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Posts Tagged ‘elkins’

All Things Considered…

February 19th, 2014 Sears Homes 1 comment

Monday evening, a 50-second snippet of my interview with NPR radio host Jon Kalish, was featured on NPR’s program, All Things Considered.

I haven’t had the nerve to listen to it yet, but I’m told that the program was well done.

If you’d like to listen to it online, you can click here.

This must be a very popular program, because my website traffic has doubled in the last three days.

Train

All things considered, this is one of my favorite train photos! I love this picture because it looks like a photo of a model train set, but in fact, it's all life size! :D This excursion train is in Elkins, WV.

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To read about Sears Houses, click here.

To learn more about Aunt Addie, click here.

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Be Still My Heart: The Eighth Magnolia?

June 29th, 2013 Sears Homes 6 comments

Updated!! See detailed photos here!!

A few moments ago, my sleepy husband stuck his head into the room and said, “It’s 3:11  in the morning. Why are you still up?”

“Well, I think we’ve found our eighth Magnolia,” I replied.

“Oh,” he said quietly, as he toddled back to the bedroom.

No additional information was needed.

Every month, I get a handful of emails from people who are 100% certain that they’ve found the crème de la crème of all kit homes: The Sears Magnolia.

And 98% of the time, they’re wrong.

Sears sold kit homes from 1908-1940, and in that 32-year span, they offered 370 designs. Of those 370 designs, the Magnolia was the fairest of them all (and the biggest and the most expensive).

In 1918 (the year the Magnolia first appeared), 90 designs were offered, and only 13 of those homes cost more than $2,000. Not counting the Magnolia, the most expensive house in that catalog was the Preston, at $2,812.

The other 76 models offered in 1918 were under $2,000, and the overwhelming majority of those were less than $1,200.

The price tag for the Magnolia was $4,485.

Most of the Sears Homes in that 1918 catalog had less than 1,000 square feet, and the Magnolia had almost 3,000 square feet.

For years and years, it was widely believed that only six Magnolias had been built in the country, and yet their locations were not known. In time, those six Magnolias were discovered in Benson, North Carolina, South Bend, Indiana, Irwin, Pennsylvania, Canton, Ohio and a fifth in Piedmont, Alabama. A sixth had been destroyed by fire in Nebraska. (Of those six Magnolias, the house in Benson was the “newest” discovery, found in March 2010.)

And that was that.

Six Magnolias. All accounted for.

Five alive.

One dead (and cremated).

And then in May 2011 (thanks to this blog), someone  contacted me and said that there was a Sears Magnolia in Syracuse, NY.

I didn’t pay too much attention, because frankly, I’d heard it before, but fortunately, a friend and faithful reader (Heather Lukaszewski) did pay attention and she did a little research. She wrote me a nice note and said, “I think this may be the real deal.”

And that’s how we found the 7th Magnolia. The discovery made the local papers, and it was all pretty exciting. Click here to read the article from May 2011.

All of which brings me to this newest discovery of an 8th Magnolia!

Friday evening, someone contacted me and said that he lived in a house that was across the street from a Sears Magnolia. We exchanged several emails and I started to get pretty interested in this story. It had a lot more background and depth than the typical “There’s a Magnolia just down the street” stories.

Thanks to a lot of help from Rachel Shoemaker and Mark Hardin, we were able to see the house via Bing Maps, and I have to say, I think we’ve got a winner.

In fact, I’d be willing to say that I’m 90% certain that we’ve found our 8th Magnolia.

And the best part of all?

It’s in West Virginia.

I love West Virgina and I’m headed to Elkins in six weeks (with the aforementioned hubby) to visit family.

I’d sure love to stop by this sweet old kit house and check it out in person. Boy oh boy, would I love to see this fine house in the flesh.

Wow.

Just wow.

To read more about the Sears Magnolia, click here.

