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Posts Tagged ‘Sears Homes in Norfolk’

Wintertime in Norfolk!

January 26th, 2013 Sears Homes 1 comment

It’s been about 18 months since we moved to our new home in Norfolk. People say that “geography can’t make you happy,” but I surely do love living on Lake Whitehurst and I surely do love this mid-Century-modern brick ranch.

Last year, we didn’t have much of a winter and I don’t recall that we saw any ice on the lake and I know we didn’t have any snow.

But yesterday, we had a wonderful snow storm and got two inches of the white stuff! And I love it!

For my Midwestern friends, two inches may not seem like much, but for those of us in Hampton Roads, it’s quite a thrill!  :)

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Two inches of snow!  Yay!!!

Two inches of snow! Yay!!!

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View of the side

Apparently, Teddy the Sheltie is not a fan of snow. She won't set foot in it.

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Ba

I was trying to get artsy with the bench, but it didn't work too well for me.

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This is the first time weve ever seen the lake frozen.

This is the first time we've ever seen the lake frozen. This is from one end of our yard looking north, toward the other end of our yard. Our lot is very shallow (maybe 40 feet) but 200 feet wide.

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A view of the backyard

A view of the backyard, covered (sort of) in snow.

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A view from the fence of the neighbors piece of the lake.

A view from the fence of the neighbor's piece of the lake.

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Shot of the sunporch, where we spend a lot of time. :)

Shot of the sunporch, where we spend a lot of time. :)

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To read about the other homes of Norfolk, click here.

To read about the kit homes of West Park View, click here.

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A New Day on Gosnold, Part 3

May 28th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

In “Driving Miss Daisy,” there’s a scene where Hoke is studying family pictures in Miss Daisy’s home and he comments “I just love a house with pictures, Miss Daisy. It do make a house a home.”

When we first moved into 3916 Gosnold Avenue, we went to great lengths to find more about the home’s original owner and builder. Thanks to Norfolk historian David Spriggs (an incredible researcher), he hit the Mother Lode. He found the grandchildren of the original, whom we contacted by mail. They responded almost immediately, and Wayne and I invited them to re-visit their family home.

Ed Barnes and his sister Laura Barnes Chappell brought with them many documents and pictures and stories and it was a bonanza for me, the old house lover - hungry to know more about my very own old house.

We learned that this house was built in 1925 (not 1920 as city records showed) by William Barnes. Mr. Barnes was part owner of Etheridge Lumber Company, located at 1225 Brambleton Avenue in Norfolk. According to local lore, every piece of framing lumber in this house was personally inspected by Mr. Barnes. It’s a story that rings true: The lumber in this house is truly extraordinary.

Mr. Barnes built this house for his dear wife, who became ill while the house was under construction. He is said to have told her, “I’m building you that beautiful house you’ve always dreamed about.”

She died six months after moving in the house, and her wake was held in the living room.

The house remained in the Barnes’ family until 1971. William Barnes bequeathed it to his son, and he remained here at the house until his death. The Barnes’ family sold the house in 1971, and then it went through a myriad of owners. We bought the house in Spring 2007.

And it’s time for the house to bless and shelter and protect another family. It’s time for me and Wayne to move on and start a new chapter in our life, and we’ve put our old house up for sale. I thought it’d be fun to share a little bit of what I learned, and show a few of the photos that tell the story of our home.

To see contemporary photos of the house, click here.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s house, click here.

First, this photo is from the city assessors office and was taken in 1948.

This photo is from the city assessor's office and was taken in 1948.

fam

The twin grandchildren of the home's builder (William Barnes) sit on the front stoop. They were raised in this house and Laura (left) is the one who supplied the many family photos.

Wiliiam Barnes gave this home to his son (shown here with his young son), but old Mr. Barnes continued to live in the house until his death.

Wiliiam Barnes' gave this home to his son (shown here with his young son), but old Mr. Barnes continued to live in the house until his death.

The Barnes family

The Barnes' family on the front porch (about 1958).

Kids playing around in the back yard.

Kids playing around in the back yard. I used to have a firetruck just like that, and I loved it.

Kids

Matching outfits and matching trikes! In the background, you can see the old "ice box door" (below the kitchen window). This small service door allowed the ice man to load ice into the back of the ice box without tromping through the house. The ice boxes typically had a corresponding service door on the rear. The old ice box door is still in place in our house.

Kids

Hot summertime day, probably in the early 1960s. Note the open sunporch in the background.

for

Barnes' children (and one mystery kid) hanging out on the front porch.

One of my favorite photos is the

This is one of my favorite photos. It's William Barnes, the home's original builder, seated in the back yard of the house he built with love and care.

Gosnold Avenue today

Gosnold Avenue today

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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So, What Did You Learn?

