Archive

Posts Tagged ‘raleigh’

The Crescent: “For Folks Who Like a Touch of Individuality”

January 28th, 2013 Sears Homes 18 comments

The Crescent was a very popular kit house for Sears, and I’d venture to guess that it was one of their top ten most popular designs.

It was offered in two floorplans (Mama-sized and Papa-sized) and with an optional extra-high roof (Grandpapa sized).

Because of this, Crescents can be found in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes, the pitch of the porch roof was changed to be more proportionate to the primary roof. Today, this results in all manner of confusion about whether or not a Crescent is the real deal.

Below are several examples of Sears Crescents from all over the country.

House 1

Sears Crescent, as seen in the 1929 Modern Homes catalog.

*

House 2

"Interior Views" of the Crescent (1929).

*

kitchen 1929

Close-up of the Crescent's kitchen (1929).

*

LR 1929

Nice looking living room, too!

*

Bed

The bedrooms weren't' this big but why let details get in the way of a nice story?

*

The Crescent was offered with two floorplans.

The Crescent was offered with two floorplans, C33258A (shown here).

*

And this

And this C3259A (the larger floorplan). Note it has THREE columns on the front porch.

*

Adding a dormer to the optional finished second floor would have created a lot more space.

Adding a couple dormers (on the front) to the optional "finished" second floor would have created a lot more space. The finished second floor was only offered with the smaller Crescent. But that does not mean that someone couldn't finish off the 2nd floor on their own!

*

Glen Ellyn

Glen Ellyn (Illinois) has a Crescent with three dormer windows.

*

Ypsilanti Andrew Mutch

This dormered Crescent is in Ypsilanti. Photo is copyright 2013 Andrew and Wendy Mutch and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

Ypsilanti Andrew Mutch

In Ypsilanti, they like their Crescents with dormers! Photo is copyright 2013 Andrew and Wendy Mutch and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

Godfrey

A sad little Crescent waits for death in Godfrey, IL. Again, note the unique angle of the porch roof. This has also been authenticated as a Sears Home.

*

Raleigh

A picture-perfect Crescent in Raleigh. The dormers were original to the house.

*

West Point

Some Crescents have very steep porch roofs and some have very shallow. This Crescent in West Point has been authenticated by Rose as the real deal.

*

Atlanta Crescent

This Crescent look-a-like is in Atlanta. I suspect it is NOT a Crescent.

*

Crescent Wheaton

A Sears Crescent in Wheaton, IL.

*

Eastern Shore MD

Hubby and I found this Crescent on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

*

Elmhurst IL

Is this a Sears Crescent? It's in Elmhurst IL.

*

Crescent Elgin

This poor Crescent in Elgin, IL has had a hurting put on it. Rebecca Hunter has authenticated this house as a Sears Crescent.

*

Elgin

It's been remodeled, but you can still see it's a Crescent. (Elgin, Illinois)

*

Elgins also

This Crescent is also in Elgin, IL.

*

Elgins also

Elgin Illinois has the largest known collection of Sears Homes in the country. They have a lot of Sears Crescents, too!

*

Crystal Lake

Not surprisingly, the Chicago suburbs are full of Sears Homes. This one is in Crystal Lake.

*

Champaign

Another beautiful Crescent. This one is in Champaign, IL.

*

house Charlotte

I stalked this house for 30 solid minutes, but the young woman on the porch never did hang up the phone, so in desperation, I snapped a photo of the house, phone caller and all. This beauty is in Charlotte, NC.

*

Chharlotte

A perfect Crescent in Charlotte, NC.

*

Bloomginton

This Crescent also has the less-steep pitch on the porch roof, but it's most likely a Sears Crescent. Notice the medallion inside the front porch (on the wall).

*

Bloomington

This photo was taken in 2003 (and it was scanned from an old slide) and it's in Bloomington, IL.

*

Wood Riiver

Is this a Crescent? The pitch of the porch roof is much less than that of the traditional porch roof in other Crescents, but I'd be inclined to say it probably is a Crescent. This house is in Wood River, Illinois.

