Archive

Posts Tagged ‘prefab homes’

Webster Groves: Part V

August 20th, 2015 Sears Homes No comments

To read Webster Groves, Part I, click here.

Part II is here.

And Part III can be found here.

Lastly, here’s Part IV.

Last month,

In July, I visited Webster Groves (a St. Louis suburb) and had a good time driving around and looking for kit homes. Friend and fellow researcher Rachel Shoemaker knew I was headed to the St. Louis area and did a little reconnoitering for me. It was Rachel that found this GVT #535 (also known as The Roberts) in Webster Groves, sitting - literally - right next to the railroad tracks!

*

One of the questions Im most often asked is, How do you find kit homes? Railroad tracks are a good place to start! Because these houses came in 12,000-piece kits, they typically landed within 1-2 miles or rail lines.

One of the questions I'm often asked is, "How do you find kit homes?" Railroad tracks are a good place to start! Because these houses came in 12,000-piece kits and were shipped by rail (in a single boxcar), they usually landed within 1-2 miles or rail lines.

*

house

The Gordon Van Tine landed right next to the train tracks! If you look at this century-old map, you can see just how close Model #535 (with red star) sat to the Missouri Pacific Railway (yellow line)!

*

Probably less than 200 yards, this commuter station

Built in 1892 by the Missouri Pacific Railway, this story-and-a-half commuter station was on the corner of Oakwood and Glen Road. It would have been a short hop (as in, less than 200 yards) from the Gordon Van Tine #535 to this darling little train station.

*

The Gordon Van Tine #535 was featured on the cover of the 1916 catalog.

The Gordon Van Tine #535 was featured on the cover of the 1916 catalog.

*

house

The Gordon Van Tine "Roberts" was hugely popular for this Iowa-based kit home company.

*

And

The inset porch, 2nd-floor bay and hipped roof all work together to make this an easy house to identify. That, with this home's location (right on the tracks) made it mighty easy to find in Webster Groves. Plus, it was probably one of Gordon Van Tine's most popular homes!

*

House

What a beauty! And it's all dressed up for July 4th! Thanks so much to Rachel Shoemaker for finding this house in Webster Groves. When I talked to her about this discovery, she told me, "I always start my searches next to the railroad tracks. I found this house within seconds!!"

*

And heres another Roberts that I found in Front Royal, Virginia.

And here's a Gordon Van Tine "Roberts" that I found in Front Royal, Virginia.

*

Dale Wolicki

Dale Wolicki found this "Roberts" in State College, Pennsylvania.

*

Wheeling

Another beautiful "Roberts" in Wheeling, West Virginia, and it's all dressed up for Christmas! Photo is copyright 2012 Frank Harrar and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

And heres one of my favorite Roberts, right here in Norfolk, VA.

And here's one of my favorite "Roberts," right here in Norfolk, VA. (Pictured above is *the* woman responsible for launching "The Smiley Face™" movement!)

*

Last but never least, a Roberts in Charleston, WV.

Last but never least, a "Roberts" in Charleston, WV (sans two-story porches).

*

Fe

And here's a Gordon Van Tine #535 in Carlinville, Illinois. Notice that this one does not have the upstairs polygon bay, but a flat window in its place. However, it does have the cantilevered supports for the flower boxes (under the first floor windows). How easy it would be to restore those flower boxes! :)

*

To read Webster Groves, Part I, click here.

Part II is here.

And Part III can be found here.

Lastly, here’s Part IV.

*

Thanks again to Rachel for finding that Gordon Van Tine #535! You can visit Rachel’s website by clicking here.

Learn more about Gordon Van Tine by visiting Dale’s website here.

