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Posts Tagged ‘Sears kit Homes’

Pink Bathrooms: Extinction Looms

March 24th, 2018 Sears Homes 7 comments

Remember the very first commandment of old house renovation? Thou shalt not destroy good old work.

That’s it.

More than 35% of the garbage at America’s landfills is construction-related waste. That’s a phenomenal amount of debris. What’s worse is this: The replacement materials promoted at contemporary big box stores (in most cases) has a serviceable life of less than 10 years. So that new light gray bathroom with white accents will probably need replacing, and THOSE construction materials will also end up at the city dump.

We have got to stop destroying “good old work” in older homes in the name of keeping up with the Joneses (and the Kardashians).

You know what makes my blood boil? Ads like this.

NOTE: All the houses shown below are in Portsmouth, Virginia.

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Theres a special extra-toasty place in preservation hell for this bank.

There's a special extra-toasty place in preservation hell for this bank. A very special place. A friend sent me this advertisement. It popped up on her Facebook page. Oh, how I loathe this promotion. It feeds into the insanity promoted by HGTV that "old and lovely" is never good enough. And yet odds are that this same bank will spearhead efforts to promote recycling. Not much sense in saving 21 pounds of plastic and yet promoting the destruction of thousands of pounds of "good old work."

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Classic good looks.

This light-pink bathroom features classic good looks and will provide decades of service. The tile floor (cartwheel pattern) is already more than 60 years old, and is set in about 6 inches of concrete. With minimal care, this floor will endure another several decades. The same is true for the tile walls.

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The pink tile in this Portsmouth home (Virginia) dates to the mid-1950s, and yet - due to good care and maintenance - it is in like-new condition. The materials used in these mid-century bathrooms will last another 50 years. And yet their modern replacements - fiberglass and plastic junk from big-box stores - will not endure.

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When I was a kid growing up in Waterview (a 1920s/30s middle-class neighborhood), I don't remember seeing anyone "remodel" their bathrooms, and yet by the 1960s/70s, these kitchens and baths were quite old. The pink bathroom featured here has its original sink and toilet. As with the others, it will endure for many more years.

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The same bathroom (shown above) from a different angle. It has a tiled shower and separate tub. It's also beautiful, with the white and pink tile.

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Some pink bathrooms are more subdued than others, but these mid-century tile jobs are typically set in several inches of concrete. When experts recommend retreating to a bathroom during a tornado, this is the type of "safe space" they have in mind. The thick-set mortar bed plus copper pipes plus additional wooden framing makes this one sturdy space.

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My favorite pink bathroom is a deep rose with blue accents.

My favorite pink bathroom is a deep rose with blue accents. I tried to purchase this house (in Waterview) late last year, but it got tangled up in a bidding war, and the price went from $210,000 to almost $270,000 within hours. It was probably this bathroom that drove up the price.

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We have got to stop destroying “good old work.” My current home has a green bathroom. Green is my least favorite color, but I have decided to live with it for a time and see how I feel about in 5 years or so. It may grow on me. I do know this: Society needs to learn that “keeping up with the Joneses” is a path to madness, waste and financial foolishness.

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Save the pink bathrooms!

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NOTE: All the houses shown above are in Portsmouth, Virginia.

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What’s My Happy Color?

March 15th, 2018 Sears Homes 12 comments

Six months ago, a new chapter of my life began when I moved into this house in Suffolk, Virginia. In the 12 months prior to that, I’d often tell people, “I want a house that’s quirky and fun, something that’s solid and well-built, but unique. When people walk into the front door, I want them to think - this LOOKS like something Rosemary would buy!”

And I found it.

As someone who studies old houses, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a floorplan like this. I’m not even sure I can identify what style of house this is.

And on a related note, ever since I replaced the old storm door, I’ve been dreaming about a new color for the exterior shutters. Perhaps brown is the best color to complement the earth-toned bricks, but if you can think of a new color, please let me know.

Thanks in advance for any and all comments.

Want to learn how to identify kit homes? Click here.

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One of this homes most appealing features was that it had been beautifully maintained by its first (and only) owners. And yet, the storm door was a little tired and quite drafty. After it was replaced with the new full-view door but that has inspired me to re-think the shutter color.

One of this home's most appealing features was that it had been beautifully maintained by its first (and only) owners. And yet, the storm door was a little tired and a bit drafty. After it was replaced with the new full-view door (right side) , that inspired me to re-think the shutter color.

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If anyone has any guesses as to the year of manufacture for this door, Id love to know. The house was built in 1976, but surely the door isnt 40 years old - or is it?

If anyone has any guesses as to the year of manufacture for this door, I'd love to know. The house was built in 1976, but surely the door isn't 40 years old - or is it?

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The new storm door was under $200 at Lowes and does a fine job of highlighting that beautiful 1950s-ish looking front door.

The new storm door was under $200 at Lowes and does a fine job of highlighting that beautiful 1950s-ish looking front door. And Teddy the Dog loves it too.

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That front door looks more like something youd find on a 1950s ranch, and its one of my favorite features on this 40-year-old custom-built brick ranch.

That front door looks more like something you'd find on a 1950s ranch, and it's one of my favorite features on this 40-year-old custom-built house.

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As I mentioned above, Ive never seen a floorplan such as Ive seen in this house.

As I mentioned above, I've never seen a floorplan such as I've seen in this house. On the other side of that full-view storm door is this massive chimney, rising up from the floor to the ceiling. It provides privacy, so that you can't peak in the front door and see the living room.

