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Posts Tagged ‘sears homes in north carolina’

A *Beautifully* Original Magnolia in South Bend - For Sale!

June 12th, 2014 Sears Homes 5 comments

For many years, I’ve wondered what it would be like to see a Magnolia in original condition.

Now, I know.

The Sears Magnolia in South Bend was recently listed for sale, and the Realtor kindly sent me a few pictures.

It can be described in one word:  STUNNING.

Or maybe two:  Original!

These photos give us a rare opportunity to step back in time almost 100 years, and see what the Sears Magnolia looked like when built.

If I was queen of the world (and it shouldn’t be long now), I’d insist that the potential buyers of this rare, historically significant home be required to do a proper, thoughtful and historically sensitive restoration (which is radically different from a remodeling). I’d demand that they find a way to preserve the home’s original features.

As my buddy Bill Inge says, “The first commandment of preservation is, ‘Thou shalt not destroy good old work.’”

The 3,895-square foot home is listed at $320,000. Situated on 1/3 of an acre, it has four bedrooms, three full bathrooms and two half-baths. The listing says it was built in 1927, but we know that that’s not right. The Magnolia was offered from 1918-1922.

This house is a rare treasure. I hope its next owners “catch” the vision and see what a remarkable property it really is.

Ready to see some photos? You should get ready to be dazzled!

To buy this fine old house, click here.

To learn more about the history of the Sears Magnolia kit home, click here.

Interested in reading more about how these homes were built? Click here.

All photos are copyright Steve Matz, 2014.

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The Sears Magnolia is now for sale in South Bend, IN.

The Sears Magnolia is now for sale in South Bend, IN.

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

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

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Mag

The Magnolia in South Bend is remarkable because it's in original condition.

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A view from the inside.

A view from the inside.

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This Magnolia still retains its original mouldings and trim but the inglenook and columns are not in place. It's possible that the house was built without these built-ins.

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I suspect that this is the fireplace in the den.

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The den (right rear) was very small (only 8'9" deep). It's unusual to see the den in its original shape and size. It's also unusual to see a house from this vintage with a half-bath on the first floor (next to the den).

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The Realtor had the good sense to photograph the staircase from the same angle as the original catalog image!

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hfhfhf

Nice match, isn't it? Check out the French doors at the rear - both upper and lower level.

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Nice, huh? :D

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The best

There's something about these old nooks that just makes my heart skip a beat.

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This is the very best picture of all. And perhaps the home's finest feature: A built-in nook, completely untouched by time, with the original tile floor, white hexagonal tiles with a blue flower center. This pattern is a classic feature found in early 20th Century Sears Homes. You can see the three original wooden windows behind the nook.

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Fun comparison, isn't it? It's so rare to see these nooks still in place.

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Another incredible feature is that

Not only does this house have its original Butler's Pantry, but it has the original sink, wooden surround and fixture. This house is such a rare find, and to think that it's a Sears Magnolia!

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And it just gets better. Upstairs, just off the Master Bedroom, the dressing room, is the original sink, light fixtures and oak cabinetry - unpainted!

Upstairs, just off the Master Bedroom, is a surprisingly large dressing room. The fact that even the dressing room is original is a real testament to the home's prior owners, who had the wisdom to follow the #1 rule: "Thou shalt not destroy good old work." And this cabinetry was incredibly good work. In the corner, is the Magnolia's original sink, light fixtures and medicine chest - unpainted! If you look closely, you'll see the original cabinet pulls.

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It's true that I am nutty as a fruitcake, but seeing this century-old Magnolia - wholly untouched by time - sends me. Original sink, original fixtures, original medicine chest, and an original light fixture (porcelain sconce). Just incredible. I'm a big fan of old plumbing but I've never seen a three-sided sink before.

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Close-up of the upstairs floorplan, showing that small sink in the dressing room.

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And the sunporch has its original wooden casement windows.

And the sunporch has its original wooden casement windows.

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A view from the upstairs 2nd floor balcony.

A view from the upstairs 2nd floor balcony.

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To buy this fine old house, click here.

Interested in learning more about the Sears Magnolia? Click here.

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The Eighth Magnolia - and - It’s In West Virginia (Part II)

August 25th, 2013 Sears Homes 15 comments

Yesterday, I blogged about the beautiful Sears Magnolia in West Virginia. And it is a beauty. (Read about it here.)