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Magnolia 1918

The Magnolia was featured on the cover of the 1918 Sears Modern Homes catalog, and yet, those leaves in the border are not Magnolia leaves. What a fraud!

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1918  1918

Close-up of the Magnolia (1918)

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house house

The Magnolia was first offered in the 1918 Modern Homes catalog (shown above). In 1919, the Magnolia hit its highest price: $10,000, more than double its price in 1918.

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1921

In 1921, the price of the Sears Magnolia dropped to $6,489 and one year later, it would drop to $5,849. Following WW1, prices of building materials fluctated dramatically.

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Magnolia Benson

In March 2011, a reader told me that there was a Sears Magnolia in Benson, NC.

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Janets house

The Sears Magnolia in Canton, Ohio was almost lost due to neglect but was lovingly restored in the 1990s. Photo is copyright 2012 Janet's Hess LaMonica and may not be reproduced without written permission.

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Syracue

Our 7th Magnolia, in Syracuse! And what a fine-looking kit house it is! (Photo is courtesy of Mariel Proulx and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Magnolia columns

Close-up of the columns on the Sears Magnolia in Piedmont, Alabama.

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To learn more about the Sears Magnolias among us, click here.

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To contact Rose, please leave a comment below!

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SAVE the Westly in Lewisburg, WV!

March 3rd, 2013 Sears Homes 5 comments

When Back to the Future” first came out (1985), I was a lass of 26, and yet my sympathies readily fell to the Clock Tower Lady (Elsa Raven) and the Hill Valley Preservation Society.

Heck yeah, they needed to save that Clock Tower in Hill Valley! It was an integral part of the community and its history and culture.

And now, a historic preservation group in my much-loved state of West Virginia is trying to save a Sears kit home that I identified during a visit to their town in Fall of 2010, and heck yeah, they need to save that Westly.

The endangered house is in Lewisburg, WV.

The Sears Westly was first offered in the very rare 1909 Sears Modern Homes catalog, and by 1914, this model had undergone a significant “face lift” and the new Westly looked quite a bit different from the old Westly.

According to the folks at PAWV, the Westly in Lewisburg was built about 1924 or 1925. Perhaps at some date in the not-too-distant future, I’ll have the opportunity to see the inside of this fine old house and perhaps learn a bit more about this piece of architectural history.

Unfortunately, thus far, I’ve not had good success in saving kit homes in college towns. Last year, I blogged continually about another rare kit home (in Bowling Green, OH), threatened with extinction. Seems like all my blogging accomplished was to get that house torn down AHEAD of schedule. However, that house was on the college campus, and colleges are notorious bungalow-eaters.

Hopefully, the Westly in Lewisburg will be spared that fate. As I understand it, this house is not on a college campus, but is currently used as a West Virginia University Extension Office. It is not threatened with immediate demolition, but is dying a slow, ugly death due to neglect.

Please visit this website to learn more about what you can do to save the house in Lewisburg.

Click here to learn more about the kit homes in Lewisburg.

And a PS to the folks at Preservation Alliance of West Virginia: If it would help your cause, I’d gladly come out and give a talk on your kit home(s) gratis. Please contact me by leaving a comment below.

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The Sears Westly was first offered in the very rare 1909 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

The Sears Westly was first offered in the very rare 1909 Sears Modern Homes catalog. It was then known merely as Modern Home #144. Note the floorplan, which is a little different from the Westly that was offered in 1915 and beyond.

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The floorplan shows a vestibule, which is certainly an eye-catching feature.

The first-floor floorplan shows a vestibule, which is certainly an eye-catching feature.

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And

And the second floor is a bit different from the later model Westly, too.

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Close-up of the house.

Close-up of the house.

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And heres the Westly in Lewisburg!

And here's the Westly in Lewisburg! See that Vestibule!

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Close-up on the details of the old Westly.

Close-up on the details of the old Westly.

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Pretty

The details on the Westly in Lewisburg are a little different from the image above. That could be for several reasons. For instance, the front porch has columns that were offered on a later-model Westly. This house seems to have elements of both the old and newer Westly. According to PAWV, this house was built in the mid-1920s.