*

Alton

This Crescent has a dramatically raised second floor. To compensate for the extra steep pitch of the roof, the porch roof was also raised a bit. This beauty is in Alton, Illinois.

*

Ypsilanti

Yet another dormered Crescent is in Ypsilanti. Photo is copyright 2013 Andrew and Wendy Mutch and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

And one of my favorites: A beautiul and well-loved Crescent in Webster Groves, MO (near St. Louis).

A beautiful and well-loved Crescent in Webster Groves, MO (near St. Louis). Again, look at the variation on the pitch of that porch roof, and yet this is an authenticated Sears Home.

*

house Wilmette, IL Rebecca

Now this house has some dormers! It's in Illinois, and was discovered by Rebecca Hunter. Photo is copyright 2013 Rebecca Hunter and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

The Crescent was a perennial favorite aand was offered from 1919 to 1933.

The Crescent was a perennial favorite and was offered from 1919 to 1933. It's shown here in the 1933 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

*

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

*   *   *

Oh No! It’s Not a Sears Kit House!

May 24th, 2012 Sears Homes 3 comments

Last weekend in Raleigh, I gave a talk on Sears Homes. More than 200 people attended the talk and about 50 folks came prepared with photos of their own “Sears Home.”

About 75% of the time, I am not able to identify the house in their photo as a Sears Home. However, I’m usually able to identify the houses as a kit home from another company (such as Aladdin or Gordon Van Tine or Wardway).

Also - as is typical - some people were puzzled as to why their house wasn’t a match to any of the 370 designs that Sears offered. These folks had grown up hearing that “Grandfather bought the house from the Sears catalog and patiently waited for it to arrive at the train station,” and then went to work building his “Sears House.”

So what’s going on?

Well…

You have to begin with a simple question.  What is a Sears house?

A Sears house is a kit home, wherein both blueprints and materials were purchased from the Sears Modern Homes catalog during their years of operation; 1908 - 1940.

Sears began selling building supplies in 1895, but they did not sell kit homes until 1908. Building supply catalogs from Sears offered almost everything you needed to build a house, but the first Sears Modern Homes catalog, offering the package deal, did not appear until 1908.

Sears did sell house designs - blueprints - in the early 1900s.

In fact, both Sears and Montgomery Wards promoted and sold an identical 4 x 6-inch booklet titled Practical Homebuilder with 115 different blueprints priced from $2.50 - $8.00, for houses that would cost $500 - $3500 to construct.  But these were not Sears Modern Homes or even a precursor to Sears Modern Homes.  Practical Homebuilder was created by Frederick Drake & Company and imprinted with the Sears or Wards name on the cover page and sold through their general merchandise catalogs.

I suspect that - in many cases - “Grandfather” purchased his blue prints from the Practical Homebuilder booklet (imprinted with the Sears Roebuck name and logo), and then ordered all his lumber from the Sears Building Materials Catalog, and then waited for his “Sears House” to arrive.

Again, to be a true “Sears House,” both blueprints and (at least some of the) building materials should have been purchased from the Sears Modern Homes catalog between 1908-1940. If any one of those three elements are missing: Blueprints, building materials or timing (1908-1940), it’s not a true Sears kit home.

*

Rare

The 1910 Sears Modern Homes catalog is very rare and one of the hardest to find today.

*

This image appeared on the back page of the very rare 1910 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

This image appeared on the back page of the 1910 Sears Modern Homes catalog. I've put a blue star on the houses that are either extensively customized Sears designs, or are not identifiable as a Sears Model at all. Of the 15 images shown here, nine of these houses do not appear to be "Sears Homes."

*

This house presents a beautiful example.

This house presents a beautiful example of a house that is *not* a true Sears kit home. It is not one of the 370 models that Sears offered during their 32 years in the kit house business. In fact, it looks a lot more like the Aladdin "Virginia" than any thing Sears ever offered. And yet, the building materials came from Sears, and it's possible even the blueprints were ordered out of the Sears catalog.

