Archive

Posts Tagged ‘foursquare houses’

Where Is This Little House?

July 28th, 2014 Sears Homes 7 comments

Come August 2014, this website will celebrate its fourth birthday, and one of my very first posts at this site was about this little mystery house in Ohio (shown below).

Unfortunately, I never did find this house, or learn anything about the couple in the photo.

I suspect the house is somewhere in Ohio (which is where this post card was sent from) and I’m sure the couple (and their child) have gone on to heaven. The house in this photo was last offered in the mid-1910s Sears catalogs.

The diminutive foursquare is Sears Modern Home #106, and I purchased the post card from eBay in 2002. It cost $3, and I suspect that there weren’t a lot of folks who recognized this little house as Sears House.

If you know where this house is, or if you know the people pictured herein, please drop me a line?

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

And if you live in Ohio, please post this link on your Facebook page!  Maybe we can find this house!

*

House

In 2003, I purchased this post card from eBay. I'd love to know where this house is. I suspect it's somewhere in Ohio, because this postcard was originally found in Ohio.

*

house house house

Close-up of the little fam in front of the little house. Check out the detail on the porch railing.

*

Close up

Extreme close-up of the fam. Dad doesn't look well.

*

Number

You can see a house number hiding behind that column.

*

house house

Modern Home 106, as seen in the 1910 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

*

house house house

Oh dear - where's the potty?

*

house house house

The house in the photo has an extra dormer on the side, which probably made this small attic room more livable. At least, a *little* more livable!

*

Close up

Who are they?

*

Have you seen this house? If so, please leave a comment below!

To learn more about the big and fancy Sears models, click here!

*      *      *

The Sears Bandon: Neat, Practical And Modern

January 5th, 2013 Sears Homes 5 comments

The Sears Bandon is a rare bird indeed. The only one I’ve ever found was in Pulaski, Illinois, not far from the Sears Lumber Mill in Cairo, Illinois. That mill was the site of a 40-acre mill where Sears created and produced up to 250 pre-cut kit homes per month. It was a tremendous operation with more than 100 employees at its peak, and 20 acres of outbuildings.

It was also the site of “The Experiment.” Click here to see the only remnant of the Sears Mill in Cairo.

In 2001, whilst doing research on  Sears Homes at the Cairo Public Library, I stumbled across a little item in their vertical file about a Sears Bandon built in nearby Pulaski. Later that day, I hopped into the car and drove out to Pulaski and found my Bandon on the main drag through town. It was perfect in every way.

In March 2010, when I traveled to Illinois to do research for my newest book (”The Sears Homes of Illinois“), I went back to Pulaski to get newer/better photos. While standing on this main drag in this tiny town, I had three people stop and ask me if I needed help.

Speaking as a former long-time resident of Illinois, I don’t miss those long, cold Illinois winters, but I surely do miss the kind, generous, hard-working folks of small-town Midwestern America. They’re truly the crème de la crème of our country.

Below is the information I found in the vertical files at the Cairo Public Library;

The house (identified specifically as the Sears Bandon) was built in 1921. According to this document, the lumber for this kit home was shipped from the Sears mill in Cairo. It gave the following costs:

Cost of The Bandon $2794.00
Plaster (extra)  $133.00
Material to finish attic rooms  $241.00
Complete hot water heating system  $403.66
Wire and light fixtures  $133.66
Labor for carpenter (including masonry work)  $1600.00

Total $5305.32

This document also stated that, in 1924, a Sears Cyclone Barn (shipped from Cairo, IL) was built on the property. The kit barn cost $943.00.

Is there a Sears Home in your neck of the woods? Please send photos to Magnolia2047@gmail.com.

Enjoy the photos!

The Sears Bandon was a beauty, but why wasnt it more popular? Ive only seen one - ever - and that was just outside of Cairo, Illinois.

The Sears Bandon was a beauty, but why wasn't it more popular? I've only seen one - ever - and that was just outside of Cairo, Illinois (image is from 1921 catalog).

*

It had a very busy floor plan. Note

It had a very busy floor plan, and it's the only house I've ever seen with a "dining porch." This room - which jutted out from the rest of the house - had ventilation on three sides, and seven windows.

