Archive

Posts Tagged ‘foursquare’

So Many Kit Homes in Waynesboro!

May 28th, 2013 Sears Homes 1 comment

Earlier this year, I had occasion to stop and visit Waynesboro and I found a few fine-looking Sears Homes.  Several days later, fellow kit house aficionado and researcher Linda Ramsey drove to the area and found four more kit Homes! (To see pictures, scroll down.)

On Thursday, October 17th, I’ll be returning to Waynesboro to give a talk on Sears Homes. It’ll be at the WTA Gateway, 329 W. Main St at 7:00pm. For more info, click here.

And you may be asking, what is a Sears kit home?

From 1908-1940, Sears sold entire kit homes through their mail-order catalog. Each 12,ooo-piece kit came with a 75-page instruction book that promised “a man of average abilities” could have the house assembled in 90 days! During their 32 years in the kit house business, Sears and Roebuck sold about 70,000 houses, offered in 370 models.

A few fun facts:

* Sears Kit Homes were not prefab homes, but were true kits. Each 12,000-piece kit came with a a 75-page instruction book and a promise that “a man of average abilities” could have it assembled in 90 days.

*  The instruction book offered this somber warning: “Do not take anyone’s advice on how this house should be assembled.”

* The framing members were marked with a letter and a three-digit-number to facilitate construction. Today, these marks can help authenticate that a house is a kit home.

* More than 3/4ths of the people living in these homes don’t realize that they’ve living in a historically significant home!

* And 80% of the people who think that they have a Sears Home are wrong!

* Searching for these homes is like hunting for hidden treasure. From 1908-1940, about 70,000 Sears Homes were sold, but in the 1940s, during a corporate housecleaning, Sears destroyed all sales records. The only way to find these homes is literally one-by-one.

Hope to see you Thursday night!

Thanks so much to Linda Ramsey for driving out to Waynesboro and finding these Sears Homes (and photographing them!).

To learn more about the history of Sears Modern Homes, click here.

To learn more about Rose’s upcoming talk in Waynesboro, click here.

*   *   *

Brist

First, my #1 favorite kit house in Waynesboro. And what's so cool about this is it's not just a kit house, but it it came from Gordon Van Tine. GVT homes were also sold through mail-order catalogs (just like Sears Homes), however GVT Homes were not as popular as Sears. And the house in Waynesboro is the "Bristol," a very unusual Gordon Van Tine home!

*

First, my favorite kit house in Waynesboro. And whats so cool about this is its not just a kit house, but it it came from Montgomery Ward! Wardway Homes were also sold through mail-order catalogs, however Montgomery Ward homes were not that popular.

The floorplans could be flipped (or reversed), based on the owner's preferences. I've flipped the image above to match the house in Waynesboro. It's pretty unlikely that these homeowners know that they have a house that came from a mail-order catalog.

*

Briston

And here's the Wardway Bristol in Waynesboro! And it's just a spot-on match to the catalog! Many thanks to Linda Ramsey for getting this photo and finding this Wardway home! Photo is copyright 2013 Linda Ramsey and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

The most common misconception about kit homes is that they were simple, boxy little affairs, and this image from the 1935 GVT catalog should dispel that once and for all.

The most common misconception about kit homes is that they were "simple, boxy little affairs," and this image from the 1935 GVT catalog should dispel that once and for all. This is the interior view of the GVT Bristol, showing the 20' by 12' living room. Check out the vaulted ceiling and the long, tapered fireplace.

*

First, my favorite. This is the Sears Alhambra, a hugely popular house for Sears - and a beautiful one too. Shown here from the 1919 Sears Modern Home catalog.

Next is "The Sears Alhambra," a close runner-up to the Wardway Bristol. Shown here from the 1919 Sears Modern Home catalog. It was offered in frame, stucco and brick. Stucco was the most common siding.

*

Be still my quivering heart. The Alhambra that Linda Ramsey found in Waynesboro!

Be still my quivering heart. The Alhambra that Linda Ramsey found in Waynesboro! And it's in brick! And it's also perfect in every detail! Photo is copyright 2013 Linda Ramsey and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

Oh yeah!

Oh yeah! What a perfect match!!! Oh my goodness!!

*

Another really sweet find is the Sears Strathmore.

Another really sweet find is the Sears Strathmore. This house was also offered in stucoo, frame and brick, but was most often built as a frame house with clapboard siding.

*

This lovely Strathmore is just across the street from the Wardway Bristol shown above!

