Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Sears Homes’

The Wabash: A Dog’s Eye View

August 8th, 2015 Sears Homes No comments

Teddy the Dog noticed a couple things about the Sears Wabash (in yesterday’s blog) that I had missed.

1) The 1920 version had “chains” on the front porch (something a dog is always cognizant of);

2) The Wabash didn’t offer indoor plumbing (something a dog well understands).

So Teddy asked me to clarify these two important points on this blog.

To read more about Teddy, click here.

*

Teddy asked me to do this subsequent blog.

Being a Sheltie, she's a herding dog, and has an especially keen eye for detail.

*

The Wabash was first offered in 1916 and was apparently a popular house. The price tag was under $600, which - even factoring in average costs in 1916 - was a sound value. Heres a Wabash in Alliance, Ohio. Photo is copyright 2015 Robb Hyde and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.

The Wabash was first offered in 1916 and was apparently a popular house. The price tag was under $600, which - even factoring in average costs in 1916 - was a sound value. Here's a Wabash in Alliance, Ohio. Photo is copyright 2015 Robb Hyde and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

The

Even the "Already Cut" version of this house was a mere $599 (1916).

*

But when Teddy got to comparing the floorplan with the

But when Teddy got to comparing the floorplan with the "interior view" of the kitchen, she noticed something wasn't quite right. She was puzzled, as was I.

*

Its not a match

We both stared at this image a few minutes, trying to orient ourselves. How can this room have three exterior openings? It's on the corner of the house.

*

House

Teddy put herself in the Wabash to re-create the view shown above.

*

Thats when Teddy realized we had to rotate the image 90 degrees.

The view is easier to grasp when the image is rotated 90 degrees. The "interior view" can only be seen by a Sheltie with x-ray vision and the ability to look through walls. As shown here, Teddy would need to stand on the edge of the fireplace mantel, and look through an interior wall.

*

Tw

Teddy suggested I put the images side-by-side. The floorplan shows a window next to the door (upper right), but the image (left side) shows just a door. The exterior view of the Wabash shows only one window in that spot. Seems like a tricky bunch of photos, doesn't it? Maybe the architects were wondering if anyone would notice if they mixed it up a bit. Or maybe those architects just made a boo-boo.

*

The view of the living room is simpler: Youre standing at the front door, looking down that 19 expanse.

The view of the living room is simpler: You're standing at the front door, looking down that 19' expanse. I do not understand why there's only a cased opening going into that bedroom (front left).

*

If you look again at the floorplan,

If you look again at the floorplan, you'll see that the screened porch has a cement floor, and opens up off the kitchen. That explains how the kitchen has three exterior openings: One of them goes to the porch.

*

The image from the 1920 catalog shows that theres a chain on the front porch.

The image from the 1920 catalog shows that there's a chain on the front porch. As my friend Dale would say, "That's really cheapin' it out." Teddy wants to go on record as saying that "chains" and "dogs" are a very bad mix and she thinks that those two words should never be in the same sentence.

*

You may have noticed that the Wabash does not have a bathroom. In fact, if you look closely, theres only one spigot on the kitchen sink, suggesting that it was cold water only.

You may have noticed that the Wabash does not have a bathroom. In fact, if you look closely, there's only one spigot on the kitchen sink, suggesting that it was cold water only. The cost of the Wabash would include an additional $41, for this "neat, attractive, little building." Teddy has a better understanding than most of the need to go outside - slogging through the muck and the snow - just to go tinkle.

*

Fefe

This is disturbing. But what's even more unnerving is the third paragraph.

*

Its reminiscent of the image on the cover of the 1908 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

It's reminiscent of the image on the cover of the 1908 Sears Modern Homes catalog. What's this fellow doing? He's exiting his shiny new Sears Modern Home to go to the outside pump and fetch a couple pails of water. His trusty Sheltie is right by his side.

*

In closing, Teddy just wanted to say that she feels strongly

In closing, Teddy just wanted to say that she likes the Wabash and sees many good places for a Sheltie to lounge and enjoy life. In our own home, Teddy has a strong presence in the bedrooms, the sunporch, the living room and the dining room. She also enjoys hanging out in the bathroom (only when it's occupied) and in front of the fireplace. Her personal favorite spot is the kitchen, where there are many opportunities for her to get underfoot, and catch errant bits of food that hit the floor during meal preparation. Despite its hazards, she also likes to lay lengthwise in the narrow long hallway of our brick ranch at 3:00 in the morning, so that anyone headed to the bathroom will trip over her. I'm not sure why she does that...

