Archive

Posts Tagged ‘sears houses by mail’

A Fascinating Little Tidbit about WLS and Sears, Part II

December 29th, 2011 Sears Homes 1 comment

If you’re following the story of the Thomas Family and Kelly Family, and their adventure in building a Sears kit home, you can read the rest of it below.

To return to Part I, click here.

C

From WLS newsletter (continued from page 11).

The last page of this fascinating story.

The last page of this fascinating story.

Another page from this employee newsletter. Note - this is not an advertisement for dresses, this is an ad for FABRIC. It was expected that women would sew their own clothes (and that men could build their own homes). It was a different time in American history.

Another page from this employee newsletter. Note - this is not an advertisement for dresses, this is an ad for FABRIC. It was expected that women would sew their own clothes (and that men could build their own homes). It was a different time in American history.

To return to Part I, click here.

*   *   *

The Prettiest Kit Homes You Ever Saw in Tahlequah (Updated!)

December 27th, 2011 Sears Homes 6 comments

To read the most recent update on this article (with new photos!), click here.

Dear friend and indefatigable researcher Rachel Shoemaker has found an abundance of kit homes in Oklahoma, and she’s now found THREE kit homes in Tahlequah, Oklahoma!  The most impressive of her finds is a beautifully maintained Gordon Van Tine “Roberts.”

Gordon Van Tine was a competitor of Sears in the kit home business. GVT sold about 50,000 kit homes from 1910 - 1945.

More recently, she discovered an Aladdin “Cape Cod,” and an Aladdin “Wenonah,” in TahlequahAladdin was one of six national mail-order companies that sold entire kit homes through their catalogs.  (Sears was better known, but Aladdin was bigger.) These “kit houses” typically arrived by train in 12,000 pieces and came with a 75-page instruction book that told the homeowner how all those pieces and parts went together. Today, there are about 75,000 Aladdin kit homes in the country (compared with about 70,000 Sears Homes in the country).

It’s not surprising that Tahlequah has Aladdins, as Aladdin had  huge mills in Mississippi and Louisiana.

Tahlequah, Oklahoma was the original capital of the Cherokee Nation in 1838. According to Wikipedia, Tahlequah became a settlement in 1832.  The Cherokees also beat the United States to the punch (so to speak) in adopting prohibition well before the temperance movement was even a gleam in Lyman Beecher’s eye.  According to Oklahoma Genealogy, Cherokee councils enacted a law in 1841, prohibiting the sale of “ardent spirits” within the Cherokee Nation.

Street signs in the city of Tahlequah are printed in both English and the Cherokee language.

On a final note, we think we may have found a Sears Modern Home #126 in Tahlequah, but we need a kind soul to get a photo for us. If you live near the area, and you’d be willing to do that, please leave a comment below.

To learn more about kit homes, click here.

To learn more about the kit homes in Oklahoma, click here.

To learn more about Addie Hoyt Fargo, click here.

Aladdin Cape Cod, as seen in the 1923 catalog. This catalog page shows one floor plan (L-shaped), but in later years, it was offered in three floorplans, one of which was rectangular. .

Aladdin Cape Cod, as seen in the 1923 catalog. This catalog page shows one floor plan (L-shaped), but in later years, it was offered in three floorplans, one of which was rectangular.

Close-up of the Aladdin Cape Cod

Close-up of the Aladdin "Cape Cod"

And here it is, in the flesh! An Aladdin Cape Cod in stunningly original condition!  Even retains its original casement windows!

And here it is, in the flesh! An Aladdin "Cape Cod" in stunningly original condition! Even retains its original casement windows! (Photo is copyright 2011, Rachel Shoemaker and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

An Aladdin Wenonah, as seen in the 1917 catalog.

An Aladdin Wenonah, as seen in the 1913 catalog.

Aladdin Wenonah in Tahlequah.

Aladdin Wenonah in Tahlequah. The porch has been altered, but that's not a big deal. Porches are often changed through the years, and this house is probably close to 100 years old. (Photo is copyright 2011, Rachel Shoemaker and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

GVT Roberts as seen in the 1921 catalog.

GVT Roberts as seen in the 1921 catalog.

GVT Roberts in Tahlequah, OK

GVT Roberts in Tahlequah, OK, and it's a beauty! Like the house above, this also has the two-story porch on the left side. (Photo is copyright 2011, Rachel Shoemaker and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

Rober

The GVT Roberts has had several additions through the years, but still looks much like the catalog page shown above. (Photo is copyright 2011, Rachel Shoemaker and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

Im not sure why this house has a periscope.

I'm not sure why this house has a periscope. (Photo is copyright 2011, Rachel Shoemaker and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

Street signs are printed in both English and in Cherokee language.

Street signs are printed in both English and in Cherokee language. (Photo is copyright 2011, Rachel Shoemaker and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

To contact Rachel Shoemaker, send her an email at ffshoe@olp.net

Rachel has done extensive research on the kit homes in Oklahoma, and has traveled countless miles, researching and documenting these historically significant homes. We’re both puzzled as to how and why so many kit homes landed here, but it’s time that someone hired Rachel to do a proper survey of this impressive collection of Oklahoma’s architectural treasure trove of kit homes. Heretofore, all the work she’s done has been at her own expense.

