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Posts Tagged ‘Sears archives’

Have You Seen This House? (Part 6)

May 20th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

Here in Norfolk, we have 16 little bungalows that were originally built at another location, and then moved here by George P. Hudson on April 14, 1922.  (Thanks to Norfolk historian David Spriggs for finding that date, and also finding the name of the man who moved them!  To learn more about what David learned, click here.)

Back in April, we learned that 3,000 miles away in Dupont, Washington, there are dozens of identical bungalows, built by Dupont for the dynamite factory there. Thanks to Lee and Joh from the Dupont Historical Museum in Dupont, Washington, I now have a vintage newspaper article that says the little houses were built in Fall 1909.

And then old-house lover and researcher Mark Hardin found another neighborhood of these “Ethel Bungalows” (our pet name for these little houses) in a little village just outside of Butte, Montana. (It was Mark who found the houses in Dupont, too.)

So, our Ethel Bunaglow in Norfolk (which came from somewhere else) is a spot-on match to the company houses in Dupont, Washington and Butte, Montana.

Recently, in the name of history, old-house lover Mark Mckillop took a trip to Dupont, Washington and photographed more than 100 of the houses in that tiny village , and then sent me the photos. His photographs prove (as we suspected) that the Ethel Bungalows in Dupont are indeed identical to the Ethel Bungalows here in Norfolk.

To read more about what we’ve learned thus far, read Part Five of this ongoing (and fascinating) story.

Despite all we’ve learned, may unanswered questions remain. Are these “Ethels” kit homes from Aladdin? Are they pattern book houses? If not, where did DuPont get this design? Why are these houses popping up in several of Dupont’s neighborhoods? And where did the houses in Norfolk come from?

If you’ve any information to contribute, please post a note in the comment’s section below!

Our Ethel Bungalow in Dupont, Washington. All photos are courtesy of Mark Mckillop and may not be reproduced without written permission.)

Our "Ethel Bungalow" in Dupont, Washington. (This photo is courtesy of Mark Mckillop and may not be reproduced without written permission.)

Ethel

This Dupont Ethel is in largely original condition. (This photo is courtesy of Mark Mckillop and may not be reproduced without written permission.)

Ethel

I wish Mark had taken his chain saw with him. Landscaping is always a problem when photographing old houses. (This photo is courtesy of Mark Mckillop and may not be reproduced without written permission.)

Ethel

This Ethel in Dupont has seen a little modification. Vinyl siding is not a friend of old houses. (This photo is courtesy of Mark Mckillop and may not be reproduced without written permission.)

Ethel

This is such a distinctive little house. Have you seen it in your neighborhood? (This photo is courtesy of Mark Mckillop and may not be reproduced without written permission.)

Next are the photos of our Ethels, which art in Norfolk. As you’ll see from the photos below, they really are a good match to the houses in Dupont, Washington.

House

One of our mystery bungalows on 51st Street. Photo is courtesy of David Spriggs and may not be reused or reprinted without permission from David Spriggs.

Another

Good shot of the two bungalows on 51st Street. This photo is courtesy of David Spriggs and may not be reused or reprinted without permission from David Sprggs.

house

This is one of the houses in Riverview that's in mostly original condition. The little dormer on the side was added in later years.

Close-up of railing

Close-up of railing

Close-up of dormer

This dormer window is a pretty distinctive feature.

another Ethel

Another "Ethel Bungalow" in Riverview

Aladdin promoted itself to companies as a supplier of industrial housing. It was believed that providing housing for workers created a more stable workforce. And that was probably true.

Aladdin promoted itself to companies as a supplier of industrial housing. It was believed that if a company provided housing for its employees, this would create a more stable workforce. And that was probably true. Dupont turned to Aladdin to supply homes for Hopewell, Virginia and Carney Point, New Jersey and Old Hickory, TN. (1919 Aladdin catalog)

To contact Rose, please leave a comment below.

To learn more about the kit homes in Norfolk, click here.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

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Breakfast Nooks, Part II

January 29th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

Judging by the traffic to this website, there’s a lot of interest in built-in breakfast nooks these days, and for good reason. They’re practical, useful, attractive, and make excellent use of a small space. As the 1933 Montgomery Ward hardware catalog promised, it’s like adding “a whole new room” to the house.

Okay, that may be a wee bit of a stretch, but the built-in breakfast nook - very popular in early 20th Century kit homes (such as those from Sears and Wards) - is a grand idea whose time has come. Again!