This lovely Strathmore is just across the street from the Wardway Bristol shown above! Like the Bristol, the floorplan has been reversed. Look at that distinctive front door, and the asymmetrical front gable.

*

The Lewiston was a popular house for Sears (1930 catalog).

The Lewiston was a popular house for Sears (1930 catalog).

*

Oh yeah, baby! What a nice match!

Oh yeah, baby! What a nice match!

*

this is my favorite part. Check out the front doors (

This is my favorite part. Check out the front doors (Waynesboro house and catalog image).

*

Sears Lynnhaven

The Lynnhaven was a very popular model for Sears. And it's also a lovely house.

*

Its hiding behind a tree, but thats definitely a Lynnhaven back there.

It's hiding behind a tree, but that's definitely a Lynnhaven back there. Look at the details around the front door.

*

Linda also found

Linda also found a Conway/Uriel. (This popular model was known by both names.)

*

And what a fine Conway it is!

And what a fine Conway it is! And in wonderfully original condition! Photo is copyright 2013 Linda Ramsey and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

Last but not least, she also found a second Collingwood.

Last but not least, she also found a second Collingwood.

*

house

Again, a very nice match to the original catalog image! Photo is copyright 2013 Linda Ramsey and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

And heres a picture of the other Collingwood I found in Waynesboro.

And here's a picture of the other Collingwood I found in Waynesboro.

*

One of my favorite finds in Waynesboro was the Del Rey!

One of my favorite finds in Waynesboro was the Del Rey!

*

Again, its in PERFECT condition! Wow. Just WOW!

Again, it's in PERFECT condition! Wow. Just WOW!

How many more kit homes are there in Waynesboro? Probably many more than I’ve found thus far.

I’ll be arriving in Waynesboro on Wednesday morning, so if you know of a Sears House in the area, leave a comment below!

To learn more about Rose’s upcoming visit, click here.

To contact Rose, please leave a comment below!

*   *   *

The Wardway Warrenton in West Virginia

May 27th, 2013 Sears Homes No comments

In 2009, I visited the tiny town of Rainelle, West Virginia and discovered several Sears Homes on Main Street. That was a lovely surprise.

And another nice surprise was finding a Wardway Warrenton in town, too.

Sears sold about 70,000 houses during their 32 years in the kit-home business (1908-1940). Wardway sold about 25,000 kit homes in roughly the same time period (1909-1932). Gordon Van Tine (who manufactured the houses for Montgomery Ward) sold about 50,000 kit homes. (Thanks to Dale Wolicki for the stats on Wardway and Gordon Van Tine.)

Because of the rarity of these Wardway Homes, it’s always a nice surprise to find one, especially so far from the Midwest (where Montgomery Wards was based).

Many thanks to Skip Deegans for traipsing out to Rainelle and getting these photos for me!

Wardway also sold kit homes, but was lesser known that Sears.

Wardway also sold kit homes, but was lesser known that Sears.

*

Like Sears, Wardway kit homes were also

Like Sears, Wardway kit homes also had pre-cut lumber that was marked to facilitate construction. These many years later, those marks can help identify a house as a kit home.

*

The Wardway Warrenton

The Wardway Warrenton was a "splendid home," and the accompanying text said it was "dignified and handsome." In fact, it was a six-bedroom home which was unusually large for a house of this time period. Recommended colors were cream paint (walls) with white trim. Yawn.

*

house

The house was just shy of 2,200 square feet.

*

Wardway

The Wardway Warrenton as seen in the 1921 catalog.

*

house house hosue

Is this a Wardway Warrenton? Looks like it to me! Photo is copyright 2013 Skip Deegans and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

house

Another view of the Wardway Warrenton in Rainelle, WV. Photo is copyright 2013 Skip Deegans and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

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

*   *   *

The Thrift Book of a Nation

May 26th, 2013 Sears Homes No comments

Earlier this week, my friend Rachel posted a picture of this 1922 Sears catalog in our Facebook group “Sears Homes.”

I found it utterly enchanting.

The cover shows a little girl dashing out to the mailbox to retrieve the goodies that just arrived from Sears & Roebuck. In the background, there’s a Sears Silo, a Sears Barn, and a Sears kit home, The Silverdale.

It’s an entire farm built by Sears!

Years ago, I interviewed Joseph Origer who’d purchased a Sears Hammond (kit house) out of the 1940 Sears Modern Homes catalog.  He was inspired to buy a Sears House by his father.