Rebecca Hunter has an abundance of information on kit homes here.

~~~~~

Webster Groves, Missouri: Part IV

August 4th, 2015 Sears Homes 1 comment

What do Webster Groves, Missouri and Grand Haven, Michigan have in common?

Both are home to an unusual Sears model with the pedestrian (but descriptive) name: “The Cape Cod.”

While I’d love to take credit for finding the “Cape Cod” in Missouri, it was Webster Groves resident Judith Chabot that found this house by searching grantee records.

Here’s how it works: When an existing house is conveyed to the new homeowner, the new homeowner is the grantee, but when the homeowner conveys the house back to the bank (as security for a mortgage), the homeowner is then the grantor. The mortgage company receiving the interest in the house is the grantee.

So if you’re looking for a Sears House at the courthouse, you’re going to be looking through the grantee records, but this only works on Sears Homes that were mortgaged through Sears. Still, it’s an interesting way to find a Sears House!

In searching grantee records in Illinois, I’ve found conveyances listed under “Sears,” and “Sears and Roebuck,” but more commonly, you’ll find that trustee names were used for Sears, such as Walker O. Lewis, Nicholas Wieland, and E. Harrison Powell. All of these men served as trustees for Sears. (Thanks to Dale Patrick Wolicki and Rebecca Hunter for the trustee information.)

However, if you limited yourself to finding kit homes ONLY through mortgage documents (and grantee records), you’d miss about 75% of the kit homes in your community (based on some quick ciphering).

The beauty part of mortgage documents is that you might find kit homes that were customized and/or unrecognizable and/or otherwise nondescript houses, such as the “Cape Cod.”

To read the other blogs on Webster Groves, click here, here or here.

*

Catalog

Sounds like Earl Suits was pretty pleased with his "Cape Cod" in Grand Haven (1938 catalog).

*

In the 1932

In the 1932 catalog, it was known as The Stanford.

*

The 1938 catalog has it listed

The 1938 catalog has it listed as "The Cape Cod."

*

Throughout the years, it was offered in two floorplans.

Throughout the years, it was offered in two floorplans. The smaller floorplan is a miserly 660 square feet with an tiny kitchen and two walk-in-closet-sized bedrooms (1938).

*

The second floorplan had a little more breathing room.

The second floorplan had a little more breathing room (and a dining room).

*

house house

It is a fine house, replete with an "expandable" attic on the 2nd floor (1938 catalog).

*

house

Those old wooden shutters (shown in the catalog image) added a nice touch to the Sears "Cape Cod." Notice that the attic window has been enlarged, and the dormers were added.

*

As you can see down the long side,

Due to the intensity of the summer sun, this is a crummy photo, but you can see this is "Floor Plan B" with the dining room and larger footprint.

*

Id have to say that I probably would have driven right past this little house doing a traditional street survey.

I'd have to say that I probably would have driven right past this little house doing a traditional street survey. It's a fine home but it is rather plain and kind of disappears in a crowd.

*

house

Here's another "impossible-to-recognize" Sears house. This doesn't match any of Sears 370 known designs, but it is a Sears House, customized by the home's original owner. Rebecca Hunter found this house (in Elmhurst, Illinois) through grantee records. It's bonafide, but it's also a puzzler!

*

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

*

A “Country House” in the heart of Augusta, Georgia

July 24th, 2015 Sears Homes 2 comments

The word Villa literally means, “country house” and it’s also the name of Aladdin’s finest home.

Just like Sears, Aladdin sold kit homes through mail order catalogs. Aladdin was actually a bigger company than Sears, and lasted longer. Sears sold about 70,000 kit homes during their 32 years in the kit house business (1908-1940). Aladdin started earlier (1906) and stayed in the game for 75 years (1981), and sold more than 75,000 homes.

The houses arrived via boxcar, and probably had more than 12,000 pieces and parts! Each kit came with detailed blueprints (designed for novices) and a 75-page instruction book that told the homeowner how all those pieces and parts went together!