Today, I’d like to show off the interior of this wonderful old house.

First, a little history. The home’s owner believes - based on his research - that the house was built in late 1924 or early 1925. A reminiscence from a former neighbor puts the build date in the same time period. This jibes with the county tax record as well (which shows 1925), but tax records are notoriously unreliable on construction dates.

To be honest, when I first heard that this house was built in 1924, I was a little incredulous. The Sears Magnolia was first offered in the 1918 Sears Modern Home catalog, and its last appearance was in the 1922 catalog.

Was it really possible that this Magnolia was purchased in 1924 or later?

In the basement of this glorious Eighth Magnolia, the owner showed me an old pedestal sink in the family bathroom (second floor). On its underside was a casting date of November 6, 1923. If this is the original sink (and based on what I saw, it probably is), then this kit house was shipped to West Virginia sometime after January 1924.

These “Modern Homes” catalogs that Sears distributed far and wide did not automatically self-destruct when the year ended. It’s altogether possible that the Magnolia’s original owner had been studying a 1918-1922 catalog for some time, and took a fancy to the Magnolia. He may not have realized that this model wasn’t offered after 1922.

Other than some post-war hyperinflation, the prices for building materials in the first three decades of 20th Century were relatively stable.

According to the neighbor’s reminiscence, the Magnolia cost $7,000 to purchase and another $7,000 to build.

It’s entirely plausible that the Magnolia sold for “about” $7,000 in 1924, especially with the upgrades that were offered with this house. (See price sheet further down this page.)

And if Sears Roebuck had a few old Magnolias hanging around the warehouse, I’m sure they would have been thrilled to unload them in 1924 or even beyond. And if they had most of one Magnolia ready to go, but it was missing a few parts, they could have easily milled those pieces to complete the kit.

In fact, if they did not do any milling or cutting until after an order was placed, it would also been fairly simple for Sears to fulfill an order from a two-year-old catalog.

In conclusion, is it possible this Magnolia wasn’t ordered until 1924 or 1925?

In a word, yes!

Enjoy the photos below! And if you know of a Sears Magnolia, send me a note!

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The Magnolia appeared on the cover of the 1918 Sears Modern Homes catalog. These specialty catalogs were pricey to create, publish and ship, shipped to customers on request, and were not discarded when the year passed.

The Magnolia appeared on the cover of the 1918 Sears Modern Homes catalog. These specialty catalogs were expensive to create, publish and ship. Sears did not send out new catalogs each year to last years' customers. (There was a lot less waste in the world a scant 80 years ago.) These catalogs were shipped out upon request. And they were not automatically discarded when the year passed. In fact, 90+ years later, many of these catalogs are still kicking around (as is evidenced by activity at eBay).

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Lisa Tabor (owner of the Magnolia in Syracuse, NY) graciously shared this image with me. She has the original blueprints for her Magnolia, framed and hanging in the entry foyer. This picture shows that her blueprints were drawn on March 25, 1921 for the home's buyer, Mr. Edward Knapp. This is for a house that was first offered in the Spring of 1918. If the blueprints were individually drafted for every Magnolia, it would be very easy for Sears to offer the Magnolia in later years. Photo is is copyright 2013 Lisa Tabor and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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house house price

I've taken this price sheet (1921 catalog) and sliced the horizontal info into two segments so the print won't be so tiny. The hot water heating plant alone would add $921 to the price. Add in some plumbing ($622) and oil shades ($106) and that's another $738. In 1922, the Magnolia was offered for $5,849. That, plus the heat, plumbing and shades takes you to $7,498.

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Here's your chance to peak in the windows of the Magnolia! (Image is from the Ladies' Home Journal, 2/1911.)

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Reception Hall

As mentioned, everything in this house is picture-perfect. Every room is gorgeous and well-appointed and beautifully decorated. The entry hall is flanked by french doors leading to the living room (right) and dining room (left). The oak floors were replaced several years prior. Pulling off a floor vent, I found four layers: The original diagonal planking (subfloor), original tongue and groove oak floors, a layer of 3/8" plywood and it was topped with tongue and groove white oak floors. That's more than 2" of solid flooring. This house could double as a bomb shelter.