*

My name is Teddy, and I approve this blog.

My name is Teddy, and I approve this blog.

*

To read more about Teddy, click here.

*     *      *

Webster Groves, Missouri: Part III

August 2nd, 2015 Sears Homes 1 comment

Webster Groves has a multitude of interesting old kit homes, and one of my favorite finds is this 1910s Dutch Colonial, offered by Lewis Homes.

Lewis was one of six national companies selling kit homes through mail-order catalogs in the early 20th Century. Sears was probably the best known of the kit home companies and Aladdin was probably the largest, but Lewis Manufacturing (based in Bay City, Michigan) was a serious contender.

It’s been many years since I drove the streets of Webster Groves, looking for kit homes, and I’m not surprised that I missed a few back in the day, such as this Lewis Homes Dutch Colonial (”The Winthrop”).

Last week, I was back in the St. Louis area, visiting family members and decided to revisit Webster Groves. I didn’t have time to do a thorough survey, but in the four hours I spent there, I found an abundance of kit homes.

To read my prior blogs about Webster Groves, click here and here.

Interested in learning more about marked lumber on kit homes? Click here.

*

Webster Groves

What's not to love? It possesses "unusual charm and dignity"! (1924 catalog)

*

The Wintrho

That inset front porch is a defining feature of the Lewis Winthrop.

*

I sure do love a nice Dutch Colonial, and this one has a front porch!

I sure do love a nice Dutch Colonial, and this one has a front porch!

*

Oh my, what a fine-looking home!

Oh my, what a fine-looking home!

*

And it looks good from every angle!

And it looks good from every angle!

*

Home

In this image, you can see those distinctive attic windows.

*

house

Who wouldn't love coming home to this every evening? As philosopher Samuel Johnson wrote, "To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition, the end to which every enterprise and labour tends."

*

But heres where it gets frustrating.

But here's where it gets frustrating.

*

As soon as I spotted this house, it tickled the neurons.

Here's a Lewis Winthrop I found in Toana, Virginia. Like the house shown above, it has no fireplace on the side, but rather three windows. Is this a pattern book version of the Lewis Winthrop? For now, I'm going to make an educated guess that these two homes are the Lewis Winthrop, because I haven't seen a pattern book match. But who knows! Time will tell!

*

To read more about the Lewis Winthrop in Toana, Virginia, click here.

To read my prior blogs about Webster Groves, click here and here.

Interested in learning more about marked lumber on kit homes? Click here.

*      *      *

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Oscar Heppe’s Ivanhoe

May 1st, 2015 Sears Homes 2 comments

Almost five years ago, I wrote a blog on the Sears Ivanhoe in LaGrange, Illinois (discovered in a promotional flyer), and mentioned that it’d be fun to have a contemporary photo of the 1913-built house.

Some time later, William Frymark found the house in LaGrange and sent me three beautiful pictures of this grand old Sears kit house!

Too often, these 100-year-old Sears Homes end up getting torn down or falling down, so it was a special treat to see that this LaGrange house still alive and well, and in beautiful condition.

Thanks so much to William  Frymark for finding this house and sending along the photos.

To read more about identifying Sears Homes, click here.

*

Roofing Flyer

The image above is from a brochure, promoting Sears building materials in general and roofing materials in particular. When I published that blog five years ago, I'd assumed Mr. Heeppes' home in LaGrange was brick. Turns out, it's all wood.

*

the

"Slate surfaced shingles" look better than slate or tile? I'm not so sure about that, Mr. Heppes. Unfortunately, this brochure did not include images of the wallboard in the living room, dining room and one bedroom. He implies here that the wallboard was better than plaster. Hmmm...

*

The Ivanhoe was a massive house.

The Ivanhoe was a massive house and one of the larger houses offered by Sears (1920).

*

Thats a big house.

That's a big house for its time, with more than 1,900 square feet of living area.

*

house

Complete with a bedroom for the maid!

*

Mr. Heppes Ivanhoe in LaGrange.

Mr. Heppes' Ivanhoe in LaGrange, about 1913.

*

Mr. Heppes Ivanhoe 102 years later.

