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Posts Tagged ‘prefab house’

The Sears Wabash: Economical and Popular!

August 7th, 2015 Sears Homes No comments

According to the promotional literature, the Sears Wabash was “a house planned and designed by U. S. Government architects.”

I’m not sure when The Wabash first appeared, but I found it in my 1916 catalog (and not the 1914 catalog).

In 1916, it was a mere $551, and in 1920, it had gone up to $966 . If this really was “Uncle  Sam’s Idea” (as the literature suggests), it may have been created as an answer to the problem of the building material shortage during The Great War (also known as “The European War”).

It’s an interesting house, and this is the second one that’s been found in Ohio. According to the testimonials, there were several of these sold throughout the Midwest.

Thanks so much to Robb Hyde for finding and photographing this kit home.

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1916

In 1916, the Wabash was offered for $551.

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1920

"Planned and designed by US government architects..." (1920)

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house 1920

It has two wee tiny bedrooms, and yet a massive living room (1920).

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Apparently it was really popular in Illinois

Apparently it was really popular in the Midwest.

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That kitchen looks a lot bigger than 9x11 (1920).

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1920 house

"The Wabash," complete with screened porch (1920).

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Heres the Wabash Robb Hyde found in Somewhere.

Here's the Wabash that Robb Hyde found in Alliance, Ohio. At some point, the "sunporch" was converted into enclosed living space. With two bedrooms measuring 8x9, I'm sure the home's occupants were fairly desperate for every bit of living space they could get! Photo is copyright 2015 Robb Hyde and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Apparently, that porch got turned into living space.

Note the original columns, siding and verge board. Photo is copyright 2015 Robb Hyde and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Veiw

Nice shot of the home's front, which highlights the unusual window arrangement. Porch deck is new, but everything else appears to be original. Given that this house is nearly 100 years old, that's darn impressive. Photo is copyright 2015 Robb Hyde and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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And Robb had the foresight to get some photos of the other side, too!

And Robb had the foresight to get some photos of the other side, too! Photo is copyright 2015 Robb Hyde and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Its a perfect match!

It's a perfect match!

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To read about the Sears Wabash that Donna Bakke found in Ohio, click here.

Thanks so much to Robb Hyde for finding and photographing this kit home.

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Webster Groves, Missouri: A Happy Memory

July 28th, 2015 Sears Homes 1 comment

In Spring 2002, my new book on Sears Homes had just been published, and the Webster Grove Public Library (Missouri) was one of the first places that offered me a speaking gig.

A few days before the big event, someone called me and asked, “Have you been out to the Webster Groves Library today?”

I told them I had not, and asked why. The response was, “I’ll pick you up in a minute. Ride out there with me. You need to see this.”

When we pulled up in front of the building, there was a massive banner spanning the tall columns outside and it said, “The Houses That Sears Built - Rosemary Thornton - This Friday at 7:00 p.m.”

I’d never seen a sight like it. My name - on a great big banner - way up high where the whole world could see it.

That night, I sold 40 books, which was about 32 books more than I’d ever sold before. People stood in line to buy a book. People stood in line, waiting patiently for me to autograph their book. People said many nice things to me. It was one of those defining moments in my life, where I first had hope that maybe - just maybe - I could turn this passion for old kit homes into a real job.

Earlier this month, I returned to Webster Groves to poke around and see if I could find some kit homes I might have missed the first time (in 2002).

Not surprisingly, I found several, but my #1 favorite was this Aladdin Sonoma, just about one mile from the Webster Groves Library.

I’ve been hoping to find a real-life example of this sweet little house for a long, long time so it was quite a treat to find it in Webster Groves.

To read a more recent blog on Webster Groves, click here.

And “Webster Groves, Part III” can be found here.

Part IV is here.

And you can read Part V here.

Want to learn more about Aladdin kit homes? Click here.

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Because of its diminuitive size, this was known as an Aladdinette house.

Because of its diminutive size, this was known as an "Aladdinette" house (1919).