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Heres a Westly as seen in the 1919 catalog.

Here's a Westly as seen in the 1919 catalog.

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And a real life example in Portsmouth, VA.

And a real life example in Portsmouth, VA. Notice how the porch columns look more like the Westly in Lewisburg. This house also has the windows as seen in the 1909 catalog.

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Another view of the house in Lewisburg.

Another view of the house in Lewisburg.

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Please visit this website to learn more about what you can do to save the house in Lewisburg.

Click here to learn more about the kit homes in Lewisburg.

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The 2012 Toyota Camry: Luxury Plus 46 MPG!

December 6th, 2012 Sears Homes 8 comments

More than seven months ago, I purchased my third Camry and my sixth Toyota. Seven months later, I still think this 2012 Camry Hybrid is not only one of the prettiest cars on the road, but also one of the most comfortable.

After 9,400 miles, I can report that in real world conditions, it averages 42-46 miles per gallon.

That’s nothing short of amazing.

This summer, we took a trip to the hills of West Virginia and on that trip, the Camry averaged 46 mpg. For those unfamiliar with the backroads of West Virginia, let me tell you, you’re either climbing straight up a hill or standing on the brakes as you come flying down the other side.

Both hubby and I were blown away by the 46 mpg average.

I’ve been fascinated by the Toyota Prius since its introduction to the American markets in 2001. When I purchased my last Camry in 2003 (Salsa Red Pearl LE), I was torn between the Camry and the Prius.

After much weeping and gnashing of teeth, I opted for the Camry. It was a proven car with an incredible track record. As a freshly divorced woman, I opted for “proven, reliable and staid” over “new, fancy and sleek.”

And yet, as the years rolled by, I paid close attention to the Prius. The hybrid technology was quickly evolving and it was clearly the wave of the future. Each year, the Prius had more features, better technology and improved gas mileage.

And then in 2007, Toyota introduced the Camry Hybrid.

In February 2011, I was on my way to visit a purported Sears Magnolia near Gaffney, South Carolina, traveling merrily along in my shiny 2003 Camry.  As I approached the South Carolina border, the “check engine” light blinked on, and I could smell gas.

I glanced down at the odometer, which read 152,300 miles and had a sinking realization. I was driving an old car.

I made it home without incident, and took the car in for repairs. Total cost: $1,300.

For the next few long trips, we rented a car. That was a lot of hassle.

I’m a car person. I love cars. In the 1970s, I took two years of auto tech at a vocational school in Portsmouth. There’s nothing about cars that isn’t fascinating.

In April, we rented a 2012 Prius for a weekend trip. I was in love. The Prius was a fun car, full of gadgetry and pie charts and diagrams and all manner of displays. And we averaged more than 50 mpg on the trip.

The next weekend, we went car shopping. The Prius had been a delight to drive, but I didn’t like the front seats. Plus, the Prius hatchback had a harsh ride. I loved the technology but my aching back needed something more comfortable. After more research, I opted for the 2012 Camry Hybrid XLE.

In 2012, the Camry was redesigned and re-engineered. The 2012 model gets eight more miles from a gallon of gas than the prior year’s model. My car is rated at 41 (combined city/highway), but I’ve averaged 42-44 mpg in the city.

The 2012 Camry boasts 200 hp (up 13 hp from 2011). The ICE produces 156 horsies, and the electric motor kicks in about 40 horsepower. The battery pack (34 nickel-metal hydride modules) eats up a bit of trunk space, and yet the 2012 still has 13.1 cubic feet of suitcase space (2.5 cubic feet more than the 2011).

Under hard acceleration, you could really feel the shift points of those four gears in the 2003. In the new Camry, there are no shift points. The continuously variable transmission is an engineering marvel, picking up energy from two different sources (gasoline and electric) and transmitting into smooth forward motion of the front wheels.

