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Posts Tagged ‘craftsmen houses’

The Paloma: A Two-Story Bargain

March 6th, 2013 Sears Homes 4 comments

In 1919, The Paloma was indeed a “two-story bargain.” The very modest 860-square-foot, two-story house cost a mere $1,131 which was a sound value.  And all in all, it wasn’t a bad-looking little house. But it was little.

Upstairs, they managed to carve three bedrooms out of the 18×24′ footprint, but they were very small. Each of the three bedrooms measured eight by something, and that makes for some pretty cramped quarters.

In Spanish, “Paloma” means pigeon. But Paloma is also the name of a city in Illinois. So was it named for the city or the bird? I’m guessing the city.

Many thanks to Donna Bakke for supplying photos of the real life Palomas in Cheviot, Ohio, a neighborhood in Cincinnati.

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The Paloma

The Paloma from the 1919 catalog.

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"Profitable investment"? At least it will be a dignified investment.

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Now that's a small kitchen. Add some cabinets and you've got a kitchen so small that you have to step into the dining room to change your mind.

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Notice how that closet window on the 2nd floor is not centered. Also, look at how small these bedrooms were. Not one of them is bigger than eight-feet something.

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Apparently, it was fairly popular.

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The Paloma as seen in the 1919 catalog. Love the flowers! In this line drawing, it appears that the closet window (second floor) is centered between the two bedroom windows. That's not accurate. The floorplan (shown above) gives a more accurate rendering.

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A Paloma in Cheviot, Ohio. Notice how that little closet window is off center? That's one very distinctive feature of this simple little house. This Paloma's original porch columns were transmogrified into pillars of wrought iron - probably in the 1950s or 60s. Photo is copyright 2012 Donna Bakke and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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The vinyl-siding salesmen have had their way with this poor little house, but at least the porch survived that experience (even if the window frames did not). And the little closet window on the 2nd floor got buried. Photo is copyright 2012 Donna Bakke and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Close-up of the detail on the front porch. Notice the classic Sears detail at the top of the column! Photo is copyright 2012 Donna Bakke and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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

To read about the abundance of kit homes in Staunton, VA, click here.

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One Chilly Kilbourne in West Virginia

October 31st, 2012 Sears Homes 1 comment

My friend Ersela lives in a part of West Virginia that is currently getting hammered by an especially chilly version of Hurricane Sandy. Thus far, almost two feet of wet snow has fallen on her beautiful Kilbourne.

Here in Norfolk (where I live), “Sandy” only hit us with a glancing blow. We had minor power outages, some wind (gusts up to 75 mph) and some rain (about six inches locally), and some tidal flooding (about seven feet above normal) but we got off light. And we know it.

And frankly, coastal storms are just part of living on the Eastern Seaboard. We get Nor’Easters on a regular basis. In fact, the Nor’Easter of 2009 caused Hampton Roads about as much trouble as Hurricane Sandy.

In addition to Ersela, we have other family in West Virginia, and many of them live in Elkins. The entire town of Elkins is also inundated with snow. The town has lost power, and roofs are starting to collapse under the weight of the thick, wet blanket of snow.

But West Virginians are a tough breed. Most of the ones that I’ve met are true-blue “preppers.” Many (if not most) households in West Virginia have a heat source independent of traditional central heating systems, such as wood stoves or coal stoves. When the lights go out, the heat stays on.

Gosh I love West Virginia!  :)

Many thanks to Ersela for allowing me to publish these photos.

It looks like something out of a Christmas card, but this is Erselas home in West Virginia. Ersela did an amazing amount of research and learned that this Kilbourne was built using old Sears blueprints, but the building materials were not obtained from Sears. Photo is copyright 2012 Ersela Jordan and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

It looks like something out of a Christmas card, but this is Ersela's home in West Virginia. Ersela did an amazing amount of research and learned that this "Kilbourne" was built using old Sears blueprints, but the building materials were not obtained from Sears. Photo is copyright 2012 Ersela Jordan and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Another beautiful view of Ersela's beautiful home. Photo is copyright 2012 Ersela Jordan and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Another beautiful view of Ersela's beautiful Kilbourne. Photo is copyright 2012 Ersela Jordan and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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I can personally attest to the delights of sitting on the homey porch of the Kilbourne.

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"Many have remarked about the 'homey porch.'" Photo is copyright 2012 Ersela Jordan and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Years ago, a tornado went through this area and did some damage to the house, and took out two small windows flanking the fireplace. In this photo, you can see that the windows have been bricked up. Photo is copyright 2012 Ersela Jordan and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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From the 1928 catalog.

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Here's a picture from the Sears Modern Homes catalog showing two children getting ready to blow up a Sears Kilbourne off in the distance. Or that's what it looks like to be. Looks like "Sis" has her hand on the plunger and Big Brother is just waiting for the Big BOOM!

