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Sears Catalog House, or Something Like it (Part II)

July 27th, 2014 Sears Homes 6 comments

In my most recent blog, I talked about the fact that Hopewell’s “Collection of Sears Homes” (and I use that term loosely) was in the local news again.

At the end of that blog, I offered to help Hopewell sort through their historical chaff and find the wheat.

The fact is, at this point I’d be willing to donate my services (gratis), to help this small town (just outside of Richmond) get their Sears-home story straight. But I have a sneaking suspicion that this enticing offer may not be accepted.

A few years ago, I wrote a couple of letters and emails (yes, both) to some folks in Hopewell, making this same offer. I never heard a peep. Not a “Thanks, but no,” not a “we’re not interested,” or even a “Go to hell, Rosemary Thornton.”

Honestly, I would have preferred to hear something, rather than nothing.

In case anyone from Hopewell is reading this, I can tell you, I know a little something about Sears Homes. Here’s a short bio I use with the media:

Rose is the author of several books on early 20th Century kit homes. Rose and her work have been featured on PBS History Detectives, A&E’s Biography, CBS Sunday Morning News, MSNBC, NPR’s All Things Considered and BBC Radio. In print media, her story has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, L. A. Times, Dallas Morning News, Christian Science Monitor and more.

Sounds darn good, doesn’t it?

So what can I do to help Hopewell correct their boo-boos?

I don’t know.

In the meantime, below is the “re-do” of a blog that was a personal favorite of mine. The idea was the brainstorm of Rachel Shoemaker, who loves both music and kit homes, and found a delightful way to blend the two topics.

You can read Rachel’s wonderful blog here.

Here’s the ditty that will  help you learn more about correctly identifying houses.

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Ses

Here's a screen-shot of the Sesame Street ditty that tell us, "One of these things is not like the other." Its intent is to teach youngsters how to spot differences in similar items. Learning how to distinguish subtle differences in physical objects can be tough. Ever more so if you live in the small towns around Richmond (apparently).

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houses

Let's try it with houses now.

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One of the houses above is different from the others.

If you guessed the brick house with the metal casement windows, you’re right!

For some time, Hopewell was promoting a brochure (showcasing a driving tour of alleged kit homes in Crescent Hills neighborhood) that identified this brick house as a Sears Dover.

But oh noes!! That’s not a Sears Dover!

The other three houses (the three that look just alike) are the Sears Dover.

More recently, Hopewell has modified this statement and now claims that this brick house is a Sears Maplewood.

Let’s see how that works.

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Blue

Oh noes - AGAIN! One of these homes just doesn't belong! Which one is it? If you guessed the brick house, you're right! The other three homes are the Sears Maplewood.

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houses

There's also the fact that the Sears Maplewood and Dover were never ever offered with metal casement windows. There's also the fact that this house was probably built after WW2. But hey, why let something like "historical fact" get in the way of a good story!

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maple

Here's a Sears Maplewood (1930 catalog).

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house

If you really think that the brick house above looks like a Sears Dover, I highly recommend the Sesame Street "Not like the other" series. It's helped many a lost soul find their way through the thickets of misidentified kit homes.

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house

Meanwhile, in Hopewell, they have a cache of rare and unusual Aladdin Homes (like the one above) and what is being done to promote those houses? Nothing. Unbelievable.

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To learn more about how to distinguish differences in certain objects, click here.

Thanks to Rebecca Hunter for the use of her photograph above (the blue Maplewood). You can visit Rebecca’s website here.

Visit Rachel’s website here.

Read about the bonanza of kit homes we found in Richmond!

If you’re from Hopewell, and you’d like to take up Rose on her offer, please leave a comment below.

If you’re not from Hopewell and you THINK they should take up Rose on her offer, please leave a comment below.

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Sears Catalog House or Something Like It (Hopewell, VA)

July 25th, 2014 Sears Homes 4 comments

Last week, Hopewell was in the local news again, touting their Sears Homes. I’m not going to post a link to the article that appeared in the Richmond Times Dispatch, because it was rife with errors.

I’m somewhat incredulous that a paper as prestigious as the Richmond Times Dispatch didn’t do some fact-checking before publishing this story.

The recording and publishing of history is such a sacred trust, and writers have a solemn charge to get the facts right, before sending this information into perpetuity.

And there’s this: I’ve been sought out and interviewed by The Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, The New York Times, BBC Radio, All Things Considered (PBS)  and more. I’ve been featured on PBS History Detectives, CBS Sunday Morning News, A&E’s Biography, and MSNBC.