It is, as promised a “smoother driving experience.”

And best of all, the CVT provides both faster acceleration and better fuel economy. The 2012 Camry Hybrid does 0-60 in 7.6 seconds. The V6 Camry (3.0 liter) only beats that by about one half of one second. In exchange for that half second, I get about 15 more miles out of each gallon of gas (compared to the V6).

The car really shines in the short jaunts around town. Driving through residential streets in Hampton Roads and looking for kit homes, I can hit 55+ miles per gallon. That, together with a 17-gallon tank means that you can drive 935 miles between fill-ups (as long as you don’t go more than 30 miles per hour).

When I’m out hunting for kit homes, tooling up and down tree-lined residential streets in early 20th Century neighborhoods, I drive about 15 miles per hour. The Camry Hybrid loves that speed.

Toyota has created the perfect car for house hunting: The 2012 Camry Hybrid.

Maybe they should change their jingle to, “Toyota; I love what you do for history.”

Kit home history, that is.

Ready to buy one of your own? Click here.

On March 31, 2003, I purchased this sweet ride, a 2003 Camry LE. When I traded it in recently, there were 170,000 miles on the odometer. I hope to see it on the road some day. It wont be hard to recognize. Those are 2004 premium Camry alloy wheels, and it also has four mud flaps. Little Camry, where did you end up?  :)

On March 31, 2003, I purchased this sweet ride, a 2003 Camry LE in Salsa Red Pearl. When I traded it in recently, there were 170,000 miles on the odometer. Most of those miles were happy miles, tooling all over the country, looking at kit homes and hawking my books. I hope to find the old Camry on the road some day. It won't be hard to recognize. Those fine-looking alloy wheels are 2004 premium Camry wheels. Rather anachronistic, but sharp looking!! Little Camry, where did you end up? :)

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The 2012 Camry is not only a high-mileage wonder, but a genuinely beautiful car. And fun to drive, too.

The 2012 Camry is not only a high-mileage wonder, but a genuinely beautiful car. And fun to drive, too. Average fuel mileage has been 42-46 mpg (and I don't move slowly).

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Beuty

I prefer "colors," but this metallic gray is dazzling in the sunlight.

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Consumer Reports (Magazine) estimates that in another 10 years, well all be driving hybrids. Its an amazing techonology whose time has come.

Consumer Reports (Magazine) estimates that in another 10 years, we'll all be driving hybrids. It's an amazing technology whose time has come.

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The blue badge differentiates the hybrid Camry from the non-hybrid Camry. Nice touch.

The blue badge on the front and rear differentiates the hybrid Camry from the non-hybrid . It's a nice feature, but no one can look at it without reaching out and touching it.

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The charts and diagrams are a source of endless entertainment.

The charts and diagrams are a source of endless entertainment.

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My husband recently purchased a truck from Checkered Flag. We had the original seats ripped out and replaced with leather and with HEAT. Were both in love with our heated leather seats. I suspect that all chairs in heaven have heated seats. :)

My husband recently purchased a truck from Checkered Flag. We had the original seats ripped out and replaced with leather and with HEAT. We're both in love with our heated leather seats. I suspect that all chairs in heaven have heated seats. :)

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A back-up camera lets you see what youre getting ready to plow down.

A back-up camera lets you see what you're getting ready to plow down.

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Its a snazzy car!

It's a snazzy car! And it came from Checkered Flag Toyota in Virginia Beach.

To place an order for your own sweet ride, click here.

Oh, are you here to read about Sears Homes? Click here.

To learn about kit homes from Montgomery Ward, 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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Ersela

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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Ersela

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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COmfy

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

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homey porch

"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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tornade

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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house

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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second

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

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house

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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Elkins Vintage Trains: Picture Perfect!

September 25th, 2012 Sears Homes 2 comments

To their credit, Elkins has done a first rate job of restoring their early 20th Century train depot in the downtown area.

