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Posts Tagged ‘Sears Homes’

Multitudinous Blessings

July 5th, 2018 Sears Homes 11 comments

It’s amazing how something as pedestrian as an old-house website can turn out to be such a catalyst for multitudinous blessings.

Through this website (and its accompanying page on Facebook), I have met so many people. With few exceptions, old house people are the finest people around.

Two years ago, after the Bad Thing, I decided to shut down this website - as soon as I had the emotional wherewithal to do so. I put my Sears House ephemera in cardboard boxes and told my friend to give all of it to the local college library. I was done. I never wanted to see another Sears House again. Ever.

Fortunately, my friend didn’t listen to me, and stashed the boxes in a storage unit.

More than a year later, I asked him what became of all my catalogs. I couldn’t find them in my rental house, and I had no memory of telling him to dispose of the collection. He said, “You told me to get rid of them.”

With more than a little trepidation, I asked, “Did you?”

He said, “No, I kept them. They’re in storage.”

In short order, he retrieved them from a nearby storage unit, and my ephemera and I were re-united.

That’s something for which I’m also very grateful.

Rediscovering those almost lost catalogs stirred something in me, and gently pulled me back toward my first love: Old houses.

And through writing blogs on a host of topics (including grief and pain), I was surprised (and delighted) to find that I felt nurtured and buoyed by the kind words of long-time readers. I still re-read those supportive comments again and again and again.

As Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

When visitors to this site leave comments, openly sharing their own stories of tragedy and loss, I feel so very comforted. I feel less alone in my tragedy and pain. I feel less alone in the world. It’s as though those people - people struggling under the heavy weight of their own pain and suffering - have opened up the circle around their heart and invited me in. It’s a sacred sharing, and I treasure every insight, every kind word, and every loving thought.

I will always remember how that made me feel, so thank you for that.

And if you’ve been a faithful reader of this blog but have never left a comment, I hope you’ll do so now. And if you’re one of my faithful commenters, I hope you’ll leave a comment today!

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Learn how to identify Sears Homes by clicking here.

Read about one of my favorite Sears Homes in Hampton Roads here.

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Fjf

My blog passed a milestone recently with 2.5 million visitors.

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Yesterday, I celebrated my 59th birthday with a group of faithful, loving and supportive friends. It truly was one of the loveliest events in my lifetime. Despite having such a wonderful day, I suffered from horrible nightmares last night (July 5th). By 6:00 am this morning, I was dressed and on my bike, pedaling as fast as I could to stave off the anxiety. I'm happy to say that it worked. On the ride home, I saw this image and captured it with my fancy phone. This is less than one mile from my home in a suburban area in Suffolk.

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Learn how to identify Sears Homes by clicking here.

Read about one of my favorite Sears Homes in Hampton Roads here.

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And Her Name is C-Biscuit…

June 2nd, 2018 Sears Homes 5 comments

In the last few months, I have really struggled to sort out my thoughts and figure out what makes me happy. More than a year ago, I decided that I was going to live on a five-acre horse farm and keep a couple horses.

And then I spent some time with a 50-something-year-old woman who had three horses. I soon realized that this was a part-time job, and it was an expensive part-time job. Reluctantly, I decided to buy a few stuffed horses and call it a day.

More recently, I decided that I would like to have a little Prius C, which is “the baby Prius.” I’ve named her “C-Biscuit.”

She’s tiny, adorable, amazingly comfortable and also practical. Best of all, she sips gas, obtaining 55-65 mpg.

A few times, I have surpassed 70 mpg. C-Biscuit is a hybrid, powered by both an ICE (internal combustion engine) and battery power. The engine has a mere 66 horsepower, and the electric side provides an additional 33 horsies, for a total of 99 horsepower. It does 0-60 in 12 seconds.

It’s efficient. It’s not fast.

The Prius C is known as the “Aqua” in Japan, and has consistently been one of the best selling cars in that country. In the United States, sales have not been as strong. Rumors abound that 2018 will be the last year for the Prius C in America, but with gas prices creeping back up, maybe Toyota will revisit that decision.