*

Close

Close-up of the floorplan shows how busy this house is! Look at the kitchen! The ice box was in the staircase landing. And the kitchen was oh-so tiny!

*

And it was a fine-looking house!

And it was a fine-looking house!

*

And here is the real-life beauty in Pulaski!

And here is the real-life beauty in Pulaski!

*

Nice, isnt it?  :)

Nice, isn't it? :)

*

house

The 1921 catalog image included this thumbnail from straight--on.

*

Pretty, pretty house!

Pretty, pretty house! While southern Illinois does have some of the nicest people, it also some of the worst, mean, loud and scary-looking dogs! These dogs never did stop barking!

*

The  Sears Bandon is perfect in every way!

The Sears Bandon is perfect in every way!

*

Its perfect! Down to the details!!

It's perfect! Down to the details!!

*

And its in a beautiful, bucolic setting!

And it's in a beautiful, bucolic setting!

*

From this angle, you can get a better view of the Dining Porch.

From this angle, you can get a better view of the Dining Porch.

*

As a nice bonus, the old barn (built 1924) is still standing, and in beautiful condition.

As a nice bonus, the old barn (built 1924) is still standing, and in beautiful condition.

*

The Cyclone Barn was a very popular item for Sears (shown here in the 1920 catalog).

The Cyclone Barn was a very popular item for Sears (shown here in the 1920 catalog).

*

Want to contact Rose? Please leave a comment below.

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

*   *   *

Richard Warren Sears: My Hero

November 26th, 2012 Sears Homes 4 comments

Richard Warren Sears is one of my favorite characters in American history. He truly was a marketing genius, a fascinating entrepreneur and a real family man. Throughout his life, he maintained a deep and profound devotion to his family.

Richard Warren Sears was about 16 years old when his father died. That’s when Richard went to work to support the family.

By the mid-1880s, he’d found gainful employment as a railway station agent in Redwood Falls, Minnesota. Early in his career, Sears paid a mere $50 for a shipment of watches that arrived at the train station and had been refused by a local merchant. Selling them to other railway agents and passengers, Sears turned $50 worth of watches into $5000 in a few months.

His timing could not possibly have been any better.

With the advent of the steam locomotive, people could now travel easily throughout the country, but there was one problem with all this zipping to and fro:  In the early 1880s, our country had 300 time zones.

Many rural communities still relied on sun-time. Travelers headed west we’re expected to subtract one minute for every 12 miles of travel. Travelers headed east did the opposite.

Hope youre good at ciphering!

In November 1883, railway companies lobbied Congress to establish four time zones, to help standardize complicated train schedules. And what need did this new-fangled law breed? Watches.

Suddenly, they were a very hot commodity.

In 1886, 23-year-old Sears invested his $5000 cash profit into a new watch business and called it the R. W. Sears Watch Company. He advertised in regional newspapers and soon moved the business from Minneapolis to Chicago.

Occasionally the watches came back needing repairs, so in 1887, Sears decided it was time to hire a helper. A young watch repairman from Hammond, Indiana responded to Sears help wanted ad and was hired immediately.

And what was the watch repairman’s name?

Alvah Curtis Roebuck.

Richard and Alvah became good friends and eventually partners.

In 1891, Sears and Roebuck published their first mail order catalog (52 pages), offering jewelry and watches. By 1893, the little catalog had grown to 196 pages and offered a variety of items, including sewing machines, shoes, saddles and more. By the following year, the catalog hit 507 pages.

In 1895, Alvah Roebuck decided he wanted out. The 31-year old watch repairman’s health was collapsing under the strain of this new fast-growing business. The enormous burden of debt coupled with Sears wild ways of doing business were too much for mild-mannered, methodical Alvah.

He asked Sears to buy his one-third interest in the company for $25,000.

Of course, Sears didn’t have that kind of cash on hand, so he offered Chicago businessmen Aaron Nusbaum and Julius Rosenwald (Nusbaums brother-in-law) a one-half interest in the company. The price - $75,000, or $37,500 each. Six years later, in 1901, Rosenwald and Sears decided to buy out Nusbaum and offered him $1 million for his share of the business. Nusbaum refused and asked for $1.25 million, which he received.

(Pretty tidy profit for six years!)