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An interesting feature of this house was that it had roll-away beds.

An interesting feature of this house was that it used a roll-away bed to save space.

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Oh, what a cute little house!

Oh, what a cute little house! This "Sonoma" is the mirror image of the house shown above, and the pergola and exterior door has been converted into an enclosed porch. It's hard to see from this angle, but the roofline for the original house is a perfect match to the catalog page.

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That extra-deep eave is missing from the chimney

That extra-deep eave is missing from the chimney but I'd surmise that it went missing after the first roof replacement job in the 1940s.

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Houw

That extra bit of depth on the eave by the chimney is distinctive, but would have been a hard item to countenance when it came to maintenance (1919). I've flipped the image (above) to match the house in Webster Groves. Notice the clipped gable.

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The view down the long side is also a good match.

The view down the long side is also a good match.

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And last but not least, this darling home still has its original windows.

And last but not least, this darling home still has its original 9/1 windows.

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What a fine house! And to think that I found it in Webster Groves!

What a fine house! And to think that I found it in Webster Groves!

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To learn more about identifying Sears Homes, click here.

Want to learn more about Aladdin kit homes? Click here.

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Pennsgrove: Up Close and Personal

November 12th, 2013 Sears Homes 1 comment

When I first learned that a Baltimorian had discovered a Pennsgrove in their very own neighborhood, I was more than a little dubious. After all, neither me nor my slightly obsessed house-hunting buddies had ever seen a Pennsgrove in the wild.

And yet, not only had my Baltimorians found a Pennsgrove, but now we’ve learned that they found THE Pennsgrove that had been used as the model for the image in the 1932 Sears catalog.

Now that’s an exciting find.

The Baltimorians (Tom and Jada Lawson) were kind enough to send me some high resolution photos so that we can really get a good look at this sweet thing.

And then last week while I was hanging out at the Sergeant Memorial Room (Norfolk Public Library), doing research on Penniman, Bill Inge (my #1 favorite librarian), sat down next to me and quietly confessed, “I think that Pennsgrove is  my favorite Sears House.”

Bill is not just an world-class librarian, but he’s also an incredibly interesting fellow and an indefatigable resource of historical knowledge. If there’s a person in this world that loves early 20th Century American history more than moi, it might just be Bill.

Many thanks to Tom and Jada for the wonderful photos and thanks to the city of Norfolk for having the wisdom and foresight to hire a true historian like Bill Inge.

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The Pennsgrove, as seen in the 1932 catalog.

The Pennsgrove, as seen in the 1932 catalog.

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Living Room 1932

Also in the 1932 catalog is a view of the living room in the Pennsgrove. Oh it'd be fun to get inside the Baltimore house and get a picture of the living room today - from the same angle!

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Garage

As kit homes go, this was a very busy house. The two-car attached garage was very unusual for a house of this vintage, and even more unusual for a Sears House. In fact, I believe that this is the only Sears House with a two-car attached garage (1932 catalog).

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send floor

The second floor makes the house seem crowded and small. And from an architectural standpoint, there's a lot of wasted space on this second level. And check out that third bedroom. It's a mere eight feet wide!

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Ah, but it sure is a beauty!

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Tom did a flawless job of photographing this house from the same angle as the original catalog image. And the best part: Even the shadows are falling in the same places. Check out the shadow on the arched entry by the garage. Photo is copyright 2013 Tom Lawson and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Compa

The side-by-side comparisons are my favorite. What a house!

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phenomenal

The Pennsgrove is a real beauty, and the stone, brick, stucco and slate provide a stunning complement to one another. I love the half-timber look on that front gable. Personally, I think the balloons look a little tired though. Photo is copyright 2013 Tom Lawson and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Check out that slate roof. Most likely, it's Buckingham Slate which weighs 1,400 pounds per square. Yes, you read that right. One ten by ten section of Buckingham Slate weighs 1,400 pounds. Houses with slate roofs are built extra sturdy to accommodate the tremendous weight. Photo is copyright 2013 Tom Lawson and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Thanks to Toms great images, we can really see the details.