Mr. Heppes' Ivanhoe 102 years later. Photo is copyright 2015 William Frymark and can not be used or reproduced without written permission. So there.

*

A nice shot down the side of the 102-year-old home in LaGrange.

A nice shot down the side of the 102-year-old home in LaGrange. Photo is copyright 2015 William Frymark and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

side

Mr. Heppes' beautiful old house apparently had an addition put on the rear. Photo is copyright 2015 William Frymark and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

Another faithful reader found this Ivanhoe in Monmouth, Illinois.

Another faithful reader found this Ivanhoe in Monmouth, Illinois. It's also in wonderfully original condition. Photo is copyright 2011 Carol Parish and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

I discovered this beauty in Lewisburg, West Virginia.

I discovered this beauty in Lewisburg, West Virginia.

*

Ivan

While visiting my daughter, I was surprised to find this Ivanhoe in a very ritzy neighborhood in Needham, Massachusetts (about 45 minutes from Boston).

*

And yet, Im still pining for one more picture of one more Ivanhoe. This house was featured in a testimonial and is in West Point, Virginia (not too far from me in Norfolk).

And yet, I'm still pining for one more picture of one more Ivanhoe. This house was featured in a testimonial and is in West Point, Virginia (not too far from me in Norfolk). It faces the Pamunkey River and we're looking at the backside (on West Euclid Boulevard). I've knocked on the door and sent them letters but no response. My kingdom for a tour of this beauty!

*

Thanks again to William Frymark for the wonderful photos of the Sears Ivanhoe in LaGrange!

To read more about the Sears Homes of West Point, click here.

*       *       *

Veritable Veneration for the Aladdin Venus

April 25th, 2015 Sears Homes No comments

Last week, Elisabeth Witt of Wisconsin contacted me and said she thought there were a few kit homes in Shorewood, Wisconsin. I went to Realtor.com and entered Shorewood to do a quickie search, and one of the first hits was an Aladdin Venus! Click here to see the listing.

The Aladdin Venus was a popular house, but what makes this house in Shorewood so interesting is that it’s the only Venus I’ve seen that retains its original wooden awning.

And before we get to the pictures, I wonder if the Realtor knows it’s an Aladdin kit home? If so, there’s not a peep about it in the listing!

Thanks so much to Elisabeth for sending the photos!

To learn more about Aladdin, click here.

*

Located in Shorewood, Wisconsin, this is the only Aladdin Venus Ive seen with that wooden awning intact!

Located in Shorewood, Wisconsin, this is the only Aladdin Venus I've seen with that wooden awning intact! And the rest of the house is in lovely condition, minus the windows on the side. Best of all, this house is for sale and if you click on the link above, you'll find an abundance of interior photos. Thanks to Elisabeth Witt for getting this photo!

*

Detail of that wooden awning.

Detail of that wooden awning.

*

The Aladdin Venus was a beautiful house.

The Aladdin Venus was a beautiful house, with a lot of fun details, like those paneled columns, the L-shaped front porch, and the star-pattern of windows on the home's left side (shown here). It also has oversized eaves and the roof slopes over those upstairs windows. When you look at the interior photos, that slope is dramatic on the 2nd floor. (1919 catalog)

*

The Venus was offered in two floor plans.

The Venus was offered in two floor plans. Venus #1 was smaller (18 by 24).

*

One house

Venus #2 was 20' by 26' and a couple other minor differences.

*

House

"It continually attracts attention from people walking by..."

*

The Aladdin Venus, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

The Aladdin Venus, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

*

What a pretty little Aladdin Venus!

What a pretty little Aladdin Venus! But the removal of four windows is a curiousity!

*

Heres a tired Aladdin Venus in Newport News, Virginia.

Here's a tired Aladdin Venus in Newport News, Virginia.

*

Another weary Venus, and this ones in Norfolk (38th Street).

Another weary Venus, and this one's in Norfolk (38th Street).

*

Heres an Aladdin Venus just outside of Roanoke Rapids, NC.

Here's an Aladdin Venus just outside of Roanoke Rapids, NC.

*

If those other Venuses (Venii?) are tired-looking, this ones exhausted. Its on 35th Street, in Park Place. At one time, Park Place was solid working class and many classic bungalows. Now its a blighted, high-crime area thats trying to come back. In the meantime, the many bungalows in this neighborhood can be had for a song.