Following a nationwide depression in 1907, Rosenwald and Sears were at loggerheads on the best course of action to weather the economic storm. This disagreement really did highlight their radically different concepts about everything.

On November 1, 1908, 44-year-old Richard W. Sears emerged from a terse, closed-door meeting with Rosenwald and announced that he would resign as President from his own company.

Sears reason for retiring: He didnt see the work as fun anymore. A short time later, Sears sold his stock for $10 million dollars. There was another reason for his departure. Sears wanted more time to take care of his ailing wife, who had suffered from ill health for years.

In September 1914, at the age of 50, Sears died from kidney disease, having turned $50 worth of pocket watches into a multimillion dollar mail-order empire. His estate was valued at more than $20 million.

Not too bad for a kid that got his start selling unwanted watches at a little train depot in Redwood Falls.

To read Part II of this blog, click here.

*

Richard Warren Sears was one smart cookie. Hes shown here in his office in Sears World Headquarters (Chicago).

Richard Warren Sears was one smart cookie. He's shown here in his office the Sears' Headquarters (Chicago), at the corner of Homan Avenue and Arthington Street. It's claimed that Mr. Sears had one of the very first telephones in the state of Illinois. He had another telephone installed in his mother's home in Oak Park. Now *that's* a good son! :)

*

Look at that telephone!

Look at that telephone! I bet that would fetch a pretty price on eBay! And you may notice that Mr. Sears is holding a Sears catalog in his right hand. He was quite the promoter.

*

Sears retired from his own company in 1908, which was the same years that Sears issued its first Sears Modern Homes catalog (shown above).

Sears retired from his own company in 1908, which was the same years that Sears issued its first "Sears Modern Homes" catalog (shown above).

*

Did you know that Sears sold cars in the 1950s? You’ll never guess the brand name they gave to their vehicles!  :)

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To read another really fun blog, click here.

*   *   *

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Glendale: A Good Substantial House of Nice Appearance

November 8th, 2012 Sears Homes 1 comment

World-famous Realtor and Sears House aficionado Catarina Bannier found this Glendale in the DC area, and sent me a bevy of wonderful photos, showcasing this beautiful Glendale.

Probably built in the early 1910s, this house is in amazingly original condition. And Catarina got some great photos!

The double windows situated at the corners of this foursquare make the Glendale easy to spot. The smaller windows (front and side) with the diamond muntins are also a distinctive feature.

To learn more about the Sears Homes that Catarina has found in DC, click here.

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

The Sears Glendale, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

The Sears Glendale, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

*

An unhappy Glendale in Mounds, Illinois (just outside of Cairo).

An unhappy Glendale in Mounds, Illinois (just outside of Cairo). This photo was snapped in 2010. Most likely, this house has now been torn down.

*

Mounds

"Every bit of space has been used to the best advantage..." And all this for $1,748.

*

And heres Catarinas Glendale in the DC area.

And here's Catarina's Glendale in the DC area. Photo is copyright 2012 Catarina Bannier and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

Another view.

Another view. Photo is copyright 2012 Catarina Bannier and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

Did I mention that this house is in wonderfully original condition?  WOW, look at the details!

Did I mention that this house is in wonderfully original condition? WOW, look at the details! How many hands have brushed past the finial on this newel post in the last 100 years? Photo is copyright 2012 Catarina Bannier and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

Close-up from the original catalog page.

Close-up of the newel posts from the original catalog page.

*

Original windows, too!

Original windows, too! Photo is copyright 2012 Catarina Bannier and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

Out

The Glendale had two small fixed sashes on the first floor.

*

Inside, it looked like this!

Inside, it looks like this! Photo is copyright 2012 Catarina Bannier and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

The newel posts inside are even prettier!

The newel posts inside are even prettier! Photo is copyright 2012 Catarina Bannier and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

And further down the staircase, youll see the distinctive plinth block that is typically found in Sears Homes. The problem of matching up difficult compound joints was solved with this simple block.

And further down the staircase, you'll see the distinctive plinth block that is typically found in Sears Homes. The problem of matching up difficult compound joints was solved with this simple block. Photo is copyright 2012 Catarina Bannier and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

And theres an original light fixture in one of the bedrooms.