*

People

Mr. Turk was pretty pleased was pretty pleased with the transaction.

*

more

I'm not sure what to think of that front door.

*

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s newest book, click here.

To learn about kit homes from Montgomery Ward, click here.

*   *   *

The Kit Homes of Raleigh, NC

April 10th, 2012 Sears Homes 4 comments

In May 2012, I gave a talk at the Rialto Theatre (in Raleigh) on Sears Kit Homes, sponsored in part by the Raleigh Historic Development Commission and the Raleigh City Museum.

Raleigh has an abundance of kit homes, which I find fascinating. In addition to Sears, they also have kit homes from Aladdin (based in Bay City), Harris Brothers (Chicago), Sterling Homes (Bay City), and even Montgomery Ward (Chicago).

Scroll on down to see some of the kit homes that I found.

And to read another blog I did on Raleigh, click here.

To read about Raleigh’s museum exhibit on Sears Homes, click here.

To listen to Rose’s interview on WUNC, click here.

First, one of my favorite finds: The Sears Winona (1921 catalog).

First, one of my favorite finds: The Sears Winona (1921 catalog).

*

Perfect in every detail. Just perfect. What a treasure.

Perfect in every detail. Just perfect. What a treasure.

*

Another wonderful Sears House: The Westly (1919 catalog).

Another wonderful Sears House: The Westly (1919 catalog).

*

This Westly in Raleigh is perfect in every detail. Wow.

This Westly in Raleigh is perfect in every detail. Wow. Original railings, too.

*

The Sears Whitehall (1916 catalog).

The Sears Whitehall (1916 catalog).

*

Another Raleigh Sears House thats been thoughtfully maintained.

Another Raleigh Sears House that's been thoughtfully maintained.

*

And theres this oh

And there's this a Harris Brother's kit home, too. Notice the rounded front porch.

*

Known as Model 1000, this was one of their most popular homes.

Known as Model 1000, this was one of their most popular homes.

*

Another favorite is the Modern Home #163 (1916 catalog).

Another favorite is the Modern Home #163 (1916 catalog).

*

Be still my quivering heart - what a match!

Be still my quivering heart - what a match!

*

This was a home sold by Sterling Homes in Bay City (1932 catalog).

This was a home sold by "Sterling Homes" in Bay City (1932 catalog).

*

Another fine match! What a cutie!

Another fine match! What a cutie!

*

Another remarkable find is the Sears Avalone - a classic Arts & Crafts bungalow.

Another remarkable find is the Sears Avalone - a classic Arts & Crafts bungalow.

*

And here it is in all its original splendor.

And here it is in all its original splendor. Look at the detail around the porch columns. WOW! And it retains its original siding and casement windows! Double WOW!!!

*

Close-up of those wonderful casement windows.

Close-up of those wonderful casement windows on the Avalon.

*

And another favorite house found in Raleigh was the Americus (1928).

And another favorite house found in Raleigh was the Americus (1928).

*

Again, its in perfectly original condition. Raleigh = Sears House Heaven.

Again, it's in perfectly original condition. Raleigh = Sears House Heaven.

*

Sears Argyle (1919 catalog).

Sears Argyle (1919 catalog).

*

Sears

This is a classic Sears Argyle with a little bonus: The attic was pitched a little more steeply to create extra space. That was a common "improvement" for these little houses.

*

And another Argyle, also in beautiful shape.

And another Argyle, also in beautiful shape. Notice how the porch deck extends a little beyond the exterior wall of the house. This is a classic feature of the Sears Argyle.

*

The biggest fanciest house that Sears offered was the Magnolia.

The biggest fanciest house that Sears offered was the Magnolia.

*

And theres a *beautiful* Sears Magnolia in Benson, NC (near Raleigh).

And there's a *beautiful* Sears Magnolia in Benson, NC (near Raleigh).

And if you’re near Raleigh, don’t forget to visit nearby Roanoke Rapids. They have a town literally filled with Aladdin (kit homes). Click here to learn more about Roanoke Rapids.