Thanks to Tom's great pictures, we can really see the details. Notice this Pennsgrove still has the original light fixture! Photo is copyright 2013 Tom Lawson and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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And original windows, too. I understand the house recently changed hands. Hopefully the new owners will also be good stewards of this historic home. Photo is copyright 2013 Tom Lawson and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Nothing makes my heart go pitter-pat like the details. Check out the round downspouts. They may not be original, but they do look good. Photo is copyright 2013 Tom Lawson and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Several people commented on the fact that the stone work around the front door is a perfect match to the old catalog image. That's when I started to realize that this is THE house shown in the 1932 catalog. This close-up proves it!

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What a house!

And I can't help but ask, do the owners know what they have? I surely hope so. Photo is copyright 2013 Tom Lawson and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Don’t replace that slate roof! Read this first and it will change your life! No kidding!

To learn more about the Pennsgrove, click here.

To contact Rose, please leave a comment below.

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Eight Pretty Maggies in a Row

August 29th, 2013 Sears Homes 19 comments

As of last month, we’ve found eight Sears Magnolias. There are probably more, but where are they?

The last three Magnolias that were discovered (in North Carolina, New York and West Virginia) were found thanks to the readers of this blog.

So where’s Number Nine?  :)

If you know, please leave a comment below!

Below are pictures of the eight Magnolias.

Enjoy!

The Sears Magnolia was featured on the cover of the 1918 Modern Homes catalog.

The Sears Magnolia was featured on the cover of the 1918 Modern Homes catalog.

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When first offered

When first offered in 1918, the Magnolia was also offered as a "plan" (blueprints only) for $10.

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The Magnolia in Benson, NC was discovered when a faithful reader of the blog sent me a note and reported that shed seen a Magnolia featured on the news. She even sent me a link to the news story, so I was able to conform it was a Magnolia before I traveld five hours south to Benson.

The Magnolia in Benson, NC was discovered when a faithful reader of the blog sent me a note and reported that she'd seen a Magnolia featured on the news. She even sent me a link to the news story, so I was able to conform it was a Magnolia before I traveled five hours south to Benson. This Magnolia has been in constant use as a funeral home since the early 1940s. The interior has been pretty well gutted and rebuilt, but at least it's still standing.

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Canton, Ohio

The Magnolia in Canton, Ohio was almost lost in the 1980s. The roof had collapsed into the second floor, but the house was purchased by someone who truly loved old houses, and they did a thorough restoration of the home. In 2002, I visited this house when filming a segment for PBS's "History Detectives." Photo is courtesy Janet LaMonica and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Located in the hills of West Virginia, this beautiful Magnolia also passed through its own shadow of death in the early 2000s. In 2003, it was purchased and lovingly restored.

Located in the hills of West Virginia, this beautiful Magnolia also passed through its own "shadow of death" in the early 2000s. In 2003, it was purchased and lovingly restored.

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In 1985, this Magnolia in Lincoln, Nebraska was in pitiful shape (when these photos were taken). In late 1985, the house suffered additional damage when it caught fire. It was razed sometime in 1985.

In 1985, this Magnolia in Lincoln, Nebraska was in pitiful shape (when these photos were taken). In late 1985, the house suffered additional damage when it caught fire. It was razed sometime in 1985. Photo is courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Syracuse

The Seventh Magnolia (in Syracuse, NY) was also discovered thanks to a faithful reader of this blog. It was built by Edward Knapp for his two sisters sometime between 1918-1921. In the 1990s, it was purchased and restored by someone who loved the house and appreciated its unique history. Photo is courtesy Mariel Proulx and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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The Magnolia in South Bend, Indiana is now going through its own trying time. If you look at the underside of the front porch ceiling, you'll see moisture damage. The aluminum trim around the eaves and soffit is also falling away. Hopefully, this wonderful old house will be spared the fate of the Maggy in Nebraska. These photos are more than a year old, so perhaps good things are now happening for this house. Photo is courtesy James Layne and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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The Magnolia in Piedmont, Alabama is also needing a little love.

