Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Sears Homes’

C’mon Realtors…You Can Do Better

April 6th, 2017 Sears Homes 4 comments

For the last few weeks, I’ve been on the hunt for a house in a quiet place with a little bit of land. I’ve been working with a true real estate professional, Tracie Gaskins, who is not only a queen among real estate agents, but an angel let down from heaven. When you read my forthcoming book (to be published in 2021 - maybe), you’ll learn more about this wonderful woman and how she has kept me alive through the worst hard times.

Sadly, Tracie the Realtor is not the norm amongst Realtors.

Within the current structure of the MLS system, there is a great need for factual, accurate information, and that’s where too many Realtors show a shocking lack of professionalism, and a pococurante attitude toward factual data on their listings.

Several times, I’ve found egregious mistakes on listings. Earlier this week, I wasted Tracie’s time as we went to see a house that was listed as having more than 1,400 square feet. When we arrived at the house (out in the hinterlands of Suffolk), I remarked, “This is about the size of a Sears Puritan.” (Yes, most of my spatial references are centered around Sears Homes.)

Measuring the small two-story house, I found that it was barely 1,100 square feet. Now, I might have been able to make 1,400+ work, but not 1,100. For my current needs, that’s just too small. The house had two small wings on the first floor. Apparently the listing agent had taken the home’s footprint and doubled it, rather than do some basic math.

About two months ago, I visited an open house that was listed at 2,200 square feet. After a quick walk-through, a friend and I measured the exterior and did some quick math. The house was 1,678 square feet. I spoke to the Realtor at the open house and told her, “This isn’t 2,200 sfla. It’s 1,678. We just measured it.”

Her reply, “No, it’s 2,200 square feet. We have an appraisal and the appraiser measured it out.”

I said, “Look at the rooms. They’re quite small. This is not a big house. It feels like about 1,700 sfla.”

She restated, “An appraiser said it’s 2,200 and that’s the right number.”

I wanted to say, “Honey, I don’t care if Euclid himself did the appraisal. Unless there’s an inter-dimensional portal to another space, it’s 1,678 square feet.”

Realtors are eager to be considered “professional,” but until they learn some basic math and spend a little more time double-checking simple facts, they’re not going to be taken seriously.

If you enjoyed this blog, please share it with others!

Images are courtesy of www.zillow.com.

Contact Tracie through her site.

*

FF

Actually, this lot is 28 by 100 feet. It took me less than 60 seconds to find that information on the assessor's website. If a Realtor lacks the competence and care to fill out a listing form, how can they be trusted with the biggest investment of one's life? There's a big difference between 28 acres and 2,800 square feet.

*

This house is on a small lot.

As is shown below, the lot's depth is 108.5 feet, not acres.

*

ff

Again, 47 seconds online showed that this lot on Cumberland is 108.5 long. The house is not situated on 108.5 acres.

*

fe

Little house. Big Lot.

*

House

I take house hunting very seriously...

*

Just in case you were wondering what a Sears Puritan looks like...This one is in Mounds City, Illinois (the southern most part, near Cairo).

Just in case you were wondering what a Sears Puritan looks like...This one is in Mounds City, Illinois (the southern most part, near Cairo).

*

Images are courtesy of www.zillow.com.

Need a house? Contact Tracie through her site.

*

The Hawthorne Effect

April 6th, 2017 Sears Homes 2 comments

It wasn’t terribly long ago that I noticed that the Avondale and the Hawthorne were the same house, with a lone difference: The attic/second floor on the Hawthorne was enlarged, to create livable space. From what I’ve seen out in the world, the Avondale was a very popular model for Sears, and the Hawthorne was quite rare.

Both the Avondale and the Hawthorne were elegant bungalows with a few extra features, such as stained glass options on the smaller windows near the fireplace, an inglenook in the living room, a large polygon bay at both the dining room and front bedroom and a spacious front porch.

And what is the Hawthorne Effect? It actually has nothing to do with Sears Homes. It’s a theory that subjects being observed will change their behavior when they know they’re being observed, thus skewing the effects of the research.

To learn more about the Avondale, click here.

*

hawthorn

The Sears Hawthorne, from the 1916 catalog.

