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Posts Tagged ‘sears house in South Bend’

Mini Mystery on the Majestic Maggy: SOLVED!

July 15th, 2013 Sears Homes 3 comments

Subtitled: How Time Changes Old Houses

In a few weeks, I’m taking a road trip to visit a Sears Magnolia. In preparation for the trip, I’ve been studying the floor plan, and happened upon a little mystery that has had me (and many others in our Facebook group) stumped!

Take a look!

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Floor plan shows

This is the 2nd floor of the Magnolia. The image is reversed (flipped) for reasons that will become evident later on. The mystery is that oval within a square in the dressing room (center room on the front). The dressing room was off the Master Bedroom, and there's a spot for dresses and hats, but what does the oval/square represent?

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House

At first glance, it looks like a sink but why would there be a sink so far from the rest of the plumbing (kitchen and baths)? And on the front of the house? The bathrooms (second floor) were on top of the kitchen (first floor) to conserve plumbing runs, which is typical. Plus, I studied several exterior photos of different Magnolias and couldn't see a vent pipe in the front roof area. That, coupled with the odd placement (far from kitchens and baths) ruled out plumbing. This dressing room is directly over the entry foyer, which ruled out laundry chute. Chutes were usually found in common areas (hallways, bathrooms).

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Cinderella

And then I found the answer is an unlikely place: The Ascetic Cinderella. This was one of the simplest little houses that Sears offered in their "Honor Bilt" line. It had only one bedroom, but it recommended that fold-away beds be used in the living room and dining room, and included a dressing room for stowage of beds.

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Common

The 1921 catalog featured a two-page spread on this simple bungalow.

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sinking feeling

And there in the corner of the dressing room (which housed the fold-away beds), was a tiny corner sink.

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plumbing runs be damned

The Cinderella was a very low-priced house, and yet, they ran plumbing lines from at least 25-feet away (the kitchen) to a lone fixture at the front of the house.

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simple

In fact, a close-up of one of the images in the 1921 catalog shows the dressing room with that corner sink. Presumably, Miss Cindy Lou (aka "The Little Lady") has rinsed out her unmentionables in the small sink, and is preparing to hang them up on the closet pole to her immediate left.

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All of which leads

All of which leads me to believe that the mystery oval within a square shown on the Magnolia's floor plan is indeed a sink. In fact, judging by the way it's drawn, I'm guessing it'd be a pedestal sink. After all, if they can stick a wee tiny sink on the front corner of the Cinderella's dressing room, then it seems likely they did the same (with a better sink) in the Magnolia's dressing room.

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And take a look at this thing.

And take a look at this thing. It's literally up against the door frame that leads to the front balcony. What a curious place for a pedestal sink. And the wall behind the sink is a little extra thick, which probably provides a chase for the plumbing to run over to the bathroom lines and join up there.

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lady

If we place Miss Cindy Lou in the Master Bedroom of the Magnolia (she likes the Magnolia a lot better than that CLH above), you'll see that she has quite a hike over to the family bathroom. And you'll see that these two front bedrooms are isolated from each other, so she can't even take the short cut through the other bedroom and into the bath. And maybe she has "unmentionables" that she needs to wash out each night that she doesn't wish to have seen in the family bathroom.

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Magnolia

Years ago, I had an opportunity to see a Magnolia with a second floor that had been "frozen in time" after World War II. Upstairs, they had created an apartment by taking out a wall and installing this prefab kitchen sink. The door on the right leads out to the 2nd floor balcony and the window to the left is the small window that originally was part of the bedroom closet. This photo was further affirmation that there was a sink in that dressing room. This kitchen sink is placed just where the old pedestal sink would have sat. If you had to add a kitchen to an old house, you'd pull out the pedestal sink and stick in your new (1940s) kitchen unit. Which is just what they did.

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house house

The red line represents the placement of the wall that was removed in order to install this kitchen sink.

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What they did

If you turn that floor plan around, so it's facing in the same direction as the image above, you can get a better idea of what's going on above. The Master Bedroom is to the right, and if you walked into that dressing room, you'd have a hat shelf on the left side of the dressing room and your pedestal sink would be on the far right - right up against that balcony door (which is a really quirky design). The blue line represents the placement of the 1940s pre-fab kitchen sink and the pink X's show the wall that was removed, creating a walk-through between the two rooms. The red star shows where I was standing when I took the photo above. :)

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house house house

Comparing these two images, you can get an idea of how it all went together. The red line on the left shows the placement of the 1920s wall, and the blue square shows the placement of the modern sink.

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How

And if you look at the molding above that small window, you'll see that it's missing a corner. I suspect that it was built that way, to accommodate the extra-thick chase wall there (between the bedroom closet and the Master Bedroom dressing room).

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house house house

This is an original "Family Bathroom" Sears Magnolia pedestal sink. Most likely, this was the same sink that was present in that Master Bedroom dressing room. Note how the plumbing lines come up out of the floor, rather than through the rear wall.

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The Magnolia was only offered from 1918 - 1922.

The Magnolia was only offered from 1918 - 1922 (1918 catalog shown above). We know of only eight Magnolias that were built, and one of them (in Nebraska) was razed in 1985.

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house house house

Here's a real live Magnolia in Canton, Ohio, and it's in beautiful condition! Photo is copyright 2011 Janet Hess LaMonica and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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In conclusion, I’m now confident that the “oval within a square” shown on the floorplan is a sink. And apparently, placing a small sink in a dressing room was not uncommon in the 1920s.

