Archive

Posts Tagged ‘sears maytown’

The Sears Home in Needham, Massachusetts

May 24th, 2013 Sears Homes 2 comments

Last week, I visited Needham, Massachusetts and spent time with my daughter, Anna Rose.

After a Saturday morning breakfast, we were driving back to her house when I saw a house that caught my eye on Webster Avenue. As she pulled up to a nearby stop sign, I hopped out of the car (much to my daughter’s surprise), and said, “Circle the block and pick me up in a few minutes!”

Not only had I spotted a Sears House, but it was a Sears Ivanhoe, one of their biggest and best kit homes!  Unfortunately, due to the many trees, I was not able to get a good photo, but there’s definitely a fine-looking Ivanhoe hiding behind all those trees!

Later in the day, I drove around town a bit more, but didn’t see any other kit homes. Then again, I probably only saw 30% of the pre-WW2 neighborhoods in Needham. And Needham is a very difficult community to navigate! The streets are very narrow and the traffic is very heavy.

Did I miss a few? I’m betting that I did.

If you’re new to this site, you may be wondering, what IS a Sears kit home?

In the early 1900s, you could buy an entire house out of the Sears Roebuck catalog. These were not prefab houses, but real “kits” (with about 12,000 pieces of building materials!). The lumber came pre-cut and numbered to help facilitate construction. Those numbers, together with a 75-page instruction book, and blueprints designed for a novice, enabled a “man of average abilities” to build their own home.

In fact, Sears promised that you could have a house assembled and ready for occupancy in 90 days! When Sears closed their “Modern Homes” department in 1940, all sales records were destroyed, so the only way to find these homes in one by one. In fact, based on my 12 years of experience, more than 90% of the people living in these homes didn’t realize what they had until I knocked on their door and told them.

This is a piece of American history that is at great risk of being lost, which is why I travel all over the country, take photos and maintain this blog.

Do you know of more kit homes in the Boston neighborhoods? Please leave a comment below!

To read about another kit home I found in New England, click here.

*   *    *

Needham is a suburb of Boston and to the flat-lander tourist, this appears to be an incredibly prosperous community.

Needham is a suburb of Boston and to the flat-lander tourist, it appears to be an incredibly prosperous community. The architecture is thoughtfully preserved and - with few exceptions - in excellent (original) condition. It's also a town full of churches. The Baptist Church is shown above.

*

The Sears Home I found in Needham is an Ivanhoe, one of the largest, fanciest, and most expensive models that Sears offered (1920).

The Sears Home I found in Needham is an "Ivanhoe," one of the largest and fanciest models that Sears offered (1920). It was more than 2,000 square feet, not including the sunporches.

*

fp

The dotted lines on the floorplan represented beamed ceilings (made of oak).

*

fine

Great symmetry! And notice the side porches. Plus, there was quite a bit of space on the 3rd floor.

*

Heres

This Ivanhoe is in Lewisburg, West Virginia.

*

Another Ivanhoe in Monmouth, Illinois.

Another Ivanhoe in Monmouth, Illinois. Photo is copyright 2010 Carol Parish and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

And heres the Ivahoe in Needham!

And here's the Ivahoe in Needham! Unfortunately, due to the abundance of trees, I had a heck of a time getting a photo of the house, but it's definitely a Sears Ivanhoe!

*

Detail of the dormer on the 3rd floor.

Detail of the dormer on the 3rd floor.

*

Another classic feature of the Ivanhoe are those oversized eaves. I was delighted to see that the house in Needham has not been decimated with aluminum trim and substitute sidings.

Another classic feature of the Ivanhoe are those oversized eaves. I was delighted to see that the house in Needham has not been decimated with aluminum trim and substitute sidings. These houses were built with all cypress exteriors. Cypress was billed as "The Wood Eternal." Because it's an oily, dense wood, it's naturally resistant to wood rot and insect infestation.

*

A view from the other side.

A view from the other side. Again, the landscaping made it very difficult.

*

house

And unlike 90% of the Ivanhoes I've seen, this one in Needham still retains its original little windows in the living room. The house is currently being remodeled. I hope the windows survive!

*

Ajf

And it sits on a big spacious lot!

*

I’d love to hear from folks in Needham. Are there other kit homes in the city? Please contact me by leaving a comment below!

Want to learn more about the superior quality building materials that were used in Sears Homes? Click here.