If those other Venuses (Venii?) are tired-looking, this one's exhausted. It's on 35th Street, in Park Place (Norfolk, VA). At one time, Park Place was solid working class neighborhood with many classic bungalows. Now it's a blighted, high-crime area that's trying to come back. In the meantime, the many bungalows in this neighborhood can be had for a song.

*

Lets end on a happy note. :)  Many thanks to Elisabeth for the wonderful photo. And someone should tell that Realtor that this is the real deal - an Aladdin (not Sears) kit home!

Let's end on a happy note. :) Many thanks to Elisabeth for the wonderful photo. And someone should tell that Realtor that this is the real deal - an Aladdin (not Sears) kit home!

*

To learn more about Aladdin, click here.

*      *      *

Good-bye Flocked Wallpaper, Part II

April 19th, 2015 Sears Homes 2 comments

Today, we moved the furniture back into the dining room! This project is officially finished!

And boy am I glad to have an entire dining room’s worth of furniture OUT of the living room.

Below are the final photos.

To read about the whole project, click here.

Interested in learning more about Sears Homes? Click here.

*

house

The hardwood floors came out beautifully and really made all the difference. It really adds warmth and a nice color. Mr. Hubby is trying to talk me into removing the wall-to-wall carpet from the living room and hallways, but I'm not keen on that.

*

Sfter

I also re-upholstered the dining room chairs in white, to complement the white walls. The material is called "Pleather" which just cracks me up. Does that mean it comes from plcows?

*

ffefffe

A fun comparison of the before and after shots.

Good-bye Flocked Wallpaper

April 16th, 2015 Sears Homes 7 comments

Updated! See the latest photos in Part II!

When we first looked

When we first looked at our current home in Norfolk, we really liked the flocked wallpaper. It was very 1970s and we liked the 1970s, but as we started painting the other rooms, we realized the dining room was pretty "tired."The wallpaper had turned brown in some places. .

*

Flock

One of the first things we did when moving in (four years ago) was to take down the sheers.

*

chandelier

Last year, I was able to replace the chandelier, and that improved the room a lot.

*

sconces

The matching sconces added some flair, too!

*

house house

Best of all, this photo shows the detail on that 1970s wallpaper.

*

pretty

When I started pulling down the old blue wallpaper, it went very quickly.

*

came off in sheets

In fact, it came off in whole sheets. Easiest wallpaper removal I've ever done. And boy oh boy, was it dirty. I was surprised by how much fine dust was trapped in all that flocking.

*

wallpaper glue

The walls in our 1962 ranch had never been painted (which was a surprise).

*

house

But the bigger surprise was that the walls were covered in wallpaper glue. That had to be removed before we could start painting. And that turned into a horrible mess. I used a combination of hot water and vinegar, but that didn't do much to break down the glue. At one point, I was ready to drop my sponge into the bucket and give up on the whole project. Ultimately, I washed the walls, I scrubbed the walls, and I used a plastic putty knife to scrape all that mess off. Probably 30% of the time invested in this project went to cleaning that gooey mess off the walls.

*

white

Once the wallpaper glue was gone, the project went much more quickly. And when the walls were primed, the room looked a whole lot better and brighter.

*

house

I love this shot because it shows our two ladders in the two rooms.

*

house

We painted from the ceiling down. I kept hoping we'd spill a gallon of paint on the tired blue carpet but no such luck. The cleaner the room looked, the worse the carpet looked.

*

the next one

Wayne insisted on painting his part (ceiling and under chair rail) with a brush. It seems he's highly allergic to using paint rollers. That's the kind of thing a man should tell his wife BEFORE marriage.

*

house house house

After sending this photo to a friend, I noticed how filthy the carpet was by the kitchen door (closed).

*

dirty dirty

It was icky enough that I decided I could no longer stand it.

*

house dirty

So I sliced it the 36-year-old carpet into bits and tore it up. And this is what I found under the carpet. The pad under the carpet had melded with the varnish in the floor, and left behind this awful mess.

*

poor mr ringer

Wayne Ringer went to work, pulling out 3,482 staples in the floor, and then spent another couple hours scraping the black goo off our red oak hardwood floors. It was pretty nasty stuff.

*

badly damaged

At the entrance to the kitchen, it looked really bad.

*

house house

Two fellows from Kittrell Hardwood Floors (Portsmouth) showed up and once the big sander came in the house, things changed dramatically - in a hurry!