*

MORE

Interior view of the Sears Avondale.

*

Hawthorne 2

Do those benches qualify as inglenooks? I would say - maybe - but writing these blogs is a lot of work and very time consuming and it's 6:23 am and I'm in no mood to go back and change a lot of text. Speaking of houses, check out that oak slat screen on the right side of this image. Now that's gorgeous.

*

Avondale

Shot of the large bay window in the front bedroom, and my grandfather's dresser, flanked by two sconces. Also check out that sweet light fixture. That's a beauty.

*

Hawthorne in 1916

The Hawthorne, as seen in the 1916 catalog, together with a lady in pain (right side) wearing a corset that's obviously way, way too tight.

*

rebecca

Rebecca Hunter found this Hawthorne in Piper City, north of Champaign, Illinois. Photo is copyright 2012 Rebecca Hunter and may not be used or reprinted without permission. Rebecca's website is www.kithouse.org.

*

hawthorne in mattoon

This Hawthorne in Mattoon, Illinois was supersized. That height of that second floor was doubled to create much more space upstairs. In 2004, I toured the inside of this home and it's a real beauty.

*

hawtorne

Comparison of the floorplans of the Avondale (left) and the Hawthorne (right).

*

hwthorneeee

View of the 2nd floor on the Hawthorne.

*

ham radio

One of my favorite Avondales. It's in Litchfield, Illinois.

*

hawthorne

Rebecca found this modified Avondale in northern Illinois. An entire 2nd floor was added a few years ago. In 2010, Rebecca and I spent several days driving throughout the suburbs of Chicago, and she showed me the many fun kit homes that she'd discovered through her years of research. This was one of the most intriguing.

*

Visit Rebecca Hunter’s website here.

More on Avondales here.

*

That Rascally Haskell

March 30th, 2017 Sears Homes 4 comments

Today, despite all the publicity about recycling, we’re still a very wasteful society, and even more so when it comes to housing.

More than 35% of all debris at modern landfills is construction debris. HGTV is the worst offender, encouraging millions to rip out and destroy old kitchens and baths, while violating  the first commandment of old house ownership: “Thou Shalt Not Destroy Good Old Work.”

A century ago, when Penniman was abandoned, the overwhelming majority of the houses were “knocked down” (disassembled board by board) and moved to another site. Some of the houses were moved intact and whole. Today, the majority of these houses are still alive and well in Norfolk and Williamsburg.

And now, thanks to the foresight of the Whisnant family, we have pictures of the residential area of Penniman, showing these houses within this village, built by DuPont for workers at the shell-loading plant. Below, you’ll see images of the “Haskell,” living in Penniman and later in Norfolk.

To learn more about the Penniman houses in Williamsburg, click here.

Read about the Norfolk Penniman houses here.

Images below are courtesy of the family of Joseph and Ola Whisnant. Thanks to the foresight and generosity of the Whisnant family, we have street views and genre scenes of life in Penniman. Cameras were probably forbidden within the cantonment of Penniman, and visitors would have subjected to a daunting search of their personal belongings, entering and exiting. These images are the only known existing photographs of the residential areas of Penniman.

*

house

Street view of the newly created village of Penniman. The streets are mud and the houses are fresh and new. The village was built in 1918 and abandoned in early 1920. Photos are courtesy of the Whisnant family.

*

Whisnant

Another view of the village. Notice the hydrant to the right with the easy-to-access valve. The model of houses shown in this picture (Cumberland, Florence, Haskell and a piece of the Georgia) eventually landed in Norfolk and Williamsburg, Virginia.

*

whisnant fam

A close-up of the Haskell.

*

others

Thanks to the Norfolk city assessor, we have a picture of this same model, taken in the 1950s. There are more than 50 of these homes - built at DuPont's Penniman - along Major Avenue and Glenroie Avenue in Norfolk.

*

fesef

Comparison of the house in Norfolk (1950s) and the house in Penniman (1918).

*

House

This "Haskell" has been resided with a substitute PVC-type shake, and the belt course on the gable line was moved up closer to the peak. Other than that, it looks much as it did when built in 1918.