To learn more about kit homes in Boston, click here.

To learn more about Anna, click here.

*    *    *

So Many Kit Homes in Staunton, Virginia!

February 17th, 2013 Sears Homes 32 comments

*

Rose is returning to Staunton May 2nd to give a talk on Sears Homes!

*

Click here to learn more!

*

In 2005, I stopped for a short visit in Staunton, Virginia and during that short visit, I spotted a beautiful Sears House overlooking Gypsy Hill Park. To my chagrin, I did not have my camera with me.

That was eight years ago. I’ve waited all these many years to get back to Staunton and take a photo of that wonderful old Sears House overlooking the park.

Thursday morning, I finally got my chance!

And I must say, it was worth the wait.

In addition to the house overlooking the park, I also drove around town a bit to see what else I could find. And I found quite a few interesting kit homes. Neither my husband nor myself know anything about Staunton, so we stumbled around a bit, trying to find the right neighborhoods (1920s/1930s housing within 1-2 miles of railroad tracks).

I’d love to return to Staunton when I can find a Staunton native who’d be willing to help a flatlander tourist do a proper architectural survey of all the best early 20th Century neighborhoods.

Because - I am confident that this historic mountain town has many more kit homes. Below I’ve featured just a few that we found driving through two small neighborhoods!

If you’re new to this site, you may be wondering, what is  Sears kit home? Well…

In the early 1900s, you could buy an entire house out of the Sears Roebuck catalog. These were not prefab houses, but real “kits” (with about 12,000 pieces of building materials!). The lumber came pre-cut and numbered to help facilitate construction. Those numbers, together  with a 75-page instruction book, and blueprints designed for a novice, enabled a  “man of average abilities” to build their own home.

In fact, Sears promised that you could have a house assembled and ready for occupancy in 90 days!  When Sears closed their “Modern Homes” department in 1940, all sales records were destroyed, so the only way to find these homes in one by one. In fact, based on my 12 years of experience, more than 90% of the people living in these homes didn’t realize what they had until I knocked on their door and told them.

This is a piece of American history that is at great risk of being lost, which is why I travel all over the country, take photos and maintain this blog.

And on a side note, I had a terrible time getting good photos. Almost without exception, these houses were facing west, so my early morning photos were snapped looking right into the rising sun, creating a really poor photo. Alas!

To learn more about the kit homes in Staunton, please scroll on down!

To contact Rose, please leave a comment below.

1919 Maytown

The Sears Maytown as seen in the 1919 catalog.

*

house house house

This is the Sears House that overlooks Gypsy Hill Park. It's a beautiful Maytown. Do the owners know that they have a Sears Home? More than 90% of the Sears Homeowners I've encountered do NOT realize they're living in a kit home from Sears.

*

Sears Sears 1921

The Sears Westly, from the 1921 Modern Homes catalog.

*

Westly Staunton

This Westly in Staunton has seen a few changes, but it's still easily identifiable as a Westly.

*

house house

The Sears Lynnhaven was a popular house for Sears (1938).

*

Staunton

And the Lynnhaven is all over Staunton. I found FIVE Lynnhavens in Staunton which was quite a surprise. This Lynnhaven is on N. Augusta Street, and a few hundred feet away - just across the street - is another Lynnhaven that's being used a business. The front door has been closed up, which doesn't look too attractive.

*

house

The house above was at the corner of Belmont and Augusta. The Lynnhaven (a very popular house for Sears in general and Staunton in particular) was also known as "The Belmont."

*

house

This Lynnhaven has a slightly altered dormer (more wide than most). Is it still a Lynnhaven? I'm just not sure on this one. It's hard to be 100% certain without seeing the home's interior. The Lynnhaven has a handful of unique features, and this house possesses most of those "unique features."

*

house

Another Lynnhaven? Did one builder buy a kit Lynnhaven from Sears in 1930 and build several of these houses from one set of blueprints? Very possible, as this was often done with Sears Homes.

*

house house

And yet another Lynnhaven in Staunton. Are these all the real deal? Again, no way to know without an interior inspection, but my first impression is YES.

*

house

Is this a real Lynnhaven? The front gable looks a little wider than the other houses.

*

Sears Vallonia

Sears Vallonia as seen in the 1928 catalog.

