Archive

Posts Tagged ‘kit homes in norfolk’

The Edison: One of the Prettiest Little Bungalows Ever Built

November 21st, 2013 Sears Homes 3 comments

The Aladdin Edison must have been a very popular house for Aladdin. It was small (600 square feet), affordable ($750 in 1914) and from an architectural standpoint, a real cutie pie. According  to the 1914 catalog, it was “One of the prettiest little bungalows ever built.”

The Aladdin Edison, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

The Aladdin Edison, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

*

In 1914, it was known as the Denver.

In 1914, it was known as the "Denver."

*

There were minor differences

There were minor differences between the floorplan for the Denver (1914) and the Edison (1919).

*

Edison

In the 1919 floor plan, the dining room has been moved to the front of the house and a bedroom has been enlarged. The bathroom got a lot smaller though. Good grief - six by eight? You'd have to step into the hallway to change your mind. Oh wait, there is no hallway. And a bedroom lost a closet.

*

It wasnt until I started putting this blog together that I realized there were some other differences, too.

It wasn't until I started putting this blog together that I realized there were some other differences, too. The dormer on the Denver (right) is not as high on the roofline as the dormer on the Edison (left). That's a significant difference. The Denver (right) has four small windows across the front. The Edison has two big and two small.

*

But

But I'd have to say I like the Edison better. And look at that hammock on the front porch!

*

And heres a pretty little bungalow in Norfolk.

And here's a pretty little Edison in Norfolk. Looking good, too! However, it should be very afraid. It's perilously close to Old Dominion University, and colleges are notorious bungalow eaters. Will it live to see its 100th birthday?

*

It sits next door to this Edison (on 49th Street).

It sits right next door to this Edison (on 49th Street). Will ODU be able to resist gobbling up TWINKIE Edisons? Doubtful. Two little Edisons together - forever. I hope.

*

In 1923, this ad appeared in the Ledger Dispatch (Norfolk).

In April 1923, this ad appeared in the Ledger Dispatch newspaper (Norfolk). My new full-time job is reading through hundreds and hundreds of pages of old newspapers, looking for information on Penniman. In the process, I do find some really unexpected and cool stuff, such as this ad. Even in 1923, it was described as "beautiful." Is it the blue house or the green house there on 49th Street? I wonder. But if you take a close look at this house, you'll notice that it has all the same furniture as the Edison in the 1919 catalog. Oopsie. Looks like J. Wesley Gardner infringed someone's copyright! The ad also says it has a poultry house in the back yard.

*

Heres a cute little Edison in Hopewell, VA.

Here's a cute little Edison in Hopewell, VA. Ah but wait, look at that dormer! It's a Denver!

*

Another Denver in Hopewell, VA.

Another Denver in Hopewell, VA.

*

And another.

This Hopewell Denver has a "sensitive" addition. Looks darn good!

*

Oh NO!!! Blind!

Oh NO!!! It's had its eyes gouged out!!! This poor dear is in Hopewell, too.

*

Oh

The tree in the front yard is dying of embarrassment.

*

Lynch

The Edison seems to be prone to abuse. This unfortunate thing is in Lynchburg. Wrought iron? Really? And I'm not sure why there are two reflectors at the base of the step. Is it so people won't drive into the living room at night?

*

Roanoke Rapids, NC also has an abundance of Edisons.

Roanoke Rapids, NC also has an abundance of Edisons. This one is a little rough around the edges.

*

This one wishes someone would give it an overdose

This one is "all fixed up" (shudder). It's also in Roanoke Rapids.

*

A palate cleanse.

This one needs some love, but the Japanese Lanterns are a nice touch (Roanoke Rapids).

*

Heres a sweet little

And I saved one of my favorites for last. It's a a sweet little Denver in Crewe, VA. Seems likely that the addition (left front) was done when the house was originally built. This house is on Route 460 on the left side heading east. I always wave "hello" when I drive past it. Something about this little bungalow in Crewe always makes me smile.

*

To read more about Penniman, click here.

How many kit homes does Hopewell have? Click here to learn more!

To learn more about Roanoke Rapids and their amazing collection of houses, click here.

To contact Rose, leave a comment below.

*    *    *

The Stanhope, not in Iowa or New Jersey, but Norfolk!

January 19th, 2013 Sears Homes 2 comments

Stanhope is the name of a city in Iowa and New Jersey. And it’s also the name of a car that was sold from 1904-1906, by the Twyford Motor Car Company of Brookville, Pennsylvania.

But for this blog, we’re going to talk about the Stanhope that was sold by Aladdin of Bay City, Michigan.