*

whisnant

The Haskell, as it appeared in a building catalog in 1920.

*

Thanks to clyde Vir Pilot December 1921

In December 1921, these houses were moved from Penniman to Norfolk via barge. Many thanks to professional photographer Clyde Nordan for cleaning up the images. (Virginian Pilot, December 1921.)

*

To learn more about the Penniman houses in Williamsburg, click here.

Read about the Norfolk Penniman houses here.

*

Moving On With Life

February 4th, 2017 Sears Homes 9 comments

These last few months, I’ve lived in a small rental home in Southeastern Virginia, and most of my possessions are in storage, which is discomfiting. A few weeks ago, I started looking at houses for sale in different cities.

Throughout 2015 and early 2016, I had a recurring nightmare that Wayne had died and I was forced to move into a modest (and dirty) rental house. It was terrifying, and it was one of those dreams that just went on and on and on for what felt like days.

On one occasion, I wrote this in my prayer journal, “Thank God it was just a dream. Wayne is still alive and well. I am so grateful to awaken from that horror, and find myself sleeping in my own bed in my beautiful home, in my soft bed, with my husband asleep beside me.”

In April 2016, that nightmare became my reality. In August 2016, I started looking at rental homes and became physically ill when I viewed my first rental: A dirty, greasy, roach-infested house, with busted asbestos tiles on the floor, bugs scurrying across the broken Formica countertop and a filthy tub outlined in soap scum.

The price was $1,200 a month - the top of my “comfort level.”

I left that house in tears, got in my car and drove around, trying to pray and trying not to cry. Ultimately, I found a sparkling clean rental in a safe area, but it wasn’t cheap.

It’s been nine months since Wayne died and looking at houses to buy has proven to be a tonic for me. Little by little, the lights are starting to come back on in my soul. It’s funny what God can use to breathe life into someone that feels dead and buried deep in the rubble.

Perhaps in my case, it will be nothing fancier than an old house that needs a lot of love and tender care and elbow grease and time (and a little money) to be restored to its former grandeur and original beauty. Maybe saving an old house will be the very thing that saves me.

*

Rosemary

When I look at a house, I really LOOK at a house. It was a miserable crawl space and way too low, but I had to know if the house was sound and worthy of restoration. The next day, this 57-year-old body felt the challenge of slithering through a dirty crawl space. Of course, someone was there with a camera...

*

To read more about Rose, click here.

*

My Sweet Teddy

December 16th, 2016 Sears Homes 9 comments

Dear little Teddy got into something that caused her to vomit within 1-2 hours, and then she recovered. This happened several times over a span of several months, and yet after each “event,” she seemed okay a few hours later. I’m now wondering if she ingested something toxic.

I’d also be grateful to know what might cause such a reaction in a Sheltie. Could it be mushrooms? Antifreeze? What would cause such an event?

She’s been to the vet several times since then and is in excellent health now. Any ideas what could make a 45-pound Sheltie so sick so fast?

Thanks.

*

Her good health is my best Christmas present.

Her good health is my best Christmas present.

*

Teddy as a little puppy.

Teddy as a little puppy (early 2009).

*

To read about Sears Homes, click here.

*

Almost Six Months Out…

October 13th, 2016 Sears Homes 17 comments

Feels like the second wave of grief has hit. Plus, I busted my leg during a bad fall so I’m not able to move around much.

And were it not for my friend and angel “Milton,” I’d have lost my mind. Milton has stayed right with me for six months, even using four weeks of paid leave from his work during the darkest hours. He also orchestrated the move out of my home in Norfolk into a rental home. He has literally exhausted himself trying to save me, keep the bills paid, find a rental, and relocate to another city. When I start sinking into the mire of self-pity, I make a list of the things for which I’m grateful and I literally - speak out loud - the names of those who are praying for me. Those prayers have also kept me on this earth.

If you were one of the people praying for me, I am profoundly grateful.

My eldest daughter Crystal calls me every night to check on me. That is another lifeline that keeps me moving forward, one step at a time. And there’s Barbara, who gave me this advice: “Be gentle with yourself. You need sleep and rest. Live 15 minutes at a time. This may take a year or it might take two, but stop pushing it.”