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The second floor has an odd arrangement. Two dormers are dedicated to closet space.

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The Kilbourne had an "expandable" attic, which explains the five/eight room option.

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My favorite West Virginian! He tells me that he was so poor, he grew up playing with nothing but sticks and dirt! Not sure I believe that, but he sure does have a great accent! He calls it, Naturally, unaccented English.

My favorite West Virginian! He tells me that he was so poor, he grew up playing with nothing but sticks and dirt! Not sure I believe that, but he sure does have a great accent! He calls it, "Naturally, unaccented English."

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To learn more about West Virginia, click here.

To read more about the kit homes in West Virginia, click here.

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The Princeville: A Dandy Home!

May 9th, 2012 Sears Homes 1 comment

Another not-so-popular house, and yet, it sure is easy to identify! This house has many very unusual features that really make it “jump off the curb” at you.

The arrangement of the dormers on the second floor is pretty eye-catching (three windows in the front dormer, four on the side), as is the corner box window on the first floor. That’ll certainly get your attention! The dining room has a squared-bay with a window seat.

The 1200-square-foot house offered three small bedrooms on the second floor (and one bath), with a spacious living room (21′ by 13′), nice size dining room (12′6″ by 14′6″), and a decent kitchen with its own walk-in pantry.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To hear Rose’s interview on WUNC (with Frank Stasio) here.

The Princeville, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

The Princeville, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

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The living room and dining room were unusually spacious.

The living room and dining room were unusually spacious. That corner box window was a staircase landing with a built-in seat. Very nice!

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Upstairs were three very small bedrooms and one bath.

Upstairs were three very small bedrooms and one bath.

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When I was writing The Sears Homes of Illinois, Rebecca Hunter gave up three days of her life to drive all over northern Illinois so that I could take photos! Rebecca drove me right to this house in West Chicago. Two years later, Im struggling to remember if this is my photo or Rebeccas photo! Lets say its Rebeccas.  :)  Photograph is copyright 2010 Rebecca Hunter and can not be reproduced or used without written permission.

When I was writing "The Sears Homes of Illinois," Rebecca Hunter gave up three days of her life to drive all over northern Illinois so that I could take photos! Rebecca drove me right to this house in West Chicago. Two years later, I'm struggling to remember if this is my photo or Rebecca's photo! Let's say it's Rebecca's. :) Photograph is copyright 2010 Rebecca Hunter and can not be reproduced or used without written permission.

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

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This is my favorite Princeville in all the world. Its in Clifton Forge, Virginia (near the West Virginia border), which is one of the prettiest cities in the entire country.  This Princeville is in incredibly beautiful condition. Very nice!!!

This is my favorite Princeville in all the world. It's in Clifton Forge, Virginia (near the West Virginia border), which is one of the prettiest cities in the entire country. This Princeville is in incredibly beautiful condition. Very nice!!!

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(Clifton Forge has an abundance of Sears Homes. Click here to see more!)

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Christiansburg, Virginia is near Roanoke and it also has several Sears kit homes, including this Princeville. The porch was closed in, and that altered its look quite a bit.

Christiansburg, Virginia is near Roanoke and it also has several Sears kit homes, including this Princeville. The porch has been closed in, and that altered its look quite a bit.

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Rebecca found this Sears House through old mortgage records. Incredibly, this is a Sears Princeville. YIKES!!!

Rebecca found this Sears House through old mortgage records. Incredibly, this "modernistic" house in St. Charles is a Sears Princeville. YIKES!!!

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Hard to believe that the house in St. Charles (shown above) started out life as a Sears Princeville.

Hard to believe that the house in St. Charles (shown above) started out life as a Sears Princeville.

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There are many more Sears Princevilles out there!

There are many more Sears Princevilles out there!

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To see a sneak peek of Rebecca’s newest book, click here.

Click here to see more pictures of pretty, pretty Sears Homes!

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The Glen Falls: Picturesqueness, Dignity and Hospitality

May 5th, 2012 Sears Homes 5 comments

Of the 370 models that Sears offered, there was only one house that was fancier and bigger than the Glen Falls: The Sears Magnolia.

In 1922, the Magnolia had sold for $5,849. In the mid-20s, the Glen Falls sold for $4,560.  The Magnolia had 2,900 square feet. The Glen Falls had about 2,700 square feet. It was a very large house for its time.

And while I love this house, it harbors some bad memories for me.

I’ve received a verbal thrashing from TWO Glen Falls homeowners, both of whom were pretty upset when I told them that their beautiful house might be a Sears house. The house is so grandiose and so beautiful, people just don’t believe that this was one of those “crappy little kit homes.”

Alas!

To learn how to identify Sears Homes, click here.

