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Posts Tagged ‘sears foursquares’

Where Is This Little House?

July 28th, 2014 Sears Homes 7 comments

Come August 2014, this website will celebrate its fourth birthday, and one of my very first posts at this site was about this little mystery house in Ohio (shown below).

Unfortunately, I never did find this house, or learn anything about the couple in the photo.

I suspect the house is somewhere in Ohio (which is where this post card was sent from) and I’m sure the couple (and their child) have gone on to heaven. The house in this photo was last offered in the mid-1910s Sears catalogs.

The diminutive foursquare is Sears Modern Home #106, and I purchased the post card from eBay in 2002. It cost $3, and I suspect that there weren’t a lot of folks who recognized this little house as Sears House.

If you know where this house is, or if you know the people pictured herein, please drop me a line?

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

And if you live in Ohio, please post this link on your Facebook page!  Maybe we can find this house!

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In 2003, I purchased this post card from eBay. I'd love to know where this house is. I suspect it's somewhere in Ohio, because this postcard was originally found in Ohio.

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Close-up of the little fam in front of the little house. Check out the detail on the porch railing.

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Close up

Extreme close-up of the fam. Dad doesn't look well.

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Number

You can see a house number hiding behind that column.

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Modern Home 106, as seen in the 1910 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

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Oh dear - where's the potty?

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The house in the photo has an extra dormer on the side, which probably made this small attic room more livable. At least, a *little* more livable!

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Close up

Who are they?

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Have you seen this house? If so, please leave a comment below!

To learn more about the big and fancy Sears models, click here!

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Be Still My Heart: The Eighth Magnolia?

June 29th, 2013 Sears Homes 6 comments

Updated!! See detailed photos here!!

A few moments ago, my sleepy husband stuck his head into the room and said, “It’s 3:11  in the morning. Why are you still up?”

“Well, I think we’ve found our eighth Magnolia,” I replied.

“Oh,” he said quietly, as he toddled back to the bedroom.

No additional information was needed.

Every month, I get a handful of emails from people who are 100% certain that they’ve found the crème de la crème of all kit homes: The Sears Magnolia.

And 98% of the time, they’re wrong.

Sears sold kit homes from 1908-1940, and in that 32-year span, they offered 370 designs. Of those 370 designs, the Magnolia was the fairest of them all (and the biggest and the most expensive).

In 1918 (the year the Magnolia first appeared), 90 designs were offered, and only 13 of those homes cost more than $2,000. Not counting the Magnolia, the most expensive house in that catalog was the Preston, at $2,812.

The other 76 models offered in 1918 were under $2,000, and the overwhelming majority of those were less than $1,200.

The price tag for the Magnolia was $4,485.

Most of the Sears Homes in that 1918 catalog had less than 1,000 square feet, and the Magnolia had almost 3,000 square feet.

For years and years, it was widely believed that only six Magnolias had been built in the country, and yet their locations were not known. In time, those six Magnolias were discovered in Benson, North Carolina, South Bend, Indiana, Irwin, Pennsylvania, Canton, Ohio and a fifth in Piedmont, Alabama. A sixth had been destroyed by fire in Nebraska. (Of those six Magnolias, the house in Benson was the “newest” discovery, found in March 2010.)

And that was that.

Six Magnolias. All accounted for.

Five alive.

One dead (and cremated).

And then in May 2011 (thanks to this blog), someone  contacted me and said that there was a Sears Magnolia in Syracuse, NY.

I didn’t pay too much attention, because frankly, I’d heard it before, but fortunately, a friend and faithful reader (Heather Lukaszewski) did pay attention and she did a little research. She wrote me a nice note and said, “I think this may be the real deal.”

And that’s how we found the 7th Magnolia. 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!

Friday evening, someone contacted me and said that he lived in a house that was across the street from a Sears Magnolia. We exchanged several emails and I started to get pretty interested in this story. It had a lot more background and depth than the typical “There’s a Magnolia just down the street” stories.

Thanks to a lot of help from Rachel Shoemaker and Mark Hardin, we were able to see the house via Bing Maps, and I have to say, I think we’ve got a winner.

In fact, I’d be willing to say that I’m 90% certain that we’ve found our 8th Magnolia.

And the best part of all?

It’s in West Virginia.

I love West Virgina and I’m headed to Elkins in six weeks (with the aforementioned hubby) to visit family.

I’d sure love to stop by this sweet old kit house and check it out in person. Boy oh boy, would I love to see this fine house in the flesh.

Wow.

Just wow.

To read more about the Sears Magnolia, click here.

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Magnolia 1918

The Magnolia was featured on the cover of the 1918 Sears Modern Homes catalog, and yet, those leaves in the border are not Magnolia leaves. What a fraud!