And my Facebook friend “Bev” who contacted me and said, “What can I do to help?” And then showed up to help with The Big Move into the rental. And held me when I wept.

And there’s Tracie - who from the very beginning - spoke words so profound (and on point) that I pulled out my laptop and transcribed the conversation so that I could read it again and again. And Cathy (Wayne’s sister), who has sent me daily texts reminding me that she loves me, and that I would always be part of her family. And Anne and Mike, who took me into their home for three weeks - the three worst weeks - and kept me going.

I’ve found that there are two kinds of people in this world: Those who have known and/or really understand tragedy and those who don’t. It really is that simple.

I’ve also learned that many of your “good friends” disappear while others - often people that were on the periphery of your life -use all of their best energies to pull you out of the icy seas and into the life boat, and put their best efforts into saving you, just because that’s how they’re wired. They open their homes and hearts to a a veritable stranger because, they’re that type of person that knows about tragedy.

And I have learned that way too many people are too comfortable to allow your discomfort into their circle, so they make up stories as an excuse to keep you out of their life. It’s as though they genuinely believe that you’re contagious.

I’m sorry to say that I’ve seen the very worst of Christianity during this crisis, and yet I’ve also seen the very best. There truly are angels walking among us who can still see a shimmer of God shining in your soul when all you can see is darkness. I’ve spent many hours just sitting quietly in churches seeking respite and peace. And kudos to the Catholics for keeping their churches open throughout the day. A priest in Alton, Illinois spent two hours talking to me - a stranger - and explaining that God was still with me. His words brought much comfort.

And there’s Donna in Illinois who has offered to let me stay with her as long as I need to, so that my shattered heart and soul can heal.

I haven’t abandoned this website but I’m not sure what to do with it.

And thanks again to all those who have sent me their prayers and their love.

Rosemary

Rosemary.ringer@gmail.com

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , ,

Photobucket is down - again.

April 17th, 2016 Sears Homes 1 comment

When photobucket goes down, all of my pictures disappear. That’s what is happening right now, and it started last night.

If one of my readers could recommend an alternative photo hosting site, I’d be very glad to know about it. One that is easy to use.

I’m currently a “paid” customer at Photobucket, so this is even more disturbing.

I’d like to post a cute picture here but that picture - like the other 5,492 pictures at this site - would not appear.

Thanks so much.

“Barn Builders” Blunders Badly

April 11th, 2016 Sears Homes 3 comments

Last week, my buddy Milton saw an episode of “Barn Builders” (DIY TV, Season 2, Episode 9), which featured a short bit on a Sears Home. According to the episode guide that accompanied the program, “the guys restore an 1856 log cabin.”

The log cabin sat on a spacious old family farm. The “Barn Builders” did a fine job with that 1856 cabin, but it all went off the rails when they decided to do a snippet on another structure on the land, sitting a few hundred feet away. The house in question was a very primitive house, probably built in the late 1800s, and on the cusp of collapse.

As one of the crew members wandered over to the badly dilapidated structure, he said, “this looks like a Sears kit house.” Thus began a four-minute segment on Sears Kit Homes, replete with quick shots of Sears Modern Home catalogs from the early 1920s and house plans and other imagery.

Next, the Barn Builder walked into the old house and made several comments affirming his remarkable find of a kit house from Sears.

The entire four-minutes worth of shenanigans left me shaking my head in disbelief. The show probably has a wide-spread audience, which means that “Barn Builders” has now disseminated a whole slew of bad information about kit homes to a whole new audience.

It’s mighty frustrating and even more so when you think about the fact that this house wasn’t even built in the right CENTURY to be a Sears kit house.

Enjoy the pictures below and if you happen to know anyone involved in the production of “Barn Builders,” ask them to give me a call.

Did you enjoy this blog? Please share this link with your friends on Facebook!

Read about another unfortunate use of the airwaves and old houses, click here.

To read about a bona fide Sears House in West Virginia, click here.

*

Fine

This tired wooden house sits on an old family farm in West Virginia, and was featured on a recent episode of "Barn Builders." Its condition is very poor.

