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Posts Tagged ‘montgomery ward kit homes’

The Sears Homes in Washington, DC

March 8th, 2012 Sears Homes 10 comments

As of last month, more than 260,000 people have visited this website. As a result, more and more folks are sending me beautiful pictures of the Sears Homes in their neighborhood, and one of those people is Catarina Bannier, a Realtor in the DC area. (Visit her website here.)

Every house featured below was found and photographed by Catarina.

If you have a bundle of beautiful Sears Homes in your city, please send me your photos. Just leave a comment below (with your email, which will not be publicly visible), and I’ll contact you!

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

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First, my favorite house: The Sears Preston.

First, my favorite house in this bundle: The Sears Preston. The Preston was featured on the cover of "Houses by Mail," and yet it's a rare bird in the world of Sears Homes.

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And here it is in Washington, DC.

And here it is in Washington, DC, complete with its original shutters. Photo is copyright 2011 Catarina Bannier and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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The Sears Westly was a perennial favorite for Sears.

The Sears Westly was a perennial favorite for Sears (1919 catalog).

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This Westly is in shockingly beautiful condition.

This Westly is in wonderfully original condition. Even the original siding (shakes and clapboard) have survived several decades worth of pesky vinyl siding salesmen. Photo is copyright 2011 Catarina Bannier and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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The Sears Fullerton is a beautiful and classic foursquare (1925 catalog).

The Sears Fullerton is a beautiful and classic foursquare (1925 catalog).

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Fullerton

Even though the vinyl siding salesmen have "had their way" with this grand old house, you can still see the classic lines of the Fullerton. Photo is copyright 2011 Catarina Bannier and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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In addition to Sears, there were other companies that sold kit homes in the early 1900s, including Lewis Homes. They were based in Bay City, Michigan. Catarina has found several Lewis Homes in the DC area.

In addition to Sears, there were other companies that sold kit homes in the early 1900s, including "Lewis Homes." They were based in Bay City, Michigan. Catarina has found several Lewis Homes in the DC area.

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The Ardmore is an easy-to-recognize kit home because of its many unique architectural features.

The Ardmore is an easy-to-recognize kit home because of its many unique architectural features. Photo is copyright 2011 Catarina Bannier and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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The Sears Barrington was probably one of their Top 20 most popular homes (1928 catalog).

The Sears Barrington was probably one of their "Top 20" most popular homes (1928 catalog).

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Barrington

This Barrington in DC looks much like it did when built in the late 1920s. Photo is copyright 2011 Catarina Bannier and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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And one of my favorites, the Sears Alhambra.

And one of my favorites, the Sears Alhambra.

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Ive seen hundreds of Alhambras throughout the country but I have never seen one painted orange! Doesnt look too bad!

I've seen hundreds of Alhambras throughout the country but I have never seen one painted orange! Doesn't look too bad! It's a nice orange - kind of a "Popsicle Orange." And the house is in beautiful condition. Photo is copyright 2011 Catarina Bannier and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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And another Lewis Home, the Cheltenham (1922 catalog).

And another Lewis Home, the Cheltenham (1922 catalog).

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This Lewis Cheltenham in DC is in beautiful condition.

I have recurring dreams about a big beautiful 1920s Dutch Colonial that someone has left to me in their will. I'm a sap for a beautiful Dutch Colonial and the Cheltenham is one of the prettiest ones I've ever seen. Photo is copyright 2011 Catarina Bannier and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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On the rear cover of the 1930 Sears Modern Homes catalog, they listed a few of the Sears Modern Homes Sales Offices in the country. They placed these Sears Modern Homes Stores in communities were sales of kit homes were already quite strong, and once these stores were in place, sales (not surprisingly) became even stronger.

In the 1930s, Sears listed the location of their "Sears Modern Homes Sales Offices." They placed these "Sears Modern Homes Stores" in communities were sales of kit homes were already quite strong, and once these stores were in place, sales (not surprisingly) became even stronger. In DC, the Sears Modern Homes Sales Office was on Bladensburg Road.

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To learn more about Sears Homes, visit here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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The Kit Homes in Lake Mills! (Updated #2)

July 14th, 2011 Sears Homes 5 comments

Thanks to Dawn Stewart and Sandy Spann of Lake Mills, Wisconsin, I now have photographs of three kit homes in Lake Mills, Wisconsin!

