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Posts Tagged ‘sears homes in oklahoma’

Rachel and Her “Roberts”

May 9th, 2012 Sears Homes 1 comment

My friend Rachel just loves searching for kit homes. And she’s got a real eye for it, too. In addition to Sears kit homes, Rachel has spotted kit homes from many of the other kit home companies, too, such as Gordon Van Tine, Lewis Manufacturing, Harris Brothers, Aladdin, and more.

However, there’s one model of house that seems to haunt Rachel. Seems like, wherever Rachel goes, she finds a Gordon Van Tine “Roberts” kit home. In my eleven-year career, I’ve probably seen two dozen “Roberts.” In the three years I’ve known Rachel, I’d say she’s see many more than that.

Pretty darn impressive.

Gordon Van Tine was a company that - like Sears - sold kit homes through mail order. According to Dale Patrick Wolicki, Gordon Van Tine sold about 50,000 kit homes during their time in the kit home business (about 1910 - early 1940s). The “Roberts” (Model 535) was one of their more popular houses. Apparently, in Oklahoma (where Rachel lives), it was wildly popular.

To learn more about Gordon Van Tine, visit Dale’s most excellent website.

To buy the book that Dale and Rose spent five years writing, click here.

If you live in Oklahoma and would like to ask Rachel a question about kit homes in the area, please leave a comment below!

The GVT Roberts (535) was one of their most popular houses.

The GVT Roberts (535) was one of Gordon Van Tine's most popular houses.

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And some peoplee just have a knack for finding them! Heres one Rachel found in Depew, Oklahoma.

And some people just have a knack for finding them! Here's one Rachel found in Depew, Oklahoma. (Photo is copyright 2011 Rachel Shoemaker and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Rachel found this one in Muskogee, Oklahoma.

Rachel found this one in Muskogee, Oklahoma. (Photo is copyright 2011 Rachel Shoemaker and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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This is a vintage photo (about 1920) of a GVT Roberts in Tulsa.

This is a vintage photo (about 1920) of a GVT Roberts in Tulsa.

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And this beauty is in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Im starting to wonder if theres any city in Oklahoma that Rachel has *not* found a Roberts in!!

And this beauty is in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. I'm starting to wonder if there's any city in Oklahoma that Rachel has *not* found a Roberts in!! (Photo is copyright 2011 Rachel Shoemaker and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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This sweet thing is in Charleston, WV.

This sweet thing is in Charleston, WV.

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And one in my hometown, Portsmouth, Virginia.

And one in my hometown, Portsmouth, Virginia.

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A massive and beautiful Roberts in Front Royal, VA.

A massive and beautiful Roberts in Front Royal, VA.

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One of my favorites in Hampton, Virginia.

One of my favorites in Hampton, Virginia.

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Ocean View

A girl and her dog sit in front of this Roberts in Ocean View (Norfolk).

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GVT 1916

The "Roberts" was featured on the cover of the 1916 catalog. Image is copyright 2008 Dale Wolicki and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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To learn more about Gordon Van Tine, click here.

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An Abundance of Kit Homes in Tulsa (Updated!)

July 6th, 2011 Sears Homes 17 comments

Sears Homes in Tulsa?

That was my first thought when Rachel Shoemaker of Tulsa contacted me. She said that she thought there were several homes in her town.

Now if she’d been writing from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan or Ohio, I wouldn’t have been so surprised.

But Tulsa?

In the last 10 years, I’ve received probably 5,000 emails and I’ve never heard much from the folks in Oklahoma. In fact, Rebecca Hunter’s wonderful book, “Putting Sears Homes on the Map” lists states with known Sears Homes. Rebecca went through thousands of pages of old catalogs, noting all the testimonials from folks, and then compiled that info into one easy-to-use book. There are two states that have no kit homes listed: Oklahoma and Oregon.