The Magnolia in Piedmont, Alabama is also needing a little love. It's sold three times in the last six years and when I was there in September 2010, it was looking a little ragged around the edges. However, it sold very recently (less than six months ago) and hopefully the new owners will return it to its former glory.

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Last but not least is this Magnolia in Irwin, Pennsylvania. It was built as a brick house, and the floorplan was altered a bit when the house was built. Construction began in 1922 and was not completed until 1927.

Last but not least is this Magnolia in Irwin, Pennsylvania. The brick exterior is original to the house and the floorplan was altered a bit when the house was built. Construction began in 1922 and was not completed until 1927. Photo is courtesy Bob Keeling and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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And in Blacksburg, SC

This "almost-a-Magnolia" was discovered in Blacksburg, SC. According to the homeowner (and tax records) the house was built in 1910, and based on millwork and other design elements, that seems like a good date. The classic "widow's walk" (flat top) on the hipped roof is not in place (as with a traditional Magnolia). And see those tall columns? They're solid concrete. No kit house would have concrete two-story columns due to the tremendous weight. These homes were designed with the expectation that a "man of average abilities" could build them in 90 days - or less! I suspect that this house in Blacksburg was purchased from a planbook or architectural magazine, and then Sears "borrowed" the design, shaved a few feet off the footprint and the Sears Magnolia was born.

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house house house

The Magnolia was also known as Sears Modern Home #2089. I found this marking in the basement of the Magnolia in Benson, NC. When these framing members were shipped out of Cairo, Illinois, one of the mill workers grabbed a blue grease pencil and marked the top beam in the pile of lumber that was about to be loaded onto a train for Benson. Today, this faint mark can be used to authenticate that this is indeed a Sears kit home.

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marked lumber

Years ago, I talked to an elder gent who remembered helping Mom and Dad build a Sears kit home. The father, standing on the building site, would yell out, "I need a G 503!" and the kids would scramble over the massive piles of framing members to find a beam marked G 503. The floor joist shown above was found in the Magnolia in WV.

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Now, about that 9th Magnolia…

Where is it?  :)

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

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The Eighth Magnolia - and - It’s In West Virginia!

August 24th, 2013 Sears Homes 14 comments

For years and years, it was believed that only six Magnolias had been sold by Sears and Roebuck, but their locations were unknown.

As the years passed, the six Magnolias were discovered in Benson, North Carolina, South Bend, Indiana, Irwin, Pennsylvania, Canton, Ohio and a fifth in Piedmont, Alabama. A sixth Magnolia in Lincoln, Nebraska was lost in 1985 when it burned down.

And that was that.

Six Magnolias. All accounted for.

Five alive.  One dead (and cremated).

And then two years ago, one of my faithful readers reported that there was a Sears Magnolia in Syracuse, NY.

Turned out, they were right. The discovery made the local papers, and it was all pretty exciting.  Click here to read the article from May 2011.

All of which brings me to this newest discovery of an 8th Magnolia.

In June 2013, someone left me a comment saying, that many years ago, he’d lived in a small town in West Virginia, and there was a Sears Magnolia just across the street from his home.

According to his reminiscence, the Magnolia was ordered from the Sears & Roebuck catalog in 1924, and the price was $7,000. The homeowner then paid a local builder another $7,000 to build the house. Rachel Shoemaker and I stayed up most of one night trying to figure out if this house was the real deal. About 4:00 am, we came to the conclusion that it was.

I contacted the homeowner (who was gracious enough to write back!) and asked if we could visit his wonderful Magnolia when we visited Elkins, later in the summer.

He said yes.

“Thrilled” doesn’t begin to describe my feelings about this elegant home in West Virginia.

For one, this Maggy has been painstakingly and thoroughly restored. In the world of architectural preservation, there’s a massive difference between “remodeling” and “restoring.”

This Magnolia has truly been restored.