Mr. Origer explained,

My dad built a Sears kit silo in 1911 and he was so impressed with the quality of the lumber (all cypress) that he decided to buy and build Sears Modern Home #101.

I remember my father telling me that his kit home was all number one lumber and material. All the building materials cost $879 and the total expense, including all carpenter labor, was less than $1500. I still have the itemized list of materials for that house!

When I decided to marry and stay on the farm, my parents suggested we go to Chicago and pick out another Sears home. Dad said, “you know the material will be good.”

These 60-plus years The Hammond has been a wonderful house. I am glad I built it. This house has been well maintained inside and out, and it is still just as good as new.

Mr. Origer’s experience was probably fairly typical. Potential customers might have been hesitant to purchase an entire kit house, but they were ready and willing to buy chicken coops, silos, corn cribs, milk sheds, tool houses and more.

How many American farms were filled with Sears outbuildings and kit homes?

I wish I knew!

Many thanks to Rachel Shoemaker for sharing these wonderful images!

house hose

Cover of the 1922 Sears General Merchandise catalog.

*

ban

The barn in the background is a Sears kit barn, L2055.

*

Sears barn 1918

The Sears barn as seen in the 1920 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

*

house ouse house house house

Unnamed, happy child with severely deformed left leg and mangled left hand rushes out to the mailbox to see what parcels have arrived from Sears and Roebuck.

*

house house house

These must be some of Sears best customers! Not only did they order a house, silo and barn from Sears, but each day they receive a plethora of packages!

*

house house

Close-up of the Sears Silverdale. But what kind of car is that?

*

silverdale

The Silverdale, as seen in the 1916 Sears catalog.

*

Hettick, IL

A real live Silverdale in Hettick, IL.

*

house hose

Thanks again to Rachel for sharing this wonderful picture!

*

To learn more about the amazing Mr. Sears, click here.

To read more about Sears Homes, click here.

To visit Rachel’s blog, click here.

*   *   *

How NOT to Photograph a Sears Kit House

May 13th, 2013 Sears Homes 3 comments

Several times each week, folks send me emails asking, “Is my house a Sears House?” Usually,  they send photos along with their inquiries. But sometimes, the photos don’t help with the identification process.

My poor old laptop is already heavy laden with pictures of kit homes (about 50,000 photos and counting), so I’ve deleted the great majority of not-so-good pictures I’ve received.

However, I did save a few of my favorites.  :)

This was a favorite.

This was a favorite. I laughed out loud when I saw the photo. The writer asked me, "I think I live in a Sears House. Can you tell me what this is?" I wanted to write back and say, "Yes, it's a Silver Maple."

*

Another reader photo.

This is the architectural equivalent of asking someone to identify a picture of a criminal where the bad guy is wearing a ski mask. Just doesn't work too well.

*

This is actually a photo that I took. Its an Aladdin Pasadena. Can you tell?

Is there a house back there? Yes there is. And it's an Aladdin Pasadena!

*

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

To read about the first class lumber that went into kit homes, click here.

To read about the impressive collection of kit homes in Raleigh (The Tree City), click here.

*   *   *

Next Stop, Waynesboro?

May 7th, 2013 Sears Homes 8 comments

My talk in Staunton was well-organized (thanks to Historic Staunton Foundation) and well attended (standing room only!) and it was a lot of fun!

And what an unexpected delight to discover such a variety of kit homes in nearby Staunton! (Click here to read more about what we found!)

On my way to Staunton last week, I took a quickie ride through Waynesboro and found a handful of kit homes.  Some day soon, I’d love to come back and do a more thorough survey and give a talk.

For those newbies here, what is a Sears kit home?

In the early 1900s, Sears sold entire kit homes through their mail-order catalog. These 12,ooo-piece kits came with a 75-page instruction book that promised “a man of average abilities” could have the house assembled in 90 days!  From 1908-1940, Sears sold about 70,000 of these kits, and finding them is just like looking for hidden treasure.

OOOH, there are MORE Sears Homes in Waynesboro! Click here to see the rest of the photos!

To read about the kit homes I found in Charlottesville, click here.

To see what I found in Waynesboro, scroll on down!

*   *   *

*

house

The 1920s were the hey-day for the Sears Modern Homes program. At its peak, the Sears Modern Homes catalog had almost 150 pages, with 100 models offered. Shown here is the cover of the 1930 catalog, with a Sears Lewiston on the front cover.

*

If you buy a Sears Modern Home, even your little dog will be happy!

