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Posts Tagged ‘prefab modern houses’

Oklahoma’s First Sears Kit Home: The Saratoga

July 3rd, 2011 Sears Homes 10 comments

Updated! There’s now a blog filled with the Sears Homes of Tulsa! Click here to see two dozen photos!

Built in 1912, it’s claimed that this Sears Saratoga was the very first Sears kit home in the state of Oklahoma. And this was a mere five years after Oklahoma became our 46th state. According to a nomination form for National Register of Historic places, this Saratoga is “architecturally significant” because it was “the first Sears and Roebuck precut home to be constructed in Oklahoma, (2) it was one of the first to be built west of the Mississippi River, and (3) it is one of the best examples of the Sears Modern Home Number 146 in the United States.”

It’s entirely plausible that this house in Chelsea, Oklahoma was the first Sears kit home in Oklahoma. However, Sears didn’t start offering their pre-cut homes until somewhere in 1914 or 1915. Rebecca Hunter and I are still debating the precise date. :)  Prior to 1914/1915, Sears kit homes were not “precut.” In other words, sufficient lumber arrived to build your new house, but each and every piece had to be carefully cut to fit.

Sears started offering kit homes in 1908, with a 44-page catalog that offered 22 designs. (The nominating form also states that Sears started selling pre-cut houses in 1909. That’s okay. This form was filed in 1981, and there was a lot of errant info floating around.)

The Saratoga in Chelsea, Oklahoma was built by Joe Hogue, a cattleman. (Is that like a really old cowboy?)  Seems that when Mr. Hogue visited Chicago in 1912, he saw a display of Sears building materials at Sears headquarters, and included in that display were a few “Sears Modern Homes.” He liked the Saratoga (then known as Sears Modern House #108; houses weren’t given names until 1918). The house was shipped to /Chelsea via The St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad.

What’s most remarkable to me is that (as of 1981), the house has remained in the same family since 1912.

Thanks to Rachel Shoemaker for providing all the photos, and sending me a copy of the nominating form. All extant photos are copyright Rachel Shoemaker and can not be reproduced without permission.

Sara

According to The National Register of Historic Places nominating form, this was the first Sears kit home in Oklahoma. It is a beautiful example of a Sears Saratoga.

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.

Close-up shows the original planters by the front entry

Close-up shows the original planters by the front entry

And theyre still in place!

And they're still in place!

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Close-up of the Saratoga's side.

sid

And the house in Chelsea. Nice match!

Close-up of the Saratogas attic window

Close-up of the Saratoga's attic window

Another nice match!

Another nice match!

Rear of the Saratoga.

Rear of the Saratoga.

And the train tracks were nice and close, too!

And the train tracks were nice and close, too!

A close-up of the floor plan shows it was a spacious home.

A close-up of the floor plan shows it was a spacious home. This is from the 1916 catalog, and the 1921 catalog shows an identical house, but with a different price! In 1921, the price had jumped to $3,491.

One feature on the Saratoga that you are NOT going to see on any other Sears house is the placement of this chimney. Its at the peak of the pyramidal hip roof. For the novice homebuilder, this a complicated place for a chimney.

One feature on the Saratoga that you are NOT going to see on any other Sears house is the placement of this chimney. It's at the peak of the roof's intersection. For the novice homebuilder, this a complicated place for a chimney.

This is my favorite unique item on the house. The gas meter is next to the sidewalk. In all my travels, I have never seen such a thing.

This is my favorite "unique item" on the house. The gas meter is next to the sidewalk. In all my travels, I have never seen such a thing.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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Is My House a Sears House?

June 6th, 2011 Sears Homes 8 comments

The number one question I’m asked again and again - Can you tell me if my house is a Sears Kit Home?

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

The nine easy signs follow:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

To read another article, click here.

Lumber was numbered to facilitate construction

Lumber was numbered to facilitate construction

Numbers

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

The Sears Magnolia was also known as Model #2089

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

Sears Magnolia was also known as #2089

Sears Magnolia was also known as Model #2089.