As a resident of Virginia, I can happily report that there are more Aladdins in this part of the country than Sears Homes. Proximity is probably part of this. The Midwest is loaded with Sears Homes. Aladdin had mills in  North Carolina, Mississippi and Louisiana.

Several months ago, someone told me about this Aladdin Villa in Augusta, Georgia. (Unfortunately, I don’t remember who originally provided the tidbit about this Aladdin Villa in Augusta, Georgia. Was it you, Rachel? ) Today I was poking around for a new blog topic and found this older file.

The photos shown below are from Steve Bracci Photography. Click on this link to learn more about this artist’s beautiful work.

To learn more about Aladdin, click here.

To visit Dale’s website, click here.

Dr. Rebecca Hunter also has a wonderful website here.

And Rachel Shoemaker shares many rare photos of kit homes here.

*

The Aladdin Villa was really their biggest and best home (1919).

The Villa was Aladdin's biggest and best home (1919).

*

See what I mean about being big?

The home had a front staircase and a servants' staircase (accessible from the ktichen).

*

And its also a genuinely beautiful home - even in black and white!

And it's also a genuinely beautiful home - even in black and white!

*

Is there a more perfect house anywhere in Augusta?

Is there a more perfect house anywhere in Augusta? And that's not a rhetorical question. This house is breathtaking, and the color is perfect. This looks like a picture postcard. Photo is copyright 2015 Steve Bracci Photography.

*

Oh man.

The landscaping, fence and house create the perfect medley of colors. Mature landscaping and tall shade trees are one of the elements that make older homes so desirable. Photo is copyright 2015 Steve Bracci Photography.

*

Everything about this house is beautiful.

Everything about this house is so very beautiful. Photo is copyright 2015 Steve Bracci Photography.

*

And once you go inside, it only gets better.

And once you go inside, it only gets better. Photo is copyright 2015 Steve Bracci Photography.

*

And better and better.

Inside the home, the colors are equally striking. Photo is copyright 2015 Steve Bracci Photography.

*

Inside

Classic Villa staircase, still elegant after all these years. Photo is copyright 2015 Steve Bracci Photography.

*

And better.

That fireplace doesn't appear to be original, or it might have been an upgrade, but it's a nice fit for this fancy room. Photo is copyright 2015 Steve Bracci Photography.

*

House

The living room is 16x26 and filled with light. Photo is copyright 2015 Steve Bracci Photography.

*

Stunning

Can you imagine sunning on this stunning sunporch? If there are houses in heaven, this is the kind of place where I'd like to spend a lot of eternity. Photo is copyright 2015 Steve Bracci Photography.

*

House

Typically, I'm not a big fan of red wallpaper with red accents, but this really works. The bright white trim and dark floors are the perfect complement. Photo is copyright 2015 Steve Bracci Photography.

*

What a house.

What a house. Like something out of a dream book. Photo is copyright 2015 Steve Bracci Photography.

*

And to think it came from a mail-order catalog!

And to think it came from a mail-order catalog!

*

The photos shown above are from Steve Bracci Photography. Click on this link to learn more about this artist’s beautiful work.

To learn more about Aladdin, click here.

To visit Dale’s website, click here.

Dr. Rebecca Hunter also has a wonderful website here.

And Rachel Shoemaker shares many rare photos of kit homes here.

*

Gordon Van Tine #611: Unusually Well Planned

April 2nd, 2015 Sears Homes 2 comments

These last few months, I’ve been doing a proper survey of kit homes in Hampton, Virginia. I went out yesterday to check one last section one last time (which I’ve now visited twice), when this handsome bungalow jumped out of the bushes and called my name.

This Gordon Van Tine Model #611 is on a main drag (300-block of North Mallory) which leaves me scratching my head. How did I miss it?

That will remain one of the great mysteries of the universe, together with, where did I put my husband’s truck keys.

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

There’s even more about Hampton here.

*

Gordon Van Tine #611, as seen in the 1926 catalog.

Gordon Van Tine #611, as seen in the 1926 catalog.

*

One of its distinctive features is the oversized porch and deck.

One of its distinctive features is the oversized porch and deck.