If you buy a Sears Modern Home, even your little dog will be happy!

*

The Lewiston was a hugely popular house for Sears.

The Lewiston was a hugely popular house for Sears.

*

Its missing the happy dog and the little girl, but its definitely a Sears Lewiston, and its in Waynesboro.

It's missing the happy dog and the little girl, but it's definitely a Sears Lewiston, and it's in Waynesboro. Unfortunately, the original windows were replaced and the vinyl siding has obliterated some of the unique detail. However, it's still identifiable as a Sears Lewiston.

*

And you can tell its a Sears Home because it has an S on the chimney.

And you can tell it's a Sears Home because it has an "S" on the chimney. Ah not really. That's a tired old myth that's been lurking around on the internet since Al Gore first invented it. Oh wait, that's another old story. In fact, that "S" on the chimney has nothing to do with Sears. It's just a stylistic detail often found on Neo-Tudors. And I don't think Al Gore had much to do with inventing the internet, either. :)

*

But it does look

The Lewiston was remodeled, but it looks like the front door was spared! :)

*

The Sears Lynnhaven was a very popular house (1938 catalog).

The Sears Lynnhaven was a very popular house (1938 catalog).

*

house house house

And it was also a very pretty house.

*

The owners obviously love this house, but I wonder if they know that it *might* be a Sears kit house?

The owners obviously love this house, but I wonder if they know that it *might* be a Sears kit house?

*

And I found a Del Rey in Waynesboro, too, and this Del Rey is in beautifully original condition!

The Dely Rey I found in Waynesboro, is in beautifully original condition (1919 catalog).

*

Check out the floorplan for the Del Rey.

Check out the floorplan for the Del Rey.

*

house house

Notice the little railings in front of the casement windows? In all my travels, I have never seen a Del Rey that actually had these little railings in place. Until Waynesboro...

*

Be still my quivering heart!

Be still my quivering heart! It's a picture perfect Del Rey!

*

And it even has the little bump out (as seen above in the floorplan) for the kitchen area.

And it even has the little bump out (as seen above in the floorplan) for the kitchen area.

*

And original windows!

And not only does it have its original windows, but its original wooden storm windows!

*

Love those little railings!

Do these folks know that they have a Sears House? About 90% of the time, the people living in these historically significant homes did not realize what they had, until they were contacted by me (or someone *like* me!).

*

Next on the list is the Sears Westwood.

Next on the list is the Sears Collingwood (1930 catalog).

*

The Westwood is another kit home that I had never seen before in the flesh until I went to Waynesboro.

The Collingwood is another kit home that I had never seen before "in the flesh" until I went to Waynesboro. Notice the unusual bay window in the dining room with its hipped roof.

*

house

Wow, what a match! Unfortunately, I didn't have my chain saw with me, so the view was blocked by a Japanese Maple. I also forgot to bring along a tow truck to get that Ford Explorer out of the way. Seriously, the house was blocked by a myriad of obstacles. And the windows have been replaced - sadly.

*

The dormer is also a spot-on match. And apparently, it gets REALLY hot upstairs. Ive never seen dueling air conditioners before.

Apparently, it gets REALLY hot upstairs. I've never seen dueling air conditioners before. That aside, the details on this attic dormer are also just right.

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

To inquire as to Rose’s availability, please leave a comment below.

If you enjoyed the blog, please send the link to a friend!

*   *   *

Staunton, Virginia: More Amazing Finds

May 3rd, 2013 Sears Homes 2 comments

A couple days ago (May 1st),  I returned to Staunton to do a little more research on the kit homes in the city (in preparation for my talk on May 2nd), and this time, I was driven around by Frank Strassler, head of the Historic Staunton Foundation. It’s a lot easier to focus on kit homes when someone else is doing all the driving, and especially when that someone else knows where they’re going!

We found many kit homes that I’d not seen during a prior visit, and the most intriguing find was the four Harris Brothers kit homes we discovered. Frankly, I suspect there are more than four HB houses in Staunton, but I’m not that familiar with this company and, I have very few of their catalogs.

Harris Brothers (formerly the Chicago House Wrecking Company) was based in Chicago, Illinois. How did four Harris Brothers houses end up in Staunton? And three of them were in the same neighborhood (Sears Hill).

Hopefully, some of Staunton’s history loving residents will poke around a bit more, because I’m sure there are many more hidden architectural treasures just waiting to be found.