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The living room (and the wood stove insert) is on the other side.

The living room (and fireplace with wood stove insert) is on the other side of that large brick chimney. You can see a bit of the front door behind that fireplace (with the old storm door). The space on the right is the stairwell that leads to the basement garage.

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Its a mighty narrow stairwell that leads to the basement/garage, and its built with concrete block walls. I have not been able to figure out why a staircase would need to be built like a bomb shelter.

It's a mighty narrow stairwell that leads to the basement/garage, and it's built with concrete block walls. I have not been able to figure out why a staircase would need to be built like a bomb shelter.

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Within that front foyer are two steps which lead to the living space. I spend my life thinking about houses and I cant even come up with a name for this particular style.

Within that front foyer are two steps which lead to the living space. I spend my life thinking about houses and I can't even come up with a name for this particular style. I suppose it's a brick ranch, but this sunken foyer is quite unique!

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Back to the question at hand - what color shutters do I want?

Back to the question at hand - what color shutters do I want? Or is brown simply the best choice? The roof is also brown. However, the brown storm door is gone!

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Shutter

Things were a lot more green when I bought the house in early October 2017. I'm looking forward to seeing that pretty green color again!

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Thanks in advance for any and all comments.

Want to learn how to identify kit homes? Click here.

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Compartmentalizing the Sacred Spaces

February 25th, 2018 Sears Homes 5 comments

As my friends know, I consider the Open Floor Plan to be a plague spot on American architecture, and it’s a plague that continues to spread.

The home I recently purchased in Suffolk has lots and lots of walls and a few doors, and I’m a big fan of walls and doors.

Nonetheless, one of my favorite rooms in the house - the den at the southeastern end of the house - had two cased openings but no doors.

The den has become my “nest” where I can curl up on the couch and watch TV or just look out the large sliding glass door into the peaceful back yard. In the morning, sunlight streams in through the three capacious windows. It’s the only room in the house that has windows on three of its four sides.

I wanted doors, but didn’t want to obstruct any of that wonderful light in the contiguous rooms (kitchen and dining room).

So I came up with a plan. Check out the pictures to see my unique idea.

To read one of my favorite blogs, click here.

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As Teddy demonstrates, there is no door between the kitchen and the den. Not good. I need doors and lots of them.

As Teddy demonstrates, there is no door between the kitchen and the den. Not good. I need doors and lots of them. My "nest" can be seen in the background. And yes, that's an enormous stuffed horse.

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And when I curl up on my nest (on the couch in the den), I can see the kitchen. Not good. The kitchen should not be seen or heard. I dont want to think about the kitchen. Ever.

And when I curl up on my nest (on the couch in the den), I can see the kitchen. Not good. The kitchen should not be seen or heard. I don't want to think about the kitchen. Ever.

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So I had an idea...and it started with these doors.

So I had an idea...and it started with these doors. These are bifold doors, ordered from Lowes Hardware. I purchased two sets of these doors (on sale) 24" wide, so that the two sets would match my 48" cased opening.

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They arrived expeditiously and in fine shape. I removed the hinges and patched the small holes left behind. The hinges were surface mount (not mortised), so it was easy to patch the screw holes.

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Bypass

I also purchased this "bypass closet door track kit." It's designed for closet doors, and the "bypass" allows for two doors to be on the same track. According to the weight specs, it was more than sturdy enough to support my discombobulated French Doors.

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Next, I installed a double bypass track in the top of the doorway. This is a track that lets two doors slide past each other.

Next, I installed the track in the doorway. It was one inch too long and had to be cut down. Installation was very simple and fast. I didn't use the screws that came with the kit, but opted for something more substantial.

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Next, I affixed the corresponding rollers to the top of these wooden french doors.

Next, I affixed the corresponding rollers to the top of these wooden doors.

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With the track in place, installing the doors was quite simple.

With the track in place, installing the doors was quite simple.

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And they worked so well!

And they worked so well!

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And looked so pretty!

And looked so pretty!

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After a brief moment of admiration, I pulled them down for painting.

After a brief moment of admiration, I pulled them down for painting. The doors were of excellent quality, and the glass was covered with plastic to protect the glass during painting. I applied one coat of primer and two coats of paint. This was the most time-consuming process of all. These doors sat in my den (on sawhorses, atop plastic) for quite some time.

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After

After the painting was done, they were reinstalled (which took a few seconds). Even with the paint slopped over the edges, they looked quite attractive.

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And once completed, it looked fantastic.

And once completed, it looked fantastic.

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They can be opened partially.

They look good partially shut...

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Or fully

Or shut all the way.

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Even the dinette set (in the kitchen) is happier.

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Before and After photos (actually, theyre in the wrong order).

"Before and After" photos. Actually, they're in the wrong order. The "after photo" is on the left. Oops.

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Best of all, I can sit on my couch and not see the kitchen very well!

Best of all, I can sit on my couch and not see the kitchen! Mission accomplished.

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Id thought about installing something like this, but it was too big and bulky and didnt fit the style of the house. Plus, I didnt have the wall space.

Originally, I'd thought about installing something like this, but it was too big and bulky and didn't fit the style of the house. Plus, I didn't have the wall space. And it would cut off the light from the other rooms. Not good.

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With these French Doors, the sunlight still fills the house!