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The fan lite over the front door has lead muntins, not wooden, but they're probably original. The catalog image for the Magnolia shows wooden muntins (all four years), and yet the Magnolias in Canton, Ohio and Lincoln, Nebraska have the lead muntins. Was this an optional upgrade? Or a clue to when it was built? I'd love to know!

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Living Room

The living room fireplace doesn't match the fireplace mantel shown in the catalog, and yet it's a perfect match to the mantel shown in the pictures of the Magnolia in Lincoln, Nebraska.

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Close-up on the fireplace. The marble (surrounding the opening) was added. The hearth is also marble and not original. When built, it had a brick hearth and brick flanking the opening.

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living room view

These french doors lead to a spacious sunporch. Note the many sconces.

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Detail of the "ingleneuk" (or "inglenook") as we Americans are wont to say). Cozy, practical AND historic!

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house living room

As mentioned earlier, every corner of this house looks like something out of glossy magazine. The french doors and hardware are either original or an accurate reproduction.

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beautiful LF

Another view of the Magnolia's living room.

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fake transom

A common feature found throughout the Magnolia is what I call, "the fake transom." I've never seen anything like this in any other Sears House. At first blush, you'd think this was a transom that had been filled in, but in fact, the house was built this way by design.

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A view from the living room into the foyer and dining room.

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Dining Room

There are a lot of windows in this dining room. In fact, I had a time getting the lighting right.

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Wayne Ringer admires

Hubby admires the beautiful windows in the dining room. God bless the folks who restored this house several years ago - they saved the original wooden windows!

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dining room

Close-up of the intricate moldings and millwork.

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chance to peak in the windows

A view from the dining room.

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A view from the landing. When built, those spindles were stained with varnish to match the banister.

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In the floorplan, a pair of french doors lead out to a small balcony on the home's rear. It seems likely this house was built with the windows in place of the french doors.

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Laundry

The original door to the third floor (attic) was in the home's main hallway, but was moved around the corner to the small hallway that leads to the family bathroom. This was another very smart move, as it took out a landing and a tight 90-degree turn on that narrow attic staircase. Shown above is the doorway to the linen closet (next to the family bathroom). In the 1950s, a small shower stall was added to the bathroom, and that took out 90% of the depth in this linen closet, leaving only the small space you see above. This was turned into a laundry chute , which is also a thoughtful design. If you study the floorplan (shown further down), this all becomes clear.

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The floorplan shows these built-in cabinets in the master bedroom dressing room. Inside these cabinets are a "special shelf" for hats. In 1924 (or 25), there was a small cast-iron pedestal sink in the corner.

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house on sink on dressing room

The walls on the dressing room have this faux subway tile. In fact, it's plaster that's been etched with lines and topped with a piece of trim. This was commonly used in bathrooms of the late 1910s and early 20s. I'm not sure why they used it in the dressing area.

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much discussed sink

If you look at the floorplan, you'll see that this corner of the dressing room shows a small sink. Seems like an odd spot for a sink! To the left of the picture, you'll see door trim, which is the right edge of the door that leads out to the second-floor balcony (on the front). Curious placement!

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In the other dressing room

If you had x-ray vision, you could look through this wall (shown above) and see the exact same sink on the other side of the wall. With all the plumbing (supply lines and drain) just inside the wall, adding another sink on the other side was pretty easy. This sink (shown above) is underneath one of the little windows that flanks the second-floor balcony on the home's front. It sits inside a spacious walk-in closet in the other front bedroom. This sink has been added, and the medicine chest shown here was originally on the OTHER side of the wall. It was moved here for reasons I can't begin to understand.

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Attic is

As per the original floor plan, there is a permanent staircase to the attic, behind a door off the second-floor hallway. This attic was finished off and (like the rest of the house) is in beautiful condition. This dormer window is on the front of the house, and you can see a piece of the porch balcony (on the roof) through the small window.

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kitchen

The original kitchen stopped at the end of that tall cabinet in the right of the picture. The entire 40-foot expanse of the back of the Magnolia was enlarged by about 10-feet, which dramatically increased the floor space of the kitchen. In addition. the interior staircase (which lead from the kitchen to the servant's quarters) was also removed which added about four feet of width to the Magnolia's kitchen.