It’s disheartening to know that a newspaper so close to home ran this article without seeking me out for a quote, or even asking me to help with the fact checking (which I would have gladly done).

Hopewell and I have a history.

When I visited Hopewell in 2003 (to give a talk), I was shown a small brochure touting 44 Sears Homes in Crescent Hills.

As mentioned in several other blogs (click here), Hopewell is mighty mixed up about what is, and what is not a kit house.

Of those 44 purported “Sears Homes” in Crescent Hills, only eight are the real deal, and frankly, it may not be eight. Some of those eight could well be plan book homes.

On that “list of 44,” this house (see below) was featured.

To read more about Hopewell, click here.

Many thanks to Rachel Shoemaker who successfully identified this house!

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Nice House

The brochure promoting the Hopewell Sears Homes stated that this was a Sears "Newbury." Ooh, nice try and thanks for playing. We have some lovely parting gifts for you.

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Ruh

The Hopewell brochure states that it looks JUST LIKE a Newbury, except for the "sloping roof, full width dormer, extra windows and round columns." Good grief, if that's our criteria I could say that my dog Teddy looks like just like a Sears Magnolia.

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House

Except for the absence of a hip roof, full width windows, round columns and cypress wood, these two dwelling places are stunningly similar. You'll note that the subject on the right also does not have ears or fur, but both of these items could have easily been removed during an earlier remodeling.

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Newbury

Sears Newbury, from the 1936 catalog.

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compare

Wow, look at this! The house on the left is in Illinois and it actually LOOKS like a Newbury!

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compare

Ruh Roh. These don't look anything alike!

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Monticello

Thanks to Rachel Shoemaker, we now know that this house in Hopewell came from "Standard Homes Plans" (1923, 1928 and 1929). You may notice that THIS looks a lot like the house in Hopewell!

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Montie

In fact, "The Monticello" is on the cover of the catalog! What a beauty!

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Wow

And lookie here. It is a very fine match!

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Big and fancy

Did anyone from Hopewell ever go into this house and compare the interior layout? If so, I hope the homeowner gave their seeing-eye dog a tasty biscuit. The floor plan for the Monticello is radically different from the Sears Newbury (shown directly below). And the Monticello is 50% bigger. These details matter.

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What

The Newbury is a modest, simple house (1936 Sears Modern Homes catalog).

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If you dont love this house, theres something wrong with you!

According to the text in the ad, if you don't love the Monticello, there's something seriously wrong with you!

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It’d really be swell if Hopewell would invite me back to do a thorough and proper survey. I would be more than happy to get the facts right and help them create a new brochure.

In fact, I really wish they’d give it a go. It’s time to make this right.

To learn more about Hopewell, click here.

Want to learn how to identify kit homes? Click here.

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The Crescent: “For Folks Who Like a Touch of Individuality”

January 28th, 2013 Sears Homes 19 comments

The Crescent was a very popular kit house for Sears, and I’d venture to guess that it was one of their top ten most popular designs.

It was offered in two floorplans (Mama-sized and Papa-sized) and with an optional extra-high roof (Grandpapa sized).

Because of this, Crescents can be found in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes, the pitch of the porch roof was changed to be more proportionate to the primary roof. Today, this results in all manner of confusion about whether or not a Crescent is the real deal.

Below are several examples of Sears Crescents from all over the country.

House 1

Sears Crescent, as seen in the 1929 Modern Homes catalog.

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House 2

"Interior Views" of the Crescent (1929).

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kitchen 1929

Close-up of the Crescent's kitchen (1929).

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LR 1929

Nice looking living room, too!

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Bed

The bedrooms weren't' this big but why let details get in the way of a nice story?

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The Crescent was offered with two floorplans.

The Crescent was offered with two floorplans, C33258A (shown here).

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And this

And this C3259A (the larger floorplan). Note it has THREE columns on the front porch.

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Adding a dormer to the optional finished second floor would have created a lot more space.

Adding a couple dormers (on the front) to the optional "finished" second floor would have created a lot more space. The finished second floor was only offered with the smaller Crescent. But that does not mean that someone couldn't finish off the 2nd floor on their own!

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Glen Ellyn

Glen Ellyn (Illinois) has a Crescent with three dormer windows.

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Ypsilanti Andrew Mutch

This dormered Crescent is in Ypsilanti. Photo is copyright 2013 Andrew and Wendy Mutch and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Ypsilanti Andrew Mutch

In Ypsilanti, they like their Crescents with dormers! Photo is copyright 2013 Andrew and Wendy Mutch and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Godfrey

A sad little Crescent waits for death in Godfrey, IL. Again, note the unique angle of the porch roof. This has also been authenticated as a Sears Home.

