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Posts Tagged ‘sears homes and hopewell’

Sears Catalog House, or Something Like it (Part II)

July 27th, 2014 Sears Homes 6 comments

In my most recent blog, I talked about the fact that Hopewell’s “Collection of Sears Homes” (and I use that term loosely) was in the local news again.

At the end of that blog, I offered to help Hopewell sort through their historical chaff and find the wheat.

The fact is, at this point I’d be willing to donate my services (gratis), to help this small town (just outside of Richmond) get their Sears-home story straight. But I have a sneaking suspicion that this enticing offer may not be accepted.

A few years ago, I wrote a couple of letters and emails (yes, both) to some folks in Hopewell, making this same offer. I never heard a peep. Not a “Thanks, but no,” not a “we’re not interested,” or even a “Go to hell, Rosemary Thornton.”

Honestly, I would have preferred to hear something, rather than nothing.

In case anyone from Hopewell is reading this, I can tell you, I know a little something about Sears Homes. Here’s a short bio I use with the media:

Rose is the author of several books on early 20th Century kit homes. Rose and her work have been featured on PBS History Detectives, A&E’s Biography, CBS Sunday Morning News, MSNBC, NPR’s All Things Considered and BBC Radio. In print media, her story has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, L. A. Times, Dallas Morning News, Christian Science Monitor and more.

Sounds darn good, doesn’t it?

So what can I do to help Hopewell correct their boo-boos?

I don’t know.

In the meantime, below is the “re-do” of a blog that was a personal favorite of mine. The idea was the brainstorm of Rachel Shoemaker, who loves both music and kit homes, and found a delightful way to blend the two topics.

You can read Rachel’s wonderful blog here.

Here’s the ditty that will  help you learn more about correctly identifying houses.

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Ses

Here's a screen-shot of the Sesame Street ditty that tell us, "One of these things is not like the other." Its intent is to teach youngsters how to spot differences in similar items. Learning how to distinguish subtle differences in physical objects can be tough. Ever more so if you live in the small towns around Richmond (apparently).

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houses

Let's try it with houses now.

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One of the houses above is different from the others.

If you guessed the brick house with the metal casement windows, you’re right!

For some time, Hopewell was promoting a brochure (showcasing a driving tour of alleged kit homes in Crescent Hills neighborhood) that identified this brick house as a Sears Dover.

But oh noes!! That’s not a Sears Dover!

The other three houses (the three that look just alike) are the Sears Dover.

More recently, Hopewell has modified this statement and now claims that this brick house is a Sears Maplewood.

Let’s see how that works.

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Blue

Oh noes - AGAIN! One of these homes just doesn't belong! Which one is it? If you guessed the brick house, you're right! The other three homes are the Sears Maplewood.

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houses

There's also the fact that the Sears Maplewood and Dover were never ever offered with metal casement windows. There's also the fact that this house was probably built after WW2. But hey, why let something like "historical fact" get in the way of a good story!

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maple

Here's a Sears Maplewood (1930 catalog).

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house

If you really think that the brick house above looks like a Sears Dover, I highly recommend the Sesame Street "Not like the other" series. It's helped many a lost soul find their way through the thickets of misidentified kit homes.

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house

Meanwhile, in Hopewell, they have a cache of rare and unusual Aladdin Homes (like the one above) and what is being done to promote those houses? Nothing. Unbelievable.

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To learn more about how to distinguish differences in certain objects, click here.

Thanks to Rebecca Hunter for the use of her photograph above (the blue Maplewood). You can visit Rebecca’s website here.

Visit Rachel’s website here.

Read about the bonanza of kit homes we found in Richmond!

If you’re from Hopewell, and you’d like to take up Rose on her offer, please leave a comment below.

If you’re not from Hopewell and you THINK they should take up Rose on her offer, please leave a comment below.

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Sears Catalog House or Something Like It (Hopewell, VA)

July 25th, 2014 Sears Homes 4 comments

Last week, Hopewell was in the local news again, touting their Sears Homes. I’m not going to post a link to the article that appeared in the Richmond Times Dispatch, because it was rife with errors.

I’m somewhat incredulous that a paper as prestigious as the Richmond Times Dispatch didn’t do some fact-checking before publishing this story.

The recording and publishing of history is such a sacred trust, and writers have a solemn charge to get the facts right, before sending this information into perpetuity.

And there’s this: I’ve been sought out and interviewed by The Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, The New York Times, BBC Radio, All Things Considered (PBS)  and more. I’ve been featured on PBS History Detectives, CBS Sunday Morning News, A&E’s Biography, and MSNBC.