The first is from Sears, the second is from Gordon Van Tine and the third is from Montgomery Ward. In fact, Gordon Van Tine was the supplier of Wardway Homes (which explains why Montgomery Ward and GVT catalogs were identical).

Mail-order kit homes were just that - kits ordered from a mail-order catalog. These houses arrived as 12,000-piece kits (yes, 12,000 pieces) and came with a 75-page instruction book that told the wanna-be homeowner how all those pieces and parts went together. Sears (one of six kit home companies doing business on a national level) promised that a “man of average abilities” could have the house assembled and ready for occupancy in 90 days!

Each kit included everything you would need to finish your dream home, including 750 pounds of nails, 27 gallons of paint and varnish, 10 pounds of wood putty, 72 coat hooks, roofing shingles, door knobs, lumber, windows, flooring…well you get the idea. It really was a complete kit.

The houses were delivered by train and most kit homes could fit in one well-packed boxcar. Today, these early 20th Century catalog homes are typically found within 1-2 miles of railroad tracks, just because the logistics of hauling all those pieces of house was so problematic!

And one last fact - about 90% of the people living in these homes had no idea about the unique origins of their home until I knocked on their door (or blogged on my website) and told them! My raison d’être is to help folks learn more about this historically significant (and nearly forgotten) piece of America’s architectural heritage.

Enjoy the photos below! And leave a comment!  :)

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

Sears

Sears Newbury, as it appeared in the 1936 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Sears

Notice the swoop in the roof as it extends over the wide front porch. On the rear, there's a small cornice return, and it's on a different plane that the front roof.

Sears

The Newbury in Lake Mills is hard to see due to the mature vegetation, but that bellcast (swooping) roof is easy to spot. And you can see the small cornice return on the rear. Sears kit homes came with 12,000 pieces and the Newbury was "Ready Cut" meaning that all framing members were pre-cut and ready to nail into place. However, masonry was not part of the kit and was obtained locally. The catalog page shows a stone chimney but this Newbury has a brick chimney. That's an inconsequential difference. (This photograph is courtesy of Sandra Spann and can not be used or reproduced without written permission. Copyright 2011, Sandra Spann.)

To read more about this Newbury in Lake Mills, click here!

1921

As seen in the 1921 catalog, this is a very unusual house, and the house in Lake Mills is a beautiful match with only one difference - that original railing across the dormer is missing.

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And here's a photo of Gordon Van Tine Home #705 in Lake Mills, Wisconsin. It's a beautiful house in wonderful condition and a spot-on match to the original catalog picture! Look at the windows on the side, and how they're just the same in both the Lake Mills house and the vintage catalog picture. My oh my, that does indeed warm the cockles of my heart. Photograph is courtesy Dawn Stewart (copyright 2011) and may not be used or reproduced with written permission.

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These mail-order kit homes (such as the GVT 705) could be ordered "reversed," and what's shown above is the mirrored image of the catalog page (note page number on upper right). This really is a beautiful match to the house above! These catalog images are from the 1921 Gordon Van Tine catalog.

Just in case you wanted to see them side by side.

Just in case you wanted to see them side by side.

Check out this floorplan!

Check out this floorplan!

The next one is Montgomery Ward #123 (shown below).  This house is really distinctive, mainly because of that second floor bay window!

Lake Mills

Montgomery Ward sold about 25,000 kit homes during their 20+ years in the kit home business. Not surprisingly, the majority of these homes are probably within a 300-mile radius of Chicago (where Montgomery Ward was located).

House

Look at the window! The house in Lake Mills (on Water Street) is a very good match to this catalog image (1914). Note the placement of the window directly beside the front door. And also note those supersized cornice returns on either side of that second-floor bay window. The front porch has a hip roof, with three round columns. All these features are also in evidence on the house in Lake Mills (see next photo).

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Easy as 1-2-3 to identify! This is Montgomery Ward Home #123, in Lake Mills, WI. Photograph is courtesy Dawn Stewart (copyright 2011) and may not be used or reproduced with written permission.

Now this next one…I’m not so sure about. Read the caption below for more info.

Do you think you have a kit home in Lake Mills (or nearby)? Leave a comment below!

Lake

This one, I'm not so sure about. I found it whilst driving via Google Maps and made a note of it, but when I went back to get a better look, I couldn't find it!

To learn more about Wardway Homes, click here.

To learn about Addie Hoyt, click here.