*

What a house!

Notice how the porch roof sits within the primary roof. Interesting feature.

*

Oh yeah, baby! :D

Sadly, some vinyl siding salesman has pillaged the house, but other than that, it's a nice match. The railings have been replaced, but that's a relatively minor affair.

*

Good match on this side, too!

Good match on this side, too!

*

So

And did I mention it's on the main drag? :)

*

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

There’s even more about Hampton here.

*   *   *

The Meadow-Moor: Supersedes The Commonplace!

January 25th, 2015 Sears Homes 4 comments

What a month! Two weeks ago, an elderly friend took a bad fall and I’ve been spending a little time helping her “get back on her feet” - literally and figuratively! Between that, and trying to write a book about Penniman (which is 100 years old in 2015), it’s been a very busy time.

Last year, my buddy Dale Wolicki sent me these wonderful photos of a rare Sterling “Meadow-Moor” that he discovered in Rocky River, Ohio. I’ve never seen a Meadow-Moor and according to Dale, this is the first one he’s seen, too!

Thanks to Dale for sharing his photos!

Enjoy the pictures, and please leave a comment below.

To visit one of Dale’s websites, click here.

To learn more about Sterling Homes, click here.

*

The Lewis Meadow-Moor (1914 catalog).

The Sterling Meadow-Moor (1914 catalog).

*

Spacious, too!

Spacious, too! Love the "cupboard buffet" and Solarium.

*

More

Back in the day, the 2nd floor bathroom (usually the only bath) ended up on the front.

*

Hus

I'd spend my whole life on that sunporch.

*

hoouse

Still has its thatch-effect roof, too! What a cream puff of a kit house! Photo is copyright 2014 Dale Wolicki and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

To visit one of Dale’s websites, click here.

*

Circled Head Dormer: The Happy Lorain

December 27th, 2014 Sears Homes 4 comments

If a mother could have favorites, the Sears Lorain would be on my Top Ten list. I’ve always had a soft spot in my house-shaped heart for Cape Cods, and the Lorain is a classic example of a 1930s Cape Cod.

In 1933, The Lorain was offered with the rounded dormer, but in later years, the design was changed into a gabled dormer. Personally, I prefer the round design (or “circled head” as Sears called it), but I suspect it was a problematic issue for the neophyte home builder, so it was changed.

In 2005, I visited New Jersey where an independent film maker did a one-hour documentary on the restoration of her Lorain (in NJ). It was well done, but I don’t know if she ever sold the film. It was titled, “Restoring Lorain.”

The filming of that one-hour documentary was a blast, and the woman film maker and her sister showed me great kindness and respect during my time with them. Maybe that’s why the Lorain is one of my favorites! :)

To read another super-dooper blog, click here.

Join us on Facebook by clicking here!

To cheer up the blog’s author, leave a comment below.

*

Thanks so much to Rachel Shoemaker for sharing this image from her 1930 Sears General Merchandise catalog! What a wonderful ad, featuring the Lorain!

Thanks so much to Rachel Shoemaker for sharing this image from her 1930 Sears General Merchandise catalog! What a wonderful ad, featuring the Lorain!

*

Now thats good writing!

Now that's good writing!

*

1933 Lorain

In the 1933 Sears Modern Homes catalog, the Lorain had a "Circled Head Dormer" (as shown above). Check out the arched porch roof with pediment. Down the side there's a bedroom window (full size) and two small windows (bath and kitchen). This is another distinctive feature to help identify the Lorain.

*

Hey, whats Dad doing here? Mowing the neighbors yard?

Hey, what's Dad doing here? Mowing the neighbor's yard? Why, that's not even a Sears House in the background! The humanity!!

*

1936

In 1936, the Lorain still had its "circled head dormer." And lots of flowers in the flowerboxes.

*

By 1938

In 1938, the round dormer was replaced with a gabled dormer. The flowers remain.

*

1936

I love reading this stuff (1936 catalog).

*

1936

This is a darling little house, and check out the cut-out shutters (1936).

*

One fave Petersburg

And it has a star. Hmmmm. How quaint. Nonetheless, this Lorain in Petersburg, WV is in darn good condition. If only I'd remembered to pack my battery-powered chain saw to deal with troublesome landscaping. That bush is right in the way of everything.