* * *

All Things Alhambra, Part III

June 25th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

The Sears Alhambra was one of Sears’ most popular houses. In fact, I’d say it was one of their top ten best sellers. And, it was a pretty house with a distinctive Spanish flair and with a splash of mission style. If you take away the fancy accoutrements, you’ll see it’s little more than a classic American foursquare.

The first photo is from the 1921 Sears Building Materials catalog. It’s a letter from a happy, happy Alhambra homeowner. (Say that four times fast.)

Click here to read All Things Alhambra, part 2.

yep

This appeared on page 2 of the Sears Building Materials catalog (1921)

l

Close-up of the letter written by A. C. Goodall.

Alhambra

The beautiful Alhambra - as seen in the 1921 Building Materials catalog.

Sears Alhambra in Portsmouth, Virginia (my home town)

Sears Alhambra in Portsmouth, Virginia (my home town)

Sears Alhambra as seen in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Sears Alhambra as seen in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Like its Virginia cousin, this Alhambra is also painted a light yellow. This pretty house is in Lexington, Virginia.

Like its Virginia cousin, this Alhambra is also painted a light yellow. This pretty house is in Lexington, Virginia.

Another vote for the beige pant job!  This perfect Alhambra is in Raleigh.

Another vote for the beige pant job! This perfect Alhambra is in Raleigh.

Stripped of its Alhambra-defining elements, this house in St. Louis looks rather pedestrian.

Stripped of its Alhambra-defining elements, this house in St. Louis looks rather pedestrian.

This Alhambra has also had some of its unique architectural elements stripped away, but you can still see its an Alhambra!

This Alhambra has also had some of its unique architectural elements stripped away, but you can still see it's an Alhambra!

Sears Alhambra in Gaffney

Sears Alhambra in Gaffney. My favorite color: Lavender!

To see more pictures of Sears Alhambras, visit All Things Alhambra, part 2.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

* * *

The Bungalow Craze and The Germ Theory

February 22nd, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

Did you know that, Dr. Joseph Lister - a 19th Century British physician - is largely responsible for the bungalow craze? The fact is, Joseph Lister and his germ theory dramatically changed the way Americans thought about their homes.

For so many years, mothers could only watch in helpless horror as their young children died from any one of a myriad of “common” diseases. And then in the late 1800s, Dr. Joseph Lister discovered that germs were culprit. Mothers and fathers, weary of burying their infants, had a new arch enemy: household dirt. As is explained in the 1908 book, Household Discoveries and Mrs. Curtis’ Cook-Book:

Not many years ago disease was most often deemed the act of Providence as a chastening or visitation for moral evil. Many diseases are now known to be merely human ignorance and uncleanliness. The sins for which humanity suffers are violations of the laws of sanitation and hygiene, or simply the one great law of absolute sanitary cleanliness… Every symptom of preventable disease and communicable disease…should suggest the question: “Is the cause of this illness an unsanitary condition within my control?”

Now that the enemy had been identified, modern women attacked it with every tool in their arsenal. Keeping a house clean was far more than a matter of mere pride: The well-being, nay, the very life of one’s child might depend upon a home’s cleanliness. What mother wanted to sit at the bedside of their sick child, tenderly wiping his fevered brow and pondering the awful question: “Was the cause of this illness an unsanitary condition within my control?”

Because of Dr. Lister and his germ theory, the ostentatious, dust-bunny-collecting Queen Anne, with its ornate woodwork, fretwork and gingerbread fell from favor with a resounding thud.

Simplicity, harmony and durability are the keynotes of the modern tendency. The general intention seems to be to avoid everything that is superfluous; everything that has a tendency to catch and hold dust or dirt. Wooden bedsteads are being replaced by iron or brass; stuffed and upholstered furniture by articles of plain wood and leather. Bric-a-brac, flounces, valances and all other superfluous articles are much less fashionable (from Household Discoveries and Mrs. Curtis’ Cook-Book).

Remember the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life”? There’s a 1920s scene where George Baily and his girlfriend pause in front of the massive Second Empire house. It sits abandoned and empty, deteriorating day by day. This was not an uncommon fate for Victorian manses in post-germ theory America. Who knew what germs lay in wait within its hard-to-clean walls?

The February 1911 Ladies’ Home Journal was devoted to the new housing style: Bungalows. One headline said, “The Bungalow, because of its easy housekeeping possibilities is becoming more popular every year.”

And all because of Dr. Lister.

(By the way, Dr. Lister did not invent the popular mouthwash but it was named after him and his discoveries.)

To learn more about the bungalows sold by Sears, click here.

*

Snow White Kitchen

The Snow White "Sanitary" Kitchen. This picture is from the 1918 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

*

Germ Theory

The Clorox man's claim to fame was superior germ-killing abilities. Note the adoring women praising him. Sadly, they're all wearing aprons. Well, maybe it's not so much sad as SCARY!

*

Geor

George and Mary ("It's a Wonderful Life") got into this Second Empire Victorian *cheap* because it was riddled with germs and so hard to keep clean! After the discovery of the germ theory, we abandoned Victorian homes - with all their fretwork and frippery - in quite a hurry. Prior to the discovery of the germ theory, about 20% of children didn't make it to their 18th birthday. Once we figured out that it was these tiny microbes that was killing off our children, cleanliness became the order of the day.

*

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

To read more about George and Mary, click here.

* * *