And there’s also Rocky Mount, which has an abundance of kit homes.

To read about Addie Hoyt, click here!

See you on the 19th of May!

*   *   *

An Abundance of Sears Homes in Raleigh, NC (Part II)

April 3rd, 2011 Sears Homes 8 comments

I’ve seen a lot of houses in a lot of cities, but I’d have to say, the collection of kit homes I found in Raleigh is really remarkable.  The houses were (for the most part) in wonderfully original condition, and the homeowners we met during our survey were absolutely joyous to learn that they lived in a kit home.  And the diversity of kit homes was remarkable, too!

During the six hours we spent  riding around on April 2, we found kit homes from Sears, Aladdin, Montgomery Ward, Gordon Van Tine, Harris Brothers and even Sterling Homes.

The other thing that made this collection remarkable is that Raleigh has some of the higher-end models offered by these kit home companies.  To sneak a peek, scroll on down!  :)

To see photos from my first visit to Raleigh (in February 2011), click here.

Rose will be giving a talk in Raleigh on Saturday, May 19th (Saturday) at the Rialto Theater. Learn more by clicking here.

*

The Sears Westly

The Sears Westly

Sears Westly

One of the most perfect Sears Westlys that I have ever seen, anytime, anywhere.

Sears Crescent

Sears Crescent

Sears Crescent

And one of the prettiest Sears Crescents I have ever seen, anytime, anywhere. The dormers were probably original to the house. This was a common "upgrade" on the Sears Crescent, and added more light to the two small rooms on the 2nd floor.

Now whod think that this is a Sears kit home? Strangely enough, it is.

Now who'd think that this is a Sears kit home? Strangely enough, it is.

house

Mega House

here

Looking much like the day it was built is this Modern Home #163 in Raleigh. Every detail is perfect. And the best part - it retains its original siding, windows and rafter tails.

Another view

A view from the front of the house. Every detail is perfect. May God bless those pesky vinyl siding salesmen - and keep them FAR AWAY from this house!

The Sears Americus was one of the best selling designs that Sears offered. This image is from their 1921 catalog.

The Sears Americus was one of the best selling designs that Sears offered. This image is from their 1921 catalog.

Not to sound like a broken record, but again - here is a PERFECT example of a Sears Americus, spared the fate of the typical Americus thats been sided and stripped of all significant architectural detail. This house in Boylan is in beautiful condition. Even the porch railings are original!

Not to sound like a broken record, but again - here is a PERFECT example of a Sears Americus, spared the fate of the typical Americus that's been "sided" and stripped of all significant architectural detail. This house in Boylan is in beautiful condition. Even the porch railings are original!

here

Close-up of the bracketing on the Americus.

These distinctive brackets are unmercilessly hacked off when these old houses are wrapped in aluminum trip.  house in Ra

These distinctive brackets are ruthlessly hacked off when these old houses are "wrapped" in aluminum, and yet these brackets are one of those "fine features" that make the Americus so attractive.

But wait, there’s more!

hou

Close-up of the Sears Americus from the catalog page.

Another Sears Americus, and this one is in brick! So is the plural of Americus Americii?

Another Sears Americus, and this one is in brick! So is the plural of Americus "Americii"?

*

Sears Montrose as seen in the 1928 catalog.

Sears Montrose as seen in the 1928 catalog.

And heres the Montrose in Raleigh!  I didnt find this house. The owners found me and told me about it.  Im sorry about the trash can in the view. The owners are working tirelessly to restore the grand old house.

And here's the Montrose in Raleigh! I didn't find this house. The owners found me and told me about it, and best of all, they already knew it was a Sears Montrose. Now that's unusual! The owners are working tirelessly to restore the grand old house and it appears that they're doing a first-class job. And this is another unusual Sears Home, and also in excellent condition.

Maybe if I’d told them I was coming, they would have baked me a cake (and moved the cans)!  :)

Sears Argyle, from the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog. Note the big bold columns on the homes front, and the faux beams around the eaves.