*

After a few minutes, this fellow leaves the project (an 1856 log cabin) and strolls over to the old farmhouse for a closer look. As hes walking, he identifies the old house as probably a Sears kit house. Thats when the real fun begins.

After working on the 1856 cabin for a time, one of the workers leaves the project and strolls over to the old farmhouse for a closer look. As he's walking toward the old house, he says that it's "probably a Sears kit house." That's when the real fun begins.

*

The

There are many reasons as to why this is not a Sears kit house, but let's start with the "low-hanging fruit." First, it was probably built in the late 1800s. Sears started selling their "Modern Homes" in 1908. The house shown here is supported with what's known as "rubble stone" piers or "dry stacked stone" piers. While this type of foundation remained in use into the early 1900s, it was more common in the mid-to-late 1800s. And a rubble-stone foundation would not have been considered acceptable for a Sears kit home. And there's this: The house had no exterior sheathing. Those clapboards were nailed right to the studs. This is not a good way to build a house, and it's certainly not a kit house.

*

The

It's rather amazing that this old house is still upright.

*

If this house were in the south, wed say it was a mess.

There are no windows on the side of the house and there are two unusually long windows on the rear. This was a house designed and built by a novice. In short, it was the cheapest way to cover air in the 1800s.

*

Inside the house, the man rambles on about the fact that the kits came with nails and paint and everything else.

Inside the house, the man rambles on about the fact that the kits came with nails and paint and everything else. If you look at the trim in the house, you'll notice that it's also extremely primitive. Again, it's pretty clear, no architects and no professional builders were consulted in the building of this house.

*

These fellows should stick to building barns.

These fellows should stick to building barns.

*

Read about another unfortunate use of the airwaves and old houses, click here.

*

Thanks to Jim, We Found Sears Modern Home #158

April 11th, 2016 Sears Homes No comments

Twice in the last several months, I’ve done a blog on a Sears House that I’d never seen, but had hoped to see, and both times, readers have found those houses! The first one was the Sears Monterey, which Jennifer successfully found and identified in Pennsylvania. And now, Jim has found and identified a Sears Modern Home #158 in West Virginia!

I wrote Jim a letter and asked, “How did you do that?” He replied, “The listing said it was a Sears and it’s pretty unique design with the first-floor porch tucked under the bedrooms, so it wasn’t difficult to identify.”

Part of what piqued my interest in this house is that it merited an honorable mention in a book titled, “Flesh and Bone” by Jefferson Bass (2007).

Thanks to Jim for contacting me on this #158!

Many thanks to the unnamed and unknown Realtor who took the photos. If I knew who you were, I’d give you some link love.

To read about Jennifer’s find in Pennsylvania, click here.

The blog to which Jim responded can be found here.

*

Sears Modern Home #158, as seen in the 1910 catalog.

Sears Modern Home #158, as seen in the 1910 catalog.

*

Interesting floor plan

It always tickles me to find a Sears kit home with servant's quarters.

*

Jhs

The bedroom on the front left is 12x20, which is massive for a Sears House.

*

ff

Cement, brick and plaster were not included in the kit, due to weight and freight.

*

Ffff

As Jim said, it's a pretty distinctive house!

*

There it is, in all its beauty, in West Virginia.

There it is, in all its beauty, in West Virginia.

*

Closer

If anyone ever decides to leave me a Sears House in their will, I hope it's in West Virginia. What a fabulous place to live! I'd also settle for Western Virginia. Or Southern Virginia. Or North Carolina. Or South Carolina. Maybe Maryland. And California. And even Hawaii. Heck, I'd take one anywhere.

*

Cool

Put side-by-side, you can see that the house in West Virginia is a really nice match, down to the detail on the underside of the porch roof. And what a delight to see that those full-length porch railings are still in place.

*

Nice back yard, too. Plenty of room back there for some horsies.

Nice back yard, too. Plenty of room back there for some horsies.

*

The outside is lovely, but its the interior that made me swoon.

The outside is lovely, but it's the interior that made me swoon.

*

My heart is all aflutter just looking at these images.

My heart is all aflutter just looking at these images.

*

ss

Now that's a view to wake up to!

*

Beautiful, isnt it?