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

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

Haa

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

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

Ephemera can help identify a house as a Sears Home

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

Ephemera

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

Goodwall Sheet Plaster

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

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

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

Close-up of the columns.

Close-up of the columns.

And in the flesh...

And in the flesh...

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

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

Sears Mitchell in Elgin, Illinois.

Sears "Mitchell" in Elgin, Illinois.

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

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

Sears Winona in Raleigh, looking PERFECT!

Sears Winona in Raleigh, looking PERFECT!

Sears Auburn in Halifax, NC

Sears Auburn

And a dazzling Auburn in Halifax, NC.

And a dazzling Auburn in Halifax, NC.

Sears Pheonix from the 1919 Modern Homes catalog.

Sears Pheonix from the 1919 Modern Homes catalog.

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

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

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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Send Rose an email at thorntonrose@hotmail.com

To read more about Sears Homes, click here.

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

May 21st, 2011 Sears Homes 1 comment

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

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

The nine easy signs follow:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

To read another article, click here.

Lumber was numbered to facilitate construction

Lumber was numbered to facilitate construction

Numbers

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

The Sears Magnolia was also known as Model #2089

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

Sears Magnolia was also known as #2089

Sears Magnolia was also known as Model #2089.

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

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

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

Ephemera can help identify a house as a Sears Home

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

Ephemera

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

Haa

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

Goodwall Sheet Plaster

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

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

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

Close-up of the columns.

Close-up of the columns.

And in the flesh...

And in the flesh...

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

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

Sears Mitchell in Elgin, Illinois.

Sears "Mitchell" in Elgin, Illinois.

* * *

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

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

Sears Winona in Raleigh, looking PERFECT!

Sears Winona in Raleigh, looking PERFECT!

Sears Auburn in Halifax, NC

Sears Auburn

And a dazzling Auburn in Halifax, NC.

And a dazzling Auburn in Halifax, NC.

Sears Pheonix from the 1919 Modern Homes catalog.

Sears Pheonix from the 1919 Modern Homes catalog.

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

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

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

* * *

Send Rose an email at thorntonrose@hotmail.com

To read more about Sears Homes, click here.

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The Pungo Grill: Not A Sears Home

February 13th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

For years, I’ve received phone calls and emails from people wanting to tell me that The Pungo Grill is a Sears Home. Recently, I drove out to this locally owned restaurant in Pungo (on the southern edge of Virginia Beach) to have a look for myself.

Although it’s difficult to tell from this landscape-laden photo (see below), The Pungo Grill is not a Sears Home. About 80% of the time, people who think they have a Sears Home are wrong. Most often, these folks DO have a kit home, but it’s a kit home from another company - not Sears. In addition to Sears, there were six other companies selling kit homes through mail order. They were Aladdin, Montgomery WardLewis Manufacturing, Gordon Van Tine, Sterling Homes and Harris Brothers (a smaller company based in Chicago).

For obvious reasons, Sears was the most well-known in the kit house business.

And while The Pungo Grill is not a Sears Home, it is a kit home from another company. It’s a lovely example of an Aladdin Plaza.

To see pretty pictures of other kit homes in Hampton Roads, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

Aladdin Plaza as shown in 1919 Aladdin catalog

Aladdin Plaza as shown in 1919 Aladdin catalog

The Pungo Grill in Pungo

The Pungo Grill in Pungo. Note the distinctive eave brackets. The porch on this house has been enclosed, but it's still a fine-looking Aladdin Plaza!

Aladdin Plaza in Bedford, Virginia

Aladdin Plaza in Bedford, Virginia

One of my all-time favorite Aladdin Plazas is in Norfolk, Virginia, about three miles from my home in Colonial Place.

One of my all-time favorite Aladdin Plazas is in Norfolk, Virginia, about three miles from my home in Colonial Place.

Floor plan

Floor plan

House

Aladdin Plaza

To read more about the Sears Homes among us, click here.

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