And, a little aside:   My favorite memory of the lecture on Thursday evening? I asked the crowd (128 attendees!), “Before there was a World War Two, does anyone know what we called World War One?”

To my utter delight and astonishment, a cacophony of voices replied, “The Great War.”

It was sheer bliss to realize that I was surrounded by so many history lovers. In all my travels, there’s typically a lone voice (or less), that correctly answers that question. The people of Staunton really do love their history, and better yet, they know their history, and that’s such a joy to behold.

To read the first blog I wrote about Staunton’s kit homes, click here.

OOOH, an update! Read about my newest find in Staunton here!

*   *   *

First, my favorite find in Staunton.

First, my favorite find in Staunton. Shown above is Modern Home #2028 from the 1923 Harris Brothers catalog (courtesy of Dale Wolicki).

*

Now thats a big house!

It looks like a massive house, but in fact, it's 22 feet wide and 29 feet deep.

*

Originally, I snapped this photo just because it seemed like a good idea. Sometimes, something will trigger a memory, and I didnt consciously remember having seen this house, and yet...

Originally, I snapped this photo just because it seemed like a good idea. Sometimes, something will trigger a memory, and I didn't consciously remember having seen this house, and yet, when I got back to my hotel and started going through the old catalogs, I realized it was a perfect match to the Harris Brothers #2028!

*

Pretty

And, as a nice bonus, I even managed to snap my one photo from the perfect angle! Though not easily seen in the photo above, the house in Staunton has the two bay windows, just as it should!

*

house house house

The other three Harris Brothers homes were in one neighborhood: Sears Hill. Shown above is Modern Home #1017 from the 1923 Harris Brothers catalog (courtesy of Dale Wolicki).

*

house house

The HB 1017, as seen in 1923.

*

house house

And here's the 1017 in Staunton! Look at the unique window arrangement on the home's front. And check out those unique columns, and the bracketing under the eaves. It was tough to get a good photo, but the little attic window is also a spot-on match to the catalog page. The house is 24 feet' wide and 36 feet deep. The dimensions of this house (shown above) seem to be a good match! The line drawings (from the original catalogs) are sometimes a little bit off in scale and proportion.

*

If you look down the side, youll see its a good match there, too.

If you look down the side, you'll see it's a good match there, too. BTW, Staunton is very hilly, and I learned that it's tough to get good house photos in hilly neighborhoods! And, the angle skews the proportions. Short of carrying a 20-foot stepladder around on top of the Camry, I'm not sure how to solve this.

*

house house

HB # 1025 was another "favorite" find for me, and yet another kit home that I'd never seen before. From the 1923 Harris Brothers catalog (courtesy of Dale Wolicki).

*

HB # 1025 was another favorite find for me, and yet another kit home that Id never seen before.

HBClose-up of HB #1025. From the 1923 Harris Brothers catalog (courtesy of Dale Wolicki).

*

bottom

At the lower right of that catalog page (seen above), is an actual photo of a HB #1025. This photo shows off those beautiful six casement windows on the front.

*

Be still my heart!!! Heres a real life example

What a fine house! Here's a real life example of HB #1025. And look at those pretty casement windows! Were it not for those original windows, I'm not sure I would have recognized this 90-year-old kit home.

*

house house house

Another view of those wonderful old casements. By the way, apparently this house is for sale. Someone should contact the owner and let them know - this is a kit house!

*

Close-up of the porch columns.

Close-up of the porch columns. And this house still has its original gutters.

*

house house house

HB #1007 was one of their more popular designs, however... It's also a house that has several "twins." Given that Staunton's #1007 is within three houses of the other two HB homes, I'm going to assume that the model in Staunton is indeed from Harris Brothers.

*

Nice house, isnt it?

Nice house, isn't it? Love the rocking chairs!

*

Stauntons own HB #1017.

Staunton's own HB #1017.

*

While we were out driving around, I also spotted a Sears Woodland. The Woodland is an eye-catcher because it has those two full-sized windows flanking the front door.

While we were out driving around, I also spotted a Sears Woodland. The Woodland is an eye-catcher because it has those two full-sized windows flanking the front door. And it has an unusual window arrangement down the right side (as shown here). This image is from the 1919 catalog.

*

The small attic dormer is missing but other than that, this is a great match. Due to landscaping, I was not able to get a good photo of that right side, but it does match the catalog image.