*

PETERSBUR

Another angle of the Lorain in Petersburg, WV.

*

Claremont NH

Not only does this Lorain in Claremont, NH retain its original windows (and storm windows), but it has its original cut-out shutters, too. How exciting is that?

*

FP 1936

Nice sized rooms, but a tiny little bathroom.

*

1936

No bathroom upstairs? Eek.

*

1938

The 1938 Lorain.

*

house alton

Here's an example in Alton, IL. That wooden deck railing is a special kind of ugly.

*

Elgin

Yikes. This poor dear in Elgin, IL needs a emergency dormer-ectomy performed.

*

To see a picture of a cat dressed in a shark outfit and riding a Roomba that’s chasing a duck, click here.

To make Rose smile, please leave a comment below.

*     *     *

“Our Architects are Bungalow Experts” (Part II)

December 21st, 2014 Sears Homes 6 comments

Earlier this month, I did a blog on the sweet little GVT #114 that Dale found in Manheim, Pennsylvania.

After that blog appeared, Dale was kind enough to send along two more photos of GVT Modern Home #114. I’ve never seen one in real life, but apparently this was a fairly popular house!

Thanks to Dale for the wonderful photos!

To learn more about Wardway Homes, click here.

Want to read the earlier blog on GVT #114? Click here.

*

As seen in the 1913 catalog.

As seen in the 1913 catalog.

*

I love this text.

I love this text: "The ultra of beauty in design."

*

house

Some of these kit homes are a misery to identify, but #114 has many unique features.

*

Heres the #114 that Dale found in Manheim, PA.

Here's the #114 that Dale found in Manheim, PA.

*

Dale found these in Davenport, Iowa.

Dale found this one in Davenport, Iowa.

*

This was

This #114 was also found in Davenport, Iowa (home of Gordon Van Tine).

*

To learn more about Wardway Homes, click here.

Want to read the earlier blog on Wardway #114? Click here.

*       *       *

“Our Architects Are Bungalow Experts!”

December 2nd, 2014 Sears Homes 2 comments

Gordon Van Tine homes are not as well known as Sears, but they were a substantial competitor in the mail-order house business.

GVT was founded in 1866 (as a lumber supply company) and evolved into a mail-order house company about 1909 (according to GVT expert, Dale Wolicki).

By contrast, Richard Warren Sears didn’t start selling watches until 1886! Sears issued their first building materials catalog in 1895, and their first house catalog came out in 1908.

Gordon Van Tine was based in Davenport, Iowa, but they had mills in Mississippi and Washington State.

Another little interesting tidbit: Montgomery Ward also sold kit homes, but all their orders were fulfilled by Gordon Van Tine. In fact (unlike Sears), GVT handled all the details for Wardway Homes, from architectural design to catalog printing to order fulfillment.

Sears hired a staff of architects to create their house designs, as did Gordon Van Tine. Montgomery Wards hired Gordon Van Tine!

And the best part - according to the advertisement for the GVT #114, the architects at GVT were “bungalow experts”!

Several years ago, Dale sent me this picture of a GVT #114, which he found in Pennsylvania. It wasn’t until I started studying the very early GVT catalogs, that I actually placed the model that Dale had discovered.

We know that there were at least two of these houses built (testimonial shows one in Iowa), but it’d be fun to know if there are more than two!

To learn more about Gordon Van Tine, click here.

Thanks to Rachel Shoemaker for scanning the 1913 and 1916 GVT catalog!

And thanks to Dale for sharing his photos!

*       *       *

“]I love these old advertisements. This is from the 1913 catalog.

This graphic (1913) explains why kit homes were typically located within 1-2 miles of railroad tracks. The logistics of moving a house from here to there typically involved a vehicle with 1-2 horsepower (as shown above).

*

“]”]And GVT started when Lincoln was a young man...

And GVT first started doing business when "Lincoln was president..." (1929 catalog)

*

Model #114 as seen in the 1913 GVT catalog.

Model #114 as seen in the 1913 GVT catalog.

*

Good

I love this part: "Our architects are bungalow experts." Were they also foursquare experts? Colonial experts? Neo-tudor experts? Or just devout "bungalow experts"?

*

Intriguing little house, isnt it?

Intriguing little house, isn't it? Notice the windows on the side and front, with the diamond muntins in the horizontal window that traverse the smaller windows. Nice feature, and makes it easier to identify.