Sears Argyle, from the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog. Note the big bold columns on the homes front, and the faux beams around the eaves. Also note how the porch overhangs on one side, extending beyond the home's exterior wall.

Argyle

This Argyle still has its original stuccoed pillars, complementing the stucco in the two gables. Note how the wood trim (verge boards and faux beams) are a perfect match to the catalog page above.

Again - a perfect Avalon in perfect condition on Brooks Street in Raleigh. Even has its original casement windows.

The Avalon from the 1921 catalog.

case

Again - perfect Avalon in perfect condition on Brooks Street in Raleigh. Even has its original casement windows.

Original windows

The original windows on this Avalon are part of what make it such a perfect example!

Close-up of the Avalon

Close-up of the Avalon

This Avalon is not in perfect condition, and the original windows are long gone.

This Avalon is not in perfect condition, and the original windows are long gone.

In addition to Sears, Raleigh also has several kit homes from Aladdin. Aladdin was a bigger company than Sears, and in business 40 years longer than Sears. They sold 75,000 kit homes (more than Sears). Aladdin was based in Bay City, Michigan, but they had a large mill in Wilmington, NC (which explains why I find so many Aladdins in the southeastern part of the country.

Aladdin Norfolk, from the 1923 catalog.

Aladdin Norfolk, from the 1923 catalog.

Aladdin Norfolk hiding behind some landscaping.  :)  This is definitely an Aladdin Norfolk.  Even the patio posts are still in place on the front patio.

Aladdin Norfolk hiding behind some landscaping.

The Aladdin Shadowlawn was one of Aladdins best selling homes.

The Aladdin Shadowlawn was one of Aladdin's best selling homes.

Another beautiful kit home in Raleigh.

Another beautiful kit home in Raleigh, looking much like the original catalog image.

Harris Brothers was a smaller kit-home company based in Chicago. The LaGrange was one of their most popular homes.

Harris Brothers was a smaller kit-home company based in Chicago. The "LaGrange" was one of their most popular homes.

One of the distinctive features of the LaGrange is that rounded porch!

One of the distinctive features of the LaGrange is that rounded porch!

LaGrange

Is this the Harris Brothers "LaGrange"? I'm 90% confident it is, even though it is not a spot-on match to the catalog page.

Sterling Homes was another small kit home company. This image is from their 1932 catalog.

Sterling Homes was another small kit home company. This image is from their 1932 catalog.

Is this a Sterling Homes Avondale? It surely does look like it.

Is this a Sterling Homes "Avondale"? It surely does look like it.

Aladdin Detroit from the 1919 catalog

Aladdin Detroit from the 1919 catalog

This Aladdin Detroit has had its porch partially enclosed, but still bears all the hallmarks of the Detroit.

This Aladdin Detroit has had its porch partially enclosed, but still bears all the hallmarks of the Detroit.

While driving around, we also spotted this house (see below). It’s a plan book house and was built as a four-family home. The house we saw in Raleigh has been converted into a single family and I should have taken a photo, but we were getting dog-tired after so many hours in the car. If anyone knows the address of this house in Raleigh, please leave a comment below.

Nice old house and the picture is from one of my 1920s plan books. Plan book homes were different from kit homes. With a plan book, youd choose the house of your dreams and order the blueprints for the house, which also came with a comprehensive inventory of every thing you needed to buy to build your house.

Nice old house and the picture is from one of my 1920s plan books. Plan book homes were different from kit homes. With a plan book, you'd choose the house of your dreams and order the blueprints for the house, which also came with a comprehensive inventory of every thing you needed to buy to build your house. Building materials were not part of the deal. Those were purchased locally.

Heres an example of The Dupont in Chesapeake, VA.

Here's an example of The Dumont in Chesapeake, VA.

And about an hour south of Raleigh, there’s the Sears Magnolia! There were only six Magnolias built in the country, and there’s one in Benson. This is the biggest and best of the Sears Homes.

maggy_benson_nc

Original catalog image from 1922 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Original catalog image from 1922 Sears Modern Homes catalog

This is but a sampling of the kit homes we found in Raleigh. To see photos from my first visit to Raleigh (in February 2011), click here.