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more kitchen

The kitchen, as seen from the Butler's pantry.

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den fireplace

The den in the Magnolia was a mere eight feet deep. Pretty miserable. The 40-foot wide addition across the back of the Magnolia opened up the den quite a bit, too. The original fireplace was replaced with a new masonry fireplace which was added on to the existing firebox. Notice the depth of the wall beside the fireplace.

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butler pantry original

Incredibly, the butler's pantry is mostly original.

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Butler Pantry 2

Base cabinets in the butler's pantry.

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FP2

Study this floorplan for a bit and you'll soon figure out all the changes that were made to the West Virginia Magnolia.

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two

The second floor is pretty darn busy. Check out the sink in the dressing room and you'll see how easy it'd be add another sink to the closet in the other front bedroom.

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finding marked lumber in the basement wasnt easy. most of it was covered. dark with coal dust.

Finding marked lumber in the basement proved a bit difficult. Most of the basement was finished, and there were only a few places were framing members were accessible, such as this space above the old coal bin. Secondly, the basement has a ceiling height of nine feet, so we were looking way over our heads! Looking at this piece, I thought I saw a number, but the wood was so dark it was tough to be sure. Do you see the number?

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Wiped it down

The homeowner had two great ideas. One, he fetched us a small step ladder so we could get a little closer to the lumber. He also suggested we take a rag and wipe off the coal dust. Voilà! Now we're trying to figure out if that's a "C" or a "G"! We know that the Magnolia was also offered as a "plan," so finding these marked beams was a nice affirmation that this was "the whole kit and caboodle".

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Attic markings

In the knee walls of the attic, I also spotted a mark!

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attic markings close

It appears to say "A 155."

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Maggy in the snow

The Magnolia's owner sent me a photo of his beautiful house, taken last year during a West Virginia snow storm. It's almost too perfect to be real. For my next birthday, I think I'd like a cake done up to look just like this.

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The Magnolia as it appeared in the 1922 catalog.

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Beautiful from every angle.

Many thanks to the homeowner for allowing me to spend two glorious hours at his beautiful home, examining it from top to bottom. If a mother was allowed to have favorites, this would be one of my favorite homes. :)

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Of the eight known Magnolias in the country, three of them were discovered via comments left at this blog. That’s 37% of the Maggies being discovered thanks wholly to the readers (”bird dogs”) reporting on their finds.

So the most important question of the day is, where’s the ninth Magnolia?

Do tell!

To contact Rose, leave a comment below.

To read Part I of this blog, click here.

To read a fascinating story about a 94-year-old man that recalled building a Magnolia in Canton, click here.

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The Sears Magnolia in “The Notebook” (Sheesh!)

July 8th, 2013 Sears Homes 1 comment

Some rumors just never die.

There’s a persistent (and false) rumor making the rounds that beautiful Neo-Classical Revival home featured in “The Notebook,” is a Sears Magnolia.

Nope.

Not even close.

Not even close.

Let’s go right to the photos.

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Black River

The house featured in "The Notebook" is the Black River Plantation House in Georgetown County (South Carolina). It is a beauty, but it's not a Sears House. And yes, I'm 100% certain. :) The photo above is from the South Carolina Department of Archives and History (Black River Plantation House, front elevation).

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Benson

Here's the real deal: A Sears Magnolia in Benson, NC.

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Comparison

Now let's compare them side-by-side. At first glance, both homes have four walls, a roof, two-story columns and some windows. But that's where it stops. The Black River Plantation (on the left) has that massive front-gable atop that porch. The window arrangement on the non-Magnolia house is also quite different. And Black River Plantation is much larger than the Sears Magnolia. And look at how tall the Black River Plantation is! Notice how much space exists between those second-floor windows and the roofline. Those are important details. If you still think these houses are identical, drop me a note and I'll send some biscuits for your seeing-eye dog. The photo on the left is from the South Carolina Department of Archives and History (Black River Plantation House, front elevation).

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Heres a catalog picture of the Sears Magnolia (1920).

Here's a catalog picture of the Sears Magnolia (1920).

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Heres the authenticated Magnolia in Benson, NC.

Here's the authenticated Magnolia in Benson, NC.

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Heres a color photo of the Black River Plantation.