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An Abundance of Kit Homes in Tulsa (Updated!)

July 6th, 2011 Sears Homes 17 comments

Sears Homes in Tulsa?

That was my first thought when Rachel Shoemaker of Tulsa contacted me. She said that she thought there were several homes in her town.

Now if she’d been writing from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan or Ohio, I wouldn’t have been so surprised.

But Tulsa?

In the last 10 years, I’ve received probably 5,000 emails and I’ve never heard much from the folks in Oklahoma. In fact, Rebecca Hunter’s wonderful book, “Putting Sears Homes on the Map” lists states with known Sears Homes. Rebecca went through thousands of pages of old catalogs, noting all the testimonials from folks, and then compiled that info into one easy-to-use book. There are two states that have no kit homes listed: Oklahoma and Oregon.

Besides, Oklahoma didn’t become a state until 1907. They were still fighting off Injuns and would not have had time to read a 75-page instruction book on how to build a kit that contained 12,000 pieces of house. (I’ve watched 106 episodes of Gunsmoke. I know about this stuff.)

Rachel sent me a couple photos and I was impressed. And then Sunday night (July 3), I stayed up way too late driving the streets of Tulsa via Google Maps, and I found two more kit homes.

If you know the address of a kit home in Oklahoma, please leave a comment below!

Below is a compilation of what Rachel has found  (with a little help from me). All photos of extant homes are copyright 2011 Rachel Shoemaker and can not be reproduced without written permission.  Photo of Wardway Modern Home #105 is copyright 2010 Dale Wolicki.

And as an added note, if you enjoy these pictures, please leave a comment below for Rachel, as she has invested countless hours of her own time and money researching and photographing these houses.

This is an impressive array of kit homes, and this collection should be preserved and protected, and further research should be done. Don’t let this amazing chapter of Tulsa’s history fall back into the shadows of lost memories and forgotten treasures.

Westly

One of the distinctive features (inside) is that corner fireplace in the dining room! This is from the 1919 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

And in Oklahoma! Its had a lot of improvements but this Westly is still standing.  Photo is copyright Rachel Shoemaker and can not be reproduced without written permission.

Unfortunately, it's had a lot of "improvements" but this Westly in Tulsa is still standing.

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The Arlington was a beautiful and spacious bungalow. This image is from the 1919 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Arlington

Tulsa's Arlington is not a spot-on match, but it's pretty darn close. The front porch was truncated to allow for placement on a narrow lot. This was a very common "customization."

One distinguising feature of the Arlington is this crazy array of windows on the staircase side. There are a whole lot of windows going on here.

One distinguising feature of the Arlington is this crazy array of windows on the staircase side. There are a whole lot of windows going on here.

Floor plan of the first floor shows detail

Room arrangement of the first floor shows what a grandiose house this was. Note the spacious rooms and the maid's quarters!

Detail of the Arlingtons roof, which is also quite distinctive

Detail of the Arlington's roof, which is also quite distinctive

And the house in Tulsa is a perfect match.

And the house in Tulsa is a very good match. About 30-50% of Sears Homes were customized when built, and this Arlington has a few minor changes (such as the truncated porch) but those are fairly inconsequential. I'd say that this house is almost certainly a Sears Arlington.

Said to be the first Sears Home in Oklahoma, this Saratoga is in wonderful condition.

Said to be the first Sears Home in Oklahoma, this Saratoga is in wonderful condition.

The Saratoga, as seen in the 1921 Sears catalog.

The Saratoga, as seen in the 1921 Sears catalog.

Sara

And from the 1916 catalog. Note the big price difference between 1921 and 1916. "The War to End All Wars" created a housing shortage and hyperinflation in the cost of building materials.

The Avondale was built a

The Avondale was built at the Illinois State Fair (late 1910s) and furnished with items from the Sears Roebuck catalog. This post card shows the Avondale at the State Fair. Note the stained class windows on the front and flanking the fireplace. Nice house, and popular too.

Sears Avondale in Chelsea, OK. Was this the first Sears House in Oklahoma? Itll be fun to find out!

Sears Avondale in Chelsea, OK. Was this the first Sears House in Oklahoma? It'll be fun to find out! This picture shows the mirror image of the house above. Landscaping prevented taking a shot from the same side (as shown above).