Besides, Oklahoma didn’t become a state until 1907. They were still fighting off Injuns and would not have had time to read a 75-page instruction book on how to build a kit that contained 12,000 pieces of house. (I’ve watched 106 episodes of Gunsmoke. I know about this stuff.)

Rachel sent me a couple photos and I was impressed. And then Sunday night (July 3), I stayed up way too late driving the streets of Tulsa via Google Maps, and I found two more kit homes.

If you know the address of a kit home in Oklahoma, please leave a comment below!

Below is a compilation of what Rachel has found  (with a little help from me). All photos of extant homes are copyright 2011 Rachel Shoemaker and can not be reproduced without written permission.  Photo of Wardway Modern Home #105 is copyright 2010 Dale Wolicki.

And as an added note, if you enjoy these pictures, please leave a comment below for Rachel, as she has invested countless hours of her own time and money researching and photographing these houses.

This is an impressive array of kit homes, and this collection should be preserved and protected, and further research should be done. Don’t let this amazing chapter of Tulsa’s history fall back into the shadows of lost memories and forgotten treasures.

Westly

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

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.

Unfortunately, it's had a lot of "improvements" but this Westly in Tulsa is still standing.

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The Arlington was a beautiful and spacious bungalow. This image is from the 1919 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Arlington

Tulsa's Arlington is not a spot-on match, but it's pretty darn close. The front porch was truncated to allow for placement on a narrow lot. This was a very common "customization."

One distinguising feature of the Arlington is this crazy array of windows on the staircase side. There are a whole lot of windows going on here.

One distinguising feature of the Arlington is this crazy array of windows on the staircase side. There are a whole lot of windows going on here.

Floor plan of the first floor shows detail

Room arrangement of the first floor shows what a grandiose house this was. Note the spacious rooms and the maid's quarters!

Detail of the Arlingtons roof, which is also quite distinctive

Detail of the Arlington's roof, which is also quite distinctive

And the house in Tulsa is a perfect match.

And the house in Tulsa is a very good match. About 30-50% of Sears Homes were customized when built, and this Arlington has a few minor changes (such as the truncated porch) but those are fairly inconsequential. I'd say that this house is almost certainly a Sears Arlington.

Said to be the first Sears Home in Oklahoma, this Saratoga is in wonderful condition.

Said to be the first Sears Home in Oklahoma, this Saratoga is in wonderful condition.

The Saratoga, as seen in the 1921 Sears catalog.

The Saratoga, as seen in the 1921 Sears catalog.

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And from the 1916 catalog. Note the big price difference between 1921 and 1916. "The War to End All Wars" created a housing shortage and hyperinflation in the cost of building materials.

The Avondale was built a

The Avondale was built at the Illinois State Fair (late 1910s) and furnished with items from the Sears Roebuck catalog. This post card shows the Avondale at the State Fair. Note the stained class windows on the front and flanking the fireplace. Nice house, and popular too.

Sears Avondale in Chelsea, OK. Was this the first Sears House in Oklahoma? Itll be fun to find out!

Sears Avondale in Chelsea, OK. Was this the first Sears House in Oklahoma? It'll be fun to find out! This picture shows the mirror image of the house above. Landscaping prevented taking a shot from the same side (as shown above).

Woodland

Woodland as seen in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Sears

This view of the Woodland shows those two windows flanking the front door, and it's also a good shot of that itty bitty window inside the dormer on the third floor. The closet window (small window between the two second floor windows) is gone, probably hidden underneath the 1940s shingle-type siding. It's very common to see these little closet windows covered over when the substitute sidings go up.

Sad

Sad little Woodland, all dressed down and waiting to die.

Close-up of porch column detail

Close-up of porch column detail

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Those unique porch columns, together with the windows flanking the front door suggest this is a Sears Woodland.

Aladdin was another kit home company, but they were actually bigger than Sears. Sears stopped selling kit homes in 1940, but Aladdin continued on until 1981. Sears sold about 70,000 homes and Aladdin sold more than 75,000.