And I surely do hope that some day soon I can return to Elkins and be one of the lucky souls that enjoys one of the excursion rides offered on vintage passenger cars.

:)

This train does excursion rides down to Cheat River Junction and Durbin.

This train does excursion rides down to Cheat River Junction and Durbin (West Virginia).

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Heres a picture of the Western Maryland Depot.

Here's a picture of the restored Western Maryland depot in Elkins, WV. The view is so perfect it looks like something from a model train set - but it's the real deal in Elkins, WV.

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Beautify Your Premises with a Sears Kit Pergola!

June 26th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

For a mere $83.70, you can beautify your premises with this graceful, imposing pergola. The text (see below) promises that everything is pre-cut and “ready to put together!”

This image came from the 1921 Sears Building Materials catalog, and I just fell in love with it. I’ve seen a few pergolas like this - randomly placed in a back yard - and they’re all stunning.

And it’s an easy-to-build kit!

Awesome. Just awesome.

My own pergola (built by my nice-guy husband) is shown below.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

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Pergola as shown in the 1921 Building Materials catalog.

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It is indeed a thing of beauty! (1921 Sears Building Materials catalog)

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And it only weighs 1,200 pounds!

And I saved the best for last: The Perfect Pergola

The pergola built by Wayne Ringer is a thing of beauty!

To read another article, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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Of Houses and Hubbies

June 13th, 2011 Sears Homes 4 comments

I love Elkins, WV. It’s a beautiful place and a lovely city. And I love the people of Elkins, too. Especially this guy (pictured below), sitting on the rock.

His name is Wayne Ringer and he’s from Elkins, West Virginia.

He graduated from Davis and Elkins College in 1977, and Washington and Lee (School of Law) in 1980. Last summer, we drove from Norfolk to Elkins to attend his cousin’s 30th Wedding Anniversary party (part of the Skidmore clan). It was a happy, happy time. Surprisingly, I found quite a few Sears Homes. (Story continues below photo of cutie-pie husband)

Darling Hubby Wayne from Elkins

Darling Hubby Wayne from Elkins, poised atop a rock in the Cheat River

What is a Sears Home? These were true kits sold out of the Sears Roebuck catalog. The houses were shipped via rail and contained 30,000 pieces of house. Each kit came with a 75-page instruction manual and a promise that a “man of average abilities” could have one assembled and ready for occupancy in about 90 days. Today, there are about 70,000 Sears kit homes in America. Incredibly, about 90% of the people living in these homes don’t realize what they have! The purpose of this website is to help people learn more about this fascinating piece of America’s history.

Here are a few of the houses I found within the city limits of Elkins, West Virginia.

The Sears Lynnhaven was one of Sears most popular kit homes.

The Sears Lynnhaven was one of Sears' most popular kit homes.

Sears Lynnhaven in Elkins, hidden behind a few trees.

Sears Lynnhaven in Elkins, hidden behind a few trees.

Sears Matoka, another popular Sears Homes

Sears Matoka, another popular Sears Homes

Sears Home or Wardway Home? Hard to know for sure. This house was offered (in identical floorplans) by both Sears and Mongtomery Wards. One things for sure: Its a beautiful old kit house!

Sears Home or Wardway Home? Hard to know for sure. This house was offered (in identical floorplans) by both Sears and Mongtomery Wards. One thing's for sure: It's a beautiful old kit house. It's in South Elkins.

Sears Hazleton high atop the hillside in Elkins

Sears Hazleton from the 1919 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Unfortunately, I had to photograph this house from the opposite side shown in the catalog image, but this bungalow (high atop a hill in Elkins, WV) is unmistakeably a Sears Hazleton. Looking at the house from the right side, you can see that unusual bay window with six windows (four large, one small).

Unfortunately, I had to photograph this house from the opposite side shown in the catalog image, but this bungalow (high atop a hill in Elkins, WV) is unmistakeably a Sears Hazleton. If you looked at this house from the right side, you'd see that unusual bay window with six windows (four large, two small) on that left side. It's located in Wees Historic District.