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Raleigh

A picture-perfect Crescent in Raleigh. The dormers were original to the house.

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West Point

Some Crescents have very steep porch roofs and some have very shallow. This Crescent in West Point has been authenticated by Rose as the real deal.

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Atlanta Crescent

This Crescent look-a-like is in Atlanta. I suspect it is NOT a Crescent.

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Crescent Wheaton

A Sears Crescent in Wheaton, IL.

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Eastern Shore MD

Hubby and I found this Crescent on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

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Elmhurst IL

Is this a Sears Crescent? It's in Elmhurst IL.

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Crescent Elgin

This poor Crescent in Elgin, IL has had a hurting put on it. Rebecca Hunter has authenticated this house as a Sears Crescent.

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Elgin

It's been remodeled, but you can still see it's a Crescent. (Elgin, Illinois)

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Elgins also

This Crescent is also in Elgin, IL.

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Elgins also

Elgin Illinois has the largest known collection of Sears Homes in the country. They have a lot of Sears Crescents, too!

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Crystal Lake

Not surprisingly, the Chicago suburbs are full of Sears Homes. This one is in Crystal Lake.

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Champaign

Another beautiful Crescent. This one is in Champaign, IL.

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house Charlotte

I stalked this house for 30 solid minutes, but the young woman on the porch never did hang up the phone, so in desperation, I snapped a photo of the house, phone caller and all. This beauty is in Charlotte, NC.

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Chharlotte

A perfect Crescent in Charlotte, NC.

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Bloomginton

This Crescent also has the less-steep pitch on the porch roof, but it's most likely a Sears Crescent. Notice the medallion inside the front porch (on the wall).

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Bloomington

This photo was taken in 2003 (and it was scanned from an old slide) and it's in Bloomington, IL.

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Wood Riiver

Is this a Crescent? The pitch of the porch roof is much less than that of the traditional porch roof in other Crescents, but I'd be inclined to say it probably is a Crescent. This house is in Wood River, Illinois.

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Alton

This Crescent has a dramatically raised second floor. To compensate for the extra steep pitch of the roof, the porch roof was also raised a bit. This beauty is in Alton, Illinois.

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Ypsilanti

Yet another dormered Crescent is in Ypsilanti. Photo is copyright 2013 Andrew and Wendy Mutch and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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And one of my favorites: A beautiul and well-loved Crescent in Webster Groves, MO (near St. Louis).

A beautiful and well-loved Crescent in Webster Groves, MO (near St. Louis). Again, look at the variation on the pitch of that porch roof, and yet this is an authenticated Sears Home.

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house Wilmette, IL Rebecca

Now this house has some dormers! It's in Illinois, and was discovered by Rebecca Hunter. Photo is copyright 2013 Rebecca Hunter and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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The Crescent was a perennial favorite aand was offered from 1919 to 1933.

The Crescent was a perennial favorite and was offered from 1919 to 1933. It's shown here in the 1933 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

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

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“One of These Things is Not Like the Other…” (Part III)

September 1st, 2012 Sears Homes 2 comments

As the song goes, “One of these things doesn’t belong.”

In Hopewell, they’re really struggling with this concept as it applies to Sears Homes.

Here we go.

Learning how to distinguish subtle differences in physical objects can be tough.

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Lets try it with houses now.

Let's try it with houses now.

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One of the houses above is different from the others.

If you guessed the brick house wth the metal casement windows, you’re right!

In 2003, Hopewell was promoting a brochure (showcasing a driving tour of alleged kit homes in Crescent Hills neighborhood) that identified this brick house as a Sears Dover.

Whoopsie! That’s not a Sears Dover!

The other three houses (that look just alike) are the Sears Dover.

More recently, Hopewell has modified this statement and now claims that this brick house is a Sears Maplewood.

Let’s see how that works.

Ruh-roh!

Ruh-roh! One of these homes just doesn't belong! Which one is it? If you guessed the brick house, you're right! The other three homes are the Sears Maplewood.

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Heres the lovely brick NON-SEARS HOUSE in Hopewell.

Here's a better view of the lovely NON-SEARS HOUSE in Hopewell.

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And heres a Sears Maplewood (1930).

And here's a Sears Maplewood (1930).

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Do these houses look anything alike to you?

Well, they both have windows! And a roof! And  a door!

But that’s about it.

You know

I don't know who's promoting this false info on these non-Sears Homes in Hopewell, but perhaps they need to give a little thought to this "not like the others" concept. I highly recommend these Sesame Street videos for people who think that the house in Hopewell looks like a Sears Dover or Sears Maplewood.