The Stanhope was a fairly popular house. In 1920s America, it was an ideal home in both size and price.  And unlike so many of these diminutive bungalows, it had three bedrooms (most had two).

Yes, they were only 10 x 10, but for the family with four girls and three boys, it was probably a whole lot better than fold-out cots in the living and dining rooms (another popular option at the time).

Aladdin, like Sears, offered kit homes through their mail-order catalog. Sears sold about 70,000 kit homes during their 32 years in the building business. Aladdin sold more than 75,000 homes. The Sears Modern Homes department was in business from 1908-1940. Aladdin started selling houses in 1906, and didn’t close until 1981, a full 75 years!

Here in Norfolk, Virginia (where I live), we have many more Aladdins than Sears. Aladdin had a large mill in Wilmington, NC which explains why there are so many Aladdin kit homes in the Southeast.

Thanks to Dale Wolicki for providing info on Aladdin!

To learn more about Aladdin, click here.

To read more about Roanoake Rapids (which has a massive collection of Aladdin kit homes), click here.

*   *   *

Aladdin (based in Bay City) sold kit homes through mail order.

Aladdin (based in Bay City, Michigan) sold kit homes through mail order. This is my favorite graphic from their catalog (1919).

*

The Stanhope was one of Aladdins most popular little houses.

The Stanhope was one of Aladdin's most popular little houses.

*

But it was a very small house.

It had three bedrooms, but it was a very small house.

*

The full

The catalog page featuring the Stanhope, as it appeared in 1919.

*

After reading this delicious description, kinda makes ME want to run out and buy a Stanhope of my own!

"Are you not pleased with the Stanhope?"

*

One of the

Aladdin was famous for their "Dollar a Knot" guarantee.

*

The Stanhope

The Stanhope can be tough to identify because it looks like every little early 20th Century bungalow and is rather nondescript.

*

And yet, you can find them if theyre in original condition. Heres a perfect Stanhope in Scotland Neck, NC (near Roanoke Rapids).

And yet, they can be identified if they're in original condition. Here's a perfect Stanhope in Scotland Neck, NC (near Roanoke Rapids).

*

Nice match, isnt it?

Nice match, isn't it?

*

And heres one in Norfolk, Virginia. This house is very close to ODU, and is on 51st Street.

And here's one in Norfolk, Virginia. This house is very close to ODU, and is on 51st Street. It's a perfect example of the Aladdin Stanhope and one of my favorite finds!

*

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

Have you visited Roanoke Rapids? It’s a town FULL of Aladdin kit homes. Click here to learn more.

*   *   *

Cooking - Off the Grid!

November 24th, 2012 Sears Homes 3 comments

As has become our annual tradition, hubby cooked our 18-pound turkey on his Weber Charcoal Grill. It was one of the most delicious birds I’ve ever enjoyed. The best part was that it was cooked 100% “off the grid.”

The charcoal is a no-brainer. Lots of people know how to use charcoal to cook their meat.

But the secret of a well-cooked bird  is the rotisserie attachment which spins the meat at a slow speed. This year, the small but powerful rotisserie motor was powered  by our new “Solar System,” three 15-watt solar panels which we recently installed at The Ringer Ranch.

These three photovoltaic panels convert the sun’s rays into electricity, which is stored in a 12-volt deep-cycle marine battery. The inverter (shown below) converts the 12-volt system into 120 volts, suitable for household use.

To learn more about how we installed these solar panels, click here.

Hubby proudly points out his delicious turkey spinning on the grill.

Hubby proudly points out his delicious turkey spinning on the grill.

*

Look

Our three 15-watt solar panels are on top of the shed roof.

*

The electrical items (inverter, solar controller and battery) are inside the shed.

The electrical items (inverter, solar controller and battery) are inside the shed. Notice the orange extension cord coming out of the inverter? That is powering the rotisserie.

*

The most amazing part is that the solar panels were charging the battery *faster* than the rotisserie motor was drawing off power.

The most amazing part is that the solar panels were charging the battery *faster* than the rotisserie motor was drawing off power. And this was at 8:00 am.

*

Safety first. Hubby uses the five-gallon bucket to keep the cords out of the wet dew.

Safety first. Hubby uses the five-gallon bucket to keep the cords out of the wet dew.

*

It was indeed a most splendiferous bird!

It was indeed a most splendiferous bird!

*

Want a “solar system” of your own? We did it for $351 (total cost). To buy your own, click here.

*

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

*

To read about a very happy Thanksgiving in 1918, click here.

*   *   *

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

A Very Presidential House: The Garfield

November 5th, 2012 Sears Homes 1 comment

Okay boys and girls: What was the remarkable fact of James A. Garfield’s presidency?