Woodland

Woodland as seen in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Sears

This view of the Woodland shows those two windows flanking the front door, and it's also a good shot of that itty bitty window inside the dormer on the third floor. The closet window (small window between the two second floor windows) is gone, probably hidden underneath the 1940s shingle-type siding. It's very common to see these little closet windows covered over when the substitute sidings go up.

Sad

Sad little Woodland, all dressed down and waiting to die.

Close-up of porch column detail

Close-up of porch column detail

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Those unique porch columns, together with the windows flanking the front door suggest this is a Sears Woodland.

Aladdin was another kit home company, but they were actually bigger than Sears. Sears stopped selling kit homes in 1940, but Aladdin continued on until 1981. Sears sold about 70,000 homes and Aladdin sold more than 75,000.

Aladdin was another kit home company, but they were actually bigger than Sears. Sears stopped selling kit homes in 1940, but Aladdin continued on until 1981. Sears sold about 70,000 homes and Aladdin (based in Bay City, Michigan) sold more than 75,000. The Aladdin Sunshine (shown above) was a fairly popular house for Aladdin.

A near perfect Aladdin Sunshine in Tulsa.

A nice little Aladdin Sunshine in Tulsa.

One of the biggest and best Aladdin kit homes was the Shadowlawn.

One of the biggest and best Aladdin kit homes was the Shadowlawn.

Al

Is it an Aladdin Shadowlawn? Tough to say without an interior inspection, but it sure is a nice match, and even has the porte cochere (carport). It's a real beauty.

The Shadowlawns living room, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

The Shadowlawn's living room, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

This is a kit home from Gordon Van Tine, a competitor of Sears in the kit home business.

This is a kit home from Gordon Van Tine, a competitor of Sears in the kit home business. Gordon Van Tine (Davenport, Iowa) probably sold about 50,000 kit homes. The "Roberts" (shown above) was a very popular house for GVT. Thanks to Dale Wolicki for the numbers on Aladdin and GVT.

Gordon Van Tine

Although the front porch has been altered a bit and the side porches have been closed in, it's still likely that this is a Gordon Van Tine "Roberts."

Perhaps my favorite find in Tulsa was this GVT 712 (as seen in the 1921 catalog).

Perhaps my favorite find in Tulsa was this GVT 712 (as seen in the 1921 catalog).

And here it is, in the flesh. A real live GVT #712 in Tulsa. This is not a very common house, and Ive only seen one other (in Shipman, IL).

And here it is, in the flesh. A real live GVT #712 in Tulsa. This is not a very common house, and I've only seen one other (in Shipman, IL).

The Hudson was offered in the

The Hudson was offered in the late 1920s and early 30s.

Here is Tulsas Hudson.

Rachel has spent some quality time sitting in front of this house and studying the details. She feels strongly that this is a GVT Hudson. I have a few niggling doubts, but it certainly bears further investigation. An interior inspection would settle the question once and for all. Either way, this house proves what makes identification challenging.

Its

It's the details around the front porch that trouble me. The Hudson does not have a transom, while this house does. The Hudson does not have exterior lights flanking the door, and the ornamentation around the door is more grandiose on the Tulsa house (compared to the GVT).

Montgomery Ward also sold kit homes, but they can be tough to find, especially in land as far south as Tulsa! Based on some educated guessing, fewer than 25,000 Wardway Homes were built. In Tulsa, we found Modern Home #105. It’s a modest little house, but it’s also a distinctive house with several eye-catching features. And perhaps best of all, “Farmers all over the country are giving this comfortable home the preference.”

To learn more about Wardway Homes, click here.

Notice the paired box windows on the right side of this floorplan. This is a very distinctive feature of #105. This catalog image shows a vestibule, but that feature disappeared in future catalogs.

Tulsa

Montgomery Ward kit house #105 in Tulsa. Note the pair of box windows and the steeply pitched roof.

Here's a #105 from the same side. This house (shown for comparison) is in North Belle Vernon, PA. Photo is courtesy of Dale Wolicki and can not be reproduced without written permission.

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According to "Many More Historic Homes in Tulsa" (by John Brooks Walton - 2003), there was a Sears Corona in Tulsa which was torn down years ago. Walton states that this house was located at 618 S. Delaware in Tulsa. It's a real shame that this house was torn down, as this was one of Sears finest homes, and it was also one of their more spacious homes. As the heading states on this 1919 catalog page, it was a classic early 20th Century American bungalow. If the countless hours of work invested in this one single blog can accomplish ONE thing, perhaps it can be this: Maybe we can halt the destruction of any more irreplaceable, uniquely American and historically significant kit homes in Tulsa.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

To read about the first Sears Home in Oklahoma, click here.

