When I last visited Hopewell in 2003, many good things happened, and I was treated kindly. Sadly, I discovered that many of Hopewell’s “Sears Homes” were not really Sears Homes at all. There were some folks in Hopewell that were pretty unhappy about that.
Eight years later, when I returned to Hopewell in Spring 2011, I focused on the amazing collection of Aladdin kit homes in that city. While Hopewell has only EIGHT Sears Homes in Crescent Hills, they have dozens and dozens of Aladdin kit homes near the downtown area. More on that here, here, and here.
However, I couldn’t resist driving through Crescent Hills and photographing these almost-kinda-but-not-really Sears Homes. For instance, the city’s brochure states that the house at 201 Prince George Avenue is the Sears Van Jean.
Hmmm. Let’s compare the house on Prince George with a catalog picture of the Sears Van Jean.
It’s true that these are both Dutch Colonial homes, but that’s not enough. Sears patterned their houses after the popular housing styles of the day. In fact, Sears offered several Dutch Colonial kit homes. So you can not say: “I see a Dutch Colonial. Sears offered a Dutch Colonial; ergo this Dutch Colonial must have come from Sears.”
And that’s apparently what’s happened with this pretty Dutch Colonial in Hopewell. Someone made a boo boo.
When you look a little closer at the details between these two homes, you see several differences in these two details. And it’s the details that make or break comparisons such as this.
First, look at the front porches.
Another important detail are the cornice returns. Again - in my book (and I’ve written lots of ‘em), cornice returns are very important details that can not be overlooked or discounted, because details are the very thing that’ll distinguish a Sears Van Jean from your average (but lovely) Dutch Colonial.
The third big hard strike against this being a Sears Van Jean is the placement of the furnace chimney. Houses may undergo significant remodeling, but chimneys don’t get moved around! The only exception might be a missing chimney. Today, modern, high-efficiency boilers and furnaces use pvc “snorkels” for exhausting combustion gases, and that paves the way to discard and remove old crumbling chimneys. But a chimney in the wrong place - well that in and of itself can be a deal killer. (The Van Jean shows the furnace chimney on the end of the house. The Hopewell house has its furnace chimney more toward the center.)
The fourth and final strike for the Hopeful Hopewell House is the fenestration. Gosh I love that word. Unless the Hopeful Hopewell House underwent some transmogrification (I love that word too), the fenestration (window arrangement) is wrong.
In conclusion, the Dutch Colonial in Hopewell is a real beauty, and fine-looking home but it is not the Sears Van Jean.
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