home #190 because (unlike the house above), this home has in Richmond has the massive cornice returns.

To learn more about kit homes, click here.

Did you know that Buster Keaton did a short on Sears Homes?

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The Sears Magnolia - in South Bend, Indiana!

May 8th, 2012 Sears Homes 11 comments

OOOH! I have new photos! Click here to see the new photos!

Faithful readers of my fun little blog will note that I have pictures of the five living Sears Magnolias in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Ohio, Alabama, and New York. There was a Sears Magnolia in Nebraska, but it was torn down decades ago.

However, until now, I didn’t have any photos of the “Maggy” in South Bend, Indiana.

And then I sold my car.

Or tried to.

When the odometer on my tired old Camry hit 170,000 miles, I decided it was time to replace the old girl. But then, I couldn’t find the car title. Boy did I search. After all, I’m a writer. I don’t lose things. I have 27 boxes of research notes, all painstakingly organized and carefully filed away.

But that car title eluded me.

In the process of searching the entire house, I did find many other things, including these photos of the Sears Magnolia in South Bend, Indiana. Only thing is, I have no idea who snapped these photos for me. Some kind soul took these photos and mailed them to me. Based on markings found on the pictures, it appears that the photos date to Fall 2003.

The Sears Magnolia was the the crème de la crème of Sears Homes. It had 2-1/2 baths, two fireplaces, four spacious bedrooms and a sleeping porch, two staircases (front and rear), and a grand total of almost 3,000 square feet. The front of the house boasted two-story ionic (and sometimes Corinthian) porch columns, with a porte cochere on one side and a 140-square-foot sunporch on the other side.

It was quite a house.

Is there a Sears Magnolia in your neighborhood? If so, send me a photo. I suspect there are many more Magnolias in the country. Heretofore, we’ve found seven. It sure would be fun to find Number Eight!

Two requests:  If anyone reading this blog lives in South Bend, I’d love to get some newer photos! And it’d be just swell to have an address for this house in South Bend.  :)

To learn more about the Sears Magnolia, click here.

Or here.

Read about the fellow who built a Magnolia in Ohio here.

To read about the exhumation of my Aunt Addie, click here.

To buy your dear mother the perfect Mother’s Day gift, click here.

The Magnolia

The Magnolia as seen in the 1921 catalog.

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You can see from the floorplan, this was a big house!

You can see from the floorplan, this was a big house!

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And thanks to some unknown soul, heres a photo of the Sears Magnolia in South Bend, Indiana. Photo was taken sometime in late 2003.

And thanks to some unknown soul, here's a photo of the Sears Magnolia in South Bend, Indiana. Photo was taken sometime in late 2003. If that "unknown soul" is reading this, please contact me, so that I may give proper photo credit! :)

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Another view of the Maggy in South Bend.

Another view of the Maggy in South Bend. And yes, it's clad in a scratchy aluminum outfit, but maybe - just maybe - that's been removed since this photo was snapped nine years ago. And aluminum siding is recyclable (unlike vinyl). After it's removed, it can be taken to a salvage yard and it often fetches a handsome price!

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Another view

Another view of our Sears Maggy in South Bend. LOVE those columns!

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Just a cool old picture (early 1940s) of the Magnolia in Benson, NC.

A cool old picture (early 1920s I think) of the Magnolia in Benson, NC. I found it interesting that this house was photographed from the same angle as the house in South Bend!

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Heres a picture of the person who drove the getaway car for our mystery photographer. I surely would love to know who got these photos for me, and Im mighty grateful.

Here's a picture of the person who drove the getaway car for our mystery photographer. I surely would love to know who got these photos for me, and I'm mighty grateful.

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To see more photos of the Sears Magnolia, click here.

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The Sears Sadstone

May 3rd, 2012 Sears Homes No comments

In 2002, when I wrote The Houses That Sears Built, I lived in Alton, Illinois. Many, many times I drove past this house on the main drag, never really paying attention to it. It was probably a year after I’d written my book that I happened to notice this badly blighted house was a Sears Gladstone.

For a time, I wondered if I should even bother putting it on my “list” as a Sears House. It was such poor condition that its original beauty was hardly discernible. Would this help or hinder my cause of promoting Sears Homes in Southwestern Illinois?

Ultimately, I did add it to my list. A short time later, the house  (and its glommed-on addition) was demolished.

To learn more about Sears Homes in Illinois, click here.

To learn more about Rebecca Hunter’s newest book, click here.

Nice house

Several times, I tried to get a photo of the house sans trash pile, but it seemed to be one of those houses that *always* had trash piled up in front.

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If you look closely at the second floor, you can see where the double windows were removed and replaced with storm windows. Nice tough.

If you look closely at the second floor, you can see where the double windows were removed and replaced with storm windows. Double icky.

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The Sears Gladstone was actually a very popular house (1916 catalog).

The Sears Gladstone was actually a very popular house (1916 catalog).

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By todays standards, it wasnt very spacious but in the early 1900s, this was considered an average

By today's standards, the Gladstone (an American Foursquare) wasn't very spacious but in the early 1900s, this was considered an average-sized home.

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As seen in the 1916 Modern Homes catalog.

As seen in the 1916 Modern Homes catalog.

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And heres a fine Gladstone in West Virginia.

And here's a fine Gladstone in West Virginia. This house can bee seen from I-64, and it's located about 30 minutes east of Charleston, WV. I always wave at it when I go by.

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Pretty cool, huh?  :)

Pretty cool, huh? :)

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To read more about Sears Homes (and see more photos), click here.