With these French Doors, the sunlight still fills the house! Total cost was $280 for the two sets of bifold doors (seen above) and about $35 for the hardware.

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To read one of my favorite blogs, click here.

Read more about the open floor plan (and why it’s so evil) here.

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Nope, It’s Not a Sears Magnolia…

February 10th, 2018 Sears Homes 3 comments

In the last 20 years, I’ve probably received more than 200 emails and inquiries from folks who think they’ve found a Sears Magnolia. In the last 20 years, I’ve found four Magnolias as a result of these emails and inquiries.

That means that 2% of the time, these comments are correct.

And yet, I still feel a rush of adrenaline when someone leaves a comment stating that there is a Sears Magnolia at (fill in the blank).

This morning, as I was preparing to write a blog on Penniman’s people, I found a fresh comment from someone stating that there was a Sears Magnolia in Hawkinsville, Georgia. Immediately, I assumed that they must be right and abandoned the blog I’d been working on to investigate this purported sighting.

Again, it was not a Magnolia. And yet, this one was closer than most.

Please keep those cards and letters coming.  :D

To learn more about Sears kit homes, click here.

Even the little town of Poquoson has a few kit homes.

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The Sears Magnolia was probalby Sears fanciest model.

The Sears Magnolia was probably Sears fanciest model. It was offered from 1918 to 1922, and sold for less than $6,000. There are only nine known Magnolias in the country.

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First, the real deal. This is a known Magnolia in Benson, NC.

First, the real deal. This is a known Magnolia in Benson, NC.

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In 2003, I appeared on History Detectives (PBS) and this Sears Magnolia was briefly featured (Canton, Ohio).

In 2003, I appeared on "History Detectives" (PBS) and this Sears Magnolia was briefly featured (Canton, Ohio).

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A reader mentioned this alleged Magnolia in Hawkinsville, Georgia. Im sorry to say that this is NOT a Magnolia.

A reader mentioned this "alleged" Magnolia in Hawkinsville, Georgia. I'm sorry to say that this is NOT a Magnolia. This building is currently in use as "Clark Funeral Home" and this photo is from their website and here's hoping that they're okay with me promoting their beautiful old house on my blog. And it IS a beautiful old house, but it's not a Sears house.

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To learn more about Sears kit homes, click here.

Even the little town of Poquoson has a few kit homes.

Interested in learning more about Clark Funeral Home? Click here.

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Pulchritudinous Poquoson and Its Kit Homes

February 5th, 2018 Sears Homes 5 comments

Several months ago, I went looking for a GriefShare group to join, and chose one in Poquoson (Virginia). The primary reason was this: I didn’t know anyone in Poquoson, so if I had a panic attack or started crying or acted like a fool, I could surreptitiously slip out the side door and no one would ever know I was there.

As the weeks passed, I started coming early on Wednesday nights for the church supper, and then I joined a group for weekly trivia night at a local bar after the GriefShare meeting.

After spending so much time in Poquoson, I couldn’t resist the temptation to take a drive around and see how many kit homes I could find. I drove through probably 75% of the area, and I found a few.

I did not find any Penniman homes, but I suspect there are (or were) a few of those too. (Penniman was a WW1-village just outside of Williamsburg, and is now a ghost city.)

What is a “Sears kit home”? In the early 1900s, you could order almost anything from the Sears Roebuck catalog, including a  house. These 12,000-piece kits were shipped by boxcar, and came with a 75-page instruction book that told the homeowner how all those pieces and parts went together. Click here to learn more.

Enjoy the pictures below, and please share this link with your history loving friends.

And if you’re on Facebook, please share the link there!

You can read more about Penniman here.

Want to read a story that will bring tears to your eyes? Read about my sweet daughter here.

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Poquoson is an Indian word for marsh which is appropriate, given the vast amounts of marsh found in this area.

According to several online sources, Poquoson is an Indian word for "great marsh" which is appropriate, given the vast amounts of marsh found in this area.

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This Sears Hamilton was one of the first Sears Homes I found in Poquoson. Its been through a lot of changes, but its definitely a Hamilton.

This Sears "Hamilton" was one of the first Sears Homes I found in Poquoson. It's been through a lot of changes, but it's definitely a Hamilton. Many of the houses in Poquoson have been elevated several feet due to flooding.

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The Sears Hamilton was a very popular house for Sears (1928 catalog).

The Sears Hamilton was a very popular house for Sears (1928 catalog).

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The Poquoson house has had its small porch enclosed, and its flipped (or reversed). More than 30% of Sears Homes were customized when built, and flipping the design was a very common alteration.

The Poquoson house has had its small porch enclosed, and its "flipped" (or reversed). More than 30% of Sears Homes were customized when built, and "flipping" the design was a very common alteration.

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Side by side, you can really

With the two images side-by-side, it's easy to see the similarities. The Poquoson house does not have the fireplace (which was an option).

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The Sears Conway is another model I found in Poquoson (1928 catalog).

The Sears "Conway" is another model I found in Poquoson (1928 catalog).

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The Conway has two floorplans, which are quite different.

The Conway has two floorplans, which are quite different.

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Because the Conway was a small home, its very common to see that those spacious porches were enclosed for more square footage.

Because the Conway was a small home, it's very common to see that those spacious porches were enclosed for more square footage. This is a really nice example of this popular bungalow.

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Sadly, the details around the front porch (on the subject house) were lost when that vinyl siding went up. Ick.