In conclusion, the collection of kit homes in Raleigh really is remarkable and historically significant, and it’s my hope and prayer that people of Raleigh will start to think about what can be done to protect and preserve these homes.

To learn more about Sears Homes in nearby Rocky Mount, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

*    *    *

Sears Homes in Raleigh!

October 27th, 2010 Sears Homes 2 comments

When people think of Sears Homes, they think of Illinois or maybe the Midwest, but I’ve found many Sears Homes in the south!  In fact, I’ve found hundreds in the Hampton Roads area (Southeastern Virginia). Yes, hundreds.

Recently, I went to Raleigh and drove around to look for Sears Homes.  The ones I found were quite beautiful!

The first one (see pictures below) is a Sears Alhambra. The next one is either a Wardway Venice (a kit home from Montgomery Ward) or a Sears Winona. Hard to know for sure.

However, I am certain that they’re in unusually beautiful condition and a real treat to behold! And if they’re like most of the Sears Homes I find, the homeowners have no idea that they’re living in a historically significant house.

Buy Rose and Dale’s new book here.

Sears Alhambra from 1923 Modern Homes catalog

Sears Alhambra from 1923 Modern Homes catalog

Sears Alhambra in Raleigh!

Sears Alhambra in Raleigh!

Sears Walton

Sears Walton

Sears Walton, but if only I knew where! Its somewhere near downtown Raleigh.

Sears Walton, but if only I knew where! It's somewhere near downtown Raleigh.

Sears Crafton from the 1916 Modern Homes catalog.

The Wardway Venice

Wardway Venice or Sears Winona? (Raleigh, NC)

And I saved the best for last: The Sears Magnolia is in Benson, NC. There are only six known Magnolias in the country, so finding one in Benson was quite a thrill!

maggy_benson_nc

Original catalog image from 1922 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Original catalog image from 1922 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Read another article about the Sears Magnolia  in nearby Benson, NC here.

The Magnificent Magnolia in North Carolina!

September 22nd, 2010 Sears Homes 1 comment

Thanks to a FOSH (Friend of Sears Homes), I found the 5th known Sears Magnolia in the country. Joy sent me a link last week to a story on a Sears Home just outside of Raleigh. When I clicked on the link, I had no idea the show would be featuring a Sears Magnolia - the Creme de la creme of Sears Homes!

The happy owners of the Magnolia allowed me to tour the inside of the house, where I found proof that it was indeed a Sears Magnolia (as if there were any doubt). Click on this link to read more about that.

This was the second Magnolia that I’ve been inside. The first was in Canton, Ohio. In 2002, PBS’s History Detectives did a segment on Sears Homes, and invited me to be part of the program.

There are also Sears Magnolias in Indiana, Pennsylvania and Alabama.

To see more pictures of Sears Homes in Raleigh, click here.

maggy_benson_nc

Original catalog image from 1922 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Original catalog image from 1922 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Homes in Raleigh, North Carolina

August 11th, 2010 Sears Homes No comments

For several years, my daughter and my brother lived in Raleigh and when I’d travel down there to visit them, I’d drive around and look for Sears Homes. I found a couple in the downtown area, and they’re real beauties!

The first one (see pictures below) is a Sears Alhambra. The next one is either a Wardway Venice (a kit home from Montgomery Ward) or a Sears Winona. Hard to know for sure.

However, I am certain that they’re in unusually beautiful condition and a real treat to behold! And if they’re like most of the Sears Homes I find, the homeowners have no idea that they’re living in a historically significant house.

Read another article about a Sears Home in nearby Benson, NC here.

Buy Rose and Dale’s new book here.

Sears Alhambra from 1923 Modern Homes catalog

Sears Alhambra from 1923 Modern Homes catalog

Sears Alhambra in Raleigh!

Sears Alhambra in Raleigh!

Sears Crafton from the 1916 Modern Homes catalog.

The Wardway Venice

Wardway Venice or Sears Winona? (Raleigh, NC)