*

house

This house has been through a lot of remodeling but despite that, my impression is that this is a Sears Vallonia. On the side of the house is a bay window with two windows, spaced a couple feet apart. That's another unique feature, seen in the Sears Vallonia. The dormer is too tall, but this is a very common modification to the Sears Vallonia. Based on my 12 years experience, I'd say it *is* a Vallonia. And I'm usually right. ;)

*

house house 1927

In addition to Sears, there were other companies selling kit homes, such as Gordon Van Tine and Montgomery Ward. Montgomery Ward did not have a "Modern Homes Department" (as Sears did). Montgomery Ward turned all orders over to Gordon Van Tine for fulfillment. So a Wardway House is a Gordon Van Tine house. The Mount Vernon (shown above) was a popular house for Wards (1927).

*

Staunton, VA

And here's a perfect example of the Mount Vernon in Staunton, Virginia.

*

Wardway 1930

The Wardway Kenwood was another popular Wardway Home (1930).

*

house house

And this appears to be a Kenwood!

*

In addition to Sears, there was also a kit home company known as Lewis Manufacturing. Shown above is one of their most popular homes, The Montawk.

In addition to Sears, there was also a kit home company known as Lewis Manufacturing. Shown above is one of their most popular homes, The Montawk (1920 catalog).

*

Lewis Montawk? Maybe.

Is this a Lewis Montawk? Probably. Maybe!

*

Sears

As mentioned above, Montgomery Ward didn't sell their own homes. Orders placed with Montgomery Ward were fulfilled by Gordon Van Tine. Gordon Van Tine also created and published the Wardway Homes catalog. In 1931, Wardway Homes closed, but GVT continued on until the early 1940s. (Thanks to Rachel Shoemaker for providing this scan!)

*

Montgomery Ward didnt sell their own homes. Orders placed with Montgomery Ward were fulfilled by Gordon Van Tine.

"The Roberts" (shown here and on the cover of the 1916 catalog) was one of their most popular models. It was spacious, grand and priced at under $1,300.

*

Its another really poor photo, but this shows a beautiful Roberts on Augusta Avenue in Staunton, VA.

It's another really poor photo, but this shows a beautiful "Roberts" on Augusta Avenue in Staunton, VA. The house is in stunningly beautiful (and original) condition.

*

Best for last.

I saved the best for last. Aladdin was a bigger kit home company that Sears, but not as well known. Aladdin is more prevalent in Virginia, because there was a large mill in North Carolina. Shown above is the Aladdin Plymouth - a "perfect home."

*

Staunton

And here's a perfect example of the perfect home - the Plymouth! (In Staunton, Virginia)

*

And this is not a kit home but a plan-book house. These were also quite common in the 1920s and 1930s. This model was The Mayfield.

And this is not a "kit home" but a plan-book house. These were quite common in the 1920s and 1930s. This model was "The Mayfield," (offered in a plan book titled, "Harris, McHenry and Baker").

*

This Mayfield is in wonderful condition.

This "Mayfield" is in wonderful condition.

*

Whilst driving through Staunton (via Google Maps), I found another kit home, The Cordova (Wardway/GVT).

Whilst "driving" through Staunton (via Google Maps), I found another kit home, The Cordova (Wardway/GVT) on Williams Street. It's had some rough remodeling, but its original features are still present. What a nice match!

*

And

And on Straith Street, I saw a "Genessee" found in the "Harris, McHenry and Baker Planbook" (1920s). Look down the right side, and you'll see what a nice match it is!

*

Thanks to Sarah (commenter), for telling me about this kit house on Route 11 in Weyers Cave, Virginia.

Thanks to Sarah Puckett (who left a comment last night below), for telling me about this kit house on Route 11 in Weyer's Cave, Virginia. It's a perfect Sears "Dover" and a very nice find! Please keep those cards and letters coming!! :) BTW, I'd love to have a better photo of this "Dover"! Anyone willing to get me a picture?

*

Today, February 25, I found yet another perfect little Sears House (The Berwyn) on Noon Avenue!

Today (2/25), I found yet another perfect little Sears House ("The Berwyn"). It's on Noon Avenue! The image above is from the 1929 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

*

And look what fellow researcher Rachel Shoemaker found in the Aladdin records! Its an Aladdin Stanhope

And look what fellow researcher Rachel Shoemaker found in the Aladdin records! It's an Aladdin Stanhope, sold to William Alfred Linkenhoker of Staunton, VA. Does this mean there's a Stanhope in Staunton? Probably so. Now the question is, how do we find Mr. Linkenhoker's home in the mid-1920s? Rachel checked out the 1920 and 1930 census. In 1920, William Alfred Linkenhoker was a renter and by 1930, he was living in Summers, WV. (Photo is copyright 2013 Rachel Shoemaker and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

*

Wherefor art thou, little Stanhope in Staunton?

