Posts Tagged ‘growing up in Portsmouth’

Waterview (Portsmouth, Virginia) and Their Plan Book Houses

October 20th, 2015 Sears Homes 4 comments

An old friend (Margee) contacted me and said that her daughter had recently purchased a home in Waterview, our old stomping ground. Margee and I grew up together on Nansemond Street in Waterview, and we share many happy memories of that place and time.

Margee was wondering if the house was a kit home.

Here’s the answer.  :)

Margees daughter purchased this house in Waterview.

Margee's daughter purchased this 1930s house in Waterview. Like so many Waterview homes, it's a 1920s/30s two-story home with brick veneer and a Buckingham slate roof - the crème de la crème of all slate roofs. These homes are very well built and solid, and with minimal care and some love, this house will last another 100 years.



Here's a view of the house as seen on Google.


And heres a view of the house as seen in the 1927 Homebuilders Catalog.

And here's a view of the house as seen in the 1927 Home Builder's Catalog. Margee's daughter does *NOT* have a kit home, but it is a "Pattern Book" house. Pattern book homes were NOT the same as kit homes, but they were similar.



With pattern book homes (such as "Home Builders" shown here), you'd select the house of your dreams and then you'd receive detailed blueprints and a list of the building materials you'd need for your new home. With kit homes, everything came in a one package - the design, blueprints and building materials.


Brief review:

Kit house - everything in one package: Design, blueprints and building materials.

Pattern book house - design, blueprints and a LIST of the building materials you’d need to purchase to build your new home.



Pattern book homes were hugely popular in the 1920s and 1930s (which is when the house in Waterview was built), and the 1927 book shown here had more than 1,000 pages.



Many thanks to Google for getting the house from the same angle! The house in Waterview is brick, while the image from the pattern book is frame, and the side porch has been enclosed. Nonetheless, I'd say it's the same model.


A little information on the front page tells more about the how-tos of buying a pattern book house.

A little information on the front page tells more about the "how-tos" of buying a pattern book house.


Waterview is awash in pattern book houses, and Ive spent years trying to find the house of my youth (in Waterview) in a pattern book. Heretofore, Ive been unsuccessful.

Waterview is awash in pattern book houses, and I've spent years trying to find the house of my youth (in Waterview) in a pattern book. Heretofore, I've been unsuccessful.


The older I get, the more I realize, Im an old soul lost in a love of all things historic, and thats ever more apparent when I reflect on memories of Margee, my childhood friend. When I think of Margee, this is where my mind travels.

Here's a picture of Margee and me in the late 1960s. That's my brother Tommy on the far left (guitar guy), and then me (sleepy girl), Margee, and my brother Eddie on the far right.


To learn more about the amazing collection of pattern book homes in Waterview and nearby areas, click here.

Do  you think you have a kit home? Learn how to identify these early 20th Century treasures here.

Nostalgia buff? Read more about my own happy memories of Waterview here.


WLS Radio and Sears Roebuck

October 21st, 2012 Sears Homes 5 comments

What is the connection between the famed Chicago radio station - WLS - and Sears Roebuck?

In 1924, WLS began life as a promotional tool for Sears. In fact, WLS stands for “World’s Largest Store.”

On April 9, 1924, Sears own radio station signed on with 500 watts, with offices on the 11th floor of the Sears 14-story “skyscraper” at Homan and Arthington Street in downtown Chicago.

In 1925, the front pages of the Sears Roebuck catalog promised that, “WLS was conceived in your interests, is operated in your behalf and is dedicated to your service.”

It was a short-lived experiment for Sears. Four years after its creation, WLS was sold to the Prairie Farmer Magazine. The studios were moved to the Prairie Farmer Building  (also in downtown Chicago).  In 1960, WLS was sold to the American Broadcasting Company (ABC).

Click here to learn more about the history of WLS.

Hey, is that a Sears House? Click here to learn more about identifying kit homes.


In 1925, Sears published its first employee newsletter, known simply as "WLS" (World's Largest Store). Inside the newsletter was a detailed account of The Kelly Family buying and building their own kit home.


To read more about the Kelly’s kit home, click here.

To buy Rose’s newest book, click here.

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Jim and Tammy’s House - a Kit Home!

February 2nd, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

Those familiar with WYAH-TV and Portsmouth, Virginia will remember that this was where Pat Robertson and CBN got their start. According to his autobiographical book, Shout it From The Housetops, the name for Robertson’s flagship station came from the Hebrew name for God, Yahweh. In 1960, when the station was first launched, this was a remarkable event. It was the first Christian television network, and it was located right here in Portsmouth, Virginia.

The station signed on the air October 1961, and in 1966, a young couple named Jim and Tammy Bakker started working for Robertson. Their show, “The Jim and Tammy Show” featured local kiddos in the studio audience. Growing up in Waterview, my best friend was Margee Anderson, and her mom would drive Margee and me down to the studio on Spratley Street and we’d take our place in the audience.  As a seven or eight year old child, I remember thinking that Jim and Tammy were good people. I’d like to believe that those cherished memories of childhood are right, and that the Bakkers merely lost their way in later years.

The Bakkers lived in Waterview, about three blocks from my own home. Sometime in the 1970s, they left Portsmouth and moved out of their Dutch Colonial home at the foot of the Churchland bridge.

In later years, I discovered that the Bakker’s home was actually a kit home, ordered from a mail-order catalog sometime in the early 1920s. The house was shipped by train - in about 12,000 pieces - and came with a 75-page instruction book that told the wanna-be homeowner how all those pieces went together. The house the Bakkers lived in was sold by Lewis Manufacturing of Bay City, Michigan. Their model was The Marlboro.

To learn more about kit homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

Lewis Marlboro

Lewis Marlboro


Lewis Marlboro in Portsmouth, as it appeared in 2004. The front door was covered with plywood, due to some issue (which eludes my memory right now).

From the 1921 catalog

From the 1921 catalog

The house as it appears today

The house as it appears today

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

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