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Posts Tagged ‘sears homes in chicago’

The Homey Homewood

July 17th, 2012 Sears Homes 3 comments

Some models of Sears Homes were wildly popular. Some were not.

The Homewood falls into the second category.

And yet, it’s a puzzle as to why this attractive two-story bungalow was not a big seller for Sears.

With 784 square feet on each floor (about 1,600 square feet total), it was spacious with good-sized rooms and a thoughtful floorplan. And the price ($2,535 in 1928) was about average for the time period.

This house was only offered for a handful of years. Perhaps that’s why we don’t see more models of The Sears Homewood.

The Sears Homewood (1928 catalog)

The Sears Homewood (1928 catalog)

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Nice floorplan, and about 784 square feet per floor.

Nice floorplan, and about 784 square feet per floor.

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Second

All of the bedrooms have a nice-sized closet. What a bonus!

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The Homewood was a fine-looking bungalow!

The Homewood was a fine-looking bungalow!

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Heres one in Elmhurst, Illinois. Thanks to Rebecca Hunter for finding this house, and then driving me over there to Elmhurst so I could get a good photo!

Here's one in Elmhurst, Illinois. Thanks to Rebecca Hunter for finding this house, and then driving me over there to Elmhurst so I could get a good photo! This model did not have a fireplace. Not all that unusual in Sears Homes. Fireplaces were optional.

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To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To read about the other Sears Homes in Northern Illinois, click here.

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A Sears House Designed by “Uncle Sam”!

May 28th, 2012 Sears Homes 1 comment

The banner at the top of the catalog page identifies The Wabash as “Uncle Sam’s Idea.”

According to the accompanying text, this house was “planned and designed by United States Government architects.”

The house appeared in the Spring 1920 catalog, about two years after “The War to End All Wars” had finally ended (November 1917).

According to the original catalog page, The Wabash was built in Illinois (Hamlet, Ohio, Atlanta, Williamsfield, Farmer City, Cerro Gordo) and Indiana (Hoover and Indianapolis).

If any readers are near those towns, I’d love to get a photo!!  :)

To read about a Sears House at the other end of the price spectrum, click here.

To learn more, click here.

1920 catalog

The Wabash, as seen in the 1920 catalog. And only two columns!

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house up close

Take a look at the columns, Instead of the typical grouping of three columns at the corners, this house has only TWO. I guess that's how they made the house so darn affordable.

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text

Interesting text from the catalog page (1920).

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catalog

They must have thought a lot of the house because it was "featured" in the 1920 catalog, and had a two-page spread with interior shots.

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floorplan

This floorplan is a puzzle. No bathroom and yet there's an open space "cement floor" that appears to be a mud room of sorts. Seems like a waste of space in such a small house.

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dust trap

This "dust trap" is really intriguing. I suspect it was a place to dispose of ashes and such.

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house house

And what a fine kitchen it was! Did it really have subway-tile wainscoting? You can see the "dust trap" beside the wood box (beside the sink).

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house text

A little more info on the "handy fuel box" and "dust trap."

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house house

Spacious living room/dining room area.

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house house house

Sure would be nice to have a photo of the Wabash. It was built in these cities.

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To read the blog written one year ago today, click here.

“The Sears Home We Picked Out” (By Joseph Origer)

May 2nd, 2012 Sears Homes 1 comment

The Sears Home we picked out - the Hammond - had a kitchen that was 8 x 10 feet so I asked the salesman (at the Sears Modern Homes Sales Center in Chicago) if we could make the kitchen bigger. He suggested that we make the back of the house two feet wider, so the kitchen, dining room and a back bedroom would all be two feet wider.

This of course changed all the precut lumber and the original plans. They had to make a new set of blueprints and specially cut all the material.

My dad, who had accompanied us to Chicago, asked the salesman how much these changes would cost. We all held our breath while the salesman did the figuring and it seemed like it took him forever. Finally, he told us that the extra square footage would cost an additional $67. We went with the extra two feet.

