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Posts Tagged ‘sears dutch colonial’

Sometimes, They’re Hiding Right By Your Biscuits…

April 5th, 2013 Sears Homes 3 comments

Having lived in Norfolk for seven years now, I have scoured every street in this city, searching for mail-order kit homes. I’ve ridden around with several friends, studied maps, queried long-time residents and harangued my husband and I was quite certain that I’d seen every early 20th Century neighborhood that Norfolk had to offer.

Wednesday night, my buddy Milton and I were on our way to CERT class, and we swung by Church’s Fried Chicken to buy some of their world-famous honey biscuits. For reasons I can’t explain, an integral part of the CERT class is a pot-luck supper. (We’re  expected to bring a piquant and palatable platter of something wonderful to these weekly classes.)

As we pulled out onto Virginia Beach Blvd, I noticed a lovely Dutch Colonial staring back at me.

“Huh,” I thought to myself. “That Dutchie has an interior chimney,  just like the Martha Washington (Sears Home). Isn’t that something?”

And then I noticed that it had the curved porch roof, just like the Martha Washington.

And then I looked again and thought, “And it’s got those short windows centered on the second floor, just like the Martha Washington.”

Next, I looked at the small attic window and thought, “And it’s got that half-round window in the attic, just like the Martha Washington.”

As Milton drove down the road, I twisted my head around and saw that the Dutchie had the two distinctive bay windows on the side, just like the Martha Washington. Those two windows are an unusual architecture feature, and that was the clincher.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” I told Milton. “I think that’s a Sears House.”

Now anyone who’s hung around me for more than 73 minutes knows that I’m a pretty big fan of Sears Homes, and my friends understand that a significant risk of riding around with Rose is that there will be many detours when we pass by early 20th Century neighborhoods.

Milton gladly obliged and gave me an opportunity to take a long, lingering look at this Dapper Dutchie.

That night at the CERT meeting, I kept thinking about the fact that one of the most spacious and fanciest Sears Homes ever offered was sitting right here in Norfolk, and after seven years of living in this city, I just now found it.

The next day, Milton picked me up around 11:00 am and we returned to the Sears Martha Washington so that I could take a multitude of photos. Sadly, as we drove through the adjoining neighborhoods, we saw that the nearby college (Norfolk State) had apparently swallowed up great gobs of surrounding bungalows.

Between that and some very aggressive redevelopment, it appears that hundreds of early 20th Century homes are now just a dusty memory at the local landfill.

Do the owners of this Martha Washington know what they have? Based on my research, more than 90% of the people living in these historically significant homes didn’t know what they had until I knocked on their door and told them.

What a find! What a treasure! And it’s right here in Norfolk!

So is there a Magnolia hiding somewhere nearby?  :)

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

To learn how to identify marked lumber, click here.

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The Martha Washington was a grand and glorious house.

The Martha Washington was a grand and glorious house. According to this page from the 1921 catalog, it had seven modern rooms. I wonder how many "old-fashioned" rooms it had?

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According to this

Here's a Martha Washington that was featured in the back pages of the 1919 Sears Modern Homes catalog. This house was built in Washington, DC, and shows the house shortly after it was finished.

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This line drawning from the 1921 catalog shows the

This line drawing from the 1921 catalog shows those two bay windows on the side.

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This was described as a snowy white kitchen de Lux.

This was described as a "snowy white kitchen de Lux." For its time, this really was a very modern kitchen. Notice the "good morning stairs" too the right, and the handy little stool under the sink. According to a 1928 Sears Modern Homes catalog, the "average woman spends 3/4ths of her day in the kitchen." So maybe that's why she got a hard metal stool to sit on at the sink?

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Oh may

"Judge for yourself how attractive, bright and sanitary we have made this home for the housewife." And a "swinging seat"! I guess that's a desperate attempt to make kitchen work seem more recreational, and less like drudge work.

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CheckAn “exploded view” shows the home’s interior. That baby-grand piano looks mighty small!

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Second

Check out that bathtub on the rear of the house. And that's a sleeping porch in the upper right. Again, that furniture looks mighty small.

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As you can see from the picture (1921), this was a fine home!

As you can see from the picture (1921), this was a fine home!

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Be still my quiveringg heart!

Be still my quivering heart! And it's right on Virginia Beach Boulevard!

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A view from the side.

A view from the side, showing off those bay windows.

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The PVC fish scales over the porch are a pity (and do a fine job of hiding the beautiful fan light),

The PVC fish scales over the porch are a pity (and do a fine job of hiding the beautiful fan light), and the badly crimped aluminum trim on that porch roof doesn't look too good, and the wrought-iron is a disappointment, but (and this is a big but), at least it's still standing.