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My Pretty, Pretty Houses in Pretty, Pretty Lynchburg, Bedford and Roanoke!

March 14th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

Sears Homes were sold right out of the pages of the Sears Roebuck catalog in the early 1900s. These homes came in 30,000-piece kits and were shipped to all 48 states. Sears promised that a man of average abilities could have these homes assembled in about 90 days. More than 370 designs of kit homes were offered - everything ranging from Arts and Crafts bungalows to foursquares to Colonial Revivals.

Today, the only way to find these kit homes is literally one by one. And that’s what I do. When I decided that Sears Homes would be my career, I endeavored to memorize each of those 370 designs of Sears Homes. Now I can drive the streets of small town America and find the Sears Homes - one by one.

Here are a few of the kit homes I’ve found in the Lynchburg and Roanoke area (and Bedford, too!).

(Special thanks to Dale Patrick Wolicki for accompanying me on the trip to Roanoke, Bedford and Lynchburg to help with the treasure hunt!)

To read more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s books, click here.

The Sears Alhambra was one of the most popular Sears Homes

The Sears Alhambra was one of the most popular Sears Homes

The Sears Alhambra in Roanoke, Virginia

The Sears Alhambra in Roanoke, Virginia

Another Sears Alhambra - with some modifications - in Lynchburg

Another Sears Alhambra - with some modifications - in Lynchburg

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Best described as a trailing-edge Victorian, the #306 was surprisingly popular

Best described as a trailing-edge Victorian, the #306 was surprisingly popular

And heres the #306 in Christianburg, Virginia

And here's the #306 in Christianburg, Virginia

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The Martha Washington was a spacious and fine home. Here is a Martha Washington in Bedford, Virginia.

The Martha Washington was a spacious and fine home. Here is a Martha Washington in Bedford, Virginia.

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This is a kit home offered by Montgomery Ward. Like Sears, Montgomery Ward also sold kit homes. This one is in Bedford, next door to the D-Day monument.

This is a kit home offered by Montgomery Ward. Like Sears, Montgomery Ward also sold kit homes. This one is in Bedford, next door to the D-Day monument.

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Harris Brothers was another kit home company (based in Chicago). This is the HB Ardmore, just outside of Roanoke (in Salem).

Harris Brothers was another kit home company (based in Chicago). This is the HB Ardmore, just outside of Roanoke (in Salem).

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Heres a pair of Aladdin Georgias in Roanoke

Here's a pair of Aladdin Georgias in Roanoke

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Another Wardway house, this one is in Roanoke.

Another Wardway house, this one is in Roanoke.

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And the creme de la creme of our trip: A Wardway #101 in a tiny town just outside of Roanoke.

And the creme de la creme of our trip: A Wardway #101 in a tiny town just outside of Roanoke. And Dale Wolicki was the one who made this discovery! Without him, I would have passed it by!

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This is an Aladdin Detroit, which we found in Lynchburg.

This is an Aladdin Detroit, which we found in Lynchburg.

To look at more pictures of Virginia’s Sears Homes, click here:

Paying Attention the Details: How to Identify Kit Homes

October 17th, 2010 Sears Homes No comments

When comparing a vintage catalog image to that cute little Neo-Tudor in your neighborhood, it’s very important to pay attention to details. Dale and I have been staring at old houses for many decades now, and one common problem we’ve discovered is this: It’s easy to overlook the subtle features that differentiate one house from the other.

We’re both inundated with emails from folks who are sure that they have a kit home, but when we examine their photos, we find houses that are not even close to the kit homes they’re purported to be. The Wardway Parkside was a fine Tudor Revival with two front gables, but not every Tudor Revival with two front gables is going to be a Wardway Parkside.

This Wardway Parkside (in Jackson, Michigan) is a nice example because it’s such a spot-on match to the original catalog image and it’s not been remodeled. Note how all the details are right: The window arrangement, the small decorative bricked arch over the front door, the height and proportion of those two gables and the flared flooples on that front gable.

When comparing suspected kit homes with original catalog pictures, details matter!

To read more about Wardway Homes, click here.

To buy the new book on Wardway Homes, click here.