I’m a tough cookie with an eye for detail and a penchant for perfection and a passion for historicity, and I’m happy to report that the work done on this old house was absolutely first-class. This West Virginia “Maggy” is truly a wonder to behold. As the pictures will show, the house is a gem and every room looks like something out of a fancy architectural magazine. It really is that beautiful.

Secondly, I was so pleased to see that the house is in good hands. The home’s current owners love this house with their whole heart, and they genuinely appreciate their home’s unique history. They’re “caretakers” in the truest sense of the word, and they really do “get it.”

An interesting aside, my husband toured the house with me, and he was also smitten (and he’s not even a big architecture guy). When we returned to our car, he said quietly, “That really is a beautiful place they’ve got there.”

Enough words. Just wait until you see these pictures. You’ll fall in love with this house, just like I did.

To read Part II of this blog, click here.

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The Magnolia was offered from 1918-1922. It's shown here in the 1921 catalog

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The description shows it was fancy.

The description of the Magnolia gives some wonderful detail on the home's fine qualities (1921).

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price

A price list from the 1921 catalog shows detail on the optional extras for the Magnolia.

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What a fine-looking house!

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This magnificent Magnolia is now 88 years old, and still retains all its original stateliness, beauty and grandeur. Beginning in 2003, the house underwent a major, three-year-long restoration that saved this historically significant home.

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beautiful

The house sits on several acres on a beautifully landscaped lot in a small West Virginia town about two hours from my husband's ancestral home in Elkins, WV. The previous owners (who did the major three-year restoration) planted the two Magnolia trees at the front of the house. The house is even more beautiful "in person" than it is in these photos. It's stunning. Just stunning.

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This house has no bad sides. It is beautiful from every angle.

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Just imagine bobbing about in the pool on an August afternoon, sipping on a cool soda and gazing upward at a majestic Magnolia. Bliss! On a more architectural note, the 40' wide addition across the back added quite a bit of square footage and also expanded the size of the small den and kitchen.

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The floorplan for the first floor (shown here) shows how the addition to the rear of the house increased the square footage, expanded the den and the kitchen and did not diminish the home's original beauty. Major kudos to the architect who came up with this plan! Brilliant!

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And from the back of the house, you can get a good view of that distinctive Magnolia dormer.

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A view of the front yard from the second-floor balcony. West Virginia is a state filled with beautiful views, and this house is located in an unusually beautiful spot in West Virginia.

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When I first contacted the homes owner, he told me that this Magnolia was in unusually original condition. After spending two hours examining this lovely home, I can affirm - he was right!

When I first contacted the home's owner, he told me that this Magnolia was in unusually original condition. After spending two hours examining this lovely home, I can affirm - he was right!

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Beautiful house. Just beautiful.

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And much praise is due to the folks who did the restoration on the Maggy. Every window in this old house was restored and preserved.

And much praise is due to the folks who restored the Maggy. Every window in this old house was restored and preserved. These windows - with a little love and care - will last for generations.

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On

It's claimed that the Sears Magnolia was the only kit that was required two boxcars (as opposed to one) for shipment. I suspect the six two-story columns were part of the reason for the second boxcar. When shipped, these columns were in pieces (length-wise) which were to be assembled on site. The bases on these columns were recently replaced.

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The porch floor on the other Magnolias I've seen is poured concrete. On the West Virginia Magnolia, the terrace is tiled, with several floor drains. I've read that they get lots of snow in WV so maybe the floor drains help with that.

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And in the basement, we found

And in the basement, we found marked lumber!

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My next blog

Return to this blog tomorrow, and come inside for a tour of this beautiful home. You're in for a treat!

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To read Part II of this blog (and see interior photos) click here.
Is there a Sears Magnolia in your neighborhood?

Of the eight Sears Magnolias that have been discovered, three of them were found thanks to the loyal readers of this blog. If you know of a Magnolia, please leave a comment below!

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The World’s Most Beautiful Sears Arlington - in Gordonsville, Virginia

March 28th, 2013 Sears Homes No comments

Last week, I drove up to Charlottesville for an overnight trip, and I stopped in Mineral, Louisa and Gordonsville.