Sears Cornell from the 1923 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Cornell from the 1923 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Cornell

Sears Cornell. Although this looks like just another foursquare, this Cornell has a goofy floorplan, with a tiny bathroom (and tiny window) on its left side. When you look on the home's left side, you'll see that the oddly-placed bathroom window is right where it should be. THe Cornell was a very popular house for Sears, and I'm confident that this house is a Sears Cornell.

Sears Marion/Lakecrest from the 1936 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Marion/Lakecrest from the 1936 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Is this a Sears Marion? Id say it is. Its a good match on all sides and has a raised roof in the back, which was probably added in later years.

Is this a Sears Marion? I'd say it is. It's a good match on all sides and all the windows are in their right place. One eye-catching feature is the swoop of the bellcast roof on the front of the house. The raised roof in the back was obviously added in later years.

Sears Glendale from the 1919 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Glendale from the 1919 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Glendale in Elkins, WV

Is this a Sears Glendale? It looks like it. However, it is not a spot-on match.

And there’s even a Lustron Prefabricated post-WW2 home in Elkins. Lustron Homes were made of 20-gage 2×2 metal tiles, covered with a porcelain enamel finish (just like the top of a high-dollar washing machines!). These houses were all metal - inside and out - and hanging a picture required sticking magnets to the walls! Nails and other fasteners would damage the porcelain enamel finish. Lustron was based in Columbus, Ohio and less than 3000 Lustron Homes were sold in this country. They were remarkable, strong and long-lasting houses - definitely ahead of their time. Finding this three-bedroom model in Elkins was a special treat, as the three-bedroom Lustrons were very rare.

Lustron Home in Elkins, WV

Lustron Home in Elkins, WV

Close-up of 2x2 metal tiles on Lustron Walls.

Close-up of 2x2 metal tiles on Lustron Walls.

To learn more about Lustrons, click here.

To read more about Sears Homes in West Virginia, click here.

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The Sears Homes in Elkins, West Virginia

August 22nd, 2010 Sears Homes No comments

My cutie-pie husband is from Elkins, West Virginia (see picture below).  Wayne graduated from Davis and Elkins College in 1977, and Washington and Lee (School of Law) in 1980.  This weekend (August 20th), we drove from Norfolk to Elkins to attend his cousin’s 30th Wedding Anniversary party (part of the Skidmore clan). It was a happy, happy time.  Surprisingly, I found quite a few Sears Homes.  (Story continues below photo of cutie-pie husband)

Darling Hubby Wayne from Elkins

Darling Hubby Wayne from Elkins, poised atop a rock in the Cheat River

What is a Sears Home? These were true kits sold out of the Sears Roebuck catalog. The houses were shipped via rail and contained 30,000 pieces of house. Each kit came with a 75-page instruction manual and a promise that a “man of average abilities” could have one assembled and ready for occupancy in about 90 days. Today, there are about 70,000 Sears kit homes in America. Incredibly, about 90% of the people living in these homes don’t realize what they have! The purpose of this website is to help people learn more about this fascinating piece of America’s history.

Here are a few of the houses I found within the city limits of Elkins, West Virginia.

The Sears Lynnhaven was one of Sears most popular kit homes.

The Sears Lynnhaven was one of Sears' most popular kit homes.

Sears Lynnhaven in Elkins, hidden behind a few trees.

Sears Lynnhaven in Elkins, hidden behind a few trees.

Sears Matoka, another popular Sears Homes

Sears Matoka, another popular Sears Homes

Sears Home or Wardway Home? Hard to know for sure. This house was offered (in identical floorplans) by both Sears and Mongtomery Wards. One things for sure: Its a beautiful old kit house!

Sears Home or Wardway Home? Hard to know for sure. This house was offered (in identical floorplans) by both Sears and Mongtomery Wards. One thing's for sure: It's a beautiful old kit house. It's in South Elkins.