Sadly, the details and bracketing around the front porch (on the subject house) were lost when that vinyl siding went up. That's also a very common "renovation" (blech).

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1914 Moosejaw

I also discovered a couple "Aladdin kit homes" in Poquoson. Aladdin, based in Bay City, Michigan, was actually a larger company than Sears (in terms of kit house sales) but was lesser known. Sears sold about 70,000 kit homes during their 32 years in the business (1908 to 1940). Aladdin was in business from 1906-1981.

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Almost next door to that Sears Conway, I found an Aladdin Sheffield.

Almost next door to that Sears Conway, I found an Aladdin "Sheffield."

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It had been dramatically altered in the last 100 years, but its origins are unmistakable.

It had been dramatically altered in the last 100 years, but its origins are unmistakable.

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A close-up view of the scrolled rafter tails.

Those oversized hipped dormers are a dead give-away.

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And

And the scrolled rafter tails are also quite unique.

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The view down the other side also gives many clues.

The view down the other side also gives many clues.

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I also discovered a couple Aladdin kit homes in Poquoson. Aladdin, based in Bay City, Michigan, was actually a larger company than Sears (in terms of kit house sales) but was lesser known.

And just across the street is the Sheffield Grocery! It's a sign!

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Further down Poquoson Road, I also found something that looks a lot like an Aladdin Sunshine.

Further down Poquoson Road, I also found something that looks a lot like an Aladdin "Sunshine."

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Is this an Aladdin Sunshine? Maybe my dear friend Dale Wolicki will weigh in with an opinion. Its close, but not quite right. And yet its only 1/4 mile away from that Sheffield.

Is this an Aladdin "Sunshine"? Maybe my dear friend Dale Wolicki will weigh in with an opinion. It's close, but not quite right. And yet it's only 1/4 mile away from that Sheffield.

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This house is another head-scratcher. Its very close to the Wardway Sheridan (sold by Montgomery Ward). And yet, it lacks the boldness of the Wardway model.

This house is another head-scratcher. It's very close to the Wardway Sheridan (sold by Montgomery Ward). And yet, it lacks the boldness of the Wardway model.

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Is it a Wardway Sheridan? Its darn close!

Is it a Wardway Sheridan? It's darn close!

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Its another house thats really, really close.

It's another house that's really, really close. If I were a betting man, I'd say it's 92% likely that this is a Wardway "Sheridan." I do know that this house is very shy about getting its picture taken. I made three trips to Poquoson at three different times in the day and every time, the pictures came out poorly.

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And this one is missing in action! Years ago, I made a quick trip through Poquoson and saw an Aladdin Pasadena. Ive been unable to find in more recent visits. Have you seen this house? Its quite distinctive!

And this one is missing in action! Years ago, I made a quick trip through Poquoson and saw an Aladdin Pasadena. I've been unable to find in more recent visits. Have you seen this house? It's quite distinctive!

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While I was in Poquoson, I was also looking for Penniman houses. If you are a faithful reader of this website, youll know that Penniman was a Ghost City just outside of Williamsburg. At its peak, more than 15,000 people called Penniman their home, and yet after The Great War, the town was abandoned and all of the houses were wrecked (disassembled) or moved intact to other locations.

While I was in Poquoson, I was also looking for Penniman houses. If you are a faithful reader of this website, you'll know that Penniman was a "Ghost City" just outside of Williamsburg. At its peak, more than 15,000 people called Penniman their home, and yet after The Great War, the town was abandoned and all of the houses were wrecked (disassembled) or moved intact to other locations. Given its location, it seems likely that a few of these Penniman houses landed in Poquoson.

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In 1938, the Richmond News Leader did a comprehensive article on The Ghost City of Penniman, and in that article, we learn that several Penniman houses were moved to nearby cities.

In 1938, the Richmond News Leader did a comprehensive article on The Ghost City of Penniman, and in that article, we learn that several Penniman houses were moved to "nearby cities."

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One of the most popular houses at Penniman was the Georgia. These houses were designed by DuPont (which created the town during WW1), and after the war, many of these houses were moved to Norfolk, where theyre still standing. Have you seen this house in Poquoson or nearby cities?

One of the most popular houses at Penniman was the Georgia. These houses were designed by DuPont (which created the town during WW1), and after the war, many of these houses were moved to Norfolk, where they're still standing. Have you seen this house in Poquoson or nearby cities?

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The Haskell was another Penniman house that may be lurking somewhere in Poquoson.

The Haskell was another Penniman house that may be lurking somewhere in Poquoson.

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And the Arlington was another house built at Penniman.

And the Arlington was another house built at Penniman and moved to other areas.

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You can read more about Penniman here.

How did they move the houses? Learn more about that here.

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Love, Prayers and “Standard Bilt” Sears Homes

January 23rd, 2018 Sears Homes 9 comments

Yesterday started out tough but ended up on a lovely note. There were several decisions to make, hard things to do, and then, after breakfast, I discovered a jagged edge on my bottom front tooth. It had been feeling a little odd for about a month, but I’d ignored it.

Upon closer examination, I discovered it was a chipped tooth, with a vertical crack to the gumline. The panic over a big dental mess hit me hard. Thankfully, my wonderful dentist Dr. Weisberg was able to see me yesterday afternoon. After x-rays and an examination, he determined that the “crack” was a typical dental craze line. I did have a chipped tooth, but that was easily repaired.