And there's an original light fixture in one of the bedrooms. Photo is copyright 2012 Catarina Bannier and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

Built

This massive built-in China hutch retains its original finish. And it's beautiful! Photo is copyright 2012 Catarina Bannier and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

Original hardware, too!

Original hardware, too! Photo is copyright 2012 Catarina Bannier and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

original

If you look closely at the floorplan, you'll see the built-in hutch in the dining room. Also, take a look at the lone column in the doorway between the "parlor" and the dining room.

*

wino

The second floor shows four tiny bedrooms and a very long hallway.

*

A view of those original windows from inside.

A view of those original windows from inside. Photo is copyright 2012 Catarina Bannier and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

I

Inside, there's a column and small shelf on just ONE side of the living room/dining room entry. This is also shown on the floorplan (above). Photo is copyright 2012 Catarina Bannier and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

To learn more about how to identify Sears Homes, click here.

To read about the PERFECT Christmas gift, click here. You’ll be glad you did!  :)

*    *    *

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Race is On! (To Build a Sears Rodessa)

October 23rd, 2012 Sears Homes 1 comment

Sometime in late 1918, Sears conducted a “race,” building two houses, a Sears Honor Built pre-cut kit home and an identical house with no pre-cut lumber. For their experiment, they chose the Sears Rodessa, a darling little bungalow with clipped gables and oversized  eaves.

The result of this race was thoroughly documented in the 1919 and subsequent Sears Modern Homes catalogs.

It’s a very interesting story with many interesting images.

The “race” was conducted at the Sears Mill in Cairo, Illinois (at the southern most part of Illinois).

Today, those two Rodessas are still standing side by side, and they are the last remnant of the  40-acre mill that was once a substantial manufacturing center, employing more than 100 men, and cutting enough lumber every day to build 10-12 kit homes. The Sears Mill had 20 acres of outbuildings, several sidings of railroad track, and a  massive berm, built to keep out the springtime flooding of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.

The pre-cut Honor Bilt Rodessa was the easy winner in this race, with 231 hours to spare (compared to the stick-built house). To learn more about the specifics, read the captions on the photos below.

To learn more about the old Sears Mill in Cairo, click here.

*

hosue

Two Rodessas were built side-by-side at the site of the old mill in Cairo.

*

House being built Sears Rodessa (1921)

The house they chose to build was the Sears Rodessa (1921).

*

Rodessa

Perhaps the Rodessa was chosen for this experiment because it was a "Pretty little home." After all, you probably wouldn't want to build a pretty BIG home for an experiment (1919).

*

Comparison of the two building techniques

A thorough comparison of the two building techniques.

*

And the ordinary way

In the "ordinary" way, the old hand saw is to blame. In fact, many carpenters would not have used a steam-powered saw at the building site, but would be stuck sawing all the wood "the old fashioned way." The electric saw didn't come into widespread use until 1925 (according to "American Carpenter and Builder" magazine).

*

The full page showing the experimeent

The full page showing the experiment.

*

Wow.

According to their experiment, a Sears pre-cut home could be built 231 hours faster than a stick-built version of the same house. And this was probably realistic, too. Pre-cut lumber did create a substantial savings of time and money.

*

Really ture

Time and money saved - "the modern way."

*

I love this. Theyre slouchers.

I love this image. Look at these guys. They're a pair of slackers. All their lumber is pre-cut and ready to use. They can take their time and start the work day with a rest break.

*

But look at these poor saps.

But look at these poor saps. They have everything laid out and ready. They even have their saws stacked up against the massive piles of lumber, ready to go. In fact, it looks like they've already started! And there are three guys on this crew.

*

The end result is strikingly similar

More than 230 hours AFTER the pre-cut Rodessa was finished, the stick-build Rodessa was finally done. Kinda of like being the very last soul to drag across the finish line at a 26K marathon. These folks are so pooped, they collapsed in exhaustion on the front porch. And the yard is still a mess, full of construction debris! They didn't have the time or energy to tidy things up. Why, they're sitting down before it's finished! The shame of it all!!

*

These

Meanwhile, the pre-cut Rodessa was done 230 hours before the stick-built house, and the builders not only tidied up the yard but planted many fine-looking bushes! Pretty darn impressive. You think there's a little subtle message going on here? Looks like it to me! If you buy a pre-cut Sears House, you''ll have time and energy for pretty gardens!