The McMansion has fallen from favor and as we baby boomers get older, a rising trend is more compact, easier-to-heat, easier-to-maintain smaller homes. And with smaller homes come smaller kitchens, and better use of space.

Take a look at some of the built-in breakfast nooks that were featured in a variety of magazines, including Ladies Home Journal (1911), Popular Science (1919), Sears Modern Homes catalogs (1920s) and Montgomery Ward catalogs (1920s and 30s).

To read more “Breakfast Nooks, part I” (and see more photos), click here.

To learn more about kit homes, click here.

nooks

Cover of the 1932 Montgomery Ward Building Material catalog, which featured breakfast nooks.

cover

A close-up of the built-in breakfast nook featured on the cover of the hardware catalog.

cover nook

cOn page 34 of the catalog, this "cozy corner dinette" was offered for $14.95. Not a bad deal. And it's made of clear western white pine and needed a small space of 5'6" by 3'8". Nice looking, too.

Nook room

Another room? Well, maybe. Good-looking nookie, though.

nookie from GVT

This "cozy dinette" was featured in the Wardway/GVT Modern Homes catalog.

A little scant in terms of detail, but still cute.

A little scant in terms of detail, but still cute. This little table first appeared in the February 1911 Ladies' Home Journal.

caption here

This simple breakfast table was offered with the Sears kit home, The Verona.

nookie

The "Pullman Breakfast Alcove" came with your Sears Ashmore. More modest than the others, it has simple benches with no seat backs.

The image below appeared in the June 1919 issue of Popular Mechanics and provided the ultimate space saver. By day, it was a cute little trestle table with matching benches. By night, it was an extra sleeping space for your overnight guests.

nookie ps

Easy to make and simple to use, this "convertible" breakfast table provided extra sleeping space for visitors.

nookie

As seen in the 1919 Popular Mechanics, this breakfast nook could be folded out into a bed. Overnight Guests - it's what's for dinner!

And the real deal - in the flesh - a 1930s breakfast nook as seen in the Sears Lynnhaven in southern Illinois.

Sears caption

Awesome rooster towels not included.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To learn more about Wardway Homes, click here.

To contact Rose, write thorntonrose@hotmail.com

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Lost in Lynchburg!

January 29th, 2011 Sears Homes 4 comments

My dear friend Rebecca is working on a new project and asked me to find this 1910s kit home in Lynchburg, Virginia. Most folks have heard of Sears Kit Homes, but in addition to Sears, there were six companies selling kit homes through mail order. Their names were Gordon Van Tine, Montgomery Ward, Aladdin, Harris Brothers, Lewis Manufacturing and Sterling Homes.

Sterling was based in Bay City, Michigan and yet, I’ve found a few of these houses in Virginia. According to Rebecca, there’s a Sterling Windemere in Lynchburg. She found a testimonial in an old Sterling Homes catalog and the location listed for this house was Lynchburg. I’ll be driving up to Lynchburg soon to find this house. If anyone knows the address or area, it sure would be helpful to have that!

Please leave a comment below with the address or write me at thorntonrose@hotmail.com.

Note, one of the distinctive features of this house is that paired staircase landing window (midway up the side wall). That’s a fairly unusual feature, as most landing windows were single. Also note the grouped columns (three on the corners), with the brick foundations. And note how the second-floor windows come right up to the eaves of the house. Lastly, there’s a hipped dormer with two small windows.

There are a gazillion foursquares in Lynchburg, but I’m hoping to find THIS foursquare! Thanks for your help!

Sterling Homes The Windemere from the 1917 catalog

Sterling Homes "The Windemere" from the 1917 catalog.

Windemere

To prove the superiority of Sterling pre-cut homes, this Windemere was built on this lot in just 11 days. Note, this did not include the fireplace chimney and windows. This view shows the other side of the Windemere which (unfortunately) is quite non-descript.

Sterling

Sterling

Heres a real live Sterling Windemere in Bay City. Thanks to Dale Wolicki for allowing me to use his photo.

Here's a real live Sterling Windemere in Bay City. Thanks to Dale Wolicki for allowing me to use his photo. Sometimes, seeing the house "in the flesh" gives a more clear impression of the details, than a vintage line drawing.

To learn more about identifying kit homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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A&P: The Little Red Schoolhouse of Retailing?

January 28th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

In the 1960s, A&P dominated the grocery store line-up here in Southeastern Virginia. Do any of them remain? I don’t know of any in Hampton Roads.

Below is an ad from the 1926 Ladies Home Journal for the “Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company.” The “economy rules” line in the advertisement makes sense, but “The Little Red Schoolhouse of Retailing”?