Here's a color photo of the Black River Plantation. Again, notice how much space there is between the first and second floors, and the second and third floors. It is a stunningly beautiful house, isn't it? (Photo is copyright 2008 Brandon Coffey and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Oh my!

Oh my! The Black River Plantation doesn't look like this, does it?

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Where did this nutty rumor get started? Apparently, here (see below). In 1994, the Black River Plantation was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Note the highlighted text below.

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In 1994,

The author wrote that it's possible that Waddell "utilized one of these sources" (kit homes or plan book home). Well, I can't rule out plan books, but I can rule out "kit house." The Black River Plantation is most assuredly not a kit house. Of that, I am sure. At least they admitted that it was definitely NOT a kit home from Montgomery Ward.

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And don’t get me started on the “Honor Built Homes marketed…during the late 19th Century…”

Whew boy!

In all fairness, not as much was known then (in 1994) as is known now about Sears kit homes. However, this pernicious rumor - that the house featured in The Notebook is a Sears Magnolia - seems to have taken on a life of its own.

On a happier note, look at some pictures of real Magnolias here.

And if you know of any REAL Magnolias, please leave a comment.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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One of the Prettiest Sears Homes I Ever Did See…

June 6th, 2013 Sears Homes 4 comments

Last year in early June, I drove all through Charlotte, NC and despite spending more than three hours in that city, I found only a handful of kit homes.

And then yesterday, Andrew Mutch sent me a link to this kit house in Charlotte that’s currently for sale, and not only is it a Sears House, but it’s a Corona!

The Corona was described as a “True Bungalow” and that may be the most accurate description that ever appeared in the Sears Modern Homes catalog. It was a classic Arts & Crafts bungalow, and was full of quirky, unique and stunning features that would warm the cockles of any bungalow lover’s heart.

Sometime in Fall 2013, I’ll be in the Charlotte area (again) and I’d love to see this house “in the flesh.” Plus, the presence of this house tells me that despite spending three hours in Charlotte NC, I must have missed the “sweet spot” of kit homes.

Many thanks to Sharon Yoxsimer (Realtor in Charlotte, NC) for giving me permission to use these photos at my website. To visit Sharon’s website, click here.

And unspeakable thanks to the home’s owners who have done such a stellar job of keeping their home in original condition. The photos below tell a story of a painstaking, thorough and breath-taking restoration. This home is a beauty!

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

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The Corona was one of my favorites. It truly was a classic bungalow.

The Corona was one of my favorites. It truly was a classic bungalow.

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Corona

Notice the beamed ceilings in the living room and dining room (shown here by dotted lines). In the living room, there were built-in bookcases with leaded glass doors flanking the fireplace. The kitchen had a breakfast nook (two benches and table).

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It was a very spacious house, too!

The original floorplan provided for five bedrooms, three upstairs and two down.

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Corona

The distinctive features of the Corona are that cross-gabled front porch roof and the gabled dormer that is actually centered squarely on the primary roof. Also note the lites (small panes of glass) over the living room window. These are also present on the dining room window. (Photo is copyright 2013 Sharon Yoxsimer and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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An image from the 1921 catalog shows that centered dormer.

The 1921 catalog shows that centered dormer, and the lites over the living room window.

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Beautiful front porch

The front porch looks like something out of a magazine. I'd love to know where the rock in those columns came from. Are they native stone? And check out the vintage fixtures. (Photo is copyright 2013 Sharon Yoxsimer and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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licing room

Lots of built-ins in the dining room, too. Notice the book-case colonnades that separate the living room from the dining room. The Corona also offered solid oak wainscoting for the dining room, topped with plate rail. What a fine home! (Photo is copyright 2013 Sharon Yoxsimer and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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A view of the fireplace shows the built-in bookcases. (Photo is copyright 2013 Sharon Yoxsimer and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Room

I'm not sure which room this in, and I doubt that this is an original fireplace, but it sure is a beauty! This particular mantel and tiled-surround is too fancy for your typical Sears House, but it fits right in with the "True Bungalow Effect." (Photo is copyright 2013 Sharon Yoxsimer and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Another fireplace thats just too nice for a little kit house, but

Another fireplace that's just too nice for a little kit house, but as with the other, it is beautiful and fits right in. Only a die-hard purist such as myself would figure out that it's not original. And in fact, it is a beautiful match to the surrounding wainscoting. (Photo is copyright 2013 Sharon Yoxsimer and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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And if you look real close at the inlaid wood ove the mantel, youll see a Sears Solace.