Reminiscence of Joseph Origer (builder/owner of “The Hammond”).

In 2002, after the publication of my first book, I had the good fortune to talk with many people who’d built their own Sears kit home. One of my favorites was the story of Joseph Origer, who’d built a Sears Hammond on the family farm in 1940.

Joseph Origer was born in 1914 in a Sears Home, on a farm near North Judson, Indiana. His father had built the two-story kit house (Modern Home #101) a year earlier, in 1913. Twenty-six years later,  in the summer of 1940, Joseph and his new wife traveled to a Sears Modern Homes Sales Center in nearby Chicago to pick out another Sears kit home to build on the same farm.

The young couple chose The Hammond -  a 1000-square foot, five-room Honor-Bilt bungalow with casement windows. On July 4th, 1940, two weeks after placing the order, their home arrived in one boxcar at the train depot. Joseph Origer shared some precious memories and wonderful details about the building of these two Sears homes.

My dad built a Sears kit silo in 1911 and he was so impressed with the quality of the lumber (all cypress) that he decided to buy and build Sears Modern Home #101.


Our farm adjoined the old Pennsylvania Railroad. Dad was working in the field when he saw a train pass by with building materials piled high on open flat cars and thought, ‘I bet that’s my house!’ Dad went into the barn and hitched up the horses and went down to the depot to pick up his house. The story is that while Dad was at the depot unloading the building materials, the depot agent looked at the indoor plumbing fixtures and asked, ‘What are those things?’


I remember my father telling me the kit home was all number one lumber and material. All the building materials cost $879 and the total expense, including all carpenter labor, was less than $1500.I still have the itemized list of materials for that house!


When I decided to marry and stay on the farm, my parents suggested we go to Chicago and pick out another Sears home. Dad said, “you know the material will be good.”


It was 1940 when we bought the house. I think that was the last year they sold these homes. I had a 1939 Modern Homes catalog, so I sent for a 1940 catalog and found there had been a slight price increase. This was the time when Hitler was invading Poland and prices had gone up a little. I was excited about getting a house, but a friend of mine said, “Joe, you should wait a couple years until prices come down.” I’m glad I didn’t wait. It would have been a long wait.


We went to Chicago to look at Sears’ housing displays and get a little more definite information. The Sales Center had samples of inside doors and millwork that we could look at. They had different samples of the inside fixtures and millwork.


The home we picked out - the Hammond - had a kitchen that was 8 x 10 feet so I asked the salesman (at the Sears Modern Homes Sales Center in Chicago) if we could make the kitchen bigger. He suggested that we make the back of the house two feet wider, so the kitchen, dining room and a back bedroom would all be two feet wider.


This of course changed all the precut lumber and the original plans. They had to make a new set of blueprints and specially cut all the material. My dad asked how much these changes would cost. We all held our breath while the salesman did the figuring and it seemed like it took him forever. Finally, he told us that the extra square footage would cost an additional $67. We went with the extra two feet.


The salesman said if we had it all sent in one shipment, it’d be cheaper then having it sent in several shipments, which was another option. The second option was for people who didn’t have a place to store all the building materials. We went with one shipment to save a little money.


The house arrived about two weeks after we ordered it. The station agent called and said we had a carload of building material. We hauled it home on a truck and that took quite a few trips. Fortunately, we only had to travel 2 ½ miles. It all fit in one boxcar, but it was pretty tightly packed.


The plaster (for the walls) and cement (for the foundation) was included in the price that we paid. Sears placed the orders for those materials with a local lumber yard. I remember someone from the yard called me and asked, “when do you want your plaster and cement delivered?” I hadn’t been aware that Sears did it that way.


We built The Hammond  400 feet away from Modern Home #101. We hired a retired carpenter that lived in town to help us build it. He charged us 50 cents an hour. He said the material was excellent quality and that you could pick up any 2 x 4 and use it as a straight edge.