*

Flo

Only two bedrooms (as designed) with a small den on the front of the house.

*

And here it is in Manheim, Pennsylvania on North Hazel Street.

And here it is in Manheim, Pennsylvania on North Hazel Street. The dormers have been enlarged, perhaps to create better light and livable space on the second floor. The house has had some other modifications, but the question is, were these changes done when the house was built? I think that's the most likely scenario. Picture is copyright 2009, Dale Patrick Wolicki and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

If you look at the house from a side street, you can see that unusual window on the side.

If you look at the house from a side street, you can see that unusual window on the side.

*

And theres another GVT #114 in Iowa!

And there's another GVT #114 in Iowa!

*

To learn more about Gordon Van Tine, click here.

Thanks to Rachel Shoemaker for scanning the 1913 and 1916 GVT catalog!

And thanks to Dale for sharing his photos!

*       *       *

Peace Pipes and Fourplexes: The Calumet

October 24th, 2014 Sears Homes No comments

The Calumet is a rare Sears kit house that was offered for a brief time in the late 1910s and early 1920s. Sears did offer a few apartment buildings (yes, as kits), and the Calumet was one of them. My favorite feature of the Sears Calumet is the wall-bed, and the Calumet had two wall beds per unit.

The bed frame was included in the kit (but not the mattress).

It’s also interesting to note that the word Calumet comes from the Latin word calamellus, meaning “little reed.”  According to my online dictionary, a calumet is a “ceremonial smoking pipe, traditionally smoked to seal a covenant or treaty, or to offer prayers in a religious ceremony.”

Next time you’re watching TV with your friends and an Indian starts smoking a peace pipe, you can exclaim, “Why, he’s smoking a calumet!”

They’ll be so impressed with your esoteric knowledge!

Want to learn more about Murphy Beds (Wall Beds)? Click here!

*

The Calumet, as seen in the 1918 catalog.

I just love the math: 20 rooms in 12! How do they do it? :)

*

The Calumet, as seen on Wikipedia.

The Calumet, as seen on Wikipedia.

*

Bs

The Calumets had four porches, each with their own coal bin, whichwas nothing more than a small bin. Not nearly as luxurious as it sounds. Plus, it has "handy closets." I wonder which model had the "unhandy closets"?

*

That would have been a heck of a kit house!

That would have been a heck of a kit house!

*

Bloomintong

Notice that the wall beds have their own windows - in a closet!

*

bed

The Calumet - as seen in the 1918 catalog.

*

The only Calumet Ive ever seen - and its in Bloomington, IL.

The only Calumet I've ever seen - and it's in Bloomington, IL. You can see those two "closet-bed windows" on the right side. Sadly, the second-story porches are long gone. That first step outside of those 2nd floor doors is a doozy!

*

Do you think that the wallbed in the Calumet *ever* looked as good as it did in this accompanying image? I kinda doubt it!

Do you think that the wallbed in the Calumet *ever* looked as good as it did in this accompanying image? I kinda doubt it!

*

In another catalog promotion, Sears promises that folding up that wall bed is so easy even a child can do it.

In another catalog promotion, Sears promises that folding up that wall bed is so easy even a child can do it.

*

In the silent short film (1:00 a.m.), Charlie Chaplin does battle with a recalcitrant wall bed (also known as a murphy bed).

In the silent short film (title, "1:00 a.m."), Charlie Chaplin does battle with a recalcitrant wall bed (also known as a murphy bed). The full video (about 10 minutes) is at youtube. See link below.

*

To see the Charlie Chaplin short, click here.

To read another fascinating blog, click here.

*

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

Why I Love Ferguson, Missouri

October 5th, 2014 Sears Homes No comments

In Fall 2002, I was broke, depressed, lonely and very worried about the future. Months earlier, my beloved mother had died unexpectedly and my marriage of 24 years had ended in divorce.

Those were tough times.

I had one thing going for me: My newly published book, The Houses That Sears Built.

Working 100-hour weeks, I did nothing but promote that book and send out free copies to local media outlets. I slept and I worked. There wasn’t time or money for anything else.