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To learn more about how to distinguish differences in certain objects, click here.

Thanks to Rebecca Hunter for the use of her photograph above (the blue Maplewood). You can visit Rebecca’s website here.

I’ve written a great deal about Hopewell.

Read Part I here.

Part II is here.

And if you want to read about the eight real Sears Homes in Crescent Hills, click here.

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The Sears Houses That Pat Found (in Ohio)!

February 27th, 2012 Sears Homes 7 comments

Two years ago, when my last computer burped twice and fell over dead, I recovered 35,000 photos from the hard drive. That was two years ago. Since then, I’ve added many more photos, and I’ve received (via email) several hundred photos. Sometimes, it takes me a while to get those photos organized and posted here at the website.

Pat of Ohio sent me these wonderful photos of kit homes in Ohio almost a year ago. They’re wonderful pictures, but even better than the pictures is the note she sent along.

Without your books, we would never have found such excitement and joy! Every time we spot another kit house, whether it be a Sears or an Aladdin, we get so excited! Of course, if my son is with us he just cringes when he sees the camera come out, because he knows many photos will be taken and his trip home will be delayed!

He now has a standard question before we leave the house: “Are you guys going to be looking at more houses? Because if you are, I’m staying here. You guys are obsessed!”

Below are a few of the kit homes that Pat found in Ohio.

First, the catalog page. Heres the Sears Windsor, also known as the Sears Carlin, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

Here's the Sears Windsor, also known as the Sears Carlin (1919 catalog).

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Sears Windsor in Willoughby, Ohio. Photo is copyright 2011 Pat Burton and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

Sears Windsor in Willoughby, Ohio. Photo is copyright 2011 Pat Burton and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Sears Kilborn, from the 1928 catalog.

Sears Kilbourne, from the 1928 catalog.

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Sears Kilborn, also in Willoughby Hills, Ohio.

Sears Kilborn, also in Willoughby Hills, Ohio. Photo is copyright 2011 Pat Burton and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Sears Americus, from the 1928 catalog.

Sears Americus, from the 1928 catalog.

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Sears Americus in Willoughby, Ohio.

Sears Americus in Willoughby, Ohio. Photo is copyright 2011 Pat Burton and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Sears Conway, from 1921.

Sears Conway, from 1921.

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Heres a darling Conway tucked behind the trees in Mayfield Heights, Ohio.

Here's a darling Conway tucked behind the trees in Mayfield Heights, Ohio. Photo is copyright 2011 Pat Burton and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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One of my favorites, the Dover, from 1928.

One of my favorites, the Dover, from 1928.

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And here it is in Mentor, Ohio.

And here it is in Mentor, Ohio. Still has its original batten shutters! Photo is copyright 2011 Pat Burton and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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The Sears Rodessa, from the 1928 catalog.

The Sears Rodessa, from the 1928 catalog.

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The Sears Rodessa in Mayfield Heights, Ohios.

The Sears Rodessa in Mayfield Heights, Ohio. Photo is copyright 2011 Pat Burton and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Sears Westly, as seen in the 1916 catalog.

Sears Westly, as seen in the 1916 catalog.

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Apparently, Mentor Ohio has many Sears Homes, such as this Westly. And so many of these homes have their original siding! entor Ohio.

Apparently, Mentor Ohio has many Sears Homes, such as this Westly. And so many of these homes have their original siding and railings. This is a real beauty. Photo is copyright 2011 Pat Burton and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Another favorite of mine, The Willard, a classic neo-tudor (1928 catalog).

Another favorite of mine, The Willard, a classic neo-tudor (1928 catalog).

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Altered, but still identifiable.

Altered, but still identifiable. One of the classic features of the Willard are those three windows on the left (in this photo). This house is in Lyndhurst, Ohio. Photo is copyright 2011 Pat Burton and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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The Sears Barrington was also a popular house (1928 catalog).

The Sears Barrington was also a popular house (1928 catalog).

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And this sweet thing is in Willoughby.

And this sweet thing is in Willoughby. Photo is copyright 2011 Pat Burton and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Pat also found a house by Harris Brothers (a competitor of Sears). The J-181 was a very popular house for Harris Brothers.

Pat also found a house by Harris Brothers (a competitor of Sears). The J-181 was a very popular house for Harris Brothers.

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And heres the J-181 in Hudson, Ohio.

And here's the J-181 in Hudson, Ohio. Photo is copyright 2011 Pat Burton and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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To keep reading about Sears Homes, click here.

To learn how to identify kit homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s books, click here.

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