The best guess was that it was caused by the car accident on December 15th, when an off-duty cop rear-ended me, as I sat at a light. (Although the cop told the officer on the scene that he was doing “about 3 mph,” damage to my Camry showed that it was more than 15 mph.)

Speaking of cars…

Last night, I was looking at used cars and found one that was very pretty. The stress of making a decision brought a fast return of the upset stomach, and I got fogged in by the angst.

I contacted two very dear friends to seek out their advice, and called my daughter. All three responded in seconds, offering sagacious counsel and wise insights. They patiently and lovingly explained that this wasn’t the car (or the deal) for me. Back at home, as I drifted off to sleep, I felt grateful that I had such loving and clear-minded friends, willing to drop everything and help me.

When I awakened in the wee hours, unable to sleep, I went to my website and re-read some of the beautiful comments left there by “online friends.” These are people that I’ve never met, and yet they have so much love in their heart that they’re willing to pray for a stranger’s return to health and wholeness. That is a reason for much gratitude.

This has become a habit: When I can not sleep, I revisit the “comments” section of my blog, and read each and every one, again and again. These comments mean a lot to me.

More than anything, the purpose of today’s post is to thank each and every kind soul that has helped me through the hard days. Every comment here brings me much joy, and assuages the nagging fear that I’m alone.

In 2002, this website was launched to share the good news and joy of Sears Homes. Sixteen years later, it has become a place where I am the recipient of countless blessings.

Thank you for keeping me here. And thank you for drawing that circle of love and taking me in.

PS. If you’d like to buy a slightly used Camry, please leave a comment! ;)

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While

The above is a comment written by Emily about three months ago (at a blog titled "Thank you for your prayers."). "While your husband's behavior shocked you, it'd didn't surprise our Savior..." That line touched my heart.

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The

Sears offered "Honor Bilt" and "Standard Bilt." The Hudson was a "Standard Bilt" Sears house. The Standard Bilt houses were never really intended to be permanent houses. They were quite modest. Framing members were spaced at 24" and doors and windows did not have double headers. There was no exterior sheathing, bur just the clapboard (1925 catalog).

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As you can see from this description, its a little house.

As you can see from this image, it's a simple little house.

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House

There were two floorplans. The "bigger" house had the second windows in the living room.

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The 2nd floor plan is a wee bit bigger than the first, and it has the double window in the living room.

The 2nd floor plan is a wee bit bigger than the first, and it has the double window in the living room. Still, this "larger model" is under 600 square feet.

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And how in the world do you find a simple little house like this?

And how in the world do you find a simple little house like this? You sure can't do it by a windshield survey. I found this house via mortgage records. It's a Sears "Hudson."

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To learn more about Standard Bilt Sears Homes, click here. Or, just search for the terms “Angry Moose.”

To read the original blog where Emily left her comment, click here.

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Two Months Since My Last Blog…

December 27th, 2017 Sears Homes 13 comments

This Christmas, my second as a widow, was a vast improvement over my first (last year). This year, my three daughters made the long trek to my recently acquired home in Suffolk, Virginia and we had a lovely time together on Christmas morning.

This morning (Wednesday), everyone went back home and that was tough. For three glorious days, I was not the widow of a man who took his own life, but a mother to three beautiful girls, and with their good energy and happy enthusiasm, we created some lovely new memories.

And yet, this morning, the tears returned. Two of the girls (and their significant others) live more than 600 miles away. I miss them so very much, and yet they’re in their 30s. I raised them to be independent, strong-willed, self-supporting, capable adults, ready and able to “fly the coop.”

They’re back home now, far away, and I realize that I need a strong distraction for the hours and the days and the weeks and the months.

I’m wondering if it’s time for me to move into the next phase, which is finding a job or volunteer work. My writing days are behind me. Right now, it’s hard to imagine that I’ll ever write another book. I never did like writing. It’s misery and it’s solitude and as far as income goes, it’s barely more than a hobby. The Penniman book (which represented six years of research) is being polished and prepared for a second printing.

What’s a former writer and historian to do?

I just don’t know.

I do know that sitting in my lovely house and sobbing every morning and every evening isn’t a good plan.

As always, please keep me in your prayers and please leave a comment below.

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For Christmas, my three daughters wrote "love notes" on bits of paper and put them in this vintage cookie tin. It was one of the loveliest and most thoughtful gifts I've ever received. The tin is just like a tin from my childhood home.

For Christmas, my three daughters wrote "love notes" on bits of paper and put them in this vintage cookie tin. It was one of the loveliest and most thoughtful gifts I've ever received. The tin is just like a tin from my childhood home. If I remember correctly, my mother purchased a tin much like this in the 1960s, and she would "bake" that small glass plug in the oven for 10-15 minutes. The idea was that those absorbent crystals would keep things crisp.

Please Leave a Comment Below…

August 11th, 2017 Sears Homes 47 comments

There’s something known as “second-year grief” and experts suspect it’s occasioned by the fact that in the first year following a sudden and traumatic death, the mind is in shock. By the second year, the protective layer of shock is mostly gone, and what’s left is the ugly, raw reality.

I’m not sure what the issue is, but despite a rigorous daily exercise routine, healthy eating, gratitude lists, daily “to do” lists, and other good habits, I’m struggling to keep my head above the massive waves of despair, regret and hopelessness that keep washing over me.

Every morning, one of the first things I do is to check this website for new comments. When someone leaves a comment, it’s a lovely reminder that I am still alive, and that someone somewhere is still thinking about me. And when someone says that they’re praying for me, that lifts my spirits more than I can easily express.