*

house floor

Donnie from Kittrell Hardwood Floors told us that the average oak floor can be re-finished a dozen times.

*

starting

After the first sanding, he patched a few holes.

*

Done

The entrance by the kitchen door cleaned up beautifully with only a few black dots left behind (where several hundred staples once resided).

*

comoparison

A fun comparison between the spot at the kitchen door (before and after).

*

house house

We had Kittrell come back three days later and put down a second coat of polyurethane.

*

*

house stunning

When my eldest daughter heard that we'd done away with the blue flocked wallpaper, she was almost upset. But once she saw this photo, she said, "Okay, I have to say that looks pretty good." :)

*

house house

And the sconces look mighty nice with the blue paint!

*

house house oouse

Still have a few spots to touch up here and there, but it's mostly done!

*

house

Looks pretty snappy!

*

dining room

Now we just need to put the furniture back.

*

house house house

All in all, a rousing success!

*

Kittrell

And Kittrell Floor Service (in Portsmouth) did a fine job!

*

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

Sears Homes are on Facebook! Click here to join!

*

My Only Blog With an “R” Rating!

April 6th, 2015 Sears Homes 5 comments

Before you start reading this, please usher the children into another room and/or tell them to cover their ears and hum.

Sears only offered two models of kit homes that had a sink in the closet. One was their fanciest house (”The Magnolia”) and the other was one of their simplest designs (”The Cinderella”). Why put a sink in the corner of a dressing room or a closet? Running the necessary plumbing, drain lines and vent would have added some expense, so what’s the point?

There were a few obvious reasons: It gave the lady of the house a place to wash her “unmentionables” and it also gave the man a place to shave when the couple’s seven kids were hogging the bathroom.

But there might have been another lesser-known reason.

Are those kids gone? ;)

In the early 1900s, male prophylactics were “re-usable.” It wasn’t until the 1920s that latex was invented, and these particular items became single-use.

By the way, this particular insight as to the purpose of that master-bedroom sink is not my own, but was sent to me by a faithful reader of the blog. Best of all, it makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? I’d love to give proper credit to the reader who shared this info with me, but I can’t remember who it was! Argh!

To learn more about The Cinderella, click here.

There are only nine known Magnolias in the country. You can read more here.

*

house 1921

The Cinderella was a very modest house and apparently, they didn't sell too many of these. It was priced at $1,500 and yet only had a single bedroom. The dressing room was located off the living room.

*

Cindy 1921

Close-up of the floorplan shows a sink in the dressing room.

*

Cindy

Roll-away beds were heavily promoted for use in the Cinderella. Here, you can see the lady of the house has used the dressing room sink for washing out her delicate undergarments.

*

DuMont

The DuMont was a pattern-book house offered in the 1920s. It also featured a sink in a closet.

*

Dumont

Close-up of the sink in the DuMont off the master-bedroom.

*

Sears Maggy 1921

Sears biggest and best house (The Magnolia) also had a sink in the closet.

*

South bend

The Sears Magnolia in South Bend, Indiana has the original built-in cabinets, and an original closet sink, together with original faucets. Quite a find, and a testament to the quality of the materials.

*

South Bend

Close-up of the sink in the South Bend Magnolia. It also has its original medicine chest and light fixture. This picture is almost two years old. I hope the new owner does an honest restoration of the old house. In all my travels, I've never seen a three-sided sink like this.

*

West Virginia

The Magnolia in West Virginia also has its original cabinets in the closet, but the sink has been replaced. Interesting that the sink is placed right next to that window.

*

To learn more about The Cinderella, click here.

There are only nine known Magnolias in the country. You can read more here.

*        *      *

Gordon Van Tine #611: Unusually Well Planned

April 2nd, 2015 Sears Homes 2 comments

These last few months, I’ve been doing a proper survey of kit homes in Hampton, Virginia. I went out yesterday to check one last section one last time (which I’ve now visited twice), when this handsome bungalow jumped out of the bushes and called my name.

This Gordon Van Tine Model #611 is on a main drag (300-block of North Mallory) which leaves me scratching my head. How did I miss it?

That will remain one of the great mysteries of the universe, together with, where did I put my husband’s truck keys.

To read more about the kit homes of Hampton, click here.

There’s even more about Hampton here.

*

Gordon Van Tine #611, as seen in the 1926 catalog.