Sears Hazleton high atop the hillside in Elkins

Sears Hazleton from the 1919 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Unfortunately, I had to photograph this house from the opposite side shown in the catalog image, but this bungalow (high atop a hill in Elkins, WV) is unmistakeably a Sears Hazleton. Looking at the house from the right side, you can see that unusual bay window with six windows (four large, one small).

Unfortunately, I had to photograph this house from the opposite side shown in the catalog image, but this bungalow (high atop a hill in Elkins, WV) is unmistakeably a Sears Hazleton. If you looked at this house from the right side, you'd see that unusual bay window with six windows (four large, two small) on that left side. It's located in Wees Historic District.

Sears Cornell from the 1923 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Cornell from the 1923 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Cornell

Sears Cornell. Although this looks like just another foursquare, this Cornell has a goofy floorplan, with a tiny bathroom (and tiny window) on its left side. When you look on the home's left side, you'll see that the oddly-placed bathroom window is right where it should be. THe Cornell was a very popular house for Sears, and I'm confident that this house is a Sears Cornell.

Sears Marion/Lakecrest from the 1936 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Marion/Lakecrest from the 1936 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Is this a Sears Marion? Id say it is. Its a good match on all sides and has a raised roof in the back, which was probably added in later years.

Is this a Sears Marion? I'd say it is. It's a good match on all sides and all the windows are in their right place. One eye-catching feature is the swoop of the bellcast roof on the front of the house. The raised roof in the back was obviously added in later years.

Sears Glendale from the 1919 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Glendale from the 1919 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Glendale in Elkins, WV

Is this a Sears Glendale? It looks like it. However, it is not a spot-on match.

And there’s even a Lustron Prefabricated post-WW2 home in Elkins.  Lustron Homes were made of 20-gage 2×2 metal tiles, covered with a porcelain enamel finish (just like the top of a high-dollar washing machines!).  These houses were all metal - inside and out - and hanging a picture required sticking magnets to the walls! Nails and other fasteners would damage the porcelain enamel finish. Lustron was based in Columbus, Ohio and less than 3000 Lustron Homes were sold in this country. They were remarkable, strong and long-lasting houses - definitely ahead of their time. Finding this three-bedroom model in Elkins was a special treat, as the three-bedroom Lustrons were very rare.

Lustron Home in Elkins, WV

Lustron Home in Elkins, WV

Close-up of 2x2 metal tiles on Lustron Walls.

Close-up of 2x2 metal tiles on Lustron Walls.

To learn more about Lustrons, click here.

To read more about Sears Homes in West Virginia, click here.

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The Prettiest Little Sears Mitchell That You Ever Did See…

August 12th, 2010 Sears Homes 6 comments

In Fall 2005, I traveled with a dear friend to the New River Gorge in West Virginia. Along the way, we passed five little Sears Homes in a row. It was late in the day and the sun was setting, and I thought I’d never forget where those little houses were. I meant to make a note of it as soon as we arrived at our destination - and I completely forgot.

In 2008 and 2009,  I went back to West Virginia several times to give talks in Beckley, Lewisburg and Charleston. Each time, Ersela, Sandy and I (a kit home triumvirate) drove countless hours trying to find those five Sears Homes in a row. I finally gave up.

And then on my last day in Lewisburg, Skip Deegan asked me to take a ride with him through Rainelle, WV. Finally, after years of wondering, I rediscovered not five, but 10 Sears Homes on one street in greater downtown Rainelle. What a bonus! Below is one of my favorite finds of that trip. A perfect little Sears Mitchell, right on the main drag through town.

Notice the beautiful mountains in the background!

To read more about the Sears Homes in West Virginia, click here.

Sears Mitchell from an early 1930s catalog

Sears Mitchell from an early 1930s catalog

Sears Mitchell in Rainelle, WV

Sears Mitchell in Rainelle, WV