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Before

The porch, in its pre-aluminum siding salesmen and pre-wrought-iron and pre-PVC state.

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compare

A comparison of the Martha Washington in DC with the house in Norfolk!

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And heres a Martha Washington in Cincinnatti, Ohio.

And here's a Martha Washington in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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To learn more about the Martha Washington, click here.

To learn more about biscuits, click here.

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The Martha Washington: A Vision of Hospitality

May 11th, 2012 Sears Homes No comments

There’s something about a Dutch Colonial that just makes me swoon, and the Martha Washington is a fine example of the Dutch Colonial design.

And it was spacious, too. Sans optional sunporch, the Martha Washington was about 1,800 square feet, with four good-sized bedrooms upstairs. Unlike so many early 20th Century homes, the Martha Washington also had an abundance of closet space.

As the text in the catalog page said, “The view to the visitor or passerby presents a vision of hospitality.”

An interesting bit of trivia: The Martha Washington has the same floor plan as the Sears Alhambra, with two small differences. The Martha Washington doesn’t have the box window on the front (as does the Alhambra) and the Alhambra is smaller. The Martha Washington is 28′ by 32′ and the Alhambra is 28′ by 28′.

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

To see more pictures of pretty kit homes, click here.

Martha Washington, as seen in the 1921 catalog.

The Honor Bilt "Martha Washington," as seen in the 1921 catalog.

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This testimonial appeared in the 1924 Sears catalog.

Mr. Brewood was darn happy with his Sears House in DC! (1924 Sears catalog).

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A side view of the Martha Washington, as seen in the 1921 catalog.

As seen in the 1921 catalog.

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Houseie

This Martha Washington in Lombard, IL has its original windows and STORM windows!

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How appropos! A Martha Washington in Virginia!  (Bedford, to be precise.)

How apropos! A Martha Washington in Virginia! (Bedford, to be precise.)

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Located in Oakwood, Ohio, this Martha Washington is in beautiful condition.  And it looks happy, too!  Photo is copyright 2012 Mark W. Risley and can not be used or reprorduced without written permission.

Located in Oakwood, Ohio, this Martha Washington is in beautiful condition. The red door and green roof are nice complements. And the house *looks* happy, too! Photo is copyright 2012 Mark W. Risley and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Cincinnatti

Every Martha should have a flag flying in front of it! This beauty is in Cincinnati Ohio.

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Martha meets Maggy!  The two-story columns are reminiscent of the Sears Magnolia, but I seriously doubt that this poor Martha Washington was BUILT with these super-sized columns.

Martha meets Maggy! The two-story columns are reminiscent of the Sears Magnolia, but I seriously doubt that this poor Martha Washington (in Chicago area) was BUILT with these super-sized columns. And look - another flag!

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Floorplan

The Martha Washington (shown here) and the Alhambra (shown below) had the same floor plan, with two minor differences: The Alhambra had a box window on the front and the Martha Washington was four feet wider than the Alhambra.

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floorplan

Alhambra's floor plan.

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The kitchen!

And the kitchen was "the last word in convenience and sanitary comfort"!!

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houseie

The Martha Washington.

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To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

See more pictures of fine-looking old houses by clicking here.

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A Pulchritudinous Priscilla in Pretty Pennsylvania

May 6th, 2012 Sears Homes 2 comments

My buddy Dale found and photographed this Sears Priscilla in Glenview, Pennsylvania three years ago and shared it with me. Good thing he did, because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Priscilla “in the flesh.”

This classic Dutch Colonial had about 1,600 square feet and a spacious attic, too (due to the steep pitch of the roof). As is shown by the floor plan (below), it had a very large living room (25′ by 14′), a fireplace with a tiled hearth, built-in china hutch in the dining room, and a built-in ironing board in the kitchen.

Upstairs, there were three bedrooms and a sleeping porch (which was probably converted into a bedroom in later years). To learn more about why “sleeping porches” were so popular, click here.

Very few Sears kit homes had functional shutters, but the Priscilla was one of them.

It was a beautiful home and it was one of the more expensive houses that Sears offered, which may explain why it wasn’t a more popular house.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

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

Raise your hand if you had to look up “pulchritudinous.”  ;)

The Priscilla (1928 catalog)

The Priscilla (1928 catalog)

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First floor

The living room spans the full width of the first floor.

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Second floor

The second floor has four good size rooms.

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house

Close-up of the Sears Priscilla (1928).