Gordon Van Tine #611, as seen in the 1926 catalog.

*

One of its distinctive features is the oversized porch and deck.

One of its distinctive features is the oversized porch and deck.

*

What a house!

Notice how the porch roof sits within the primary roof. Interesting feature.

*

Oh yeah, baby! :D

Sadly, some vinyl siding salesman has pillaged the house, but other than that, it's a nice match. The railings have been replaced, but that's a relatively minor affair.

*

Good match on this side, too!

Good match on this side, too!

*

So

And did I mention it's on the main drag? :)

*

To read more about the kit homes of Hampton, click here.

There’s even more about Hampton here.

*   *   *

Burnt Ordinary Kit Homes: Lewis Winthrop

March 23rd, 2015 Sears Homes 3 comments

Believe it or not, that title is not “word salad” or aphasia: It will make sense in a minute.

On Sunday (March 22), my husband and I visited Williamsburg and (per my request) we drove to Toano (a few miles west of Williamsburg) so that I could look for houses from Penniman. I didn’t see any Penniman houses, but this little pretty caught my eye. I wasn’t sure where I’d seen it, but my first impression was “Lewis Manufacturing.”

This morning, I looked it up and sure enough, it’s a Lewis Winthrop.  (Lewis was a kit-home company based in Bay City, Michigan which [like Sears and Aladdin] sold kit homes through a mail-order catalog.)

As to the title, Toano (in James City County, another interesting term) was founded in the late 1800s, and this little fork in the road was originally known as “Burnt Ordinary.” (Yeah, it puzzled me, too.) Like so many of our modern terms “ordinary” meant something a little different 200 years ago.

An ordinary was a place where food and drink was served. In the 1700s, there was an “ordinary” at that site known as John Lewis’ Ordinary, and it was subsequently named Fox’s Ordinary, which burned down in 1780. In 1781, George Washington’s cartographer marked the area as “Burnt Brick Ordinary.”

In later years, it was designated “Toano” which is an Indian word for “high ground.”

Whilst driving through the tiny town of Toano, I spotted this house and took a picture with my TV-phone (as my husband calls it).

Best of all, it was my first sighting of a Lewis Winthrop, and it’s in beautiful shape!

To read about another Lewis Home, click here.

What’s a Penniman? Click here!

*

As soon as I spotted this house, it tickled the neurons.

As soon as I spotted this house, it tickled the neurons. I knew I'd seen it somewhere.

*

This morning, I pulled out my catalogs and found it!

This morning, I pulled out my catalogs and found it! (1924 Lewis Homes).

*

That indented porch was a feature that caught my eye.

That indented porch was a feature that caught my eye.

*

On the upstairs, the bathroom window is gone, which is not uncommon. These houses were built with tubs, and when its time to put in a shower, the bathroom window often disappears. This has has vinyl siding, so its easy to cover up such changes.

On the upstairs, the bathroom window is gone, which is not uncommon. These houses were built with tubs, and when it was time to put in a shower, the bathroom window often disappeared. This home had vinyl siding installed, so its easy to cover up such changes. Notice also the tiny closet window is gone. Removing this window creates a little bit more space in an already tiny closet. The "sewing room" (on the right rear) has no window on the side, which is also a good match to the house in Toano.

*

Close-up on the sewing room side.

Close-up on the "sewing room" side.

*

Toana

Unfortunately, that room addition on the side looks a lot like a mobile home.

*

That darn tree made photographing the old house extra tough.

That darn tree made photographing the old house extra tough.

*

Pretty house!

Pretty house! And I'm pleased that I "guessed" the right angle for my shot!

*
Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

This One’s Asking For Advice on Old Cook Stoves…

March 13th, 2015 Sears Homes 1 comment

A delightful anecdote from 1921 tells us that, when the Penniman houses were shipped to Norfolk, some of the workers went into one of the houses - as it made the slow 36-mile trek across the water - and made a full breakfast, using the oil cook stove in the kitchen.

That’s the kind of story that really makes history come alive.

The article, which appeared in the Peninsula Enterprise says,

Several workmen crossed the bay on the first barge that brought the houses. They had an oil stove in one of the houses. They got hungry and cooked some bacon and eggs and heated some coffee. They enjoyed a meal cooked in one of the houses while it was being towed to Norfolk (December 24, 1921).