Here’s some nice music to get you in the mood for answering questions.

Give up?

Hmmm.

James Abram Garfield became our 20th president on March 4, 1881 and was shot by an assassin on July 2, 1881. He died from his wounds on September 19, 1881. Only one president (William Henry Harrison) had a shorter term as president.

Garfield’s assassin, Charles Guiteau, was a special kind of crazy.

Guiteau’s murder weapon was a .442 Webly caliber British Bulldog revolver, purchased with $15 he’d borrowed from an acquaintance. The large caliber gun was offered with wooden or ivory grips. Giteau chose ivory, because he thought that would look nicer on display in a glass case in a museum.

At Guiteau’s trial, an expert, Dr. Spitzka, testified that Giteau was quite insane.

“Guiteau is not only now insane, but he was never anything else,” Spitzka testified.

He also said that Guiteau was a “moral monstrosity,” and “a morbid egotist, who misinterpreted and overly personalized the real events of life.”

Guiteau was enraged by this “crazy talk.” He believed that he’d ascend to the presidency after Garfield’s death.

Repeatedly ignoring his lawyers’ pleas to keep his mouth shut, Guiteau argued to the judge that it was the “the doctors that killed Garfield. I just shot him.”

There was a wisp of truth in that statement. In all the probing and poking for one of the bullets that had lodged in Garfield’s abdomen, the doctors introduced all manner of germs which in turn caused infections.

President Garfield died two months shy of his 50th birthday. The only other American president to die so young in office was President Kennedy.

To learn more about Giteau, click here.

To see pretty pictures of the Sears Garfield, scroll down.

Garfield

The Garfield was a two-family house (1928 catalog).

*

Garfield also

Pretty distinctive looking with that wide porch and those sturdy columns. Note the unusual window arrangement down the side.

*

Garfield

"A pleasing exterior and modern interior..."

*

Garfield

The Garfield was an upstairs/downstairs duplex.

*

Garfield

The hallways on the far right led to the second floor apartment.

*

Garfifeld

This is the only Garfield I've ever seen, and it's in Janesville, WI.

*

Janesville

Another view of the Garfield in Janesville.

*

Janesville

Side by side, they're a sweet match!

*

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

*   *   *

The Sears Homes of Suffolk (Virginia)

January 7th, 2012 Sears Homes No comments

One of my favorite memories from childhood was riding with my father to Suffolk to visit the peanut vendors and inspect their product. My father was an assistant manager at Skippy Peanut Butter in Portsmouth, and also their purchasing agent.

Suffolk has always been one of my favorite places in Virginia.  And it’s also the largest city in Virginia, and the Peanut Capital of the World. Here in Hampton Roads, it’s our fastest-growing city, thanks to the low-crime rates and above-average schools.

Perhaps best of all, it has a significant collection of kit homes.

Sears kit homes were sold from 1908-1940. Sears and Roebuck was based in Chicago, but Sears Homes were sold in all 48 states. These 12,000-piece kits were shipped by boxcar, and came with a 75-page instruction book and a promise that a “man of average abilities” could have the house built and ready for occupancy in 90 days.

Here in Southeastern Virginia, we also have many kit homes from Aladdin. They were based in Bay City, Michigan, but Aladdin had a large mill in Wilmington, NC. Aladdin started selling kit homes in 1906, and continued until 1981.

If I were queen of the world (and it shouldn’t be long now), I would create a simple pamphlet showing these kit homes and their addresses (and a map) and offer them to visitors as a self-guided driving tour. I’d also put a little plaque on the homes, identifying them as kit homes. This is a very nice collection of kit homes in Suffolk, and something should be done to promote them.

All of the houses shown below are located in Suffolk.

To learn more about identifying kit homes, click here.

To see a Sears Home in Urbana with a little plaque, click here.

Sears Osborn, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

Sears Osborn, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

*

Sears

There are a lot of trees and bushes in Suffolk, which made it difficult to get good photographs. Here's a Sears Osborn in an older section of Suffolk. Note the details around the brickwork.

*

Sears

The Sears Westly was a very popular house for Sears. This is from the 1916 catalog. The floorplan shows a fireplace in the corner of the dining room, which is an unusual feature in a Sears House!

*

s

Close-up of the Sears Westly

*

SHEHE

This Westly is happy, and feels very good about life. It's a good match to the original catalog image, and even though it's been "updated," the work was thoughtfully done.

*

Putting wrought iron on an old house is not a good idea.

Putting wrought iron on an old house is not a good idea. Plus, they removed the porch deck. And the columns. And the eaves. And the unique trim. And the personality.

*

The Glenn Falls was one of Sears biggest and fanciest homes.