Beautiful, isn't it?

*

Nice front porch, too.

Does the swing convey? How about the adorable baby Adirondack chair?

*

ff

The fireplace surround probably isn't original. Looks very 1950s to me. I could be wrong...

*

However, Im fairly certain that all this original wood planking is original to the house. And its too beautiful for words. Heres hoping the new owner doesnt paint it or tear it out.

However, I'm fairly certain that all this original wood planking is original to the house. And it's too beautiful for words. Here's hoping the new owner doesn't paint it or tear it out.

*

Thanks again to Jim for contacting me about this treasure!

Thanks again to Jim for contacting me about this treasure!

*

To read about Jennifer’s find in Pennsylvania, click here.

The blog to which Jim responded can be found here.

*

Finding the CUSTOMIZED Houses That Sears Built!

January 26th, 2016 Sears Homes 11 comments

For years, I’ve quoted the stat that “at least 30% of Sears Homes were customized when built.” That observation comes from years of studying Sears Homes “in the flesh.”

But what about customized Sears Homes - that bear no resemblance to any of the 370 known models that Sears offered?

It’s been 15+ years since I did the research for my book, “The Houses That Sears Built,” and I’ve learned so much in those intervening years.

This morning, through a lovely set of surprises, a rare one-of-kind document came into my life providing specific addresses of custom-built Sears Homes throughout the country. None of these houses bear any resemblance to a Sears House, but we now have incontrovertible proof that they are “The Houses That Sears Built - Custom Editions.”

This document provides the addresses of more than a dozen custom designs; houses whose addresses were almost lost to history, but now those addresses have been found, after being tucked away in a history lover’s attic.

Pretty exciting stuff.

The first house on this delightful list was owned by a long-time Sears employee and manager, Arthur Hoch.

Arthur was a veteran of The Great War, and according to his draft card, he was working as a buyer for Sears and Roebuck in 1918. Arthur survived the trenches, the war, the Spanish Flu and the long ride home from France, and when he returned home, he went back to work at Sears in Chicago.

Two years later, Arthur was assistant manager in some capacity at Sears, and living in his uncle’s home in Oak Park (near Chicago). By the 1940 Census, Arthur’s life had changed dramatically, and he was living in a shiny new home in River Forest, with a 1940 value of $20,000.

In 1945, he moved to Elyria, Ohio to manage a retail store there, and in 1954, he retired from Sears. Arthur was 59 years old.

In early December 1968, Arthur Hoch suffered a heart attack while driving, and was rushed to the hospital. He died a short time later.

He left behind a wife and three daughters, and one heck of a house.

Enjoy the photos below.

To learn more about identifying traditional Sears Homes, click here.

To contact Rose, please leave a comment below.

Many thanks to Rachel Shoemaker for helping with this blog!

*

When many folks think of Sears Homes, they think of very modest designs, just like this.

When many folks think of Sears Homes, they think of very modest designs, just like this.

*

Starting in the 1920s, Sears started promoting the customization of their own designs.

In the 1920s, Sears started promoting the customization of their own designs (1930).

*

House

"Complete Home Building Service"! (1930 catalog).

*

Arthurs
Arthur’s favorite store built him one fine house. Built in 1934, Arthur put its value at $20,000 in 1940. Nine years ago, this property sold for $1.2 million. Zillow says the house has 6,900 square feet.  Photo is copyright 2016 Carrie Pikulik and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

FF

It's had a sizable addition added to the rear, but it was beautifully done (and in keeping with the home's age and style). Photo is copyright 2016 Carrie Pikulik and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

And
I can’t resist asking - do the homeowners know they have a Sears House? Does anyone in town know this is a Sears kit house?  Photo is copyright 2016 Carrie Pikulik and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

Heres a customized design that Rebecca Hunter found through grantor records. The house is in Elmhurst, Illinois.

Here's a customized design that Rebecca Hunter found through grantor records. The house is in Elmhurst, Illinois. It doesn't match any of the 370 known designs of Sears Homes - not even in a little itty bitty way!

*

To learn more about identifying traditional Sears Homes, click here.

To contact Rose, please leave a comment below.

*