And if you look real close at the inlaid wood over the mantel, you'll see a Sears Solace.

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This is the kitchen but it's been significantly enlarged. When built, the Corona had a kitchen that was a mere 8 feet by 13 feet. That's pretty tiny. (Photo is copyright 2013 Sharon Yoxsimer and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Kitchens been updated.

Older kitchens are notoriously dark but this space looks like it's awash in light. I'd love to know how they created all this extra space! (Photo is copyright 2013 Sharon Yoxsimer and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Before the remodel, the kitchen probably looked a lot like this.

Before the remodel, the kitchen probably looked a lot like this.

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This appears to be the first-floor bathroom, complete with a water-saver toilet and Kohler Memoirs sink. Nice touches, and the claw-foot tub was in vogue when this house was built. (Photo is copyright 2013 Sharon Yoxsimer and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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The original Corona bathroom (as seen in the 1918 catalog) would have looked something like this.

The original Corona bathroom (1918 catalog) would have looked something like this.

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Also in the 1918 catalog is a picture of the homeowners little girl, tending to Dollies croupy cough, by running lots of hot water in the dual-faucet sink. This was a big breakthrough in modern American housing, to have not only running water, but steamy hot water on tap! The old folks stories of taking a hot tub bath in the kitchen every Saturday night was based on the fact that a hot water resevoir was attached to the side of the old cast-iron cook stove.

Also in the 1918 catalog is a picture of the homeowner's little girl, tending to Dollie's croupy cough, by running hot water in the sink. This was a big breakthrough in "modern American housing," to have not only running water, but steamy hot water on tap! I love this picture, but I'm not sure if the little Mommy is dealing with Dollie's upper respiratory infection or maybe Dollie said a bad word and she's getting her mouth washed out with soap. Given Dollie's body language and facial expression, plus the bar of soap nearby, I'd say she got caught saying "the mother of all bad words."

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house in Corona

The Corona in Charlotte has two full bathrooms. This appears to be a second-floor bathroom, tucked in neatly under the eaves. Notice the hexagon tile with the black border, and the subway tile on the walls. Nice touches. The bathroom sink and faucets are a nice reporduction, but they're actually pre-Corona (1916). However, I can forgive that little detail. :) (Photo is copyright 2013 Sharon Yoxsimer and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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bathroom

I'm not sure where this bathroom is located, but it may be another angle of the second-floor bathroom shown in the picture above. Very nicely done. (Photo is copyright 2013 Sharon Yoxsimer and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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In all my travels, I have never seen a Sears kit home with a transom on an interior door, so I suspect these were added, but they are very practical and in this case, beautifully done and a nice addition.

In all my travels, I have never seen a Sears kit home with a transom on an interior door, so I suspect these were added, but they are very practical and in this case, beautifully done and a good-looking addition. (Photo is copyright 2013 Sharon Yoxsimer and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Do you love Sears Homes? Come join us on Facebook!

To read more about the Corona, click here.

To read about the other kit homes I found in Charlotte, NC, tap here.

BTW, I was kidding about that “Sears Solace” on the mantel top.  :)

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Ardara: Contrast to the Commonplace

June 4th, 2012 Sears Homes 7 comments

After my talk in Raleigh (May 19th), a woman named Lydia introduced herself to me (and purchased several of my books!). She said that she had family members living in a fine Sears House in Chapel Hill.

That was puzzling, because I had driven through Chapel Hill the day before, and I had only seen Aladdin kit homes, no Sears.

However, while in Chapel Hill, I’d become flustered by the vast amounts of pedestrian traffic (and non-thinking students stepping off curbs right in front of vehicles) and the trees: Massive, leafy, bushy, house-obstructing trees.

Within 30 minutes of arriving into Chapel Hill, I abandoned my search and returned to my hotel in Raleigh.

Had I missed a Sears House in Chapel Hill? It was a distinct possibility.

Soon after I arrived back home to Norfolk, Lydia contacted me and emailed a photo of this fine Sears House in Chapel Hill.

The photo she emailed was a beautiful Sears Ardara.