May 21st, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”

It was about a year ago today that this website was redone and revamped. I’ve been trying to - systematically and patiently - post a few of the 35,000 photos I’ve taken in the last 10 years of researching kit homes.

Have you enjoyed the site? Have you learned something new from the 200+ posts (and 1000+ photos) that I’ve put here in the last year? Earlier this month, this site had its 100,000th visitor.

If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read, I’d sure be grateful to hear from you. If you’ve learned something wonderful, please tell me, and leave a comment below.

Like Twain, I can live for a couple months on one good compliment.  :)

And in the meantime, I think I’ll take a few days off from blogging and dream about my future life in the mountains.  I love the mountains, and one day, I’ll live there.

Beauty

Valley view of Hightown, Virginia (very near the West Virginia border).

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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Warning: Incredibly Ugly Photos.

March 23rd, 2011 Sears Homes 2 comments

I’m an architectural historian. I research old houses and I write books and I galavant around the country telling people how to restore their old homes. When people are trying to locate hard-to-find supplies for their vintage homes, they contact me. This is what I do, and it’s been a fun career.

One day I dropped by my brother’s house to visit him. He said he had “a little problem” in the bathroom that he needed help with. 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 he and I walked upstairs and 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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Delightful Bunch of Kit Homes in Ocean View (Norfolk, VA)

March 5th, 2011 Sears Homes 2 comments

My dear friend Sam Evans was born and raised in Ocean View and he’s told me many delightful stories about his growing-up years. My favorite was his telling about the day he met Ollie Mae. He was 11 years old, and she was 9. Three years later, he proposed to her. Ollie Mae replied, “Sam, I’m only 12!”

Sam told her, “I didn’t want to wait ’til the last minute!”

They were married a few years later, and when Ollie Mae passed on in 2002, they’d been married for more than six decades, and together for seven decades.

In addition to romantic love stories, Ocean View has interesting architectural history, too. It’s got dozens of kit homes.

Below are some of the hidden architectural treasures I’ve found in Ocean View. To learn more about the kit homes here in Norfolk, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

This Arts & Crafts bungalow is the Sears Ashmore and its one of my favorite houses. Its a real beauty of a house, and Ive seen about five in my many travels, so its pretty rare.

This Arts & Crafts bungalow is the Sears Ashmore and it's one of my favorite houses. It's a real beauty of a house, and I've seen about five in my many travels, so it's pretty rare.

And heres that Aristrocrat of Bungalows on a side street just off of Granby in Ocean View.

And here's that "Aristrocrat of Bungalows" on a side street just off of Granby in Ocean View.

This is a Sears Alhambra as seen in the 1921 catalog.

This is a Sears Alhambra as seen in the 1921 catalog.

And this is a Sears Alhambra, sans Spanish-flavored extras!

And this is a Sears Alhambra, sans Spanish-flavored extras!

The Vallonia was a very popular model. This Craftsman style bungalow had an expandable attic and was perfect for a growing family!

The Vallonia was a very popular model. This Craftsman style bungalow had an expandable attic and was perfect for a growing family!

This Vallonia has been converted into a duplex, but its still in good condition.

This Vallonia has been converted into a duplex, but it's still in good condition.

Note the detail on the porch columns. About two dozen Sears Homes had this unusual arrangement on the porch columns.

Note the detail on the porch columns. About two dozen Sears Homes had this unusual arrangement on the porch columns.

Close-up of the column on the Ocean View house

Close-up of the column on the Ocean View house

There are two of the Harris Brothers kit homes in Ocean View. Very unusual house. Harris Brothers was a small company based in Chicago, IL.

There are two of the Harris Brothers kit homes in Ocean View. Very distinctive-looking house. Harris Brothers was a small company based in Chicago, IL.

It was known as Harris Brothers Home #1000, and was a popular design for this kit home company, but there are not many Harris Brother homes in Virginia.

It was known as Harris Brothers Home #1000, and was a popular design for this kit home company, but there are not many Harris Brother homes in Virginia. Notice the curved front porch (now closed in). Even original flower-box brackets are still in place.

This is a kit home from Gordon Van Tine, a competitor of Sears in the kit home business.

This is a kit home from Gordon Van Tine, a competitor of Sears in the kit home business.

Heres a Gordon Van Tine in the Ocean View area of Norfolk - and in perfect condition!

Here's a Gordon Van Tine "Roberts" and in perfect condition!

The Westly was another very popular house for Sears.

The Westly was another very popular house for Sears.

Like the other Craftsman-style bungalow in Ocean View, this Sears Westly has also been turned into a duplex.

Like the other Craftsman-style bungalow in Ocean View, this Sears Westly has also been turned into a duplex.

From the 1928 Sears Modern Homes catalog

From the 1928 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Barrington in Ocean View!

Sears Barrington in Ocean View!