*

Sears House - The Rodessa - in Cairo.

Throughout the city of Cairo, you'll find several Rodessas, such as this one. I suspect that the folks at the Sears Mill had several "practice" sessions building the Rodessa before the timed experiment actually took place at the mill.

*

A

Today, those two Rodessas sit side by side, the last remnant of the massive Sears Mill that sat on this site in the early 1900s (in Cairo, IL). I'm sorry to say that I don't know which Rodessa is pre-cut and which one is stick built. If the graphic above is accurate the pre-cut kit house has a stucco foundation and the stick-built has a brick foundation. Next time I'm in Cairo, I'll check that out. BTW, these homes are located on Sears Road.

*

To read more about Sears and Roebuck Road, click here.

To read more about the history of the Sears Mill, click here.

*   *  *

The Rockford: A Foursquare Dressed in Brick!

June 6th, 2012 Sears Homes 6 comments

Amongst the 370 designs that Sears offered, more than a dozen of the houses were foursquares. One of the lesser-known foursquares is the Sears Rockford. I’ve seen three (and photographed two), and all three were in Virginia and all three were brick.

In fact, the original catalog page shows the house in brick (see below).

Most of the Sears foursquares were pretty simplistic-looking affairs, but that’s not true for the Rockford. The distinctive bracketing under the eaves is unique to the Rockford. The other models (Gladstone, Fullerton, Hamilton, Chelsea, Cornell, etc), didn’t have eave brackets.

Another unique feature are the three very small windows in the dining room. And also notice that there are two small windows flanking the chimney, and three large windows in the living room (front wall).

As with any house identification, the most important aspect is - the details. Study the details and make sure the house is a good match!

To learn more about the Sears Homes in Hopewell, click here.

To read about Virginia’s own ghost town (Penniman), click here.

house house house

The Rockford - as seen in the 1928 catalog.

*

floor plan

The Rockford wasn't a very big house. It had about 725 square feet per floor, for a total area of 1,450 square feet on both floors.

*

house fp

A tiny hallway upstairs maximized space.

*

house house

Note the three small windows in the dining room (rear of house).

*

cape charles

The tiny Eastern Shore town of Cape Charles (Virginia) has a Sears Rockford.

*

hopewell

And there's one in Hopewell, Virginia, too.

*

Is there an abundance of kit homes in Hopewell? Well, kind of. Hopewell had a large number of Aladdin kit homes, but many were torn down. There are not very many Sears Homes in Hopewell. To learn more, click here.

Norfolk, however, does have a bunch. In fact, Norfolk has more than 75 kit homes. WOW!

*

Sears

These eave brackets on the Rockford are a bit distinctive.

Want to learn more about the Sears Homes in Hopewell?  Click here or here.

If you’d like to see an abundance of kit homes in a small town, check out Roanoke Rapids!

*   *   *

The Sears Fullerton: “Meets The Needs of So Many People”

May 9th, 2012 Sears Homes 1 comment

The foursquare is one of my favorite housing styles (but then again, I love them all). For 18 years, my name was Rosemary Fuller, so I have a special affinity for the Sears Fullerton for familial reasons, too!

The Fullerton was one of Sears most popular housing styles and it’s easy to identify because it has many distinctive features. Most notable are the flared columns on the front porch with the paneled columns on top.  The Fullerton also has three windows on the home’s front, and the small “landing window” on the side. The attic dormer is also distinctive. The Sears Fullerton has a broad, low dormer window with an undersized sash.

This foursquare also has something I have never seen on any other Sears House: A fireplace chimney that’s centered on the roof! The Fullerton has a pyramidal hip roof, and the chimney is very near the apex of that pyramidal hip. As the chimney rises up through the attic, the bricks are laid in a “twist,” so that the chimney pops out through the roof’s center.

It’s one of the most unusual features I’ve ever seen in a kit house, and it’s unique to the Fullerton.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

If you’re here to read about Addie’s exhumation, this is the place to click.

Sears Fullerton as seen in the 1925 catalog.

Sears Fullerton as seen in the 1925 catalog.

*

So many reasons to love the Fullerton...

So many reasons to love the Fullerton...

*

Good floorplan, too!