To my further shock, a Google search for the term “Little Red Schoolhouse of Retailing” turned up zero results.

I’d love to know what that’s about. From my 21st Century perspective, I’d say that A&P was striving to be the antithesis of Walmart.

To see more vintage ads, click here.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

Interesting advertisement from a 1926 Ladies Home Journal

Interesting advertisement from a 1926 Ladies' Home Journal

Larger view of the same advertisment

Larger view of the same advertisement

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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Harmony in House Design: The Sears Concord

January 27th, 2011 Sears Homes 2 comments

The Sears Concord was a 1930s kit home that proved to be one of their most popular post-1929 houses.

Not surprising, housing starts plunged nationwide in 1932. Finding post-1932 Sears homes can be tough. That’s why it’s an extra thrill to find a Sears Concord. These were offered from about 1930 to the final years of the Sears Modern Homes program, 1940.

Below are some pictures of the Sears Concord.

Sears

The Sears Concord as it appeared in the 1936 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Concord

The Sears Concord could be had for $30 a month in 1933. This image is from the tiny (billfold size) Sears Modern Homes catalog that was issued in late 1932.

Sears Concord in Nashville, Illinois

Sears Concord in Nashville, Illinois. Note water tower peeking up from the back of the house.

Sears

A cold Concord in Elgin, Illinois.

Sears

This is a photo from the 1933 World's Fair (Century of Progress) in Illinois. The Sears Concord was built and open to the public. Judging from the crowd, this was a popular attraction. Note the stadium lights in the background. Apparently all Concords have some kind of industrial background items springing up behind them.

If you know anything more about the photo above, please drop me a note. My email is thorntonrose@hotmail.com.

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

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Two of My Favorite Things: Sears Homes and the Blue Ridge Mountains

January 25th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

For most of my years, I’ve dreamt of living in the Blue Ridge Mountains. And I will get there one day. In the meantime, I’ll spend my spare time driving around in the hills, looking for Sears Homes. Do you know what a Sears Home is? These were true kits, 12,000 pieces of house, sold out of the Sears Roebuck catalog. Sears promised that “a man of average abilities” could have one of these kits built in 90 days. Click here for more info on Sears kit homes.

Here are a few of the Sears kit homes I’ve found in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. First, my favorite find in Shenandoah, Virginia.

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

Original image from 1916 catalog

Original image from 1916 catalog

Sears Maytown - original catalog image

Sears Maytown - original catalog image

Sears Home in Shenandoah, Virginia

Sears Home in Shenandoah, Virginia

This next house is currently in use as a B&B. It’s the only Sears Milton I’ve ever seen, and it’s in Stanley, Virginia. It’s quite a magnificent house! Note the tall columns and flanking pergola on the front porch. The Milton was one of Sears’ biggest and best homes. Probably the only house that was fancier was the Sears Magnolia.

mill_10

Sears Vallonia, from the 1923 Sears Modern Homes catalog. This was a very popular house.

Sears Vallonia, from the 1923 Sears Modern Homes catalog. This was a very popular house.

A beautiful Sears Vallonia in Lewisburg, WV

A beautiful Sears Vallonia in Lewisburg, WV

The Sears Altona, as shown in the 1916 Sears Modern Homes catalog

The Sears Altona, as shown in the 1916 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Altona in the tiny town of Ronceverte.

Sears Altona in the tiny town of Ronceverte, West Virginia.

Sears Lynnhaven, as seen in the 1929 catalog

Sears Lynnhaven, as seen in the 1929 catalog

Sears Lynnhaven in Rainelle, WV

Sears Lynnhaven in Rainelle, WV

Sears Marina, Model #2024

Sears Marina, Model #2024

Although significantly remodeled, this is clearly a Sears Marina, #2024

Although significantly remodeled, this is clearly a Sears Marina, #2024. This house is in Lewisburg, WV. Note how the shed dormer still retains its three little windows.

Aladdin was another prominent kit home company, with a large lumberyard and mill in Greensboro, NC. There were many Aladdin Kit Homes in WV, too.

Aladdin was another prominent kit home company, with a large lumberyard and mill in Greensboro, NC. There were many Aladdin Kit Homes in WV, too. Here, you can see the Aladdin Genie going back into his bottle (presumably on the back porch) after building a house for his master in a day (I'm guessing here).

The Aladdin Pasadena was one of Aladdins most popular homes.

The Aladdin Pasadena was one of Aladdin's most popular homes.

As a point of comparison, this is a PERFECT Pasadena in Lynchburg, Virginia. Note, the side porch is still in original condition.