The Glenn Falls was one of Sears biggest and fanciest homes.

*

Crummy photo due to poor lighting, but you can it is a Glenn Falls.

Crummy photo due to poor lighting, but you can it is a Glenn Falls, in brick!

*

Sears Elsmore was another very popular house for Sears.

Sears Elsmore was another very popular house for Sears.

*

Its been through some changes, but its still an Elsmore.

It's been through some changes, but it's still an Elsmore. Note the nine/one windows, and also the original eave brackets. You can also see bits of those unique columns on the front porch.

*

As mentioned, in addition to Sears, there as also a mail-order company called Aladdin. This is an Aladdin Colonial, which was Aladdins biggest and fanciest house.

As mentioned, in addition to Sears, there as also a mail-order company called Aladdin. This is an Aladdin Colonial, which was Aladdin's biggest and fanciest house.

*

This is a real beauty, and its right there in Suffolk!

This is a real beauty, and it's right there in Suffolk!

*

The Aladdin Lamberton, from the 1919 catalog.

The Aladdin Lamberton, from the 1919 catalog.

*

Its been converted into a duplex, but its still a Lamberton.

It's been converted into a duplex, and remuddled a bit. Is this a Lamberton? I'd say - with 90% certainty - that it is. Because of the many changes, it's hard to be sure. Look at the front porch roof. That's still a spot-on match to the original catalog image.

*

And theres also a Harris Brothers house in Suffolk. Harris Brothers was a small kit home company based in Chicago.

And there's also a Harris Brothers house in Suffolk. Harris Brothers was a small kit home company based in Chicago.

*

Suffolk

Again - the trees. Sigh. However, you can see (even with a tree in the way) that this is a perfect match to the Harris Brother house (shown above).

Last is this house from Gordon Van Tine. They were based in Davenport, Iowa and there are several GVT houses here in Hampton Roads.

Last is this house from Gordon Van Tine. They were based in Davenport, Iowa and there are several GVT houses here in Hampton Roads.

*

Its been through some changes, but its a GVT #501.

It's been through some changes, but it's still easy to see that it's a GVT #501.

*

When youre trying to identify Sears Homes, you should look for this mark on the lumber.

When you're trying to identify Sears Homes, you should look for this mark on the lumber. This mark, together with a 75-page instruction book, helped the novice homebuilder put together these homes.

*

Aladdin used a different marking system on their lumber, such as this.

Aladdin used a different marking system on their lumber, such as this.

*

If you’d like to learn more about the kit homes in Hampton Roads, click here.

*   *   *

And The Plat Thickens, Part II

October 11th, 2011 Sears Homes 5 comments

To read a fun update on this story, click here.

Mark Hardin (fellow researcher and old house aficionado) has observed something (again), that I casually overlooked. But after thinking about this for 24 hours, I think he’s right.

That happens a lot.

David Spriggs, Mark Hardin, Rachel Shoemaker and I have been scouring cities (via google maps) looking for Ethels, our pet name for these distinctive little bungalows that have been found in several Dupont towns. We’ve found them in Butte, Montana and Norfolk, Virginia (where they were probably moved from Penniman, Virginia), and Dupont Washington. (Actually, it was Mark that found them in Dupont, WA and Butte, MT.)

This summer, I thought I’d found one in Muskogee, but as Mark Hardin obseved, it’s not a spot-on match to the rest of our Ethels. Secondly, we can’t find any evidence of a Dupont presence anywhere nearby, and that’s an important fact.

On the bedroom side of our Ethels, it’s one window for the bedroom, bath, bedroom. On the Musky House, there’s an extra window on that last bedroom. A window by itself isn’t a big deal, but this window adds some length to the house, making it a more spacious house.

On the Musky’s front, it’s got a door beside the window, whereas our Ethels have a door on the sidewall of the front porch, and it appears to have a significantly wider foot print.

More info is needed, because I think Mark might be right. This house in Muskogee is very close, but it’s not a perfect match.

Eth

This is the Ethel in Muskogee, Oklahoma in the 900-block of Boston Avenue. It is a close match to our other Ethels, but it's a little wider. (Photo is courtesy of Angeline Stacy and may not be used or reproduced without written permission. )


house

Another view of our Ethel in Muskogee. You'll note the windows are all boarded up. Not a good sign. Angeline reports that this neighborhood was "a little scary." (Photo is courtesy of Angeline Stacy and may not be used or reproduced without written permission. )

And thanks to Mark Mckillop, we have many photos of the houses in Dupont, Washington.


Our Ethel Bungalow in Dupont, Washington. All photos are courtesy of Mark Mckillop and may not be reproduced without written permission.)