I’ve not seen many Ardaras in my travels. In fact, I’ve only seen four: One in Zanesville, Ohio, two in Elgin, Illinois and one in Crystal Lake, Illinois. And soon, I hope to visit this Ardara in Chapel Hill!  :)

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To read about Buster Keaton’s kit house, click here.

The Ardara first appeared in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

The Ardara first appeared in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

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In both the 1921 and 1928 catalogs, it was offered with and without the attached garage.

In both the 1921 and 1928 catalogs, it was offered with and without the attached garage. This is from the 1928 catalog, and if you compare it with the image above, you'll see the price actually had dropped by 1928.

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This is one of my favorite descriptions (taken from the 1928 catalog). The Ardara is "notable for its contrast to the commonplace...pleasingly combines Oriental and Occidental architecture." And the garage has "the same treatment as the house." Awesome!

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Notice that it has a Music Room. In the late 1920s, this could have a couple meanings.

Notice that it has a "Music Room." In the 1921 version, this room was identified as a den. In 1928, this could have a couple meanings. The phonograph and the radio were all the rage in the late 1920s, and in some of these old floorplans, you'll see this identified as a "radio room," or "space for phonograph." Or it might have been a designated space for the family piano. In this time period, it was expected that most people would own a piano.

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The Sears Ardara in Chapel Hill. What a beauty!  This photo is copyright 2012 Paige Warren and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.

The Sears Ardara in Chapel Hill. What a beauty! Note the oversized cornice returns. This is one (of many) eye-catching features on this Colonial-style house. (This photo is copyright 2012 Paige Warren and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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And heres a picture of the same Ardara in the late 1920s, soon after it was built.

And here's a picture of the same Ardara in the 1920s, soon after it was built. The small gable (at the top of the roof) was original to the house, and the dormer was added in the 1950s. (This photo is courtesy of the Wade family and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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The Ardara, soon after it came into the Warren family (February 1944). he in 1944.

The Ardara, soon after it came into the Wade family (February 1944). The dormer (shown in the contemporary photo above) was added in the 1950s to create living space on the second floor. (This photo is courtesy of the Wade family and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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The Ardara

The Ardara, as seen in the 1921 catalog.

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An Ardara in Crystal Lake, IL.

An Ardara in Crystal Lake, IL.

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A very sad Ardara in Elgin, IL. (This photo was taken in 2003.)

A very sad Ardara in Elgin, IL. (This photo was taken in 2003.)

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To learn more about what I found in Chapel Hill, click here.

Look at the abundance of Sears Homes I found in Raleigh, NC.

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Alhambras in Lavender

February 10th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

On my recent trip to South Carolina, I found this awesome Alhambra lurking on a not-so-busy road in Gaffney. I’ve seen a lot of Sears Alhambras in my time, but this was far and away one of the prettiest. My home in Norfolk is pink, so anyone willing to paint their house lavender has my heart-felt admiration. And it actually looks quite lovely.

No time today for more words. Enjoy the pretty pictures.

Sears Alhambra from the 1924 catalog

Sears Alhambra from the 1924 catalog

Sears Alhambra, close-up

Sears Alhambra, close-up

Sears Alhambra in Gaffney

Sears Alhambra in Gaffney

To learn more about Sears homes, click here.

To contact Rose, leave a comment below.

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Sears Homes in Raleigh!

October 27th, 2010 Sears Homes 2 comments

When people think of Sears Homes, they think of Illinois or maybe the Midwest, but I’ve found many Sears Homes in the south!  In fact, I’ve found hundreds in the Hampton Roads area (Southeastern Virginia). Yes, hundreds.

Recently, I went to Raleigh and drove around to look for Sears Homes.  The ones I found were quite beautiful!

The first one (see pictures below) is a Sears Alhambra. The next one is either a Wardway Venice (a kit home from Montgomery Ward) or a Sears Winona. Hard to know for sure.

However, I am certain that they’re in unusually beautiful condition and a real treat to behold! And if they’re like most of the Sears Homes I find, the homeowners have no idea that they’re living in a historically significant house.

Buy Rose and Dale’s new book here.

Sears Alhambra from 1923 Modern Homes catalog

Sears Alhambra from 1923 Modern Homes catalog

Sears Alhambra in Raleigh!