I return to the “well-commented” blogs (especially the recent ones) and read through every word of every comment again and again.

So if you’re one of the 1,500+ daily readers at this blog, I’d be ever so grateful if you’d take a moment and please leave a comment below.

Thank you so very much.

Read through some of my favorite comments here.

Interested in learning more about Penniman? Click here.

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When I drove to New Martinsville, WV last week, my Garmin took me through Ohio (and why, I do not know). Whilst there, I saw this perfect Avondale in Matamora (on Grandview Street) and snapped a picture.

When I drove to New Martinsville, WV last week, my Garmin took me through Ohio (and why, I do not know). Whilst there, I saw this perfect Avondale in Matamora (on Grandview Street) and snapped a picture.

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Heres an Avondale, from the 1919 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Here's an Avondale, from the 1919 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

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Every comment is so precious to me. This comment made me laugh out loud and also touched me to tears.

Every comment is so precious to me, and I cherish every word and the love behind the words. This comment made me laugh out loud and also touched me to tears. And I do love that song.

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To read the full blog that Susan is referencing, click here.

Read through some of my favorite comments here.

Interested in learning more about Penniman? Click here.

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Post #1000 - The Sears Magnolia in New Martinsville, WV

August 3rd, 2017 Sears Homes 18 comments

Last week, I traveled to New Martinsville, West Virginia to see what was purported to be the 9th Magnolia. Prior to this, there were only eight known Magnolias in the country. The Magnolia was the crème de la crème of Sears Homes, with countless accoutrements and fine features. To read more about the other Magnolias, click here.

The eight-hour trip to New Martinsville was quite lovely and the weather was beautiful. After examining the Magnolia in New Martinsville, I traveled to Elkins to visit Wayne’s family, and then on to Hampton Roads, Virginia. It was the trip from Elkins to home that went very badly. It should have taken less than 90 minutes to get from Elkins to White Sulphur Springs (and the interstate), but it took more than three hours.

I was as lost as I’ve ever been and frankly, utterly terrified. No cell service for three hours, and not one, but two Garmins that kept sending me around in circles, and roads that were as hazardous as any I’ve ever seen.

At one point, I went around a hairpin turn a little too fast and hit a very slick mudslide. This area had three days of non-stop rain. I hit that mudslide and lost control of the car. And - like so many places in them thar hills - there were no guardrails. In that split-second, I really thought that I was a goner. And in another split second, it was over. It was harrowing.

Had it not been for a small store in Belington (the first town I encountered), I’d probably have ended up on the back of a milk carton, lost forever in those hills, foraging for berries and edible bugs.

Nonetheless, I survived.

Now about that Magnolia…

It’s a puzzler. A real mystery wrapped inside an enigma. If you have an opinion on this house, I’d love to hear it.

Today, I’m of the opinion that the house was a custom-order from Sears, but that the framing lumber was obtained locally. I searched that house top-to-bottom for marks, stamped lumber, shipping labels and yet could find nothing.

And yet, the house has Sears hardware (see pictures below). And it was built sometime after 1930.

Please take a look at the images below and share your insights!

It’s for sale! Click here to see the listing!

(Many thanks to Rachel Shoemaker for helping with the research!)

Read more about the Sears Magnolia here.

Thanks to the Nebraska State Historical Society for the vintage photos of the Magnolia in Lincoln, that has since been demolished. To read more about this Magnolia, click here.

The original blog on this house can be found here.

If you enjoyed this blog, please share the link on Facebook.

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In 2003, I dated a nice fellow who did website setup and design. He was far more interested in kit homes than he was in me, but he offered to set up this website. It would have been about 2004 (give or take a year).

In 2003, I dated a nice fellow who did website setup and design. He was far more interested in kit homes than he was in me, but he offered to set up this website. It would have been about 2004 (give or take a year). He was cooked and done after one date, but his website lived on, until 2010, when JASE GROUP redid it. (No dates were involved.) This blog on the New Martinsville Magnolia really is my 1000th post.

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The Magnolia was offered in the Sears Modern Homes catalog from 1918 to 1924, and yet three of the Sears Magnolias Ive encountered were built after 1922.

The Magnolia was offered in the Sears Modern Homes catalog from 1918 to 1922, and yet three of the Sears Magnolias I've encountered were built after 1922. The house in New Martinsville was built after 1930. The Magnolia (as designed) was 36-feet deep and 40-feet wide. The house in New Martinsville is 40-feet deep and 44-feet wide.

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At first glance, it all looks swell.

At first glance, it all looks swell. And while it doesn't have those little lites atop the first floor windows, it does have replacement windows and substitute sidings, and if I had been allowed to pull out the windows and take a good look, I suspect I'd find evidence that when built, it had the small transom lites over the windows.

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Comparing it to other Magnolias, it looks pretty good too.

Comparing it to other Magnolias, it looks pretty good too.

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And

In fact, it looks real good!

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Inside, things look pretty good, too.

Inside, things look pretty good, too. (Left to right: Catalog image 1918, Sears Magnolia in Nebraska, and the New Martinsville Magnolia.) The only thing is, that flare at the bottom of the staircase is wrong. And the hallway is a little too wide. Those pilasters in the New Martinsville house are too close to the stairs. Photo is courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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But

And yet when you go upstairs, things look good there, too. (House on right is the Magnolia in Nebraska.) Photo is courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Inside the

Looking toward the front door, it's a beautiful home, but is it a Magnolia? It sure is close.