Sometimes, it’s hard to really know why something makes us happy. Perhaps it’s enough to find that silly little thing - even a slightly used red hatchback - and just grab onto it and enjoy the smiles per gallon.

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C-Biscuit (my Prius C) was purchased used in North Carolina, where they dont require front plates.

C-Biscuit (my Prius C) was purchased used in North Carolina, where they don't require front plates. I thought I heard a little "yelp" when I drilled holes into C-Biscuit's front bumper (for the Virginia license plates).

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Its adorable both coming and going.

It's adorable both coming and going. My mother's last car (purchased shortly before her death) was a little red station wagon, very similar to this car. There was something about this car that really touched my heart. Every time I look at this car, I smile. It reminds me of my first car, too. And that's a very happy memory.

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A million years ago, in a galaxy far away...

A million years ago, in a galaxy far away...My first car was a 1974 Super Beetle with a 1600cc engine. It was red on the inside and black on the outside, the inverse of C-Biscuit. The Super Beetle ("Ludwig") had a bigger engine than the Prius C. And yes, that's me. I was 17-year-old, 5'9" and weighed 124 pounds and worried constantly about my weight!

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Prius

This Prius C does 0-60 in 12 seconds.

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And it gets super gas mileage!

And it gets super gas mileage!

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In fact, I was so besotted with C-Biscuit that I bought a diminiutive version.

In fact, I was so besotted with "C-Biscuit" that I bought a diminutive version for my desk.

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And heres a picture of a Sears Modern Home (#124) in Wisconsin, just so I can say that I wrote about Sears Homes today.

And here's a picture of a Sears Modern Home (#124) in Wisconsin, just so I can say that I wrote about Sears Homes today. Either I have stayed up way too late this evening, or there's something seriously wrong with this picture. LOL. I have a feeling I made a booboo of some sort here. Look toward the bottom of the picture. Rut roe.

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To read more about Sears Homes, click here.

Interested in Penniman? Click here!

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Flipping Insane…

July 5th, 2017 Sears Homes 2 comments

Back in the day, “Flipper” was a television show, featuring a bottle-nose dolphin. Flipper was, in fact, a lot like Lassie with fins. I remember crowding around the television with the fam to watch Flipper on Saturday nights. (As I tell my daughter, ours was the last family on the block to get a color television.)

But now, this once lovely name - “Flipper” - has such ugly connotations. In 21st century America, “flippers” are investors (blech) who take fine old houses and rip out walls and replace original windows and create cathedral ceilings in homes that were never intended to have cathedral ceilings. Ick.

Today I was on Zillow looking at the new listings and I discovered a new listing in Portsmouth. Sadly, it’s another 1960s house that’s been gutted in the name of homogenizing every American house until it looks like something on HGTV (Houses Getting Totally Vandalized).

Zipping through the photos, I noticed a very odd “chandelier” which made me laugh out loud. Words defy me, so I’ll show the actual image.

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Wow

Yup, that light fixture looks a lot like a squirrel-cage blower, doesn't it? I wonder if this blower was harvested from the furnace? That blower, er, uh, "chandelier" sure looks dusty.

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And now, for the palate cleanse: The GOOD Flipper.

And now, for the palate cleanse: The GOOD Flipper.

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To read about Sears Homes, click here.

Interested in the history of a Virginia Ghost Town? Click here.

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Housing Rosemary

July 5th, 2017 Sears Homes 15 comments

In the last few months, I’ve looked at more than two dozen houses for sale. Part of this process has been sorting out what I really want and what I really don’t want in a house. In the beginning, I was looking for a couple acres out in the boondocks. Now that my brain has calmed down a bit, and the horror of April 2016 has faded a little, I’ve come to realize that I need two acres like I need a hole in the head. (Oops, did I say that out loud? I guess I’m clearly in the anger phase.)

I sat down recently and made a list of the spiritual qualities I yearn to find in a house, such as beauty, peace, harmony, simplicity, elegance, quietude, restfulness, utility, renewal, and joy. That list has helped so very much.