The Fullerton had "good morning" stairs, which was a small staircase that opened into the kitchen. The idea was you could toddle downstairs and enter the kitchen without disturbing the folks in the living room.

*

The 1925 catalog featured some interior views!

The 1925 catalog featured some "interior" views. This shot of the staircase shows another unique feature: That closet door off the landing, and the small built-in table by the door.

*

And the living room!

The fireplace in the living room dominates the Fullerton.

*

And the kitchen

And the most modern kitchen!

*

Sears

Notice the flared brick columns with the paneled tops (1925).

*

Sears Fullerton in Aurora, IL

Sears Fullerton in Aurora, IL, replete with flared columns and paneled tops!

*

Sears Fullerton in Hampton

Sears Fullerton in Hampton. Notice that tiny window in that massive dormer.

*

Olstead

Classic Fullerton in Olmstead, IL.

*

Fullerton in DC

Another classic Fullerton, but this one has endured some plasticine siding and icky replacement windows. This house is in DC, which is not known for being kind to their Sears Homes. In 2008, the municipality tore down a *beautiful* Sears Fullerton, despite a massive grass roots effort to save the house. Photo is copyright 2012 Catarina Bannier and can not be used or reproduced without specific permission.

*

Fullerton in Roanoke

Sears Fullerton in Roanoke with a porte cochere.

*

Wood River

Sears Fullerton in Wood River, Illinois. In the 1930s, a tornado went through this area and destroyed many of the front porches.

*

Elgin

Elgin, IL has the largest known collection of kit homes in the country. This Fullerton is in Elgin. Dr. Hunter has done an amazing amount of research on Sears Homes, and she's the author of several books on the topic. She lives in Elgin, IL.

*

The Fullerton was the one of two foursquares that endured into the early 1930s, and appeared in the 1933 Book of Modern Homes catalog. e into the 1930s,

The Fullerton was the one of two foursquares that endured into the early 1930s, and appeared in the 1933 "Low Cost Homes" catalog.

*

To learn more about Dr. Hunter and her books, click here.

To visit Dr. Hunter’s website, click here.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

*   *   *

The Sears Castleton: A Four-Bedroom Four-Square

April 6th, 2012 Sears Homes No comments

The Sears Castleton is fairly easy to identify because it has a number of distinctive features. The most distinctive feature is that “hanging bay window” on the side, which extends up to the roofline. That’s something you don’t see too often.

On the red Sears Castleton (shown below), it has the classic Castleton dormer with three windows, and the hipped dormer comes right off the ridge of the primary roofline. That’s also a unique feature.

Sears

Sears Castleton as seen in the 1916 catalog.

*

Sears Cat

This Castleton in Peoria, Illinois does not have the Castelton porch columns, but rather has the traditional Sears porch columns found on the Sears Woodland.

*

Sears

This Castleton had the tradition Castleton columns, but has a different dormer! (Aurora, IL)

*

Flor

As is typical of four-squares, it has four rooms on the four corners of the house, but look at the size of the "den"!

*

Sears

The front bedroom is a mere 7'7" wide. Pretty darn tiny.

*

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To learn more about Wardway Homes, click here.

*   *   *

All Things Alhambra, Part III

June 25th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

The Sears Alhambra was one of Sears’ most popular houses. In fact, I’d say it was one of their top ten best sellers. And, it was a pretty house with a distinctive Spanish flair and with a splash of mission style. If you take away the fancy accoutrements, you’ll see it’s little more than a classic American foursquare.

The first photo is from the 1921 Sears Building Materials catalog. It’s a letter from a happy, happy Alhambra homeowner. (Say that four times fast.)

Click here to read All Things Alhambra, part 2.

yep

This appeared on page 2 of the Sears Building Materials catalog (1921)

l

Close-up of the letter written by A. C. Goodall.

Alhambra

The beautiful Alhambra - as seen in the 1921 Building Materials catalog.

Sears Alhambra in Portsmouth, Virginia (my home town)

Sears Alhambra in Portsmouth, Virginia (my home town)

Sears Alhambra as seen in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Sears Alhambra as seen in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Like its Virginia cousin, this Alhambra is also painted a light yellow. This pretty house is in Lexington, Virginia.

Like its Virginia cousin, this Alhambra is also painted a light yellow. This pretty house is in Lexington, Virginia.