Our "Ethel Bungalow" in Dupont, Washington. (This photo is courtesy of Mark Mckillop and may not be reproduced without written permission.)

Ethel

This Dupont Ethel is in largely original condition. (This photo is courtesy of Mark Mckillop and may not be reproduced without written permission.)

Ethel

I wish Mark had taken his chain saw with him. Landscaping is always a problem when photographing old houses. (This photo is courtesy of Mark Mckillop and may not be reproduced without written permission.)

Ethel

This Ethel in Dupont has seen a little modification. Vinyl siding is not a friend of old houses. (This photo is courtesy of Mark Mckillop and may not be reproduced without written permission.)

Ethel

This is such a distinctive little house. Have you seen it in your neighborhood? (This photo is courtesy of Mark Mckillop and may not be reproduced without written permission.)

Next are the photos of our Ethels, which art in Norfolk. As you’ll see from the photos below, they really are a good match to the houses in Dupont, Washington and Muskogee, OK.

House

One of our mystery bungalows on 51st Street. Photo is courtesy of David Spriggs and may not be reused or reprinted without permission from David Spriggs.

Another

Good shot of the two bungalows on 51st Street. This photo is courtesy of David Spriggs and may not be reused or reprinted without permission from David Sprggs.

house

This is one of the houses in Riverview that's in mostly original condition. The little dormer on the side was added in later years.

Close-up of railing

Close-up of railing

Close-up of dormer

This dormer window is a pretty distinctive feature.

another Ethel

Another "Ethel Bungalow" in Riverview

Aladdin promoted itself to companies as a supplier of industrial housing. It was believed that providing housing for workers created a more stable workforce. And that was probably true.

Aladdin promoted itself to companies as a supplier of industrial housing. It was believed that if a company provided housing for its employees, this would create a more stable workforce. And that was probably true. Dupont turned to Aladdin to supply homes for Hopewell, Virginia and Carney Point, New Jersey and Old Hickory, TN. (1919 Aladdin catalog)

To read an update on this interesting story, click here.

To read what we learned about the Ethels at Penniman, click here.

To contact Rose, please leave a comment below.

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

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

* * *

Where Art Thou, Little Ethel?

September 19th, 2011 Sears Homes 1 comment

Here in Norfolk, we have 16 little bungalows (dubbed, “The Ethel”) that were originally built at another location, and then moved here by George P. Hudson on April 14, 1922.*

Several months ago, we learned that 3,000 miles away (in Dupont, Washington), there are dozens of identical bungalows, built by Dupont for the dynamite factory. Thanks to Lee and Joh from the Dupont Historical Museum in Dupont, Washington,  we now that the little houses were built in Fall 1909.

And then old-house lover and researcher Mark Hardin found another neighborhood of these “Ethel Bungalows” in a little village just outside of Butte, Montana. (It was Mark who found the houses in Dupont, too.) More recently, an Ethel was spotted by Rachel Shoemaker in Oklahoma.

So, our Ethel Bunaglow in Norfolk (which came from somewhere else) is a spot-on match to the company houses in Dupont, Washington,  and Butte, Montana. And there’s also one (and maybe hundreds more) in Muskogee, Oklahoma.

Fellow old-house lover Mark Mckillop took a trip to Dupont, Washington and photographed more than 100 of the houses in that tiny village , and then sent me the photos. His photographs prove (as we suspected) that the Ethel Bungalows in Dupont are indeed identical to the Ethel Bungalows here in Norfolk.

To read more about what we’ve learned thus far, read Part Five of this ongoing (and fascinating) story.

Despite what we’ve learned, many unanswered questions remain. Are these “Ethels” kit homes from Aladdin? Are they pattern book houses? If not, where did DuPont get this design? Why are these houses popping up in several of Dupont’s neighborhoods? And where did the houses in Norfolk come from?

If you’ve any information to contribute, please post a note in the comment’s section below!

* Thanks to Norfolk historian David Spriggs for finding that date, and also finding the name of the man who moved them! To learn more about what David learned, click here.

Our Ethel Bungalow in Dupont, Washington. All photos are courtesy of Mark Mckillop and may not be reproduced without written permission.)

Our "Ethel Bungalow" in Dupont, Washington. (This photo is courtesy of Mark Mckillop and may not be reproduced without written permission.)

Ethel

This Dupont Ethel is in largely original condition. (This photo is courtesy of Mark Mckillop and may not be reproduced without written permission.)

Ethel

I wish Mark had taken his chain saw with him. Landscaping is always a problem when photographing old houses. (This photo is courtesy of Mark Mckillop and may not be reproduced without written permission.)