And I’ve come to realize that if I live in isolation (as I would on 2-3 acres), my mental health would deteriorate. As a life-long introvert, this is an epiphany. Yesterday, I had a small party at my home to celebrate my 58th birthday (and the fact that I’m still alive). The very presence of my nearest and dearest friends gave me an emotional and spiritual lift that has remained 20 hours later.

Still, it is discouraging that The House™ hasn’t appeared yet. I’m weary of living in a rental, and yet striving to be patient.

In the meantime, the good news is, I made it to 58, and that, in and of itself, is a bit of a miracle.

To see my latest “dream house” - click here.

To read about kit homes, click here.

And to understand more about this decision, click here.

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One of the loveliest gifts I received yesterday came from Clyde Nordan (

One of the loveliest gifts I received yesterday came from Clyde Nordan, a professional photographer and kind friend. He snapped my photo when I attended a Memorial Day event in downtown Portsmouth, and then managed to place me in Rome!

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One of the must haves in my new home is adequate space for a koi pond. Im sorry I dont remember where I snagged this photo, but it was from a ponding forum, and it was a fellows own backyard.

One of the "must haves" in my new home is adequate space for a koi pond. I'm sorry I don't remember where I snagged this photo, but it was from a ponding forum, and it was a fellow's own backyard. One day (soon), I'm going to have a koi pond much like this. If you have a koi pond in your back yard and live within 100 miles of Hampton Roads, and have a spare guest room, please contact Rose immediately. :)

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Another item on the must have list is a sunporch. If it doesnt have a suporch, it must have a place where a sunporch can be added.

Another item on the "must have" list is a sunporch, preferably without plumbing fixtures. This lovely older home was in Suffolk. Admittedly, it wouldn't be hard to remove this toilet and patch the hole, but the house had other issues that were deal killers. That, and this "misplaced toilet" thing reminds of a bad dream.

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To read about kit homes, click here.

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Hey - You There - How’d You Get Here?

May 20th, 2017 Sears Homes 33 comments

In the beginning, I joined Facebook under protest and only with the stated purpose of creating a stronger internet presence for me and my books and my career.

Subsequently, I’ve found that if I write a blog and do NOT post a link on Facebook, this site gets significantly fewer hits.

So this is a little Friday night experiment. If you’re coming to this site for some reason OTHER than Facebook, please leave a comment below and tell me when and how you landed here!

Teddy and I thank you.

Before there was Teddy, there was Daisy, a one-in-a-million dog that knew me better than I knew myself. She was one of those animals that seemed more like a human than a canine.

Before there was Teddy, there was "Daisy," a one-in-a-million dog that knew me better than I knew myself. She was one of those animals that seemed more like a human than a canine.

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Daisy got me through the divorce to my first husband Tom, to whom I was married for 24 years. Daisy would never get on the bed but would stay right by my side. Wed take long walks in the countryside sans leash, and she never wandered away.

Daisy got me through the divorce to my first husband "Tom," to whom I was married for 24 years. We'd take long walks in the countryside sans leash, and she never wandered away. She was good company.

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Teddy might be a little jealous.

Teddy might be a little jealous.

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Read about Sears Homes by clicking here.

Surprise.

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The Open Floor Plan and the Downfall of Society

May 17th, 2017 Sears Homes 25 comments

Last February, as Robert, Pat and I sat together in Robert’s Sears Home, he said, “The open floor plan will probably be considered one of the most heinous atrocities ever committed against American architecture.”

A man after my own heart.

When historians write about the unraveling of society, it will probably all be traced back to The Open Floor Plan.

Who decided it was a good idea to remove every wall and door from a house?

For months, I’ve been looking for a home for me and Teddy and The Horsies™.

We’ve found a few homes that are close, but nothing has been a real match yet.

For a variety of reasons, I’m hoping to find a house that’s not more than 50 years old and well built and in a safe area. And most importantly, I want a house that does NOT have an “Open Floor Plan.”

It’s not bad enough that the big ugly houses with open floor plans are taking over the planet, but even older homes are not safe.

Reading through listings for once-lovely 1950s and 60s brick ranches, I’ve found this awful comment: “Completely renovated with new and inviting open floor plan.”