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Close-up of the Magnolia (1918)

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The Magnolia was first offered in the 1918 Modern Homes catalog (shown above). In 1919, the Magnolia hit its highest price: $10,000, more than double its price in 1918.

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1921

In 1921, the price of the Sears Magnolia dropped to $6,489 and one year later, it would drop to $5,849. Following WW1, prices of building materials fluctated dramatically.

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Magnolia Benson

In March 2011, a reader told me that there was a Sears Magnolia in Benson, NC.

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Janets house

The Sears Magnolia in Canton, Ohio was almost lost due to neglect but was lovingly restored in the 1990s. Photo is copyright 2012 Janet's Hess LaMonica and may not be reproduced without written permission.

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Syracue

Our 7th Magnolia, in Syracuse! And what a fine-looking kit house it is! (Photo is courtesy of Mariel Proulx and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Magnolia columns

Close-up of the columns on the Sears Magnolia in Piedmont, Alabama.

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To learn more about the Sears Magnolias among us, click here.

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To contact Rose, please leave a comment below!

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Next Stop, Waynesboro?

May 7th, 2013 Sears Homes 9 comments

My talk in Staunton was well-organized (thanks to Historic Staunton Foundation) and well attended (standing room only!) and it was a lot of fun!

And what an unexpected delight to discover such a variety of kit homes in nearby Staunton! (Click here to read more about what we found!)

On my way to Staunton last week, I took a quickie ride through Waynesboro and found a handful of kit homes.  Some day soon, I’d love to come back and do a more thorough survey and give a talk.

For those newbies here, what is a Sears kit home?

In the early 1900s, Sears sold entire kit homes through their mail-order catalog. These 12,ooo-piece kits came with a 75-page instruction book that promised “a man of average abilities” could have the house assembled in 90 days!  From 1908-1940, Sears sold about 70,000 of these kits, and finding them is just like looking for hidden treasure.

OOOH, there are MORE Sears Homes in Waynesboro! Click here to see the rest of the photos!

To read about the kit homes I found in Charlottesville, click here.

To see what I found in Waynesboro, scroll on down!

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The 1920s were the hey-day for the Sears Modern Homes program. At its peak, the Sears Modern Homes catalog had almost 150 pages, with 100 models offered. Shown here is the cover of the 1930 catalog, with a Sears Lewiston on the front cover.

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If you buy a Sears Modern Home, even your little dog will be happy!

If you buy a Sears Modern Home, even your little dog will be happy!

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The Lewiston was a hugely popular house for Sears.

The Lewiston was a hugely popular house for Sears.

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Its missing the happy dog and the little girl, but its definitely a Sears Lewiston, and its in Waynesboro.

It's missing the happy dog and the little girl, but it's definitely a Sears Lewiston, and it's in Waynesboro. Unfortunately, the original windows were replaced and the vinyl siding has obliterated some of the unique detail. However, it's still identifiable as a Sears Lewiston.

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And you can tell its a Sears Home because it has an S on the chimney.

And you can tell it's a Sears Home because it has an "S" on the chimney. Ah not really. That's a tired old myth that's been lurking around on the internet since Al Gore first invented it. Oh wait, that's another old story. In fact, that "S" on the chimney has nothing to do with Sears. It's just a stylistic detail often found on Neo-Tudors. And I don't think Al Gore had much to do with inventing the internet, either. :)

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But it does look

The Lewiston was remodeled, but it looks like the front door was spared! :)

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The Sears Lynnhaven was a very popular house (1938 catalog).

The Sears Lynnhaven was a very popular house (1938 catalog).

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And it was also a very pretty house.

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The owners obviously love this house, but I wonder if they know that it *might* be a Sears kit house?

The owners obviously love this house, but I wonder if they know that it *might* be a Sears kit house?

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And I found a Del Rey in Waynesboro, too, and this Del Rey is in beautifully original condition!

The Dely Rey I found in Waynesboro, is in beautifully original condition (1919 catalog).

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Check out the floorplan for the Del Rey.

Check out the floorplan for the Del Rey.

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Notice the little railings in front of the casement windows? In all my travels, I have never seen a Del Rey that actually had these little railings in place. Until Waynesboro...

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Be still my quivering heart!

Be still my quivering heart! It's a picture perfect Del Rey!

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And it even has the little bump out (as seen above in the floorplan) for the kitchen area.

And it even has the little bump out (as seen above in the floorplan) for the kitchen area.

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And original windows!

And not only does it have its original windows, but its original wooden storm windows!

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Love those little railings!

Do these folks know that they have a Sears House? About 90% of the time, the people living in these historically significant homes did not realize what they had, until they were contacted by me (or someone *like* me!).

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Next on the list is the Sears Westwood.

Next on the list is the Sears Collingwood (1930 catalog).

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The Westwood is another kit home that I had never seen before in the flesh until I went to Waynesboro.

