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Posts Tagged ‘Crewe’

The Sears Homes of Beautiful Roanoke, Virginia

April 15th, 2012 Sears Homes 4 comments

In the 1960s, my family would make the long trek from Portsmouth (Virginia) to Douthat State Park for our once-a-year vacation.

Ever since I first laid eyes on Douthat (in Clifton Forge) and the Blue Ridge Mountain area, I have been head-over-heels in love. In 1994, my husband and I decided to move to the Lynchburg/Roanoke area, but you know what they say about the “best-laid plans of men.”

We overshot the mountains and ended up living in St. Louis for 12 years. (Long story.) In 2006, I moved back to Hampton Roads and that’s been my home since then.

One day, I will get to the mountains. One day.

In the meantime, I’ll simply admire the mountains “from afar.”

Below are several kit homes that I’ve found in Roanoke (with a lot of help from my dear friend Dale Wolicki).

What were kit homes? These were 12,000-piece kits, sold out of the Sears Roebuck catalog in the early 1900s. Sears promised that “a man of average abilities” could have one of these kits built in 90 days.

Click here to learn more about Sears Homes.

Click here to buy Rose’s latest book on Sears Homes.

A picture of my brother Tom Fuller at Douthat in 1960.

A picture of my brother (Tom Fuller) at Douthat (Clifton Forge) in 1960.

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First, one of my favorite houses in Roanoke: The Sears Alhambra!

First, one of my favorite houses in Roanoke: The Sears Alhambra!

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And here it is, in all its shining splendor: The Sears Alhambra

And here it is, in all its shining splendor: The Sears Alhambra. I wonder if the owners know that they have a Sears House? And this one is in wonderful condition!

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Another beautiful Sears House is the Americus.

Another beautiful Sears House is the Americus.

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And its right there in Roanoke! What a sweet-looking Americus!

And it's right there in Roanoke! What a sweet-looking Americus!

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The Sears Fullerton was another big and beautiful house.

The Sears Fullerton was another big and beautiful house.

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This Fullerton (on Rugby Avenue) had a porte cochere added.

This Fullerton (on Rugby Avenue) had a porte cochere added.

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In addition to Sears, Roanoke has kit homes from several other national kit home companies, such as Montgomery Ward, Harris Brothers, Sterling and Aladdin. Heres a picture of the Aladdin Sheffield as seen in the 1919 catalog.

In addition to Sears, Roanoke has kit homes from several other national kit home companies, such as Montgomery Ward, Harris Brothers, Sterling and Aladdin. Here's a picture of the Aladdin Sheffield as seen in the 1919 catalog.

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This beautiful Sheridan (offered by Aladdin Kit Homes of Bay City, MI) is on Berkley Street in Roanoke.

This beautiful Sheridan (offered by Aladdin Kit Homes of Bay City, MI) is on Berkley Street in Roanoke. Notice the oversized dormers and the bumped-out vestibule.

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The Marsden was another very popular house for Aladdin.

The Marsden was another very popular house for Aladdin.

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nice

Unfortunately, between the landscaping and the truck, it's tough to see, but there's no doubt that that's an Aladdin Marsden hidden away back there.

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And from the front.

And from the front.

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The Inverness was a very rare house, and Ive never seen one anywhere - but in Roanoke.

The Inverness (offered by Aladdin) was a very rare house, and I've never seen one anywhere - but in Roanoke. Notice the many angles on the roofline!

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Is this an Inverness? If so, its been supersized.

Is this an Inverness? If so, it's been supersized. It certainly is a good match.

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The Aladdin Detroit, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

The Aladdin Detroit, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

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And heres a near-perfect match!

An Aladdin Detroit - in brick!

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The Aladdin Florence was a hugely popular house for Aladdin.

The Aladdin Florence was a hugely popular house for Aladdin.

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This Aladdin Florence on Hunt Avenue

This Aladdin Florence on Hunt Avenue is a good match to the original catalog picture.

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As mentioned above, in addition to kit homes from Aladdin, Roanoke also has kit homes from Montgomery Ward.

As mentioned above, in addition to kit homes from Aladdin, Roanoke also has kit homes from Montgomery Ward.

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Heres a sweet little Mayflower in Roanoke.

A Mayflower in Roanoke. This photo was taken four years ago, so this house may have changed a bit since then. Looks a little rough around the edges here.

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In addition to Sears, Aladdin and Montgomery Ward, Roanoke also has houses sold by Sterling Homes (Bay City, MI). Pictured is the Sterling Rembrandt, from the early 1920s catalog.

In addition to Sears, Aladdin and Montgomery Ward, Roanoke also has houses sold by Sterling Homes (Bay City, MI). Pictured is the Sterling Rembrandt, from the early 1920s catalog.

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A sweet Dutch Colonial: The Sterling Rembrandt!

A sweet Dutch Colonial: The Sterling Rembrandt!

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

Want to learn more about Wardway Homes? Click here!