Another vote for the beige pant job!  This perfect Alhambra is in Raleigh.

Another vote for the beige pant job! This perfect Alhambra is in Raleigh.

Stripped of its Alhambra-defining elements, this house in St. Louis looks rather pedestrian.

Stripped of its Alhambra-defining elements, this house in St. Louis looks rather pedestrian.

This Alhambra has also had some of its unique architectural elements stripped away, but you can still see its an Alhambra!

This Alhambra has also had some of its unique architectural elements stripped away, but you can still see it's an Alhambra!

Sears Alhambra in Gaffney

Sears Alhambra in Gaffney. My favorite color: Lavender!

To see more pictures of Sears Alhambras, visit All Things Alhambra, part 2.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

* * *

Is Your City on This List? If So, You Should Be Looking for Sears Homes!

June 6th, 2011 Sears Homes 7 comments

In 1919, Sears opened their first “Modern Homes Sales Center” in Akron, Ohio. These were storefronts where you could personally inspect the millwork and lumber that would go into your Sears Home. You could examine the different types of bookcase collonades or pick out your favorite fireplace mantel or choose a delightful sleeping porch!

Typically, Sears put sales offices in cities which had experienced strong sales, and once those sales offices opened, sales of kit homes increased even more. If your city had a Sears Modern Homes sales center, chances are good that you have a plethora of Sears Homes there!

In 1930, there were 48 Sears Modern Homes sales offices in the country. One year later, they were down to 27 offices and by 1933, they had only13 sales offices and two of those were actually the Sears mills in Norwood, Ohio and Newark, New Jersey.

By 1939, there were 19 sales offices for the Modern Homes department, all of which were located “east of the Mississippi and north of the Ohio.” These “stores” probably occupied a small office next door to a Sears storefront or may have been a small space within the main store and their closing in 1940 may have gone largely unnoticed. It’s also likely that these old Modern Homes departments were transmogrified into hardware sections or building materials departments. 

I’ve visited a handful of the cities on this list (see below) and have consistently found an abundance of Sears Homes there.

So, is your city on this list?  :)  Scroll on down to see vintage photos!

Connecticut

New Haven

Illinois

Aurora

Calumet City

Chicago

Elgin

Joliet

Peoria

Rockford

Waukegan

Indiana

Fort Wayne

Gary

Hammond

Indianapolis

South Bend

Maryland

Baltimore

Massachusetts

Boston

Michigan

Ann Arbor

Detroit

Flint

Jackson

Kalamazoo

Pontiac

Port Huron

Saginaw

Missouri

Kansas City

St. Louis

New Jersey

Camden

Elizabeth

Hackensack

Long Branch

Newark

Paterson

Plainfield

New York

Albany

Buffalo

Long Island

Mt. Vernon

New Rochelle

New York

Peeksville

Rochester

Schenectady

Syracuse

White Plains

Ohio

Akron

Cincinnati

Cleveland

Columbus

Dayton

Lorain

Mansfield

Marion

Norwood

Portsmouth

Toledo

Youngstown

Warren

Zanesville

Pennsylvania

Greensburg

New Castle

Philadelphia

Pittsburgh

Rochester

Scranton

Washington DC

(Three locations)

West Virginia

Wheeling

Wisconsin

Milwaukee

Back page of 1930 Sears Modern Homes catalog, showing cities with Modern Homes Sales Office.

Back page of 1930 Sears Modern Homes catalog, showing cities with Modern Homes Sales Office.

pho

Close-up of advertisement on back page of 1930 catalog.

house

This is a typical "Sears Modern Homes" sales office. I'd love to know where this building was located. I suspect Ohio, but that's just a guess.

Close-up of sign

Close-up of sign

Inside

And inside the office you might find three men with straw hats, sitting under a pergola and reading the newspaper while "working." This is from a late 1910s Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Or

Or maybe this scary-looking guy from the 1933 Sears Modern Homes catalog. He's got the whole Wexford, in his hands, he's got the whole Wexford, in his hands... This picture is a little disturbing, isn't it?

close up of lists with addresses

Close up of lists (from back page of 1930 catalog) with addresses of those Sears Modern Homes sales offices.

close

Next column...

close

And the next...

close

And the last.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s house, click here.

*   *   *