If the book didn’t start selling fast, I’d have to do something I dreaded: Get a real job, and jobs in Alton, Illinois were tough to find.

Sometime in late 2002, I drove around Ferguson, Missouri and found a few Sears Homes. I’m sorry to say I’ve forgotten how it unfolded from there, but I hooked up with a local architect and history lover named Alan. He put me in touch with a couple folks from the city of Ferguson. In time, I was hired to do a survey of the kit homes in the city of Ferguson.

Alan drove me around to the different neighborhoods and it was great fun. Most of what I knew about architecture came from reading books. Alan graciously answered my many simple questions about architecture. I will always remember his kindness and patience.

After I’d identified a few kit homes,  the city had a lovely ceremony, and each Sears Home owner was presented with a beautiful plaque. I was invited to be part of the presentation ceremony.

It was a lovely memory for so many different reasons.

First and foremost, the folks in Ferguson - homeowners, Alan the Architect, city officials and employees  - showed me so much kindness and respect.

Secondly, this was my rubicon.

My divorce had been heart-breaking, but this experience in Ferguson showed me that my work had value and my life had purpose, and that there were people in the world who shared my passion for these old houses.

Some time later, the kit homes in Ferguson were featured on “Show Me St. Louis” (a popular TV show),  and that also warmed the cockles of my heart, and gave me new hope that I could make a career out of this vocation.

In subsequent years, my book and I have been featured on PBS History Detectives, CBS Sunday Morning News, A&E’s Biography, MSNBC, NPR, BBC Radio, and many more. I’ve traveled to 25 states doing surveys and giving talks.

But it all started with the grace and kindess of the many fine folks in Ferguson.

That’s why I love Ferguson so much.

BTW, if you know the addresses of these homes or even street names, please send me a note or leave a comment.  When I did this survey, I didn’t know much about the other kit home companies. I’d love to come back and do a more thorough survey.

Lastly, these images are from 12-year-old slides. The colors are off and the images are grainy.

*

One of the reasons there are so many kit homes in St. Louis is because there was a Sears Modern Homes sales center in St. Louis. There were only 40 of these in the country, and these were only placed in areas where sales had been strong. And once a Modern Homes sales center opened, sales were even stronger!

One of the reasons there are so many kit homes in the St. Louis area is because there was a Sears Modern Homes sales center in St. Louis. There were only 40 of these in the country.

*

And in the early 30s,

Sears only placed these "Sales Centers" in communities where sales were strong.

*

Ferguson

Sears Walton as seen in the 1928 catalog.

*

Ferguson

I remember the homeowner here was just THRILLED to learn she had a Sears House!

*

Leanon

The Lebanon was a popular house for Sears (1921 catalog).

*

Lebanon

Lovely Lebanon in Ferguson. Notice the placement of the door next to the one window.

*

Marina

Sears Marina (1916)

*

Marina

A perfect Marina in Ferguson.

*

Lex

The Sears Lexington was one of their biggest and most expensive homes.

*

Lexington

Initially, I'd missed this stately Lexington hiding behind the hedge, but this IS a Lexington!

*

compare

Nice comparison of the Lexington entryway. Although it's somewhat obscured, you can see the fan light in the 1928 image. The details on the porch are spot on!

*

Ferguson

Sears Barrington (1928).

*

Pattern book

Although I initially identified this as a Barrington, I'm starting to wonder if it is a pattern book house. These many years later, I do not remember if we went inside this house.

*

Gordon Van Tine

In addition to Sears Homes, I also found a Gordon Van Tine home in Ferguson.

*

GVT

Very distinctive house!

*

Ferguson House

The porch has been enclosed, but this is a lovely GVT #605 in Ferguson.

*

Spent years

I have spent many years trying to identify this house. I've yet to find it in any pattern books, kit house catalogs or magazines. But hey - it's only been 12 years. I'm still looking!

*

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

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

*