The house arrived on July 4th and we were living in it by winter. When the house was completed, the total cost of my house, including everything -  bathroom fixtures, plumbing, wiring, paint and varnish - was about $2,700. These 60-plus years The Hammond has been a wonderful house. I am glad I built it. This house has been well maintained inside and out, and it is still just as good as new.

Joseph Origer was born in 1914 in the Sears Modern Home #101. When I spoke with Mr. Origer in 2003, the original house was in very poor condition, due to its having been rental property for a very short period of time.

Joseph Origer was born in 1914 in the Sears Modern Home #101. When I spoke with Mr. Origer in 2003, the original house was in very poor condition, due to its having been rental property for a very short period of time. I'd love to know if this house is still standing.

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The Sears Hammond, as shown in the 1940 catalog.

The Sears Hammond, as shown in the 1940 catalog. The 1940 was the last catalog that was issued by the Sears Modern Homes department. It was a reprint of the 1939 catalog, and the entire Sears Modern Homes department was permanently shut down in 1940.

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The

The Hammond, as seen in the 1938 catalog.

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A Hammond in Sterling, Illinois. Unfortunately, I dont have a picture of Mr. Origers Hammond. In my many travels, Ive only seen this one Hammond.

And it's all brick! This Sears Hammond is in Sterling, Illinois (northern Illinois). Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of Mr. Origer's Hammond in Indiana. In my many travels, I've only seen this one Hammond. A very distinctive feature of the Sears Hammond is the flared flooples on both sides of the front gable.

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Flared

It was Dale Wolicki who first taught me about Flared Flooples, and he pointed out that even more rare than "Flared Flooples" are the Flying French Flared Flooples. I'm still waiting for Dale to send me a picture of a house that's sporting the Flying French Flared Flooples. The red arrows above highlight this distinctive feature on the Sears Hammond.

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To learn more about Dale Wolicki, click here.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To learn more about the Sears Homes of Illinois, lookie here.

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Wonderful World of Westlys

July 2nd, 2011 Sears Homes 5 comments

One of Sears most popular kit homes was the Westly. It’s an easy house to identify because it’s quite unique. The roof line on the rear of the house does not come down as far as the roof line in the front. That dormer on the front is also pretty distinctive, with a door flanked by two windows, and the small railing in front.

Often (not always) the Sears Westly has the five piece eave brackets.  And it often has the distinctive columns found on about 24 of Sears most popular designs. Click here to learn more about those distinctive columns!

Westly

One of the distinctive features (inside) is that corner fireplace in the dining room! This is from the 1919 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Close-up of the dormer on the Sears Westly

Close-up of the dormer on the Sears Westly, and a better view of the original railing.

A nearly perfect Westly in Oak Hill, WV

A nearly perfect Westly in Oak Hill, WV. The lower railings are original, but the upper railing has been replaced. Also note the original columns and five-piece eave brackets.

This Westly is in Lynchburg, VA

This Westly is in Lynchburg, VA. See that little closet window on the upper right? That's another pretty distinctive feature of the Sears Westly.

Elgin, IL has the largest collection of Sears Homes in the country. This Westly is one of 210 Sears Homes in this northwestern Chicago suburb.

Elgin, IL has the largest collection of Sears Homes in the country. This Westly is one of 210 Sears Homes in this northwestern Chicago suburb.

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Is this a Westly? I'd be willing to bet $50 that it is. However, wrought iron is *not* this home's friend. The porch remodel was especially hard on the porch, as it made the front porch DISAPPEAR. This house is located in Virginia. There are no five-piece eave brackets because there are no EAVES to bracket. If this house were a human being, it'd be outlined in white chalk and we'd be hunting for the murderer.

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This photo dates back to 2003, before the vinyl siding installers defrocked this house. Back then, this house was in stunningly original condition. The roof is Buckingham slate, which is unusual, but not unheard of for Sears Homes. In Sears Homes, the roofing joists were supersized, and collar-beams were added at each joist, to accommodate the extra weight of a slate roof. Buckingham slate (from Buckingham County) is one of the best slate shingles out there, and weighs in at 1,400 pounds per square. With minor maintenance every 100 years, the roof will last for eternity. This house is in Portsmouth, Virginia.