Sears Alhambra in Raleigh!

Sears Walton

Sears Walton

Sears Walton, but if only I knew where! Its somewhere near downtown Raleigh.

Sears Walton, but if only I knew where! It's somewhere near downtown Raleigh.

Sears Crafton from the 1916 Modern Homes catalog.

The Wardway Venice

Wardway Venice or Sears Winona? (Raleigh, NC)

And I saved the best for last: The Sears Magnolia is in Benson, NC. There are only six known Magnolias in the country, so finding one in Benson was quite a thrill!

maggy_benson_nc

Original catalog image from 1922 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Original catalog image from 1922 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Read another article about the Sears Magnolia  in nearby Benson, NC here.

Is That a Sears Magnolia? Probably Not.

October 16th, 2010 Sears Homes No comments

My email inbox is always full of inquiries from folks who think they’ve found a Sears Magnolia right in their neighborhood. Unfortunately 99.9% of the time, they’re wrong.

The Sears Magnolia was purposefully patterned after a popular housing style, The Southern Colonial. Here in Hampton Roads, there’s a Southern Colonial Revival in many of our turn-of-the-century neighborhoods. However, the Sears Magnolia - the real deal - has some unique features that’ll help differentiate from other homes of that period.

Below are some images from the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog, showing details around the roof and front porch. Take a moment and really study these images and you’ll see some of the unique architectural features. And if you want to see a real Sears Magnolia, click here and here and here.

Sears Magnolia from the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Magnolia from the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Magnolia

Sears Magnolia - first story floor plan.

Details on Sears Magnolias front porch

Details on Sears Magnolia's front porch. Notice the distinctive roof lines and unique details around the front porch. At its core, the Sears Magnolia is a classic foursquare with delusions of grandeur.

Maggy in Benson, NC

Maggy in Benson, NC.

To read more about Sears Homes, click here.

The “Notebook” House (Nicholas Sparks) vs. The Sears Magnolia

September 28th, 2010 Sears Homes No comments

There’s a rumor circulating on the web that the house featured in the movie, “The Notebook,” is a Sears Magnolia. This is not correct. I repeat, this is NOT correct. For those who are interested in a comparison, look at the house featured in the movie (click here) and compare it to the original catalog picture shown below.

These houses (the real Sears Magnolia and the not-a-sears-house shown in that link above) are radically different - IN THE DETAILS - and that’s where you must look. Just because they’re both a two-story white house with a hip roof and big columns, that’s not enough.

A good place to start comparing houses is the roofline. The porch roof over the real Magnolia is a very low hip roof. The porch roof over The Notebook House is a massive gabled roof with a half-round window within its gable. Also, the proportions are wrong. The Sears Magnolia is 2,940 square feet. The Notebook house is probably double that.

These details really do matter.

There are so many delightful things about being so deeply immersed in this avocation of Sears Homes, but trying to teach people how to pay attention to architectural details before deciding that a similar looking house is a Sears House is pretty unfun. There are about 70,000 Sears homes in the country. Judging from my mail, about 3.4 million people THINK they have a Sears House!

The real Sears Magnolia (catalog), and a picture of the Magnolia in Benson, North Carolina (below).

To learn more about how to identify a Sears Home, click here.

maggy_benson_nc

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The Magnificent Magnolia in North Carolina!

September 22nd, 2010 Sears Homes 1 comment

Thanks to a FOSH (Friend of Sears Homes), I found the 5th known Sears Magnolia in the country. Joy sent me a link last week to a story on a Sears Home just outside of Raleigh. When I clicked on the link, I had no idea the show would be featuring a Sears Magnolia - the Creme de la creme of Sears Homes!

The happy owners of the Magnolia allowed me to tour the inside of the house, where I found proof that it was indeed a Sears Magnolia (as if there were any doubt). Click on this link to read more about that.

This was the second Magnolia that I’ve been inside. The first was in Canton, Ohio. In 2002, PBS’s History Detectives did a segment on Sears Homes, and invited me to be part of the program.

There are also Sears Magnolias in Indiana, Pennsylvania and Alabama.

To see more pictures of Sears Homes in Raleigh, click here.

maggy_benson_nc

Original catalog image from 1922 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Original catalog image from 1922 Sears Modern Homes catalog