As a point of comparison, this is a PERFECT Pasadena in Lynchburg, Virginia. Note, the side porch is still in original condition.

An Aladdin Pasadena in a small town just outside of Rainelle, WV. Sometimes, its hard to identify these kit homes because of surrounding landscaping. This house called my name from the highway, and once you hear the sound of an Aladdin Pasadena, you never forget it.  :)

Here's a nice Aladdin Pasadena in a small town just outside of Rainelle, WV. To the uninformed, this may look like a grove of trees, but there is an Aladdin House there. Sometimes, it's hard to identify these kit homes because of surrounding landscaping. This house called my name from the highway, and once you hear the sound of an Aladdin Pasadena, you never forget it. :)

Aladdin Virginia from the 1919 Aladdin catalog

Aladdin Virginia from the 1919 Aladdin catalog

An Aladdin Virginian in White Sulphur Springs, not too far from the famous hotel, The Greenbriar.

An Aladdin Virginian in White Sulphur Springs, not too far from the famous hotel, The Greenbriar.

Gordon Van Tine was yet another popular kit home company of the early 1900s. Heres the GVT Durant, a fairly popular little bungalow.

Gordon Van Tine was yet another popular kit home company of the early 1900s. Here's the GVT "Durant," a fairly popular little bungalow.

The Durant, in Lewisburg, WV.

The Durant, in Lewisburg, WV.

To buy Rose’s book on Sears Homes, click here.

To read another article on Sears Homes, click here.

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Healthy Bungalows

January 23rd, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

Dr. Joseph Lister - a 19th Century British physician - is largely responsible for the bungalow craze, but that’s one tidbit that I’ve never seen in my books on architectural history. The fact is, Joseph Lister and his germ theory dramatically changed the way Americans thought about their homes.

For so many years, mothers could only watch in helpless horror as their young children died from any one of a myriad of “common” diseases. And then in the late 1800s, Dr. Joseph Lister discovered that germs were culprit. Mothers and fathers, weary of burying their infants, had a new arch enemy: household dirt. As is explained in the 1908 book, Household Discoveries and Mrs. Curtis’ Cook-Book:

Not many years ago disease was most often deemed the act of Providence as a chastening or visitation for moral evil. Many diseases are now known to be merely human ignorance and uncleanliness. The sins for which humanity suffers are violations of the laws of sanitation and hygiene, or simply the one great law of absolute sanitary cleanliness… Every symptom of preventable disease and communicable disease…should suggest the question: “Is the cause of this illness an unsanitary condition within my control?”

Now that the enemy had been identified, modern women attacked it with every tool in their arsenal. Keeping a house clean was far more than a matter of mere pride: The well-being, nay, the very life of one’s child might depend upon a home’s cleanliness. What mother wanted to sit at the bedside of their sick child, tenderly wiping his fevered brow and pondering the awful question: “Was the cause of this illness an unsanitary condition within my control?”

Because of Dr. Lister and his germ theory, the ostentatious, dust-bunny-collecting Queen Anne, with its ornate woodwork, fretwork and gingerbread fell from favor with a resounding thud.

Simplicity, harmony and durability are the keynotes of the modern tendency. The general intention seems to be to avoid everything that is superfluous; everything that has a tendency to catch and hold dust or dirt. Wooden bedsteads are being replaced by iron or brass; stuffed and upholstered furniture by articles of plain wood and leather. Bric-a-brac, flounces, valances and all other superfluous articles are much less fashionable (from Household Discoveries and Mrs. Curtis’ Cook-Book).

Remember the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life”? There’s a 1920s scene where George Baily and his girlfriend pause in front of the massive Second Empire house. It sits abandoned and empty, deteriorating day by day. This was not an uncommon fate for Victorian manses in post-germ theory America. Who knew what germs lay in wait within its hard-to-clean walls?

The February 1911 Ladies’ Home Journal was devoted to the new housing style: Bungalows. One headline said, “The Bungalow, because of its easy housekeeping possibilities is becoming more popular every year.

And all because of Dr. Lister.

(By the way, Dr. Lister did not invent the popular mouthwash but it was named after him and his discoveries.)

To learn more about the bungalows sold by Sears, click here.

Germ Theory

The Clorox man's claim to fame was superior germ-killing abilities. Note the adoring women praising him. Sadly, they're all wearing aprons. Well, maybe it's not so much sad as SCARY!