It’s disheartening to know that a newspaper so close to home ran this article without seeking me out for a quote, or even asking me to help with the fact checking (which I would have gladly done).

Hopewell and I have a history.

When I visited Hopewell in 2003 (to give a talk), I was shown a small brochure touting 44 Sears Homes in Crescent Hills.

As mentioned in several other blogs (click here), Hopewell is mighty mixed up about what is, and what is not a kit house.

Of those 44 purported “Sears Homes” in Crescent Hills, only eight are the real deal, and frankly, it may not be eight. Some of those eight could well be plan book homes.

On that “list of 44,” this house (see below) was featured.

To read more about Hopewell, click here.

Many thanks to Rachel Shoemaker who successfully identified this house!

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Nice House

The brochure promoting the Hopewell Sears Homes stated that this was a Sears "Newbury." Ooh, nice try and thanks for playing. We have some lovely parting gifts for you.

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Ruh

The Hopewell brochure states that it looks JUST LIKE a Newbury, except for the "sloping roof, full width dormer, extra windows and round columns." Good grief, if that's our criteria I could say that my dog Teddy looks like just like a Sears Magnolia.

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House

Except for the absence of a hip roof, full width windows, round columns and cypress wood, these two dwelling places are stunningly similar. You'll note that the subject on the right also does not have ears or fur, but both of these items could have easily been removed during an earlier remodeling.

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Newbury

Sears Newbury, from the 1936 catalog.

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compare

Wow, look at this! The house on the left is in Illinois and it actually LOOKS like a Newbury!

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compare

Ruh Roh. These don't look anything alike!

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Monticello

Thanks to Rachel Shoemaker, we now know that this house in Hopewell came from "Standard Homes Plans" (1923, 1928 and 1929). You may notice that THIS looks a lot like the house in Hopewell!

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Montie

In fact, "The Monticello" is on the cover of the catalog! What a beauty!

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Wow

And lookie here. It is a very fine match!

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Big and fancy

Did anyone from Hopewell ever go into this house and compare the interior layout? If so, I hope the homeowner gave their seeing-eye dog a tasty biscuit. The floor plan for the Monticello is radically different from the Sears Newbury (shown directly below). And the Monticello is 50% bigger. These details matter.

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What

The Newbury is a modest, simple house (1936 Sears Modern Homes catalog).

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If you dont love this house, theres something wrong with you!

According to the text in the ad, if you don't love the Monticello, there's something seriously wrong with you!

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It’d really be swell if Hopewell would invite me back to do a thorough and proper survey. I would be more than happy to get the facts right and help them create a new brochure.

In fact, I really wish they’d give it a go. It’s time to make this right.

To learn more about Hopewell, click here.

Want to learn how to identify kit homes? Click here.

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Hopewell’s Historic Kit Homes: And They’re Not in Crescent Hills!

March 23rd, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

More than 80% of the time, people who think they have a Sears kit home are wrong. Often, those folks do have a kit home, but it’s not a kit home from Sears. Here in Virginia (where I live), most “Sears homes” that I investigate turn out to be kit homes from Aladdin.

Aladdin was based in Bay City, Michigan (a long way from Virginia), but they had a lumber mill in Wilmington, North Carolina (not so far from Virginia).

Hopewell, Virginia has eight Sears homes in their Crescent Hills neighborhood, but they have dozens of Aladdin kit homes throughout the city. It’s a puzzle why so much focus is put on those eight Sears Homes, while the many Aladdin homes are ignored! If I were a little Aladdin Home in Hopewell, I might feel snubbed!

The eight Sears Homes in Crescent Hills are fine-looking residences. The cluster of Aladdin homes are definitely more modest, but they also have a story to tell. They tell about Dupont coming to Hopewell in the early 1900s and building a factory and creating jobs and investing in modest homes for their workers.

And it’s a part of Hopewell’s history that’s getting lost - quickly. Judging by the landscape in this neighborhood (where the Aladdin Homes are located), countless numbers of these modest homes have already been leveled. Perhaps as people become aware that this is a piece of Hopewell’s history, the rest of these houses might be spared.

Unfortunately, I know very little about Hopewell’s history and I’m hoping my readers will share what they know by leaving a comment.

In the coming days, I’ll post several blogs on Hopewell and their Aladdin kit homes, but I’ll start by featuring the Aladdin Edison.

Enjoy the photos and please leave a comment.

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 providing housing for workers created a more stable workforce. And that was probably true. (1919 Aladdin catalog)

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A close-up of the text from the 1919 catalog.