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DD

With a little help from my friends, we now know that Dr. Schmied and his wife Anna occupied the house, and may have been the home's original owners. Dr. Schmied was the town mayor for a time, so he was definitely a man of some import. Given that New Martinsville is a small town, someone must know more about this house.

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Then theres this: The millwork isnt right. Sears didnt offer a volute like this at any time in their milwork catalogs.

Then there's this: The millwork isn't right. Sears didn't offer a volute like this at any time in their mill-work catalogs. And I'm not sure if that's a "volute" or just a cap. But it doesn't appear to be anything Sears offered.

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And when I look at that balustrade, all I can think is that the cap looks just like a Little Debbie Honey Bun.

When I look at that balustrade, all I can think is that the cap looks like a Honey Bun.

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For the most part, the doors are in the right place and the floorplan is right.

For the most part, the doors are in the right place and the floorplan is right. Then again, Sears didn't offer these tapered spindles (shown on the left) in their millwork catalog.

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And that funny little rear staircase - descending into the kitchen from the servants quarters - is right where it should be.

And that funny little rear staircase - descending into the kitchen from the servant's quarters - is right where it should be.

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This 1930s home had several original light fixtures, but I couldnt find them in the catalogs, either.

This 1930s home had several original light fixtures, but I couldn't find them in the catalogs, either.

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But then theres this...

But then there's this. This style knob and escutcheon was found throughout the Magnolia, and it was a model offered by Sears. Does Sears hardware make it a Sears House? It certainly does add to the intrigue.

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This was

Rhythmic door hardware was first offered in 1930, in the Sears Modern Homes catalog. And it's fairly unique. And it's "not a fad," but it is Art Deco. What's not to love! It blends into any home or building!

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Pretty nice

And then there's this, too. The garage (as shown in the 1938 catalog).

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The garage is a darn fine match. The front extends well past the garage shown in the catalog image, but that could have been altered easily enough when built, or in the intervening 90 years.

The garage is a darn fine match. The front extends well past the garage shown in the catalog image, but that could have been altered easily enough when built, or in the intervening 90 years.

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This is the living room as shown in the 1918 catalog.

This is the living room as shown in the 1918 catalog.

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The Magnolia in Nebraska was still largely original when it was destroyed.

The Magnolia in Nebraska was still largely original when it was destroyed. The inglenook is still intact. Photo is courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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fff

The New Martinsville house was used for a time as a restaurant, so it's been dramatically altered, and yet those pilasters (edge of photo) are still in place.

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But the columns were moved to the back of the living room.

But the columns were moved to the back of the living room (near the front of the house).

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Most likely, these alterations occurred when the house was used as a business (restaurant and retail sales).

Most likely, these alterations occurred when the house was used as a business (restaurant and retail sales). Those three windows (covered in red drapes) are on the right front as you face the house.

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And the Butlers Pantry is in the right place, too. It is (as my friend James said), a butlers pantry for anorexics. Its pretty darn small.

And the Butler's Pantry is in the right place, too, between the dining room and kitchen. It is (as my friend James said), "a butler's pantry for anorexics." It's pretty darn small.

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On this side, there should be a sink, but its MIA.

On this side, there should be a sink, but it's MIA.

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Sears

As seen in the 1920 Sears Modern Homes catalog - the first floor. Having seen the inside of several Magnolias, as well as this house in New Martinsville, I must say that it's a fairly good match to this unusual floor plan.

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And that tiny Butlers Pantry is right where it should be.

And that tiny Butler's Pantry is right where it should be, between the dining room and kitchen. You can also see the servants stairs on this close-up. These stairs lead to the servant's bedroom above.

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I spent way too much time in that basement, and yet saw no evidence of any marked lumber, blue grease pencil markings or shipping labels.

I spent way too much time in that basement, and yet saw no evidence of any marked lumber, blue grease pencil markings or shipping labels.

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The back of the house is also a good match.

The back of the house is also a good match.

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As designed, this was an open porch. Its now enclosed. The house has been covered in substitute siding, so many architectural details - as to what was altered - are not visible.

As designed, this was an open porch. It's now enclosed, and you can see the French Doors leading to the servant's quarters (as per the original plan). The house has been covered in substitute siding, so many architectural details - as to what was altered - are not visible.

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ff

My pretty Magnolia, who has passed through your doors? Maybe they know your story!

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ITs

It's a beauty, but is it a Magnolia? As I said above, I think it's probably a Magnolia, built with local lumber and perhaps even millwork. There's so much that's right about the house, but also, there's much that is not a good match.

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The Juliet Porch on the 2nd floor has a bit of a sag, but another Magnolia owner told me that their porch also needed a little bolstering.

The "Juliet Porch" on the 2nd floor has a bit of a sag, but another Magnolia owner told me that their porch also needed a little bolstering. The spindles are right but it should have paneled columns at the corners. Was this rebuilt in later years? Also, the traditional Magnolia trim around the front door is missing.

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The trim around the Magnolias front door should look like this.

The trim around the Magnolia's front door should look like this. This Magnolia is also in West Virginia.

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R

For that shot of the Juliet Porch, I stood on top of that railing, balanced precariously and rather hopeful that I wouldn't topple to my death. Nonetheless, it wouldn't be a bad way to go. (Artistic re-creation of the actual event.)