The small attic dormer is missing but other than that, this is a great match. Due to landscaping, I was not able to get a good photo of that right side, but it does match the catalog image. Was the house built sans dormer, or was it removed during a roofing job? Hard to know, but I'd guess that it was built this way. And, this house is next door to the big Harris Brothers foursquare (#2028).

*

Another fun discovery on this most recent trip was the Sears Winona in Staunton.

Another fun discovery on this most recent trip was the Sears Winona in Staunton (1938 catalog).

*

This house was offered in two floorplans (in 1938). The floorplan shown here is a match to the house in Staunton.

This house was offered in two floorplans (in 1938). The floorplan shown here is a match to the house in Staunton. It squeezes three bedrooms into 960 square feet.

*

Close-up on the Winona.

A key feature in identifying this very simple house is the small space between those two windows in the gabled bay (dining room).

*

What a nice match!

What a nice match!

*

And the other side is a good match, too!

And the other side is a good match, too!

*

Despite two days of driving around, we never did spot the Stanhope (Aladdin) purchased by Mr.

Despite two days of driving around, we never did spot the Stanhope (Aladdin) purchased by Mr. Linkenholer.

*

As seen in the 1919 catalog, heres a picture of the Aladdin Stanhope.

As seen in the 1919 catalog, here's a picture of the Aladdin Stanhope. Where's Mr. Linkholer's Stanhope? I'd love to know!

*

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

To read more about the kit homes of Staunton, click here.

To contact Rose, please leave a comment below!

*   *   *

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

The Bellewood: A Happy Combination!

April 26th, 2013 Sears Homes No comments

“The Bellewood is another happy combination of a well laid out floor plan with a modern exterior” (1932 Sears Modern Homes catalog).

And it’s also a real cutie-pie of a house.  With only 1,000 square feet of living area, it’s not surprising that people often convert the attic into usable living space.

The Bellewood is not an easy house to find, mostly because, it was only offered a short time (1931 - 1933), which also happened to be the first years of the Great Depression. In 1931, housing starts plummeted, so finding any post-1930 Sears Home is a special treat. (In January 1931, the Chicago Tribune reported that housing starts for the year [1930] were down 53%.)

Post-1930 Sears Homes are hard to find, and yet, there was one Sears House that will still selling by the hundreds in the early 1930s: The Crafton!

By the way, are you near Staunton? If so, come to our lecture on May 2nd!  :)  A good time will be had by all!

*

1933 catalog house

The Bellewood (1933). Note that the Sears Modern Homes department is now known as the "Home Construction Division." In 1934, Sears closed down their kit homes department and in 1935, they reopened it for a short time. In 1940, the whole program was shuttered once and for all.

*

1932 text

In 1932, it was described as a "Happy combination of a well laid out floor plan with a modern attractive exterior." In 1933, it was simply "an up-to-the-minute...design." How pedestrian.

*

house floor plan

The Bellewood had a very simple floorplan, with two large closets and a tiny bathroom.

*

*

Bellewood 1933

The Bellewood, as seen in the 1933 catalog.

*

1932 catalog house

A close-up of the house as seen in 1932.

*

Bellewood in Hopewell

Here's a lovely Bellewood in Hopewell, Virginia. Notice the vent on the 2nd floor has been replaced with a double-hung window. There's probably not a lot of head room on that 2nd floor.

*

Andrew Mutch Ann Arbor

This Bellewood (Ann Arbor, MI) is in wonderfully original condition. It still has its original windows, siding and trim. Down this wall, there should be a single window in the living room, and paired windows in the dining room, and kitchen. The living room window is paired, and the dining room windows are missing. Given that it has its original siding, it was probably built this way. There's certainly room for another set of windows down that long wall. Photo is copyright 2013 Andrew and Wendy Mutch, and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

Ann Arbor Bellewood house

The "short side" of the Sears Bellewood in Ann Arbor. Photo is copyright 2013 Andrew and Wendy Mutch, and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*
*

house shutters

The Bellewood came with "batten" shutters (shown here).

*

house shutters

The Bellewood in Ann Arbor still has its original shutters! Photo is copyright 2013 Andrew and Wendy Mutch, and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

Lara Solinicke Des Plaines IL

And Lara Solinicke found this beautiful Bellewood in Des Plaines, Illinois. What a pretty house!! Again, that upstairs vent has been replaced with a double-hung window! Photo is copyright 2013 Lara Solickne and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

Does Hopewell, VA have a large collection of Sears Homes? No, they do NOT. However, they do have a Bellewood (and a handful of others). Click here to learn more.