This was not a kit home, but a house design from a plan book. Prospective homeowners would browse the pages of a catalog and find a home that they liked, and after sending in their dollars, theyd receive a full set of blueprints and a full inventory of what was needed to build their dream home. Building supplies were purchased locally.

This was not a kit home, but a house design from a "plan book." Prospective homeowners would browse the pages of a catalog and find a home that they liked, and after sending in their dollars, they'd receive a full set of blueprints and a full inventory of what was needed to build their dream home. Building supplies were purchased locally.

The Carrville (Homebuilders Catalog)

The Carrville (Homebuilder's Catalog)

Sears Brookwood, from the 1933 catalog.

Sears Brookwood, from the 1933 catalog.

Brookwood in Ocean View!

The Brookwood was a smaller version of the Barrington. It was four feet shorter and two feet narrower.

And the last remnant of the Evans Garage in Ocean View (owned by Sam Evans father).

The last remnant of the Evan's Garage (owned by Sam Evan's father).

To learn more about Sears Homes in Norfolk, click here.

To read about Rose the Ham, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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A Nice Bunch of Houses in Lafayette/Winona (Norfolk, VA)

February 21st, 2011 Sears Homes 2 comments

When I first started playing with kit houses  in 1999, Sears Homes were my specialty. It had taken me  several months to memorize all those 370 designs that Sears offered during their 32 years in the kit house business (from 1908-1940). Before long I realized I had to start learning the designs offered by other companies, too. Working with friends Dale and Rebecca, we made countless copies of our dusty old kit home catalogs and organized those thousands of pages into a comprehensive field guide to kit homes sold by Aladdin (Bay City, MI), Lewis Manufacturing (also Bay City), Sterling Homes (Bay City, too), Harris Brothers (Chicago), Gordon Van Tine (Davenport, Iowa), and Montgomery Ward (Chicago).

And when I moved to Norfolk in 2006, I was surprised to find a prevalence of Aladdin kit homes in the area. Aladdin, I later learned, had a mill in Wilmington, NC (a lot closer to Hampton Roads than Chicago and Bay City!).

Below are some of the kit homes I’ve found in the Lafayette/Winona section of Norfolk. The most remarkable find was the Montgomery Ward Model #101. Unfortunately, the subject house in the Lafayette area has endured a great deal of insensitive remodeling which has altered its appearance.

First, my favorite: The Aladdin Plaza on Lafayette Blvd. The catalog image (from a 1919 catalog) is shown first:

Aladdin Plaza as shown in 1919 Aladdin catalog

Aladdin Plaza as shown in 1919 Aladdin catalog

One of my all-time favorite Aladdin Plazas is in Norfolk, Virginia, about three miles from my home in Colonial Place.

One of my all-time favorite Aladdin Plazas is on Lafayette Blvd in Norfolk. It's in wonderful condition and looks much like the line drawing.

The Pomona (named after the city in California) was a classic Arts & Crafts bungalow.

The Pomona (named after the city in California) was a classic Arts & Crafts bungalow.

Aladdin Pomona

Aladdin Pomona, complete with white picket fence! Unfortunately, the windows have been replaced, but it does have its original siding.

Aladdin Pomona

Trees, cars, boats, and miscellaneous little people prevented a better photo, but this is a nice little Aladdin Pomona, and it still has the original diamond-muntin window in the living room.

Aladdin Pasadena from the 1919 catalog

Aladdin Pasadena from the 1919 catalog

Little old cottage from Pasadena...

Little old cottage from Pasadena...

If you look close, youll see what the original porch looked like on this house.

If you look close, you'll see what the original porch looked like on this house.

And you can see the remnant of the beams on this house in Lafayette.

And you can see the remnant of the beams on this house in Lafayette.

The Aladdin Sheffield was a popular house. I know of three in Norfolk.

The Aladdin Sheffield was a popular house. I know of three in Norfolk.

This Aladdin Sheffield is a real treasure, and even has the bumped out vestible as shown in the original catalog drawing.

This Aladdin Sheffield is a real treasure, and even has the "bumped out" vestibule as shown in the original catalog drawing.

Aladdin Shadowlawn from the 1919 catalog

Aladdin Shadowlawn from the 1919 catalog. Note, this Shadowlawn has a porte cochere.

And its porte cochere is still in use!

And its porte cochere is still in use!

The Aladdin Winthrop

The Aladdin Winthrop. Awnings not included.

The distinguishing feature of this Aladdin Winthrop are those windows in side fo the bay and the four windows across the front. Also note how the frotn porch spans the full width of the house.

The distinguishing feature of this Aladdin Winthrop are the windows in side of the bay and the four windows across the front. Also note how the front porch spans the full width of the house. This was a special delight because I'd missed this one on prior trips through the 'hood and just found it this week!