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

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The Lost Sears Homes of Atlantic City, NJ

August 12th, 2010 Sears Homes 7 comments

A few days ago, I was looking through the pages of my 1923 Sears Modern Homes catalog when I happened upon this page (see below). According to this little graphic, there were four Sears homes built in a row somewhere in a 1920s neighborhood in Atlantic City, NJ. I’d imagine there are many other Sears Homes in the area, too.

I live in Norfolk, Virginia and as soon as I can locate the general area of these little pretties (with a little help from my friends hopefully), it’s my intention to drive up there and check out the rest of the city.

There was a massive Sears Mill in Newark, NJ, so I’m confident that there are many Sears Homes in and around the New Jersey area.

In posting this info, I’m hoping and praying some kind soul that’s familiar with the area will drop me a note and tell me where to find these four little Marinas in Atlantic City, NJ. Simply post your response in the comments section (below) and leave an email address and you’ll hear from me pretty quickly.

To read more about Sears Homes, click here.

The Little Marinas of Atlantic City, NJ

The Little Marinas of Atlantic City, NJ

This is a Sears Marina. This is a close-up of the house Im looking for in Atlantic City, NJ

This is a Sears Marina. This is a close-up of the house I'm looking for in Atlantic City, NJ

Close-up of the other Marina with a shed (flat) former. Theres one of these in this grouping in Atlantic City, NJ

Close-up of the "other" Marina with a shed (flat) former. There's one of these in this grouping in Atlantic City, NJ

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Everything I know about the Sears Homes in Atlantic City, I learned from this paragraph in the 1923 Modern Homes catalog.

Everything I know about the Sears Homes in Atlantic City, I learned from this paragraph in the 1923 Modern Homes catalog.

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Cover of the 1923 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Cover of the 1923 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Modern Homes #163 - A Rare Find!

August 4th, 2010 Sears Homes 2 comments

In Spring 2010, I was in Taylorville, Illinois, and during my travels, I found something I’d never seen before: A Sears Modern Home Model #163. I talked with my dear friend Rebecca Hunter and learned that she’d never seen one either. In other words, this is a very rare model. And there it sits in Taylorville, a victim of insensitive remodeling.

This once-grand house has now been converted into a multi-family dwelling, which is especially sad.

As I’ve driven around the Illinois countryside, I’ve found that too many Sears Homes are in deplorable shape and are being treated like yesterday’s garbage. Hopefully, my new book on Sears Homes (The Sears Homes of Illinois) will do a little something to stem this onerous problem.

Sears Modern Home #163 in Taylorville, Illinois.

Sears Modern Home #163 in Taylorville, Illinois.

Modern Home #163 from the Sears Modern Homes catalog

Modern Home #163 from the Sears Modern Homes catalog

My Little Pretties in Richmond, Virginia

August 2nd, 2010 Sears Homes 1 comment

In July 2010,  I ventured to Richmond to look for Sears Homes. I knew there were several in Colonial Heights and only three in Petersburg, but I’d never really scouted out Richmond - until this trip.

People often ask me how I find these houses. The answer: Lots of practice. Years ago, I specifically worked on memorizing hundreds of housing designs offered by Sears, Aladdin (another kit home company), Montgomery Ward, Gordon Van Tine and more. Now I can drive the streets and find the houses that match these early 20th Century designs. It’s a whole lot of fun.

Here were my best finds from our search in Richmond. All these houses were found within the city limits of Richmond, Virginia. If you know of any kit homes in Richmond, please send me the address.

BTW, if you like what you see, please email this link to a friend.

Read about The Sears Homes in Hampton Roads here.

Sears Strathmore, from the 1936 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Strathmore, from the 1936 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Heres a Strathmore - in perfect condition - in Richmond

Here's a Strathmore - in perfect condition - in Richmond

Catalog Image of Sears Modern Home #190

Catalog Image of Sears Modern Home #190

Sears Modern Home #190.

Sears Modern Home #190.

This is not a Sears Home, but a house sold by another kit home company, Harris Brothers.

This is not a Sears Home, but a house sold by another kit home company, Harris Brothers.

Close-up of the Harris Brothers kit home J-181

Close-up of the Harris Brothers kit home J-181

And here it is, in living color. Nice match, too.

And here it is, in living color. Nice match, too.

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

The Avalon from the 1921 catalog.

Sears Avalon in Richmond, in beautifully original condition

Sears Avalon in Richmond, in beautifully original condition

Sears Westly

Sears Westly

Sears Westly on Fauquier Avenue in Richmond

Sears Westly on Fauquier Avenue in Richmond

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To learn how to identify Sears Homes, click here.

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