In Louisa, I found the World’s Most Perfect Kentucky (an Aladdin kit home), and if that had been the only kit home I’d found during the trip, that would have made it all worthwhile, but then I went into Gordonsville and found the World’s Most Beautiful Arlington.

And that made my day even better.

As I was leaving town, I saw an old signal tower on the railroad tracks, and that really was the cherry on the top of my already delightful day.

I’ve seen a lot of towns, but Gordonsville fast became one of my favorite places. It’s small enough to be charming, rich in local history (including railroad history!), and just big enough to be interesting. If it just had a railroad museum, it’d be perfect.

God bless the local citizenry for saving that old signal towel.

Scroll down to see photos of the World’s Most Perfect Arlington.

To read about the World’s Most Perfect Kentucky in nearby Louisa, click here.

And to learn more about what makes Louisa so special, click here.

And look what I found in Mineral (Virginia)!

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The Sears hosues

Most likely, the Sears Homes in Gordonsville came into town right here at the Gordonsville depot. Sadly, this building was torn down sometime in the 1970s or so. I'd be grateful to know an exact date. Just beyond the depot is the signal tower. I'd also be grateful to know how this survived the wrekcing ball. Photo is copyright 2010, C&O Historical Society and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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What a thrill to find the signal tower is still standing!

What a thrill to find the signal tower is still standing!

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The Sears Arlington was a classic Arts & Crafts bungalow (1919).

The Sears Arlington was a classic Arts & Crafts bungalow (1919).

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The Arlington, close up and personal.

The Arlington, close up and personal.

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Be still my heart! What a glorious, gorgeous example of a Sears Arlington!

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And if you look down the side, youll see it has the stair step windows.

And if you look down the side, you'll see it has the "stair step" windows. This Arlington truly is a perfect example, and a large part of the reason it's so perfect is that it retains its original siding and windows.

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Take a look at the original casements on the Arlington.

Take a look at the original casements on the Arlington.

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My oh my, what a beautiful thing to see!

My oh my, what a beautiful thing to see! It even has original WOODEN storms!!

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And just down the road from the Arlington is what I suspect is a Sears Chelsea.

And just down the road from the Arlington is what I suspect is a Sears Chelsea (1908).

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Is this a Chelsea in Gordonsville? Tough to know for sure. My first impression is YES, but Im just not 100% certain. Id love to get inside this house and do a more thorough inspection.

Is this a Chelsea in Gordonsville? Tough to know for sure. My first impression is YES, but I'm just not 100% certain. I'd love to get inside this house and do a more thorough inspection.

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A sneak peak of the beautiful Kentucky I found in Louisa.

A sneak peak of the beautiful Kentucky I found in Louisa.

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To read more about that beautiful Kentucky, click here.

To learn more about how you can support the good work of the C&O Historical Society, click here.

To contact Rose, please leave a comment below.

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“The Kentucky” in Louisa, Virginia

March 22nd, 2013 Sears Homes 8 comments

Aladdin was probably the biggest of the six national companies that sold kit homes through mail order. And here in Virginia, the majority of kit homes I’ve found are Aladdins. This is probably due to the fact that Aladdin had a huge mill in Wilmington, NC.

Earlier, I drove out to Charlottesville (from my home in Norfolk), and I took Route 33 so that I could look for kit homes. I’d about given up on finding anything in Louisa when I turned down a sleepy little road about four blocks from the train station and look what I found!  It’s an Aladdin Kentucky.

I’d been hoping to see one “in the flesh” for some time, and this one in Louisa is in WONDERFULLY original condition!

To read about another beautiful kit home I found in nearby Gordonsville, click here!

Click here to see what I found in Mineral (Virginia)!

To read about another “Kentucky” (in Mechanicsville, Iowa), click here.

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The Kentucky, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

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The Kentucky was offered in two floorpllans, small andl arge.