The Collingwood is another kit home that I had never seen before "in the flesh" until I went to Waynesboro. Notice the unusual bay window in the dining room with its hipped roof.

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Wow, what a match! Unfortunately, I didn't have my chain saw with me, so the view was blocked by a Japanese Maple. I also forgot to bring along a tow truck to get that Ford Explorer out of the way. Seriously, the house was blocked by a myriad of obstacles. And the windows have been replaced - sadly.

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The dormer is also a spot-on match. And apparently, it gets REALLY hot upstairs. Ive never seen dueling air conditioners before.

Apparently, it gets REALLY hot upstairs. I've never seen dueling air conditioners before. That aside, the details on this attic dormer are also just right.

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

To inquire as to Rose’s availability, please leave a comment below.

If you enjoyed the blog, please send the link to a friend!

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Where Art Thou, Hamilton? (Part II)

September 20th, 2012 Sears Homes 1 comment

The Sears Hamilton is one of those Sears kit homes that I have never seen. And yet, while looking through the catalogs I came across this note listing a specific address for a Sears Hamilton.

Who can take a picture for me?  :)

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Mr. Thornill built a Sears Hamilton in the 1910s.

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The Hamilton, as seen in 1916.

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The Hamilton looked a little different in the 1908 catalog.

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Floorplan for the Hamilton.

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Surely this house can't be hard to find in Mingo, Junction!

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To learn more about the Sears Hamilton, click here.

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Honor Bilt Homes: Why Couldn’t They Spell “Bilt” Correctly?

June 18th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

Sears offered three grades in all their lines: Good, better and best. In the 1922 Sears Modern Homes catalog, the housing lines were known as Honor-Bilt, Econo Built (later known as “Standard Built) and Lighter Built.  (To learn more about these “lesser grades” [Econo, Standard and Lighter], click here.)

Honor-Bilt homes (their best grade and most popular line) utilized traditional construction standards, such as double headers over the doors and windows, double floors (primary floors over subfloors), exterior sheathing under clapboard or cedar shingles and wall studs on 16-inch centers.

Below are a few of my favorite pages, delineating the fine features that define the Honor Bilt house.

Honor Bilt

Honor Bilt houses had pre-cut lumber and trim, as shown above. Notice the fellow above, working on a Sears Glenn Falls (1938 catalog).

Honor

Honor Bilt kit homes came with 27 gallons of paint, and 10 pounds of wood putty. And the paint was mixed by a Master paint mixer, or so this ad promises.

A list of the many benefits of an Honor Bilt home.

A list of the many benefits of an Honor Bilt home (1938 catalog).

Part 2 of that amazing list!

Part 2 of that amazing list!

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Several pages in the 1938 catalog were devoted to extolling the virtues of the Honor Bilt Modern Home.

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When Sears went from balloon construction to platform construction, it was a big deal and was persistently touted in all their literature, such as this 1938 catalog.

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A comparison of Honor Bilt and Standard Built from the 1921 catalog.

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From the 1921 catalog, this 13-item list shows the specific benefits of the Honor Bilt home.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

Who Are These People?

June 7th, 2011 Sears Homes 2 comments

Years ago I was poking around on eBay, looking for Sears House ephemera and I discovered this post card under the heading of “Old house photo.” Instantly, I recognized this as Sears Modern Home #106. I bid on the post card and won the item. My cost: $3.

I was a happy camper.

Since then, I’ve wondered where this photo was taken. It could have been taken anywhere in the 48 states. Judging by the house, the photo was most likely taken sometime between 1912-1916 (the years that #106 was offered).

If you’ve any idea where this photo was taken or who these people are, please drop me a note. I’d love to know.

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Modern Home #106 in picture perfect condition. If only all Sears Homes looked like this, it'd be easy to identify them! Unfortunately, most 80-90 year old houses go through many changes and remodelings.

Closer look at the house

Closer look at the house and the people.

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Modern Home #106 from the 1916 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

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The full page featuring #106.

Floorplan, first floor.

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The second floor is pretty simple.

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Have you seen these people? Or this house? Photo is circa mid-1910s. When I showed this picture to my husband, he said, "That guy looks kinda cadaverous, doesn't he?"

To read more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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All Things Alhambra, part II

February 15th, 2011 Sears Homes 5 comments

The Spanish-flavored Sears Alhambra was a big hit for Sears and was probably one of their top ten favorite kit homes. It was practical, spacious, thoughtfully designed and had plenty of windows. The only downside of the Alhambra was the dormer windows. The spot just behind the dormers was often the source of troublesome and persistent leaks. As you’ll see in a few extreme cases, some people “solved” the problem by removing the dormer window!

Others simply installed a cricket.

No doubt, the Alhambra was a pretty house with a distinctive Spanish flair and with a splash of mission style. If you take away the fancy accoutrements, you’ll see it’s little more than a classic American foursquare.

