Posts Tagged ‘northern illinois’

The Sears Ivanhoe: 2,000 Square Feet of Boxy Grandeur!

November 14th, 2011 Sears Homes 3 comments

The Magnolia was Sears biggest and best kit home, but the Ivanhoe was a close second. In my travels, I’ve only seen a handful.

One of them was in Lewisburg, WV and the other was in Elmhurst, Illinois (see pictures of these homes below). I found a third in Northern Illinois but neglected to note the city. Carol Parish (Monmouth, IL) sent in a picture of an especially beautiful (and original) Ivanhoe in her city.

According to the testimonials found in the old Sears Modern Homes’ catalogs (and referenced in Rebecca Hunter’s book), there’s a Sears Ivanhoe in West Point, Virginia, but it faces the waterfront and despite letters written to the owners, I’ve not been able to get a photograph.

Recently I was scanning some old paperwork and stumbled across the Sears Ivanhoe (LaGrange, IL) featured in a Sears roofing brochure. I’d love to get a current photo of this BRICK Ivanhoe! :)


This Ivanhoe is located in LaGrange, IL. I wonder if it's still standing!


Close-up of the letter written someone whose signature is illegible in a city whose name is misspelled. It's LaGrange, not LaGrauge.

Below are the Ivanhoes in Lewiston, West Virginia, Elmhurst, Illinois, and an unknown city in northern Illinois.

First, the original catalog image.

Sears Ivanhoe from the 1919 Modern Homes catalog

Sears Ivanhoe from the 1920 Modern Homes catalog


Ivanhoe floorplan, second floor.


Ivanhoe floorplan, first floor.

Ivanhoe in Elmhurst, IL

Ivanhoe in Elmhurst, IL

And heres

And this beautiful Ivanhoe is in Monmouth, IL. Thanks to Carol Parish for snapping the photo and sending it along!!

Ivanhoe in Lewiston

Ivanhoe in Lewisburg, WV

This Ivanhoe is somewhere in Northern Illiois, but not sure where. The photo was taken in 2002.

This Ivanhoe is in Northern Illinois - somewhere (2002).

If you know of the location of an Ivanhoe, please leave a comment below. And if you own an Ivanhoe and would like to send me a picture, please do! Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you!

If you’ d like to read more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

* * *

There’s a Reason They Were Called Sears MODERN Homes

September 17th, 2011 Sears Homes 2 comments

In 1908, a little ad appeared on page 594 of the Sears general merchandise catalog. It read, “Let us be your architect, without cost to you.” Interested buyers were invited to write in and request the free catalog, “Book of Modern Homes and Building Plans.” The first houses ranged in price from $500 to $5000.

The mail-order homes were shipped by boxcar and came in 12,000 piece kits. Sears promised that a “man of average abilities” could have one assembled and ready for occupancy in 90 days. That was probably a little optimistic, but if you requested a Sears mortgage on your Sears kit home, there was a requirement that thee house be occupied within four months of purchase!

By the early 1910s, the specialty catalogs featuring these kit homes had a new title: “Sears Modern Homes.” And they really were modern homes.

In 1917, American Carpenter and Builder Magazine reported that “watertight roof, walls and floor are an essential feature of a modern city house.”

Remember Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House” books? She described life on the plains in soddies and tiny cabins in the 1870s ad 1880s.

The Midwesterners who built Sears kit homes in the early 1900s could have been raised in housing that would be considered extremely primitive by today’s standards.

Below is a picture of a soddie. These were very primitive and dark and dank; undoubtedly a fairly miserable way to spend the day, nine months out of the year. One look at these soddies (below) and you’ll fast understand why a pretty little Sears bungalow would be classified as a “Modern Home.”

To learn more about these Modern Homes, click here.


Soddies were made of sod that had been cut into squares and stacked up. They were easy to heat, and they kept *most* of the rain off your head. Kinda.


Close-up of Soddie Life.

Living aint easy in one of these

Living ain't easy in one of these.


Cover of the first Sears kit home catalog. Notice the art deco lamps!


In the 1908 catalog, Modern Home #106 was offered for $1145, which was an outstanding value. In today's dollars, that'd probably be about $15,000. There's no bathroom, but it's still a lot better than a soddie!


Incredibly, I found this photo on eBay years ago. It's a Modern Home #106 with the fam seated in front of it! You can see why this house would be such a vast improvement over a soddie. It's really a stark contrast to a house made of dirt.


The family seated in front of their "Modern Home." I'm sure they were very proud of their beautiful little house.

To learn  more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

*   *   *