Want to learn how to identify Sears Homes? Click here!

*   *   *

The Sears Wexford in Mineral, Virginia

March 31st, 2013 Sears Homes 2 comments

Originally known as “Tolersville,” this tiny town opted to change its name to “Mineral” in the early 1900s.

Seems that there was gold in them there hills of Louisa County (where Mineral is located), and at its peak, there were 15 gold mines within three miles of the town. Copper, mica and sulfur were also discovered and mined.

On August 23, 2011, Mineral became famous for another reason: An earthquake. At 1:51 pm, a 5.8 magnitude quake was centered in the tiny town, and rattled windows from DC to Norfolk (where I live) and beyond. In Mineral, the roof collapsed on the town hall, and three public schools suffered significant damage. (This earthquake also occurred at be precise moment that my late father’s ashes were scattered. That was more than a little spooky.)

Last week, I drove up to Charlottesville to take a licensing test for Ham Radio (the “Extra” exam). On my way, I drove through Louisa, Gordonsville and Mineral, looking for kit homes.

In Mineral, I only saw one home, The Sears Wexford, but it was a fine-looking house. Next door to the Wexford was a beautiful old church serenading me with heavenly music. I parked my car next to the church for a time and just reveled in the euphonious melodies.

It really was a lovely thing and an unexpected delight.

*

1936 wexvorf

The Wexford was also known as The Bridgeport (1936 catalog).

*

two floorplans

It was offered in two floorplans, and "B" had a dining room.

*

the other

Floorplan A was a bit smaller, with a kitchen nook instead of a dining room.

*

house house house

The Wexford, as seen in the 1936 catalog.

*

Sears House in Mineral

Is this a Sears Wexford? Can't say for certain, but I'd guess that it probably is, and my guesses are usually right! :) On this Wexford, the porch is not off the living room, but off of a bedroom (it appears). Note the details around that front porch. It's a good match! I'd love to get inside at some point and check for marked lumber.

*

Wexford Cairo

This Wexford is in Cairo, Illinois on Roebuck Road (about 1/2 mile from the site of the original Sears Mill). Years ago, this Wexford was on Sears and Roebuck Road, but when the interstate came through in the 1970s, it sliced the road into two pieces. One side was renamed Sears Road (where the old mill was located), and the other side was named Roebuck Road. On my Garmin, it still shows the two pieces of this old road as "Sears and Roebuck Road." Ah, Sears and Roebuck Road: Married by commerce, divorced by the interstate.

*

I hope to be returning to this area in a month or two. If you know of a kit home in this part of the state, please leave a comment below!

*

To read about the Sears Kit Homes in Gordonsville, click here.

Or you can read about the Aladdin kit homes in Louisa by clicking here.

Come back tomorrow to read about the kit homes I found in Charlottesville.

*   *   *

The World’s Most Beautiful Sears Arlington - in Gordonsville, Virginia

March 28th, 2013 Sears Homes No comments

Last week, I drove up to Charlottesville for an overnight trip, and I stopped in Mineral, Louisa and Gordonsville.

In Louisa, I found the World’s Most Perfect Kentucky (an Aladdin kit home), and if that had been the only kit home I’d found during the trip, that would have made it all worthwhile, but then I went into Gordonsville and found the World’s Most Beautiful Arlington.

And that made my day even better.

As I was leaving town, I saw an old signal tower on the railroad tracks, and that really was the cherry on the top of my already delightful day.

I’ve seen a lot of towns, but Gordonsville fast became one of my favorite places. It’s small enough to be charming, rich in local history (including railroad history!), and just big enough to be interesting. If it just had a railroad museum, it’d be perfect.

God bless the local citizenry for saving that old signal towel.

Scroll down to see photos of the World’s Most Perfect Arlington.

To read about the World’s Most Perfect Kentucky in nearby Louisa, click here.

And to learn more about what makes Louisa so special, click here.

And look what I found in Mineral (Virginia)!

*

The Sears hosues

Most likely, the Sears Homes in Gordonsville came into town right here at the Gordonsville depot. Sadly, this building was torn down sometime in the 1970s or so. I'd be grateful to know an exact date. Just beyond the depot is the signal tower. I'd also be grateful to know how this survived the wrekcing ball. Photo is copyright 2010, C&O Historical Society and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

What a thrill to find the signal tower is still standing!

What a thrill to find the signal tower is still standing!

*

The Sears Arlington was a classic Arts & Crafts bungalow (1919).