Enjoy the photos!  (Read All Things Alhambra, Part I here.)

Sears Alhambra as seen in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Sears Alhambra as seen in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Sears Alhambra in Roanoke, Virginia

Sears Alhambra in Roanoke, Virginia

Sears Alhambra in Portsmouth, Virginia (Cradock area)

Sears Alhambra in Portsmouth, Virginia (Cradock area)

Vintage photo of a Sears Alhambra in the St. Louis area. Later on in life, the dormer was amputated due to leak issues. The parapet around the front porch was also lost during surgery. Very sad.

Vintage photo of a Sears Alhambra in the St. Louis area. Later on in life, the dormer was amputated due to leak issues. The parapet around the front porch was also lost during surgery. Very sad.

This Alhambra is in Casey, Illinois.

This Alhambra is in Casey, Illinois. It was blinded in a hunting accident.

Gorgeous brick Alhambra in Atlanta, Georgia

Gorgeous brick Alhambra in Atlanta, Georgia

The Alhambras kitchen, as seen in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

The Alhambra's kitchen, as seen in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

And my #1 favorite is this Sears Alhambra in Gaffney, South Carolina. Yes, its Lavender.

And my #1 favorite is this Sears Alhambra in Gaffney, South Carolina. Yes, it's Lavender.

To read more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

To contact Rose, please leave a comment below, or you can write her at thorntonrose@hotmail.com.  Please put, “I read your book and it was WONDERFUL” in the subject line to insure that your email is read.

No kidding.

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Is it Really a Magnolia?

January 31st, 2011 Sears Homes 1 comment

For years, it’s been widely believed that only six Sears Magnolia kit homes were built in the country. Six.

They’re located in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Alabama, North Carolina, and Ohio. There was a Magnolia in Nebraska, but it burned down many years ago. That’s six Magnolias. (By the way, the house featured in Nicholas Sparks‘ movie “The Notebook” is not a Sears House.)

Recently, someone contacted me through an internet forum and said they thought they might have a Sears House.

If only I had a penny for every time I heard that, I could buy a Magnolia of my own!  But this time, the picture I saw took my breath away. It appeared to be a Sears Magnolia. Due to my extreme excitement at this new find, I’m hoping to visit this sweet house in the not-too-distant future, but I think there’s a 97.653% chance that I’ve found my seventh Magnolia.

This is a remarkable find. For one thing, this means there could be 284 Magnolias in the country. For us Sears House aficionados, this is like Roger Bannister breaking the four-minute mile. Anything is now possible!  :)

What makes the Sears Magnolia so remarkable? Many things. It was the biggest and the best Sears Home that they offered. It was beautiful and grand and spacious and elegant and it was the Creme de la creme of Sears Homes. To learn more about the Sears Magnolia, click here.

Below are some pictures from the 1922 Sears Modern Homes catalog, featuring interior shots of this grand old dame.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

Sears Magnolia as seen in the 1922 Modern Homes catalog. The Magnolia was offered from 1918-1922.

Sears Magnolia as seen in the 1922 Modern Homes catalog. The Magnolia was offered from 1918-1922.

Sears Magnolia - as seen in the 1922 catalog.

Sears Magnolia - as seen in the 1922 catalog.

Entry Hall of the grand house

Entry Hall of the grand house

The Living Room

The Living Room

Note the breakfast nook in the Magnolias kitchen

Note the breakfast nook in the Magnolia's kitchen

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

To see the floorplan of the Sears Magnolia, click here.

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Sticks and Stones and All-Brick Sears Homes

January 28th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

From time to time, people write me and say, “I thought this was a Sears House, but it’s all brick, so I know it can’t be a kit home.”

Actually…

Sears Homes could be ordered with cypress or cedar shakes or clapboards, with stucco, or with masonry, such as cement block (not common), brick (very common) or stone (also not common). If you wanted wood siding, it was shipped from the Sears Mills in Cairo, Illinois, Newark, New Jersey or Norwood, Ohio. If you opted for masonry (block, stone or brick), you purchased it locally, to save on freight charges. Masonry weighs a lot.

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Inside rear cover of the 1940 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

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Small graphic that appeared in the 1933 Sears Modern Homes catalog, below the page featuring the Sears Lewiston.

Sears Homes

At a "small extra cost" you can add brick to your Sears Galewood.

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Sears Auburn in Clifton Forge Virginia with half brick and half wood. Most Auburns were all wood, so this is an interesting alteration. Note, it is solid brick and not just brick veneer.

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Close-up on the brick work of the Auburn in Clifton Forge.

To read more about Sears Homes, click here.

To read more about the Sears Homes in Clifton Forge, click here.

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The Lost Sears Homes of Atlantic City, New Jersey

August 15th, 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