House house hosue

Parkside in Jackson, MI

Photo above is courtesy of Dale Patrick Wolicki.

An Entire Neighborhood of Sears Homes Near Philadelphia!

October 15th, 2010 Sears Homes 4 comments

UPDATED!  Thanks to a reader, I’ve found that this blog has some errors. I’ve since re-written it and corrected it. Please read the updated version (with better pictures) HERE.

Less than 30 miles from our nation’s first capital (Philadelphia) there’s an entire neighborhood of Sears Homes. Yes, an entire neighborhood of Sears Homes in Chester, PA. Recently, I was looking through a 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog when I found this promotion in its front pages. (See photos below.)

This is quite remarkable, for there are not that many known “Sears House Communities” and finding these homes today could be a real tourism bonanza. In short, this is a real find, but where is it? And does it still exist?

The houses were built by a company known as “Sun Ship Company.”

It’s possible that this entire neighborhood was demolished and no longer exists, but if it does, I sure would like to find it. If you know the area or even a few addresses, please contact me by leaving a comment below. And if you’d like to read more about how to identify Sears Homes, please click here.

UPDATED!  Thanks to a reader, I’ve found that this blog has some errors. I’ve since re-written it and corrected it. Please read the updated version (with better pictures) HERE.

Sears Homes in Chester, PA

Sears Homes in Chester, PA

Featured in the above photos are several sytles of Sear Homes, including the Sears Gladstone

Featured in the above photos are several sytles of Sear Homes, including the Sears Gladstone

The Sears Whitehall was another house featured in Chester, PA.

The Sears Whitehall was another house featured in Chester, PA.

If you look at the vintage photo (above), youll see a little Carlin tucked in among the foursquares.

If you look at the vintage photo (above), you'll see a little Carlin tucked in among the foursquares.

Again, if you know where these homes are, please leave a comment below, or you can write me directly at thorntonrose@hotmail.com. Please put “Chester PA” in the subject line.

Charleston, West Virginia: A Plethora of Sears Homes

August 23rd, 2010 Sears Homes No comments

How did Charleston, West Virginia end up with a large collection of kit homes from Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward and Aladdin Homes?  Were these homes purchased for industry workers? Were they built by a local  builder or developer? Or did word about these well-built kit homes just spread by word of mouth? I’d love to know.

In 2008, Ersela Jordan, Billy Joe Peyton and Henry from the Historical Society and I toured Charleston and found many kit homes, from several companies.

These early 20th Century kit homes were true kits, and were shipped via rail, arriving at the local train depot in 12,000 pieces.

Each kit came with a 75-page instruction book that told the hopeful homeowner how all those pieces and parts went together. Today, finding these homes is especially challenging. Unfortunately, when Sears closed their Modern Homes department in 1940, all sales records were destroyed.

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

To read more about Sears Homes, click here.

The Sears Dover as shown in the 1936 catalog

The Sears Dover as shown in the 1936 catalog

The Sears Dover - with a slate roof - in Charleston, West Virginia. This is one of the prettiest Sears Homes Ive ever seen!

The Sears Dover - with a slate roof - in Charleston, West Virginia. This is one of the prettiest Sears Homes I've ever seen!

Sears Chateau - from the 1932 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Sears Chateau - from the 1932 Sears Modern Homes catalog. Very unusual house and unlike the more "traditional" Sears catalog homes.

Sears Chateau:  In my many travels, this is the only Sears Chateau that Ive seen. Note that the front door was moved from the left side (catalog image) to the middle. The homes living room spanned the full width of the house, so this was a simple change to make. Note the detail on the brick work above the windows.

Sears Chateau: In my many travels, this is the only Sears Chateau that I've seen. Note that the front door was moved from the left side (catalog image) to the middle. The home's living room spanned the full width of the house, so this was a simple change to make. Note the detail on the brick work below the windows. This Chateau is next door to the Sears Dover (pic above).

Sears Lexington, from the 1928 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Sears Lexington, from the 1928 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Sears Lexington in Charleston, WV. A real beauty!

Sears Lexington in Charleston, WV. A real beauty!

Sears Alhambra - one of their most popular designs.

Sears Alhambra - one of their most popular designs.

Sears Alhambra dressed in brick, in downtown Charleston

Sears Alhambra dressed in brick, in downtown Charleston

Sears Vallonia, another one of Sears most popular designs

Sears Vallonia, another one of Sears most popular designs

Sears Vallonia in Charleston.