Ethel

This Ethel in Dupont has seen a little modification. Vinyl siding is not a friend of old houses. (This photo is courtesy of Mark Mckillop and may not be reproduced without written permission.)

Ethel

This is such a distinctive little house. Have you seen it in your neighborhood? (This photo is courtesy of Mark Mckillop and may not be reproduced without written permission.)

Next are the photos of our Ethels, which art in Norfolk. As you’ll see from the photos below, they really are a good match to the houses in Dupont, Washington.

House

One of our mystery bungalows on 51st Street. Photo is courtesy of David Spriggs and may not be reused or reprinted without permission from David Spriggs.

Another

Good shot of the two bungalows on 51st Street. This photo is courtesy of David Spriggs and may not be reused or reprinted without permission from David Sprggs.

house

This is one of the houses in Riverview that's in mostly original condition. The little dormer on the side was added in later years.

Close-up of railing

Close-up of railing

Close-up of dormer

This dormer window is a pretty distinctive feature.

another Ethel

Another "Ethel Bungalow" in Riverview

Aladdin promoted itself to companies as a supplier of industrial housing. It was believed that providing housing for workers created a more stable workforce. And that was probably true.

Aladdin promoted itself to companies as a supplier of industrial housing. It was believed that if a company provided housing for its employees, this would create a more stable workforce. And that was probably true. Dupont turned to Aladdin to supply homes for Hopewell, Virginia and Carney Point, New Jersey and Old Hickory, TN. (1919 Aladdin catalog)

To contact Rose, please leave a comment below.

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

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

* * *

Is That Really a Sears Kit Home? Nine Easy Ways to Tell.

May 21st, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

The number one question I’m asked again and again - How do you identify a Sears Kit Home?

First, begin by eliminating the obvious. Sears sold these homes between 1908-1940. If your home was built outside of that time frame, it can not be a Sears catalog home. Period. Exclamation mark!

The nine easy signs follow:

1) Look for stamped lumber in the basement or attic.  Sears Modern Homes were kit homes and the framing members were stamped with a letter and a number to help facilitate construction. Today, those marks can help prove that you have a kit home.

2) Look for shipping labels. These are often found on the back of millwork (baseboard molding, door and window trim, etc).

3) Check house design using a book with good quality photos and original catalog images. For Sears, I recommend, “The Sears Homes of Illinois” (all color photos). For Wardway, there’s “The Mail-Order Homes of Montgomery Ward.”

4) Look in the attic and basement for any paperwork (original blueprints, letters, etc). that might reveal that you have a Sears home.

5) Courthouse records. From 1911 to 1933, Sears offered home mortgages. Using grantor records, you may find a few Sears mortgages and thus, a few Sears homes.

6) Hardware fixtures. Sears homes built during the 1930s often have a small circled “SR” cast into the bathtub in the lower corner (furthest from the tub spout and near the floor) and on the underside of the kitchen or bathroom sink.

7) Goodwall sheet plaster. This was an early quasi-sheetrock product offered by Sears, and can be a clue that you have a kit home.

8 ) Unique column arrangement on front porch and five-piece eave brackets (see pictures below).

9) Original building permits. In cities that have retained original building permits, you’ll often find “Sears” listed as the home’s original architect.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

To read another article, click here.

Lumber was numbered to facilitate construction

Lumber was numbered to facilitate construction

Numbers

The numbers are usually less than an inch tall and will be found near the edge of the board.

The Sears Magnolia was also known as Model #2089

See the faint markings on this lumber? This mark was made in blue grease pencil and reads, "2089" and was scribbled on the board when the lumber left Cairo, Illinois. This was a photo taken in a Sears Magnolia in North Carolina. The Sears Magnolia was also known as Model #2089

Sears Magnolia was also known as #2089

Sears Magnolia was also known as Model #2089.

Shipping labels can also be a clue that you have a Sears Homes

Shipping labels can also be a clue that you have a Sears Home.

"The Sears Homes of Illinois" has more than 200 color photos of the most popular designs that Sears offered and can be very helpful in identifying Sears Homes.

Ephemera can help identify a house as a Sears Home

Ephemera can help identify a house as a Sears Home. This picture came from an original set of Sears "Honor Bilt" blueprints.

Ephemera

Ephemera and paperwork can provide proof that you do indeed have a Sears Home.

Haa

Plumbing fixtures - such as this bathtub - can provide clues, as well. I've found this "SR" (Sears Roebuck) stamp on bathtubs, sinks and toilets. On the sink, it's found on the underside, and on toilets, it's found in the tank, near the casting date.

Goodwall Sheet Plaster

Goodwall Sheet Plaster was sold in the pages of the Sears Modern Homes catalogs. This was a "fireproof" product that was much like modern sheetrock.