And onto Sears!  This is the Sears Elsmore - a hugely popular house for Sears

And onto Sears! This is the Sears Elsmore - a hugely popular house for Sears

My favorite feature of this house is that its painted the same colors as the catalog picture!! Notice, it has the recessed entry way.

My favorite feature of this house is that it's painted the same colors as the catalog picture!! Notice, it has the recessed entry way.

Sears Alhambra from the 1919 catalog

Sears Alhambra from the 1919 catalog

If anyone knows the owners of this house, Id love to find out if its a Sears Alhambra. It might be, but I wouldnt bet money on it. An interior inspection would reveal if this is indeed a true Sears Alhambra.

Sears Alhambra? Eh, maybe. Maybe NOT. If anyone knows the owners of this house, I'd love to get inside and find out if it's a Sears Alhambra. It might be, but I wouldn't bet money on it. An interior inspection would reveal if this is indeed a true Sears Alhambra.

Sears Alhambra in Portsmouth, Virginia (my home town)

**THIS** is what an Alhambra should look like! This house is in the 1500-block of County Street in downtown Portsmouth.

Sears Argyle from the Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Argyle from the Sears Modern Homes catalog

This Argyle has some wear and tear on it, but you can still see a sweet little Argyle hiding in there. This is just outside the border of the Lafayette Winona area.

This Argyle has some wear and tear on it, but you can still see a sweet little Argyle hiding in there. This is just outside the border of the Lafayette Winona area.

Original image from an early 1910s Montgomery Ward catalog. This is Wardway Model #101.

Wardway #101

Wardway #101. My favorite find of the day. This house has been severely aluminized and the original windows are nothing but a memory, but this house has several very unique characteristics that make me think it's probably the Wardway #101. Two of those unique features are bay windows on the front and side. The porch has been extended around to the side (fairly recently, judging by the joinery) and the substitute siding has really distorted the home's original appearance.

To see more pictures of the kit homes in Hampton Roads, click here.

To buy a copy of Rose’s book, click here.

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West Point, Virginia: Sears Homes - Yes, Military Academy - No.

September 26th, 2010 Sears Homes No comments

Recently I made the 90-minute drive to West Point, Virginia, looking for Sears Homes. Thanks to Rebecca Hunter’s book, “Putting Sears Homes on the Map,” I knew there were at least four Sears Homes in West Point. Her book is a compilation of testimonials from old Sears catalogs, organized by city and state.

Her book listed one testimonial in Norfolk, Virginia and yet I’ve found more than 50 Sears Homes here in Norfolk. “Putting Sears Homes on the Map” listed four Sears Homes in West Point. Proportionately speaking, that meant there should be at least 200 Sears Homes in the tiny town!

I’m saddened to report that I couldn’t even find the four that were listed. Her book listed the Whitehall, the Greenview, the Ivanhoe and the Avoca. I found the Ivanhoe, but couldn’t get close enough to take a photo. It sat on a supersized lot, bordering the water. Unfortunately, it faced the water, making it especially difficult to get a photo! However, I did find (and photograph) the Avoca.

An aside:  Despite the fact that I’ve lived in the Hampton Roads area for more than three decades, I didn’t realize that Virginia was not home to the famous Military Academy of West Point! Only recently did I learn that it’s in New York. Who knew? Not me, obviously.

So, where’s the Whitehall and the Greenview? More than likely, the Whitehall has been torn down. I went up and down those streets in West Point many times and if there was a Whitehall to be found, I would have seen it. The Greenview was such a simple little house that it could have been remodeled beyond recognition. Below are catalog images of these two houses. If you find them in West Point, drop me a note.

Here are the Sears Homes that I found in West Point, Virginia.

To read more about Sears Homes, click here.

Sears Avoca has seen in the 1916 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Avoca has seen in the 1916 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Crescent

Sears Avoca in West Point.

Sears Crescent from the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Crescent from the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Crescent

Perfect Sears Crescent in West Point. This is in wonderfully original condition!

Sears Cranmore

Sears Cranmore. Kind of a crummy picture, but it was surrounded by trees and bushes and more trees and more bushes. Nonetheless, I am confident that this is a Sears Cranmore.

The Sears Homes of West Point probably rode into town on these very railroad tracks!

The Sears Homes of West Point probably rode into town on these very railroad tracks!

Sears Greenview from the Sears Modern Homes catalog. We know one of these was built in West Point, but where?

Sears Greenview from the Sears Modern Homes catalog. We know one of these was built in West Point, but where?

Sears Whitehall. We know there was a Sears Whitehall built in West Point, but I suspect its been torn down.

Sears Whitehall. We know there was a Sears Whitehall built in West Point, but I suspect it's been torn down.

Sears Ivanhoe from the 1919 Modern Homes catalog

Sears Ivanhoe from the 1920 Modern Homes catalog. There's one of these on the waterfront of West Point, but no one was home at the house. I'd love to get a photo!

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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