Aladdin was another kit home company, but they were actually bigger than Sears. Sears stopped selling kit homes in 1940, but Aladdin continued on until 1981. Sears sold about 70,000 homes and Aladdin (based in Bay City, Michigan) sold more than 75,000. The Aladdin Sunshine (shown above) was a fairly popular house for Aladdin.

A near perfect Aladdin Sunshine in Tulsa.

A nice little Aladdin Sunshine in Tulsa.

One of the biggest and best Aladdin kit homes was the Shadowlawn.

One of the biggest and best Aladdin kit homes was the Shadowlawn.

Al

Is it an Aladdin Shadowlawn? Tough to say without an interior inspection, but it sure is a nice match, and even has the porte cochere (carport). It's a real beauty.

The Shadowlawns living room, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

The Shadowlawn's living room, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

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. Gordon Van Tine (Davenport, Iowa) probably sold about 50,000 kit homes. The "Roberts" (shown above) was a very popular house for GVT. Thanks to Dale Wolicki for the numbers on Aladdin and GVT.

Gordon Van Tine

Although the front porch has been altered a bit and the side porches have been closed in, it's still likely that this is a Gordon Van Tine "Roberts."

Perhaps my favorite find in Tulsa was this GVT 712 (as seen in the 1921 catalog).

Perhaps my favorite find in Tulsa was this GVT 712 (as seen in the 1921 catalog).

And here it is, in the flesh. A real live GVT #712 in Tulsa. This is not a very common house, and Ive only seen one other (in Shipman, IL).

And here it is, in the flesh. A real live GVT #712 in Tulsa. This is not a very common house, and I've only seen one other (in Shipman, IL).

The Hudson was offered in the

The Hudson was offered in the late 1920s and early 30s.

Here is Tulsas Hudson.

Rachel has spent some quality time sitting in front of this house and studying the details. She feels strongly that this is a GVT Hudson. I have a few niggling doubts, but it certainly bears further investigation. An interior inspection would settle the question once and for all. Either way, this house proves what makes identification challenging.

Its

It's the details around the front porch that trouble me. The Hudson does not have a transom, while this house does. The Hudson does not have exterior lights flanking the door, and the ornamentation around the door is more grandiose on the Tulsa house (compared to the GVT).

Montgomery Ward also sold kit homes, but they can be tough to find, especially in land as far south as Tulsa! Based on some educated guessing, fewer than 25,000 Wardway Homes were built. In Tulsa, we found Modern Home #105. It’s a modest little house, but it’s also a distinctive house with several eye-catching features. And perhaps best of all, “Farmers all over the country are giving this comfortable home the preference.”

To learn more about Wardway Homes, click here.

Notice the paired box windows on the right side of this floorplan. This is a very distinctive feature of #105. This catalog image shows a vestibule, but that feature disappeared in future catalogs.

Tulsa

Montgomery Ward kit house #105 in Tulsa. Note the pair of box windows and the steeply pitched roof.

Here's a #105 from the same side. This house (shown for comparison) is in North Belle Vernon, PA. Photo is courtesy of Dale Wolicki and can not be reproduced without written permission.

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According to "Many More Historic Homes in Tulsa" (by John Brooks Walton - 2003), there was a Sears Corona in Tulsa which was torn down years ago. Walton states that this house was located at 618 S. Delaware in Tulsa. It's a real shame that this house was torn down, as this was one of Sears finest homes, and it was also one of their more spacious homes. As the heading states on this 1919 catalog page, it was a classic early 20th Century American bungalow. If the countless hours of work invested in this one single blog can accomplish ONE thing, perhaps it can be this: Maybe we can halt the destruction of any more irreplaceable, uniquely American and historically significant kit homes in Tulsa.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

To read about the first Sears Home in Oklahoma, click here.