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Glen Falls was one of their biggest and fanciest homes! (1928 catalog).

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I wasn't even sure if "picturesqueness" was a real word.

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In the 1926 catalog, the Glen Falls was featured, meaning that interior photos were shown.

In the 1926 catalog, the Glen Falls was "featured," meaning that interior photos were shown.

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The early 20th Century iron fence is a lovely complement to the Glen Falls (Mattoon, IL).

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Id love to meet the architect that thought this was a good idea.

I'd love to meet the architect that thought this was a good idea. Because it's not. When they put this addition on, they *lost* the "picturesqueness and dignity" vote.

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As a kid, Id ride my bike past this house again and again and again. It was less than a half-mile from my childhood home (in nearby Waterview). Ive always loved this house, and was delighted to discover that it was a Sears Glen Falls!

As a kid, I'd ride my bike past this house again and again and again. It was less than a half-mile from my childhood home (in nearby Waterview - Portsmouth, VA). I've always loved this house, and was delighted to discover that it was a Sears Glen Falls! The porch has been enclosed, but inside, those tall columns (shown in the catalog) are still in place.

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Cape Charles, Virginia (Eastern Shore) is one of my favorite places. This Glen Falls (and a host of other Sears Homes) is located there.

Cape Charles, Virginia (Eastern Shore) is one of my favorite places. This Glen Falls (and a host of other Sears Homes) is located there.

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To learn more about Sears kit homes, click here.

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

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Jim Walter Homes - Where’d They Go?

October 24th, 2010 Sears Homes 3 comments

In 1978, soon after my first husband and I were first married, we sat down and looked through a Jim Walter Homes catalog. The idea of building a kit home was hugely appealing to us. In the end, we decided to buy an existing home, but throughout the years, the idea of building our own sacred space held a special appeal.

In 1999, I was asked to write an article about the Sears Homes in Carlinville, Illinois. As a freelance writer scrambling to make a living, I gladly obliged. Once I laid eyes on those 156 Sears Homes in a 12-block area, I was completely and hopelessly in love. The 1000-word article that should have taken a few hours took a few weeks. The editor asked for “a couple photos” and I submitted 96 photos. This was back in the days of film, and those 96 photos represented FOUR ROLLS of film!

When that first article appeared, I was suddenly “the expert” on kit homes. I didn’t know that much about kit homes, but I did have a passion for the topic. I went looking for a book on the topic and found very little. “Houses by Mail” (a field guide to Sears Homes) was a fascinating book, but had very little textual history. And that’s how I came to write “The Houses That Sears Built.”

Within 90 days, my book was featured in The New York Times and then I was asked to appear on PBS’ History Detectives, A&E’s Biography, CBS Sunday Morning News and more. From there, it was off to the races.

And that’s the “back story” of how I came to be an expert on kit homes.

Now, I’m interested in learning more about Jim Walter Homes, based in Tampa, Florida. For the last six weeks, I’ve been tirelessly searching eBay for ephemera from this company but I’ve found nothing. If anyone has any ideas on how to get some info on Jim Walter Homes, please drop me a line! I’m also interested in finding pictures of existing Jim Walter Homes.

To contact me, please leave a comment below!

To read more about Sears Homes, click here.

Cover of the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Cover of the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog

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Pictured above is a Gordon Van Tine kit homes catalog from the late 30s/early 40s.

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Wardway Homes catalog, about 1931.

Aladdin Homes, about 1916

Aladdin Homes, 1917. I'm not sure, but I think that's the genie going back into the bottle, after building a house for his master. Love the post-apocalyptic orange sky!

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Paying Attention the Details: How to Identify Kit Homes

October 17th, 2010 Sears Homes No comments

When comparing a vintage catalog image to that cute little Neo-Tudor in your neighborhood, it’s very important to pay attention to details. Dale and I have been staring at old houses for many decades now, and one common problem we’ve discovered is this: It’s easy to overlook the subtle features that differentiate one house from the other.

We’re both inundated with emails from folks who are sure that they have a kit home, but when we examine their photos, we find houses that are not even close to the kit homes they’re purported to be. The Wardway Parkside was a fine Tudor Revival with two front gables, but not every Tudor Revival with two front gables is going to be a Wardway Parkside.

This Wardway Parkside (in Jackson, Michigan) is a nice example because it’s such a spot-on match to the original catalog image and it’s not been remodeled. Note how all the details are right: The window arrangement, the small decorative bricked arch over the front door, the height and proportion of those two gables and the flared flooples on that front gable.

When comparing suspected kit homes with original catalog pictures, details matter!

To read more about Wardway Homes, click here.

To buy the new book on Wardway Homes, click here.

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Parkside in Jackson, MI

Photo above is courtesy of Dale Patrick Wolicki.