Sears Vallonia in Charleston. Dormer windows have been replaced, but note original porch railings and columns. One of the unusual features on the Sears Vallonia is the small space between the two windows on the dining room bay.

Aladdin kit home: The Maplewood

Aladdin kit home: The Maplewood

A perfect Aladdin Maplewood in Charleston. We found several of these kit homes in one section of town.

A perfect Aladdin Maplewood in Charleston. We found several of these kit homes in one section of town. this Maplewood is in remarkably original condition, and even retains its original batten shutters. Note the detail around the front porch roof.

Gordon Van Tine catalog page.

Gordon Van Tine catalog page. GVT was a large kit home company based in Davenport, Iowa.

Gordon Van Tine Roberts in Charleston

Gordon Van Tine "Roberts" in Charleston

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

When Bad Things Happen to Good Houses

August 19th, 2010 Sears Homes No comments

Part of the fun of traveling to 23 states and giving 200 talks on Sears Homes is seeing all kinds of wacky and wild stuff. One Sunday morning in 2003, as my host was driving me back to the airport (to return home to the Midwest), I saw this Sears Madelia (see second photo below). It was in Zanesville, OH (or a nearby town) and we were actually several blocks beyond this building when I told my host, “Please turn around. I think I saw something.”

He reminded me that we didn’t have much time and I told him I understood and this wouldn’t take but a second. And there - in all its painful glory - was this badly butchered Sears house. It’s actually a Sears Madelia and it was not that popular a model for Sears. (Sears sold 370 designs of kit homes from 1908 - 1940.)

The first picture (first image) is a picture of the Madelia from the 1919 Sears Catalog. The next picture is a happy, healthy Madelia in Wood River, Illinois on 9th Street. There are 24 Sears Homes in a row, a remnant from the days of Standard Oil’s purchase of $1 million worth of Sears Homes for their refinery workers. The third picture I’ve titled, A Madelia trapped in a tavern’s body.

A happy little Sears Madelia in Wood River, IL

And here’s the Madelia trapped in a tavern’s body.

A Madelia trapped in a taverns body

This next house is a Sears Crescent in Norfolk, Virginia. It’s a happy little Crescent with good self-esteem.

A happy Sears Crescent

A happy Sears Crescent

And this next picture was taken by Rebecca Hunter, a kit-home expert in Elgin, Illinois.

An unhappy Sears Crescent in Illinois

An unhappy Sears Crescent in Illinois

Heres a Sears Westly, as it appeared in the 1919 Sears catalog

Here's a Sears Westly, as it appeared in the 1919 Sears catalog

Unhappy Sears House in the Midwest. Too much plastic in one place.

Unhappy Sears House in the Midwest. Too much plastic in one place.

The Sears Magnolia - in Benson, NC (part II)

August 3rd, 2010 Sears Homes No comments

Every week, I get a steady stream of emails from people who are quite certain that they’ve found a Sears Magnolia in their city. Every week, I send out a steady stream of emails and tell people that they’re wrong about that purported Magnolia. The Magnolia was a Southern Colonial, with a pinch of Foursquare added in.

This type of house was a very common housing style with a whole host of unique characteristics. The fancier the house (and the Maggy was Sears most fancy house!), the easier it is to identify it as a Sears House. Still, this is a house that people always get wrong.

When I had the joyous pleasure of entering the Sears Magnolia, I quickly made my way to the basement to look for marked lumber. I was looking for the letter and a three-digit number that helped the original homeowner facilitate construction. I did not see that anywhere. However I did find a marking in blue-grease pencil. It said, “2089.” That’s authentication enough for me.

Sears Homes - in addition to names (such as the Magnolia) had model numbers. The number for the Maggy was 2089, and that number was often scribbled onto the bundle of lumber before it left the mill in Cairo, Illinois. It’s a tough mark to find, but here’s what you’re looking for (see below).

To read more about the Sears Magnolia, click here.

Or to read more about how to identify the Sears Magnolia, click here.

The Sears Magnolia was also known as Model #2089

The Sears Magnolia was also known as Model #2089

Sears Magnolia was also known as #2089

Sears Magnolia was also known as #2089

maggy_benson_nc

Original catalog image from 1922 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Original catalog image from 1922 Sears Modern Homes catalog