Sears Westly in Suffolk, Virginia

Sears Westly in downtown Suffolk (Virginia). It's been beautifully restored to its original glory and splendor, and has original siding and windows.

Superman slept here. Maybe. This Sears Westly is in Metropolis, IL.

Superman slept here. Maybe. This Sears Westly is in Metropolis, IL.

Sears

This Westly in Lewisburg, WV has had its dormer extended. The flat spot in front of that dormer on the Westly is prone to leaks. Extending the front roof and nclosing the space is one way to solve that problem.

Perfection defined. Located in Raleigh, this Westly is one of my all-time favorites.

Perfection defined. Located in Raleigh, this Westly is one of my all-time favorites. Original everything. And beautifully maintained.

Close-up of dormer and original railling.

Close-up of dormer and original railing.

And in Oklahoma! Its had a lot of improvements but this Westly is still standing.  Photo is copyright Rachel Shoemaker and can not be reproduced without written permission.

And in Oklahoma! It's had a lot of "improvements" but this Westly in Tulsa is still standing. Photo is copyright Rachel Shoemaker and can not be reproduced without written permission.

The rear of the Westly is also very distinctive with this short wall and through-the-cornice dormer. Photo is copyright Rachel Shoemaker and may not be reproduced without permission.

The rear of the Westly is also very distinctive with this short wall and through-the-cornice dormer. Photo is copyright Rachel Shoemaker and may not be reproduced without permission.

When I first saw this house in Ohio, I had an overwhelming urge to knock on their front door and demand that the homeowners surrender their Home Depot credit cards.

When I first saw this house in Ohio, I had an overwhelming urge to knock on their front door and demand that the homeowners surrender their Home Depot credit cards. If this were a dog, we'd test it for rabies and then put it down.

Sears Westly on Fauquier Avenue in Richmond

Sears Westly in Richmond, VA. If these walls could talk, this house would ask, "Do these railings make me look flat and dull?"

Westly in Midwestern suburb

Lastly is this Westly in Northerly suburb of Chicago. Poor Westly has had an entire neighborhood built behind it. In Illinois, they call this a condominium. In many other states, this is call "hideous."

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

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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The Sears Homes of Illinois: First Printing - GONE!

March 3rd, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

Yesterday, I was delighted to learn that the first printing of “The Sears Homes of Illinois” (printed late November 2010), has sold out.

This is very good news. Now I did some ciphering and if I can sell 1.3 million copies, I can fulfill my promise to Hubby Wayne to become his Sugar Mama.  ;)

The rear cover:

And a sample of an inside page.

To buy the book, click here.

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When Bad Things Happen to Nice Sears Homes

September 22nd, 2010 Sears Homes 1 comment

Years ago, my friend Rebecca Hunter drove me to an Midwestern suburb and showed me this Sears Westly (see pictures below). She made me close my eyes as we pulled up to the house. Sitting squarely in front of it, I exclaimed that it looked like a nice little Westly. Then she giggled a bit and pulled forward, so I could see “The rest of the story.”

I gasped in horror. Incredibly, someone built a neighborhood behind this once-darling Sears Westly. Why anyone would do this, is a puzzle. How anyone got zoning approval to do this is a BIGGER puzzle!!

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

To visit Rebecca’s website, click here.

Sears Westly from the 1919 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Westly from the 1919 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Westly in Midwestern suburb

Westly in Midwestern suburb

Next is a the Sears Madelia. The first picture (first image) is a picture of the Madelia from the 1919 Sears Catalog. The next picture is a happy, healthy Madelia in Wood River, Illinois on 9th Street. There are 24 Sears Homes in a row, a remnant from the days of Standard Oil’s purchase of $1 million worth of Sears Homes for their refinery workers. The third picture I’ve titled, A Madelia trapped in a tavern’s body.

A happy little Sears Madelia in Wood River, IL

And here’s the Madelia trapped in a tavern’s body.

A Madelia trapped in a taverns body