About two dozen of Sears most popular designs had a unique column arrangement that makes identification easier. The Vallonia was one of those 24 Sears Homes with that unique column arrangement.

About two dozen of Sears most popular designs had a unique column arrangement that makes identification easier. The Vallonia was one of those 24 Sears Homes with that unique column arrangement.

Close-up of the columns.

Close-up of the columns.

And in the flesh...

And in the flesh...

Houses should be a perfect match to original drawings found in the Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Houses should be a perfect match to original drawings found in the Sears Modern Homes catalog. This is where people get into trouble. They ignore the details.

Sears Mitchell in Elgin, Illinois.

Sears "Mitchell" in Elgin, Illinois.

* * *

The Sears Winona, as featured in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog. The house in Raleigh (see below) is just a spot-on match, a rarity in a house of this age!

The Sears Winona, as featured in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog. The house in Raleigh (see below) is just a spot-on match, a rarity in a house of this age!

Sears Winona in Raleigh, looking PERFECT!

Sears Winona in Raleigh, looking PERFECT!

Sears Auburn in Halifax, NC

Sears Auburn

And a dazzling Auburn in Halifax, NC.

And a dazzling Auburn in Halifax, NC.

Sears Pheonix from the 1919 Modern Homes catalog.

Sears Pheonix from the 1919 Modern Homes catalog.

And a lovely Sears Pheonix in Newman, IL. Photo is courtesy Rebecca Hunter.

And a lovely Sears Pheonix in Newman, IL. Photo is courtesy Rebecca Hunter.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

* * *

Send Rose an email at thorntonrose@hotmail.com

To read more about Sears Homes, click here.

* * *

Have You Seen This House? (Part 6)

May 20th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

Here in Norfolk, we have 16 little bungalows that were originally built at another location, and then moved here by George P. Hudson on April 14, 1922.  (Thanks to Norfolk historian David Spriggs for finding that date, and also finding the name of the man who moved them!  To learn more about what David learned, click here.)

Back in April, we learned that 3,000 miles away in Dupont, Washington, there are dozens of identical bungalows, built by Dupont for the dynamite factory there. Thanks to Lee and Joh from the Dupont Historical Museum in Dupont, Washington, I now have a vintage newspaper article that says the little houses were built in Fall 1909.

And then old-house lover and researcher Mark Hardin found another neighborhood of these “Ethel Bungalows” (our pet name for these little houses) in a little village just outside of Butte, Montana. (It was Mark who found the houses in Dupont, too.)

So, our Ethel Bunaglow in Norfolk (which came from somewhere else) is a spot-on match to the company houses in Dupont, Washington and Butte, Montana.

Recently, in the name of history, old-house lover Mark Mckillop took a trip to Dupont, Washington and photographed more than 100 of the houses in that tiny village , and then sent me the photos. His photographs prove (as we suspected) that the Ethel Bungalows in Dupont are indeed identical to the Ethel Bungalows here in Norfolk.

To read more about what we’ve learned thus far, read Part Five of this ongoing (and fascinating) story.

Despite all we’ve learned, may unanswered questions remain. Are these “Ethels” kit homes from Aladdin? Are they pattern book houses? If not, where did DuPont get this design? Why are these houses popping up in several of Dupont’s neighborhoods? And where did the houses in Norfolk come from?

If you’ve any information to contribute, please post a note in the comment’s section below!

Our Ethel Bungalow in Dupont, Washington. All photos are courtesy of Mark Mckillop and may not be reproduced without written permission.)

Our "Ethel Bungalow" in Dupont, Washington. (This photo is courtesy of Mark Mckillop and may not be reproduced without written permission.)

Ethel

This Dupont Ethel is in largely original condition. (This photo is courtesy of Mark Mckillop and may not be reproduced without written permission.)

Ethel

I wish Mark had taken his chain saw with him. Landscaping is always a problem when photographing old houses. (This photo is courtesy of Mark Mckillop and may not be reproduced without written permission.)

Ethel

This Ethel in Dupont has seen a little modification. Vinyl siding is not a friend of old houses. (This photo is courtesy of Mark Mckillop and may not be reproduced without written permission.)

Ethel

This is such a distinctive little house. Have you seen it in your neighborhood? (This photo is courtesy of Mark Mckillop and may not be reproduced without written permission.)

Next are the photos of our Ethels, which art in Norfolk. As you’ll see from the photos below, they really are a good match to the houses in Dupont, Washington.

House

One of our mystery bungalows on 51st Street. Photo is courtesy of David Spriggs and may not be reused or reprinted without permission from David Spriggs.