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The Priscilla in Glenview, PA.  Photo is copyright 2009 Dale Wolicki and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

The pulchritudinous Priscilla in Glenview, PA. Notice the details around the front porch, the fan lite and side lites. Lots of distinctive features here. (Photo is copyright 2009 Dale Wolicki and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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To see more pretty pictures, click here.

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Warning: Graphic Imagines (Sears Verona)

January 13th, 2012 Sears Homes 1 comment

The photos below are not for the weak-kneed. And if you have a special affinity for Sears Houses, well, please look to the right of the screen and click on something else. Fast.

Still with me?

The Sears Verona was a big fancy Colonial and and in my travels, I haven’t seen too many of them. The Verona had about 2,000 square feet and featured many spacious rooms and fine accoutrements, such as coffered ceilings, a breakfast nook, a butler’s pantry, grand entry hall, large sunporch and a living room that was 375 square feet, or about half the size of many of Sears best-selling bungalows. This was one of their best homes.

To read about the large collection of Sears Homes in Northern Illinois, click here.

To read about my great Aunt’s exhumation in Lake Mills, click here.

Verona too 1921

Not a bad price for 2000 square feet!

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Close-up of the Living Room shown in the 1921 catalog.

Close-up of the Living Room shown in the 1921 catalog.

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Interiors

The dining room shown above looks a little spartan (1921 catalog).

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Sears Modern Homes were sold from 1908-1940

The Verona was featured on the cover of the Sears Modern Homes catalog in 1923.

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And it was a happy home

And it was such a happy home!

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And this is actually a testimonial for the house shown below.

And there's a Verona in Cleveland, too!

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Verona

Even the flower boxes still remain on this beautiful Verona in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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Veroan

One of my favorite finds of all time: This perfect Verona in Norwood, Ohio. The photo was taken in 2003.

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Verona floor

The Verona was an incredibly spacious home.

And here’s where it gets ugly. And graphic. There was a Sears Verona built at Grayslake sometime in the early 1920s. Grayslake was the site of Richard Warren Sears summer estate. In 1906, the Chicago architecture firm of Nimmons and Fellows was commissioned to build a home for Mr. Sears. From what I can glean, this Verona was built on the estate in the early 1920s, to serve as a caretaker’s home.

Thanks to the magic of Facebook, Bob Brown (of Chicago) contacted me and shared an amazing story, shown below.

The long driveway leading into the estate was “Sears Boulevard.” This Verona was the home of John and Ruth Mogg, and they were the caretakers of the Sears Estate.

The Moggs took care of the property, which included the large horse stables, the grounds, and the boats on the docks of Gages Lake. The Country Squire Restaurant was located on the southwest corner of the property and recently closed. Mrs. Mogg passed away sometime in the 70s but was very active with the Grayslake Historical Society. John Mogg was a volunteer fireman with Grayslake.

From 1975 - 1984, I was a member of the Grayslake Fire Department. In the summer of 1980, this Verona was offered for sale. The price was $1.00, but the buyer had to move the house. No one came forward.

Rosemary, this old house was in great shape. It was used for the Jaycees Haunted House in October 1980, and then, I’m sorry to say, we used it for practice fires for our fire department. If I’d known then what I know now, we would have found a way to save it.

Many thanks to Bob Brown for providing this history on the property and also for the amazing photos below (from 1980).

Bob Brown Wildfire

Sadly, this grand old Verona, located on Richard Sears summer estate, was burned down in 1980. The property owners attempted to sell the house for $1, but there were no takers. (Photos are copyright 1980, Bob Brown and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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fire

Poor Verona. Poor old house. (Photos are copyright 1980, Bob Brown and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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burning

There are no words. It's a sad, sad sight. (Photos are copyright 1980, Bob Brown and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

To hear Elvis Presley sing “Burning Love” click here.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To read about Addie Hoyt, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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When Bad Things Happen to Good Bathrooms

November 28th, 2011 Sears Homes 2 comments

One day I dropped by my brother’s house for a visit, and he told me that he needed some help with “a little problem” in the bathroom.

His house was a gorgeous 1930s Dutch Colonial, well-maintained and well-loved, and the crowning jewel of the old house was the vintage bathroom, complete with subway tile, black and white tile floor, beautiful wainscoting, original fixtures, etc.

As I gasped in horror at the “little problem,” he explained that he’d hired a plumber to put in a new manifold (tub and shower faucet assembly) and the plumber had charged him $500 to do this little “fix.”

I asked him where he found this “plumber” and he said, “Well, he’s not really a plumber actually; it’s just something he does on the side.”

No kidding.

I understand the guy threw in the duct tape for free.

Wow. Just wow.

Wow. Just wow.

To learn about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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