More than being an interesting tidbit, it also illuminates this detail: Every kitchen in every Penniman house, built by a three-party contract between DuPont, Hancock-Pettyjohn and the US Government, came with an oil-fired cook stove.

Including an appliance in each house would have substantially increased the per-unit cost. Which is probably one reason why they did this. The houses were built on a popular-WW1 program known as “The Cost Plus Plan.”

When America entered WW1, we were in such a mad rush to get these munition plants up and running that there wasn’t time to seek bids and wait for bids and open bids and investigate potential contractors, so DuPont was charged with finding a trust-worthy contractor and the government agreed to pay all expenses of construction plus 8-1/2%. The downside of the Cost-Plus Plan is that the more money the house cost, the more money the contractor pocketed. Put another way, it took away incentives for the contractor to be efficient.

But I think there was more to this than just padding the price of a house.

This was a munitions plant where there were lots of opportunities for lots of things to go boom.

And when this contract for 200 houses was signed on December 31, 1917, the realities of the danger of TNT would be very fresh in everyone’s mind.

Three weeks earlier, December 6, 1917, the SS Mont Blanc, a French freighter, had just left Halifax heading for Bordeaux, France, where it would deliver 5,000,000 pounds of war-time explosives. It was about 8:45 am when the Mont Blanc collided with a Norwegian ship, the Imo. Despite the slow speed (about 2 knots), there was a resulting fire on the Mont Blanc. Sailors tried desperately to extinguish the growing fire, but eventually abandoned ship. About 20 minutes later, the drifting vessel returned to the wharf, and moments later, there was an explosion on the Mont Blanc.

According to the book, Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes and Why, the resulting blast shattered windows 60 miles away, and more than 1,000 people lost their sight due to flying glass. A tsunami eliminated a nearby community.

All in all, more than 1,900 people died. During WW2, scientists working on the Manhattan Project studied Halifax because the magnitude of the explosion emulated an atomic bomb in so many ways.

Not that anyone at DuPont would have needed any such reminders. The engineers and architects employed by the company would have been well aware of the grave risks of a single errant spark.

Which also explains why each house had steam radiant heat, supplied by a central heating system. No risk of sparks from an independent residential coal-fired heating system.

Which also explains why each house did not have a coal-fired or wood-burning cook stove: The risk of embers and fire would have been too great.

Which leads me to my question: It appears that - maybe - these late 1910s oil (kerosene) cook stoves didn’t require a chimney or any venting. As my friend Milton said, they appear to be similar to kerosene space heaters (which were hugely popular in the 1980s). There’s a reservoir of kerosene, fed by gravity to a burner with a large wick. The unit produces small amounts of carbon monoxide, but not enough to cause CO poisoning.

If that’s true, why did every house in Penniman have a brick chimney?

Heat was supplied by a central heating plant. And I suspect (although I’m not sure) that the oil-fired cook stoves didn’t require venting.

Was it more evidence of the inefficiencies of the “Cost-Plus Plan”? Every house gets a chimney, whether or not it needs it? Or did the oil cook-stove need venting?

Thanks for any insights.

To read more about Penniman, click here.

*

Perfection cook stoves were a big deal in the 1910s and 20s.

Perfection cook stoves were a big deal in the 1910s and 20s.

*

These blue cylinders were called Chimneys but they were

These blue cylinders were called "Chimneys" but they were the burner mechanism for the stove.

*

H

Lighting these puppies didn't look simple.

*

fef

That does look pretty hot.

*

This looks like a lot of work. Why not electricity? Two reasons, electric stoves required tremendous amperage and re-wiring a house to receive an electric stove wouldnt have been easy. Electric stoves didnt really catch on until the late 1920s.

This looks like a lot of work. Why not electricity? Two reasons, electric stoves required tremendous amperage and re-wiring a house to receive an electric stove wouldn't have been easy. Electric stoves didn't get a foothold in the household appliance market until the 1930s.

*

ffffe

The last line is the best. Wow.

*

Bacon. Its whats for breakfast. In a barge house.

Bacon. It's what's for breakfast. In a barge house. Virginia Pilot, December 1921.

*

A Penniman house in Norfolk, about 1960.

A Penniman house in Norfolk, about 1960. All of these homes had chimneys, accessible from an interior kitchen wall. The question is - why?

*

Read more about Penniman here.

*     *    *

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,