The Sears Arlington was a classic Arts & Crafts bungalow (1919).

*

The Arlington, close up and personal.

The Arlington, close up and personal.

*

Hpuse

Be still my heart! What a glorious, gorgeous example of a Sears Arlington!

*

And if you look down the side, youll see it has the stair step windows.

And if you look down the side, you'll see it has the "stair step" windows. This Arlington truly is a perfect example, and a large part of the reason it's so perfect is that it retains its original siding and windows.

*

Take a look at the original casements on the Arlington.

Take a look at the original casements on the Arlington.

*

My oh my, what a beautiful thing to see!

My oh my, what a beautiful thing to see! It even has original WOODEN storms!!

*

And just down the road from the Arlington is what I suspect is a Sears Chelsea.

And just down the road from the Arlington is what I suspect is a Sears Chelsea (1908).

*

Is this a Chelsea in Gordonsville? Tough to know for sure. My first impression is YES, but Im just not 100% certain. Id love to get inside this house and do a more thorough inspection.

Is this a Chelsea in Gordonsville? Tough to know for sure. My first impression is YES, but I'm just not 100% certain. I'd love to get inside this house and do a more thorough inspection.

*

A sneak peak of the beautiful Kentucky I found in Louisa.

A sneak peak of the beautiful Kentucky I found in Louisa.

*

To read more about that beautiful Kentucky, click here.

To learn more about how you can support the good work of the C&O Historical Society, click here.

To contact Rose, please leave a comment below.

*   *   *

“The Kentucky” in Louisa, Virginia

March 22nd, 2013 Sears Homes 7 comments

Aladdin was probably the biggest of the six national companies that sold kit homes through mail order. And here in Virginia, the majority of kit homes I’ve found are Aladdins. This is probably due to the fact that Aladdin had a huge mill in Wilmington, NC.

Earlier, I drove out to Charlottesville (from my home in Norfolk), and I took Route 33 so that I could look for kit homes. I’d about given up on finding anything in Louisa when I turned down a sleepy little road about four blocks from the train station and look what I found!  It’s an Aladdin Kentucky.

I’d been hoping to see one “in the flesh” for some time, and this one in Louisa is in WONDERFULLY original condition!

To read about another beautiful kit home I found in nearby Gordonsville, click here!

Click here to see what I found in Mineral (Virginia)!

To read about another “Kentucky” (in Mechanicsville, Iowa), click here.

house

The Kentucky, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

*

The Kentucky was offered in two floorpllans, small andl arge.

The Kentucky was offered in two floorplans, small and large. This house was 43' wide!!!

*

Fine-looking house, isnt it?

Fine-looking house, isn't it?

*

Be still my heart. Here it is, alive and well in Louisa, VA.

Be still my heart. Here it is, alive and well in Louisa, VA. It's rare to find a 100-year-old house still in original condition. This house has its original doors, windows and sidings!

*

house

The Kentucky is a very wide house!

*

Close-up on the details.

Close-up on the details. I love those windows!

*

Many years ago, someone planted a pair of oaks squarely in front of the house.

Many years ago, someone planted a pair of oaks squarely in front of the house.

*

Alad

Close-up on the catalog image shows detail of the columns, doors and window.

*

It is

This Kentucky looks much like it did when built in 1914.

*

Easily one of the best matches Ive ever seen - and its in Louisa, VA!

Easily one of the best matches I've ever seen - and it's in Louisa, VA!

*

In addition to the Aladdin Kentucky, I also found this cute little bungalow in Louisa. This image is from the 1923 Aladdin catalog.

In addition to the Aladdin Kentucky, I also found this cute little bungalow in Louisa. This image is from the 1923 Aladdin catalog. This was the Aladdin "Cape Cod" (model name).

*

What a nice match to the catalog page!

What a nice match to the catalog page!

*

The Aladdin Madison was a very poplar house for Aladdin. In this graphic (1923 catalog), it was called The Lindbergh.

The Aladdin Madison was a very poplar house for Aladdin. In this graphic (1928 catalog), it was called "The Lindbergh."

*

This house was offered with two floorplans.

This house was offered with two floorplans. The Madison in Louisa was the larger of the two floorplans, with the extra window on the home's front, and the two bump-outs in the rear.

*

Heres the Madison in Louisa! Another lovely match!

Here's the Madison in Louisa! Another lovely match!

*

To learn more about why these kit homes are historically significant, click here.

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

And to learn more about why Louisa is so historically significant, click here.

*   *   *