If any readers know the reasons behind placing a small sink in a front bedroom, I’d love to know!

To read more about the Magnolia, click here.

Interested in learning about the Cinderella? Click here.

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The South Bend Maggy - And the Kindness of Strangers!

May 17th, 2012 Sears Homes 8 comments

Last week, I wrote about the Sears Magnolia in South Bend, Indiana, and posted some old, not-so-clear snapshots of the house. I also posted the photos at a couple internet sites, asking if someone might be so kind as to snap a few new photos for me.

Incredibly, wonderfully, two kind souls responded, providing beautiful, professional-quality photos of this very rare Sears House in South Bend.

So now, thanks to the kindness of not one, but two dear souls, I have updated (and beautiful) photos! That’s the GOOD news!

The sad news is, our Maggy in South Bend is in some pain. I’d love to know if this house is for sale, or what’s happened. It appears to be in a state of decline. We’ve already lost one Magnolia in Nebraska that was torn down years ago, and we almost lost the Maggy in Canton, Ohio in the 1970s, when it fell into such a state of disrepair that the roof collapsed into the second floor. It was the vision of two people, and a heroic restoration and a devotion to historic preservation that saved that house.

Let’s hope and pray that our Maggy in South Bend is preserved and restored. After all, it’s one of only six remaining (known) Magnolias in the country!

And thank you to James Layne and Garrett Baumann who took time out of their busy day to run over to the house and take several *beautiful* photos.

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

The Sears Magnolia - as seen in the 1921 catalog.

The Sears Magnolia - as seen in the 1921 catalog.

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Close-up on the floor plan for the first floor.

Close-up on the floor plan for the first floor.

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And here it is - the Sears Magnolia in South Bend, Indiana. Oh, what a house - and what a wonderful photo!!  Many thanks to James Layne who sent me a plethora of wonderful, high resolutation photos!

And here it is - the Sears Magnolia in South Bend, Indiana. Oh, what a house - and what a wonderful photo!! Many thanks to James Layne who sent me a plethora of wonderful, high resolution photos! (Photo is copyright 2012 James Layne and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Close-up of the porch

Close-up of the porch

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Thanks to the high resolution, clear photos that James sent, I was able to zoom in on some details - such as the front porch!

Thanks to the high resolution, clear photos that James sent, I was able to zoom in on details - such as the front porch! (Photo is copyright 2012 James Layne and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Front

In fact, Mr. Layne's photos were such a high resolution that I was able to zoom way, way in and get nice, detailed images of the entryway (shown above). (Photo is copyright 2012 James Layne and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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And this photo, taken by Garrett Baumann, really shows the majesty of the Magnolia, and its setting on a spacious lot.

And this photo, taken by Garrett Baumann, really shows the majesty of the Magnolia, and its setting on a spacious lot. (Photo is copyright 2012 Garrett Baumann and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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The original wooden railing is long gone, and has been replaced with wrought iron, which also appears to be fading a bit.

The original wooden railing on the top of the porch roof is long gone, and has been replaced with wrought iron, which also appears to be fading a bit. (Photo is copyright 2012 James Layne and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Our poor Maggy is in some pain. The original half-round galvanized gutters are looking a little tired.

Our poor Maggy is in some pain. The original half-round galvanized gutters are looking a little tired. And you can see that someone started to paint the eaves - but then stopped. The good news is, it'll be easy to remove that aluminum siding, and those plastic "accoutrements" atop the windows. (Photo is copyright 2012 James Layne and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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The porch ceiling needs a little attention, too.

The porch ceiling needs a little attention, too. In fact, it needs a lot of attention. Sears Homes were made with #1 Southern Yellow Pine (for framing members) harvested out of first-growth virgin forests. We'll never see wood like that again in this country. The exteriors were 100% cypress, which was known as "The Wood Eternal." Sears Homes were made with superior quality wood, but left unattended and unmaintained, they will eventually deteriorate and decay. Hopefully, this Magnolia will be preserved. (Photo is copyright 2012 James Layne and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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The Magnolia has these very distinctive windows, with the small lites above the main sashes. Its details such as this that really distinguish the Sears Magnolia from look-alikes.

The Magnolia has these very distinctive windows, with the small lites above the main sashes. It's details such as this that really distinguish the Sears Magnolia from look-alikes. Every day, several people land at my website after googling the terms "house with the blue shutters" (from the movie, "The Notebook" because someone somewhere started a rumor that the house featured in that movie is a Sears Magnolia. That house looks nothing like the Sears Magnolia. The key to proper identification really is in the details. (Photo is copyright 2012 Garrett Baumann and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Just look at those beautiful Ionic columns!!

Just look at those beautiful Ionic columns!! (Photo is copyright 2012 James Layne and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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The Magnolia - in all its splendor.

The Magnolia - in all it's splendor. (Photo is copyright 2012 James Layne and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Another splendiferous

Another splendiferous shot of a splendid house: The Magnolia. (Photo is copyright 2012 James Layne and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Thereve been times when people send me house photos that look like this. (And yes, there is a house back here.)

I really appreciate a good photo, because there've been many times when people send me "house photos" that look like this. (And yes, there is a house back there, hidden behind all that greenery!)

Thank you again to both James Layne and Garrett Baumann for running out to an old house on West North Shore Drive and performing a “random act of kindness” for a total stranger. I am profoundly grateful. And I’m confident that the 1,000+ daily readers of my blog are grateful, too!

We love our Magnolias!  :)

To read the first blog on the South Bend Magnolia, click here.

To learn more about the Sears Magnolia, click here.

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