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Oklahoma’s First Sears Kit Home: The Saratoga

July 3rd, 2011 Sears Homes 6 comments

Updated! There’s now a blog filled with the Sears Homes of Tulsa! Click here to see two dozen photos!

Built in 1912, it’s claimed that this Sears Saratoga was the very first Sears kit home in the state of Oklahoma. And this was a mere five years after Oklahoma became our 46th state. According to a nomination form for National Register of Historic places, this Saratoga is “architecturally significant” because it was “the first Sears and Roebuck precut home to be constructed in Oklahoma, (2) it was one of the first to be built west of the Mississippi River, and (3) it is one of the best examples of the Sears Modern Home Number 146 in the United States.”

It’s entirely plausible that this house in Chelsea, Oklahoma was the first Sears kit home in Oklahoma. However, Sears didn’t start offering their pre-cut homes until somewhere in 1914 or 1915. Rebecca Hunter and I are still debating the precise date. :)  Prior to 1914/1915, Sears kit homes were not “precut.” In other words, sufficient lumber arrived to build your new house, but each and every piece had to be carefully cut to fit.

Sears started offering kit homes in 1908, with a 44-page catalog that offered 22 designs. (The nominating form also states that Sears started selling pre-cut houses in 1909. That’s okay. This form was filed in 1981, and there was a lot of errant info floating around.)

The Saratoga in Chelsea, Oklahoma was built by Joe Hogue, a cattleman. (Is that like a really old cowboy?)  Seems that when Mr. Hogue visited Chicago in 1912, he saw a display of Sears building materials at Sears headquarters, and included in that display were a few “Sears Modern Homes.” He liked the Saratoga (then known as Sears Modern House #108; houses weren’t given names until 1918). The house was shipped to /Chelsea via The St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad.

What’s most remarkable to me is that (as of 1981), the house has remained in the same family since 1912.

Thanks to Rachel Shoemaker for providing all the photos, and sending me a copy of the nominating form. All extant photos are copyright Rachel Shoemaker and can not be reproduced without permission.

Sara

According to The National Register of Historic Places nominating form, this was the first Sears kit home in Oklahoma. It is a beautiful example of a Sears Saratoga.

Said to be the first Sears Home in Oklahoma, this Saratoga is in wonderful condition.

Said to be the first Sears Home in Oklahoma, this Saratoga is in wonderful condition.

The Saratoga, as seen in the 1921 Sears catalog.

The Saratoga, as seen in the 1921 Sears catalog.

Sara

And from the 1916 catalog.

Close-up shows the original planters by the front entry

Close-up shows the original planters by the front entry

And theyre still in place!

And they're still in place!

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Close-up of the Saratoga's side.

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And the house in Chelsea. Nice match!

Close-up of the Saratogas attic window

Close-up of the Saratoga's attic window

Another nice match!

Another nice match!

Rear of the Saratoga.

Rear of the Saratoga.

And the train tracks were nice and close, too!

And the train tracks were nice and close, too!

A close-up of the floor plan shows it was a spacious home.

A close-up of the floor plan shows it was a spacious home. This is from the 1916 catalog, and the 1921 catalog shows an identical house, but with a different price! In 1921, the price had jumped to $3,491.

One feature on the Saratoga that you are NOT going to see on any other Sears house is the placement of this chimney. Its at the peak of the pyramidal hip roof. For the novice homebuilder, this a complicated place for a chimney.

One feature on the Saratoga that you are NOT going to see on any other Sears house is the placement of this chimney. It's at the peak of the roof's intersection. For the novice homebuilder, this a complicated place for a chimney.

This is my favorite unique item on the house. The gas meter is next to the sidewalk. In all my travels, I have never seen such a thing.

This is my favorite "unique item" on the house. The gas meter is next to the sidewalk. In all my travels, I have never seen such a thing.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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Wonderful World of Westlys

July 2nd, 2011 Sears Homes 1 comment

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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