A close-up of the text from the 1919 catalog.

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The Aladdin Edison was a modest home, but darn cute. And easy to identify these many years later.

The Aladdin Edison was a modest home, but darn cute. And easy to identify these many years later.

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The Aladdin Edison was really a pretty small house. Take a look at the floor plan. How many people today would be content in such a wee tiny house? Typically, the front porch is enclosed on these 90+ year-old houses to create a little more living space. Enclosing the porch created an additional 240 square feet. Pretty significant in a house that measured 30 x 20.

Close-up of the Aladdin Edison

Close-up of the Aladdin Edison

First, my favorite Edison in Hopewell.

First, my favorite Edison in Hopewell. Oh, that's a cute house!

And from the side...

And from the side...

Another well-dressed Edison...

Another well-dressed Edison...

And another...

This one is located on Ramsey Street (near the water) and is in wonderfully original condition! Look at all those original windows! Somebody give this house a pretty placard identifying it as a beautiful example!

This little house is not in original condition

This little house is not in original condition, but it's still cute, and it's feeling happy because it has flowers growing in its front yard.

Pretty

On the Aladdin Edison, the bedroom (front left) and the dining room (front right) are both 10x10. The owner of this house probably wanted to add a little space to those tiny rooms. All in all, the remodeling done to this house isn't too bad. And they saved those awesome old windows in the dormer!

Ouch.

Hmmm. Looks like someone put a great big upholstery tack on that dormer.

Ocu

This house needs a red-tipped cane.

The little Edison waves good-bye, and hopes that someone will take action to include it, in Hopewells preservation efforts. A little house can dream...

The little Edison waves good-bye, and hopes that someone will take action to include it, in Hopewell's preservation efforts. A little house can dream...

To read part II, click here.

To learn more about Hopewell’s kit homes, click here.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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Hopewell’s Historic Sears Homes! (Part 2)

March 21st, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

Continued from Part One (here).

As mentioned in the prior post, I visited Hopewell recently and found that they do have EIGHT real, live Sears Homes in Crescent Hills. Unfortunately, they don’t have as many as they originally thought, but these eight are pretty darn nice!

Pictured below are the real Sears Homes in Crescent Hills.

By the way, you’ll notice that all these houses look a LOT like the original catalog images!  :)

The Sears Hawthorne, as seen in the 1929 catalog.

The Sears Hawthorne, as seen in the 1929 catalog.

Sears Hawthorne in Crescent Hills

Sears Hawthorne in Crescent Hills

Sears Barrington, also from the 1929 catalog.

Sears Barrington, also from the 1929 catalog.

Sears Barrington at 210 Oakwood Avenue

Sears Barrington at 210 Oakwood Avenue

Sears Bellewood

Sears Bellewood

Sears Bellewood, looking quite dapper in white and red.

Sears Bellewood, looking quite dapper in white and brown.

Sears Lewiston from the 1930 catalog

Sears Lewiston from the 1930 catalog

And one of the prettiest Lewistons Ive ever seen!

And one of the prettiest Lewistons I've ever seen!

Sears Maplewood, which is just like the Sears Dover, only smaller.

Sears Maplewood, which is just like the Sears Dover, only smaller.

Sears Dover looking much like the image above!

Sears Dover looking much like the image above!

And the Sears Lynnhaven. There are two in Hopewells Crescent Hills.

And the Sears Lynnhaven. There are two in Hopewell's Crescent Hills.

Sears Lynnhaven #1

Sears Lynnhaven #1

Sears Lynnhaven #2

Sears Lynnhaven #2

And the surprise is this Sears Walton. For reasons unknown, the citys brochure is calling this an Oakdale. See Part 1 for more info.

And the surprise is this Sears Walton. For reasons unknown, the city's brochure is calling this an Oakdale. See Part 1 for more info.

Sears Walton at 102 Oakwood Avenue

Sears Walton at 102 Oakwood Avenue

That’s it. I think thar be eight genuine, authentic Sears Homes in the Crescent Hills area. And they’re really a beautiful group of Sears Homes, no doubt about it.  Plus, a couple blocks away are three beautiful Sears Homes in a row! The Rockford, The Americus and the Dover! And just down the road on City Point Drive there’s a beautiful little Sears Puritan! More on those later.

The other thing Hopewell has is an impressive collection of ALADDIN kit homes!

To read about that large group (more than 50) of kit homes  click here!

To read Part 3 of this blog, click here.

To learn how to identify kit homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

To read part one of this blog, click here.

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