To read about the Sears Homes in Clifton Forge, click here.

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Choo-choos in Crewe, and Sears Homes Too!

May 18th, 2011 Sears Homes 1 comment

In the late 1800s, the repair shops for Norfolk and Western’s steam locomotives were based in Crewe, Virginia. In the mid 20th Century, railroads abandoned steam (and their repair shops) and turned to diesel-electric locomotives.  One of the legacies left behind from Crewe’s former glory as a railroad town is a delightful train museum and a few kit homes, from Sears (Chicago) and Aladdin (Bay City, MI).

In late Spring 2011, I traveled through Crewe on my way home from Lynchburg, and found these delightful kit homes.

Enjoy the photos, and as always - please share the link with your real friends and your virtual friends, too!  :)

To read another amazing blog about Crewe, click here.

edison

Aladdin was actually another kit home company that (like Sears) sold their houses through a mail-order catalog. Aladdin started selling their kit homes in 1906, two years before Sears (1908). In Virginia, I've found many more Aladdins than Sears homes, probably because Aladdin had a large mill in Wilmington, NC.

Edison

Aladdin Edison on Route 460 in Crewe.

Aladdin Plaza

Aladdin Plaza from the 1919 catalog.

Aladdin Plaza

Aladdin Plaza in brick.

The Lynnhaven is one of my favorite Sears Homes, because it’s both stylish and practical, and it was one of Sears best selling models.  This house was offered from the late 1920s to the end, when Sears offered their last catalog in 1940.

Railroad towns and kit homes go together naturally, just like carrots and peas. These kit homes would arrive in a boxcar, in 12,000 pieces. Each kit came with a 75-page instruction book and a promise that a man of average abilities could have the house assembled and ready for occupancy in a mere 90 days. In fact, most people needed a little more time than that.

Sears offered about 370 designs of their kit homes, and during their 32 years in the kit home business, Sears sold about 70,000 houses.

Aladdin was a larger company, selling more than 75,000 homes, and they were in business from 1906-1981.

Lynnhaven

Lynnhaven from the 1936 Sears catalog.

Lynnhaven

Lynnhaven in Crewe.

Sears Wexford from the 1936 catalog

Sears Wexford from the 1936 catalog. It was also known as the Bridgeport, but this little home's best chums call it "Wexxie."

Wexxie

This little house is not a spot on match to "Wexxie" but it's distinctive enough that I'd be willing to bet 50 cents it is indeed the real deal.

My favorite find in Crewe was the Sears Lucerne. This is the only Lucerne that I have seen in my many travels, and the one in Crewe is just a spot-on match to the original catalog image! And look at the price!  This darling little house could be yours for $867.

From the 1916 Sears Modern Homes catalog

From the 1916 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Lucerne in Crewe, Virginia

Lucerne in Crewe, Virginia

This view shows that little funny staircase window on the left side. See floorplan for details.

This view shows that little funny staircase window on the left side. See floorplan for details.

Comparison of the two houses

Comparison of the two houses

One of the trains on display at the train museum in Crewe.

One of the trains on display at the train museum in Crewe.

Another view of the choo choo at Crewe-Crewe.

Another view of the choo choo at Crewe-Crewe.

More train coolness at Crewe

More train coolness at Crewe

The little train museum in Crewe is a delight, and well worth your time. It’s staffed by devoted volunteers and it’s a lovely way to spend some time. As a hard-core train buff, I loved the hands-on displays and being able to soak in the happy ambiance of the old Norfolk and Western steam engine (pictured above).

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy one of Rose’s splendiferous books, click here.

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The Best Thing That Happened Today…

March 19th, 2011 Sears Homes 2 comments

The best thing that happened today was seeing a little Sears House that I’d never seen before. After traveling to about 500 towns and seeing thousands of Sears Homes, this is becoming an increasingly rare event! This afternoon in Crewe, Virginia (off Route 460, about an hour from Lynchburg), I saw this Sears Lucerne.

It’s a real cute house, and a perfect match to the original catalog image.

Crewe, Virginia is a big railroad town, and I found many kit homes within the city limits. (More on that in a subsequent blog.) The town also has a very cool train museum, with many interesting items on display, such as an old coal-fired steam locomotive and a more modern diesel electric locomotive. But my favorite find was this little $867 Sears House!

To read another blog about the abundance of Sears Homes in Crewe, click here.

From the 1916 Sears Modern Homes catalog

From the 1916 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Lucerne in Crewe, Virginia

Lucerne in Crewe, Virginia

This view shows that little funny staircase window on the left side. See floorplan for details.

This view shows that little funny staircase window on the left side. See floorplan for details.

Comparison of the two houses

Comparison of the two houses

One of the trains on display at the train museum in Crewe.

One of the trains on display at the train museum in Crewe.

Another view of the choo choo at Crewe-Crewe.

Another view of the choo choo at Crewe-Crewe.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy one of Rose’s splendiferous books, click here.

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