The Kentucky was offered in two floorplans, small and large. This house was 43' wide!!!

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Fine-looking house, isnt it?

Fine-looking house, isn't it?

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Be still my heart. Here it is, alive and well in Louisa, VA.

Be still my heart. Here it is, alive and well in Louisa, VA. It's rare to find a 100-year-old house still in original condition. This house has its original doors, windows and sidings!

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The Kentucky is a very wide house!

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Close-up on the details.

Close-up on the details. I love those windows!

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Many years ago, someone planted a pair of oaks squarely in front of the house.

Many years ago, someone planted a pair of oaks squarely in front of the house.

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Alad

Close-up on the catalog image shows detail of the columns, doors and window.

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It is

This Kentucky looks much like it did when built in 1914.

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Easily one of the best matches Ive ever seen - and its in Louisa, VA!

Easily one of the best matches I've ever seen - and it's in Louisa, VA!

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In addition to the Aladdin Kentucky, I also found this cute little bungalow in Louisa. This image is from the 1923 Aladdin catalog.

In addition to the Aladdin Kentucky, I also found this cute little bungalow in Louisa. This image is from the 1923 Aladdin catalog. This was the Aladdin "Cape Cod" (model name).

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What a nice match to the catalog page!

What a nice match to the catalog page!

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The Aladdin Madison was a very poplar house for Aladdin. In this graphic (1923 catalog), it was called The Lindbergh.

The Aladdin Madison was a very poplar house for Aladdin. In this graphic (1928 catalog), it was called "The Lindbergh."

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This house was offered with two floorplans.

This house was offered with two floorplans. The Madison in Louisa was the larger of the two floorplans, with the extra window on the home's front, and the two bump-outs in the rear.

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Heres the Madison in Louisa! Another lovely match!

Here's the Madison in Louisa! Another lovely match!

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To learn more about why these kit homes are historically significant, click here.

To read about the kit homes in Staunton,VA, click here.

And to learn more about why Louisa is so historically significant, click here.

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The CLH, by Sears (Part II)

February 12th, 2013 Sears Homes 1 comment

Yesterday, I talked about the CLH, which is an acronym. Sometimes, it meant, “”Cute Little House”!

Other times it was short for “Compact Little House.”

And other times it was our abbreviation for “Crummy Little House.”

Sears offered quite a few of these very modest, very plain and tiny bungalows but finding them today is quite difficult because they were so modest, so plain and so tiny.

Further complicating the issue was that all the major companies (SearsLewis ManufacturingWardwayGordon Van TineAladdinSterling andHarris Brothers), all offered several versions of the CLH.

Because these homes were so small (less than 600 square feet), homeowners would add additions to the sides, the front, and the top, making identification even more difficult!

Because of this, I don’t have any photos of CLHs, but thanks to Mark Hardin, I have now seen a photo of a Wayside (featured in yesterday’s blog). He found it in Stockton, Ohio.

Click here to read CLH, Part I.

Want to learn more about how to identify these homes? Click here.

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Price

"Four Rooms - Two Porches." What more do you need? Maybe an indoor potty? You'd think that a house named "The Rest" would have a Rest Room, wouldn't you?

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1921

The living room is 10 by 12. That chair must be about the size of a dinner plate. (1921 catalog)

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Oopsie, where have we seen this living room before? Why its the same photo as is seen in the 1919 catalog image for The Wayside.

Oopsie, where have we seen this living room before? Why it's the same photo as is seen in the 1919 catalog image for The Wayside.

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In fact, comparing these two side by side, youll see that just about the same house.

In fact, comparing these two side by side, you'll see that just about the same house. The Wayside is on the left and The Rest is on the right. That back porch (with cellar entry) is about the only difference.

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They sure do look alike!

Why, even the shrubbery is the same! The Rest is on the left.

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How many of these Rests have I driven right on past? Probably a few.

Several of these same cities were shown as having a "Sears Wayside" as well. Did Sears just decide that these two houses were close enough to consider them the "same model"?

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The Rest, like the Wayside was a very simple little house (1919).