Though I’m not a woman given to strong language, this phrase hits a nerve and induces me to say things that are quite unladylike.

I don’t want to smell the kitchen or worse, SEE the kitchen. I don’t want to see the dining room. I need lots of doors and walls between me and the world. My secret to good housekeeping is plenty of heavy doors and hiding places. If I wanted to live in an open commune, I’d move to Berkeley. I want private areas and secret rooms. My dream house would have an underground bomb shelter with vintage rations from the Eisenhower era.

How do you paint  your own house when the living room wall is 17-feet tall? How do you change a light fixture on a chain that’s seven feet taller than you on your tallest ladder? How do you kill spiders ensconced in a dark corner at the tippy top of a cathedral ceiling?

The Open Floor Plan: stultissimus notio!

If you enjoyed this, please share the link on your Facebook page!

Need a palate cleanse? Read about Sears Homes here.

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Dumb

This makes no sense to me. In fact, I'd say it's one of the most foolish things a person could do to a house. I looked at this house, hoping it wasn't as bad as it sounded. It was.

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So open that its brains fall out

So open that its brains fall out? This is a lovely log cabin recently listed in a nearby city. This 1,500-square foot space is - for all purposes - one big room.

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Open

Twitch, twitch.

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Open More

Blech. And how do you clean those windows above the door?

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Open and depressing

What a waste of space and energy and materials.

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This one is the very worst. This hosue started life as a fine home, a 1950s brick ranch.

This one is the very worst. This house started life as a fine home, a 1950s brick ranch.

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But they managed to make it ugly on the exterior, too.

It started life as a lovely brick ranch (1950s) with good symmetry. Closing in that garage was not a good idea. Having seen many of these "flipped" houses, I can tell you that, for the most part, they're not well done.

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I hate open

The Aladdin Villa (a kit home) had lots of doors. I love doors. I hate open.

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Villa

Here's a real life Villa in Augusta, Georgia, and I'm sure it still has a lot of doors and walls.

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And then there were seven...

The Seven Horsies of the Apocalypse detest open floor plans. And yes, there are now SEVEN horsies. Number Seven (center stage) was a gift, so that's good because now I have enablers of my Stuffed Horsie Habit. Yay! :D

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Read more about the Aladdin Villa here.

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Operators are Standing By…

May 15th, 2017 Sears Homes No comments

Okay, there really aren’t any operators standing by, but it’s such a cool expression.

However, the last of the “author’s stock” of Finding The Houses That Sears Built is flying out the door. Teddy shows off the orders from this weekend.

There are a few copies remaining. To place your order, click here.

These are brand new books - right out of the box - and signed by the author.

To learn more about Rose, click here.

Want to identify Sears Homes? This is the place.

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Teddy double-checks the addresses on the book orders from this weekend.

Teddy double-checks the addresses on the book orders from this weekend.

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Finding The Houses That Sears Built

As of last week, "Finding The Houses That Sears Built" had a "low price" (used) of $145.

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After the authors stock is gone, these days will return...

After the author's stock is gone, these days will return...

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To learn more about Rose, click here.

Want to identify Sears Homes? Click here.

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C’mon Realtors…You Can Do Better

April 6th, 2017 Sears Homes 5 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.

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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.

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This house is on a small lot.

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

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ff

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

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Little house. Big Lot.

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House

I take house hunting very seriously...

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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).

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Images are courtesy of www.zillow.com.

Need a house? Contact Tracie through her site.

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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.

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hawthorn

The Sears Hawthorne, from the 1916 catalog.

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MORE

Interior view of the Sears Avondale.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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hawtorne

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

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hwthorneeee

View of the 2nd floor on the Hawthorne.

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ham radio

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

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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.

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Visit Rebecca Hunter’s website here.

More on Avondales here.

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That Rascally Haskell

March 30th, 2017 Sears Homes 6 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.

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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.

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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.

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whisnant fam

A close-up of the Haskell.

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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.

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fesef

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

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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.

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whisnant

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

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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.)

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

Read about the Norfolk Penniman houses here.

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