Another

Good shot of the two bungalows on 51st Street. This photo is courtesy of David Spriggs and may not be reused or reprinted without permission from David Sprggs.

house

This is one of the houses in Riverview that's in mostly original condition. The little dormer on the side was added in later years.

Close-up of railing

Close-up of railing

Close-up of dormer

This dormer window is a pretty distinctive feature.

another Ethel

Another "Ethel Bungalow" in Riverview

Aladdin promoted itself to companies as a supplier of industrial housing. It was believed that providing housing for workers created a more stable workforce. And that was probably true.

Aladdin promoted itself to companies as a supplier of industrial housing. It was believed that if a company provided housing for its employees, this would create a more stable workforce. And that was probably true. Dupont turned to Aladdin to supply homes for Hopewell, Virginia and Carney Point, New Jersey and Old Hickory, TN. (1919 Aladdin catalog)

To contact Rose, please leave a comment below.

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

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

* * *

Have You Seen This House? (Part 3)

April 18th, 2011 Sears Homes 8 comments

We’ve got a mystery here in Colonial Place/Riverview section of Norfolk.

In 2007, I moved to Colonial Place/Riverview neighborhood and in that first week, I started walking around, admiring the old houses. The first time I saw these 14 identical bungalows in Riverview (see below), they waved at me, jumped up and down and said, “Don’t we look like kit homes from Aladdin?” And yet, I’ve not been able to match these houses with any of the images in my many vintage catalogs.

Their 14 little faces have haunted me ever since.  (Later, I learned that Highland Park [Norfolk] has two of these homes.)

According to local legend, all of these homes were moved here (by barge) from another location.

They’re fairly distinctive little houses, and the $64,000 question is, where did they come from?

More and more, it’s looking like they came  from Penniman, Virginia, where DuPont built 600+ homes for their workers (now Naval Weapons Station Yorktown and Cheatham annex). DuPont turned to Aladdin to supply houses for their workers in Penniman, and it’s likely that there were hundreds of “Ready-cut” houses, shipped from Aladdin’s mills in nearby Wilmington, NC.

Working with my history-loving friends David Spriggs and Mark Hardin, we’ve had several wonderful discoveries, but heretofore, we’ve found nothing conclusive.

For instance, Mark found an old article that said when “The Great War,“  ended (late 1918), the Aladdin Ready-cut Homes there in Penniman were “were knocked down and moved great distances on trucks and barges to many different localities, a number of them being most attractively re-erected in Williamsburg and the county.”

And Mark discovered a massive collection of these same “Norfolk Bungalows” in Dupont, Washington, another site where Dupont provided housing for their workers).  (To see these houses, enter this address into Google Maps: 214 Barksdale Street, Dupont, Washington, and then spin around 90 degrees.)

Friday, I went to Williamsburg and drove around the city and out towards the old Penniman site. I’m sorry to report that I found nothing of import or remarkable (other than one Sears kit home “The Oak Park” near the College).

So now we’re wondering if the houses landed someplace other than Williamsburg.

I hope so, because in Williamsburg, I found very little pre-WW2 housing of any kind. I suspect that these early 20th Century bungalows may have been obliterated by the massive and ongoing expansion of Colonial Williamsburg and The College of William and Mary.

The search continues. And I know that one day soon, we’ll have our answer.

If you’ve any information to contribute, please post a note in the comment’s section below!

House

One of our mystery bungalows on 51st Street. Photo is courtesy of David Spriggs and may not be reused or reprinted without permission from David Spriggs.

Another

Good shot of the two bungalows on 51st Street. This photo is courtesy of David Spriggs and may not be reused or reprinted without permission from David Sprggs.

house

This is one of the houses in Riverview that's in mostly original condition. The little dormer on the side was added in later years.

 

Close-up of railing

Close-up of railing

Close-up of dormer

This dormer window is a pretty distinctive feature.

another Ethel

Another "Ethel Bungalow" in Riverview

 

Aladdin promoted itself to companies as a supplier of industrial housing. It was believed that providing housing for workers created a more stable workforce. And that was probably true.

Aladdin promoted itself to companies as a supplier of industrial housing. It was believed that if a company provided housing for its employees, this would create a more stable workforce. And that was probably true. Dupont turned to Aladdin to supply homes for Hopewell and Penniman, Virginia and Carney Point, NJ. (1919 Aladdin catalog)

And the lone kit house I found in Williamsburg is this Sears Oak Park on Newport Avenue (very near the college).

Sears Oak Park from the 1933 catalog

Sears Oak Park from the 1933 catalog

Sears Oak Park

The lone kit home I found in Williamsburg: The Sears Oak Park.

To contact Rose, please leave a comment below.

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

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

* * *