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Is it a Magnolia?

Is it a Magnolia?

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It’s for sale! Click here to see the listing!

(Many thanks to Rachel Shoemaker for helping with the research!)

Read more about the Sears Magnolia here.

To see what makes Rose laugh out loud, click here.

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Another “Sears House” Featured on HGTV?

July 17th, 2017 Sears Homes 14 comments

An update! It’s not a “Sears kit house,” but a Penniman house. Kind of. :D

And “Sears House” is in quotes, because we all know, 99% of the time (or maybe 100%), these horrible TV shows get it wrong. And they are horrible.

One of the first rules of old house ownership is “Thou Shalt Not Destroy Good Old Work,” and yet that is the first thing that these programs encourage.

They rip out all manner of quality workmanship in kitchens and baths, so that they can put in poor-quality plasticine (but trendy) dreck and dregs, which lack classic or traditional beauty, and will be tired and dated before this decade ends, and it’s all in the name of convincing American homeowners that “good enough” is abhorrent and ghastly, and that you shouldn’t worry about “keeping up with the Joneses” but rather, you should be focused on keeping up with the Kardashians.

For the last several months, I’ve been searching for a home and in that process, I’ve looked at several foreclosures in the $175,000+ range. I’ve yet to see a house in original condition in foreclosure. The homes I’ve viewed are either half-way “remodeled” (and how I hate that word), or they have shiny new kitchens and baths. If you have several thousand dollars that you can set fire to, try something truly avant-garde - PUT THAT MONEY IN A SAVINGS ACCOUNT.

This remodeling craze is insanity and it’s also ecological idiocy.

More than 35% of all the detritus at landfills is construction debris. Every time you rip out a full kitchen of knotty pine cabinets or destroy a pink bathroom, you’re adding to this country’s burgeoning problem of solid waste. Our landfills are filling up at a tremendous clip. As homeowners, we are caretakers. We have a responsibility to preserve the unique features of an old house. If you want shiny and fancy and new, buy a house that is shiny and fancy and new.

But I digress…

Let’s go back to HGTV (Houses Getting Totally Vandalized) and their latest discussion on Sears Houses.

According to a friend, Season 11, Episode 7 of “House Hunters” featured a Sears House in Nashville, Tennessee. I’m unable to find even screen shot of the house featured on this show, so if anyone can capture images for me, I’d be very grateful.

And in the meantime, please tell your vinyl-loving friends, if they want a new house, they should buy a new house, and leave our old houses unmolested and undamaged.

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Before there was HGTV, Bob Vila misidentified a house in California as a Sears Home. On "Home Again" he identified this house as a "Sears Craftsman Bungalow" and a "Sears Crescent." Since this house was in the Los Angeles area, you think he would have considered Pacific Ready Cut Homes first, but he didn't. Years ago, I did track down and speak with the home's owner, and sent  him a picture out of the PRCH catalog, showing him the proper model name. He was very pleased.

Before there was HGTV, Bob Vila misidentified a house in California as a Sears Home (about 1999-2000). On "Home Again" he identified this house as a "Sears Craftsman Bungalow" and a "Sears Crescent." Since this house was in the Los Angeles area, you think he would have considered Pacific Ready Cut Homes first, but he didn't. Years ago, I did track down and speak with the home's owner, and sent him a picture out of the PRCH catalog, showing him the proper model name. He was very pleased.

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On a recent episode of Property Brothers, they destroyed this delightful old bathtub and bathroom to put in some new ugly crap.

On a recent episode of "Property Brothers," they destroyed this delightful old bathtub and bathroom for no other reason than to "remodel" the space. That gorgeous basketweave tile floor is also in the landfill now.

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Shown above is an expensive kitchen remodel in a 1961 brick ranch in Portsmouth, Virginia, and it's in foreclosure. The original kitchen is sitting in a landfill somewhere, as are the plaster walls and studs that defined the kitchen, dining room and living room.

Shown above is an expensive kitchen remodel in a 1961 brick ranch in Portsmouth, Virginia, and it's in foreclosure. The original kitchen is sitting in a landfill somewhere, as are the plaster walls and studs that defined the kitchen, dining room and living room.

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Shown above is an expensive kitchen remodel in a 1961 brick ranch in Portsmouth, Virginia, and it's in foreclosure. The original kitchen is sitting in a landfill somewhere, as are the plaster walls and studs that defined the kitchen, dining room and living room.  The bathroom (from the same house shown above) has also been gutted and destroyed. Built in 1960, the original bathroom would have had tile wainscoting, set in 2-3 inches of thickset mortar, with complementing tile flooring. Those materials - which would have survived a nuclear holocaust - have been replaced with MDF cabinetry and engineered wood floors. In place of the tile wainscoting, someone has put up sheetrock with knock-down plaster finish. If these inferior-grade materials survive for 10 years, it will be a Christmas miracle.

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This

This is how America did bathrooms in the 1960s. This bathroom shown above (located at 1889 Rosemary Lane) is now more than 50 years old, and yet looks wonderful. And yes, that's the original toilet in the background. Today's replacement materials - in many cases - are not going to survive more than 20 years, at best.

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According to a friend, Season 11, Episode 7 of “House Hunters” featured a Sears House in Nashville, Tennessee. I’m unable to find so much as a screen shot of this show, so if anyone can capture images for me, I’d be very grateful.

To contact me, please leave a comment below.

Look at a real Sears Crescent by clicking here.

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