The Rest, like the Wayside was a very simple little house (1921).

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Are you near the cities listed above? Would you be able to get me a photo of a Rest?

Please leave a comment below!

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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.

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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).

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The Stanhope was one of Aladdins most popular little houses.

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

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But it was a very small house.

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

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The full

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

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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?"

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One of the

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

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The Stanhope

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

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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).

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Nice match, isnt it?

Nice match, isn't it?

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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!

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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.

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Quite Possibly, The Most Beautiful Elsmore in the World

December 10th, 2012 Sears Homes 9 comments

The Elsmore was a hugely popular house for Sears, and it was probably one of their top five best selling models.

Since all sales records were destroyed during a post-WW2 corporate housecleaning at Sears, it’s hard to know for sure, but I do know that I’ve seen a whole lot of Elsmores in my travels.

Earlier this year, I posted another blog on the Elsmore (click here to see that), but I was inspired to post a second blog, due to this home’s incredible popularity and also because Cindy Catanzaro found and photographed one of the prettiest (and most well-cared-for) Elsmores that I’ve ever seen.

To read more on the Elsmore, click here.

Refinement and Comfort here.  How elegant sounding!

"Refinement and Comfort here." Sounds lovely!!

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Heres an Elsmore that was built in Cairo, IL not far from the spot where Sears had their 40-acre mill.

Here's an Elsmore that was built in Cairo, IL not far from the spot where Sears had their 40-acre lumber mill. This Elsmore, built at 1501 Commerce Avenue, was torn down pre-2001. I visited Cairo then and went looking for this house, but 1501 Commerce was an empty lot at that point. How many Sears Homes in Cairo have been razed? It's a vexing question.

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Another vintage Elsmore.

Another vintage Elsmore. This one was in Glenshaw, PA (1919 catalog).

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This is one of my favorite Elsmores. Its in Park Ridge, Illiois. Picture perfect in every way. Photo is copyright 2010, Dale Patrick Wolicki and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

This is one of my favorite Elsmores. It's in Park Ridge, Illinois. Picture perfect in every way. Photo is copyright 2010, Dale Patrick Wolicki and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

Visit Dale’s website by clicking here.

And the crème de la crème

And the crème de la crème. Cindy Catazaro found this house in Oakwood Ohio and it has been lovingly and faithfully restored. The house has obviously had some "renovations," but they've been done in a thoughtful, sensitive manner. I'm so impressed to know that there are people in the world who love their Sears House *this* much! Photo is copyright 2012, Cindy Catazaro and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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An mini-Elsmore? It might be a trick of the eye, but it appears this Elsmore in Walnutport, PA is a little narrower than the catalog version.

An skinny mini-Elsmore? It might be a trick of the eye, but it appears this Elsmore in Walnutport, PA is a little narrower than the catalog version. The window arrangement is also a little different. I'd love to know the history behind this house. Photo is copyright 2012 Angela Laury and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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The Elsmore, as it appeared in the later 1910s and 20s was actually a remodel of this

The Elsmore, as it appeared in the later 1910s and 20s was actually a remodel of Modern Home #126, which was first offered in the 1908 (first) Sears Modern Homes catalog.

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If you compare the two floorplans, youll see how similar they really are.

If you compare the two floorplans, you'll see how similar they are. This is the floorplan for the Sears Modern Home #126 (1908). Notice the size of the rooms and placement of windows.

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Floor

And here's the floorplan for the Elsmore (1916). The chamfered corners are gone and the front porch is different, but the rest of the house is the same, down to window placement and room size. The front porch roof on Modern Home #126 (with cantilevers) *always* sagged due to its fantastic weight. Not a good design. The changes to the Elsmore porch fixed that problem.

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Thanks to Cindy Catazaro and Dale Wolicki for providing such beautiful photos!

To read more about the Elsmore, click here.

To visit Dale’s website, click here.

Did you enjoy this blog? Please take a moment and leave a nice comment below. I’m living on nothing but love.

:)

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