Wherefore art thou, little Stanhope in Staunton?

*

Heres a

Here's a perfect Aladdin Stanhope in Scotland Neck, NC (near Roanoke Rapids). Where is the Stanhope in Staunton? Please leave a comment below!

I’d love to return to Staunton soon and do a proper survey and maybe even give a talk on this topic. Please leave a comment below if you’d like to contact me and/or learn more about these kit homes.

To learn more about Rose and her obsession with kit homes, click here.

To read about the kit homes in nearby Harrisonburg, VA, click here.

To see an incredible video about the importance of the Sears catalog in early America, click here (PBS Experience, 1991).

*   *   *

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

The Sears Maytown: Regular and Supersized!

May 12th, 2012 Sears Homes 1 comment

Pre-WW1 Sears Homes are scarce as hen’s teeth.

Well, almost as scarce as hen’s teeth. I’ve never seen a hen’s tooth, but I have seen a few pre-1917 Sears Homes.

Of these pre-1917 Sears Homes, one of the most popular is the Sears Maytown. And the good news is, it’s also one of the easiest to identify. In addition to that large turret on the home’s front, it also has a bay window on the front and the side. And if that’s not enough (and it should be), the house has a pedimented accent on the hipped porch roof, and a small window beside the front door, and two attic windows.

These are all architectural nuances that make it easy to identify the Maytown.

Supersize Me!

In 1916, Sears offered the option of adding an “additional two feet of width” to the standard Maytown.  Cost: $45 more.

Now that’s a darn good deal.

In 1919, the “extra-chubby” Maytown was now 2-1/2 feet wider and those extra six inches came at a cost:  The supersized Maytown was $125 more than the regular size.

So, have you seen the Maytown in your neighborhood? If so, please send me a photo!

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

Want to see more pretty pictures? Click here.

The Maytown as seen in the 1916 catalog.

The Maytown as seen in the 1916 catalog.

*

In 1916, you could supersize your Sears Maytown by getting two extra feet added to its width. By 1921, the

Supersize me! - In 1916, you could "supersize" your Sears Maytown by getting two extra feet added to its width. By 1921, the extra-chubby Maytown was given its own model number.

*

Wow

In 1919, the Maytown was identified as "A Big Seller."

*

More

And in 1919, the supersized Maytown cost $125 more than the slimmer version.

*

By 1916, the Maytown was already a very popular house for Sears.

By 1916, the Maytown was already a very popular house for Sears.

*

Maytown

Sometime before 1916, Mr. Chase built his Maytown in Grafton, Massachusetts.

*

Mr. Chases Maytown in 1916.

Mr. Chase's Maytown in 1916.

*

Mr. Chases Maytown in 2011.

Mr. Chase's Maytown in 2011. I wonder if he went with the supersized version? (Photo is courtesy of Kelly McCall Creeron and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

*

One of the worlds most perfect Maytowns is this one in Edwardsville, IL. For years, it was used as a Frat House (for nearby SIUE), so its a miracle that this old house lived through *that* experience.

One of the world's most perfect Maytowns is this one in Edwardsville, IL. For years, it was used as a Frat House (for nearby SIUE), so it's a miracle that this old house lived through *that* experience.

*

Another perfect Maytown!  This is one of my favorite pictures, in one of my favorite places:  Shenandoah, Virginia.

Another perfect Maytown! This is one of my favorite pictures, in one of my favorite places: Shenandoah, Virginia.

*

And youll notice that the beauty in Shenandoah still has its original attic windows, replete with marginal lites (as they were known).

And you'll notice that the beauty in Shenandoah still has its original attic windows, replete with "marginal lites" (as they were known).

*

To read the next story on Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s newest book, click here.

To learn about Wardway Homes, click here.

*   *   *

Old Kit Homes in New England, Part II

September 24th, 2011 Sears Homes 6 comments

Sometime in the late 1910s, Mr. D. S. Chase of Grafton, Massachusetts bought and built a Sears Maytown in Grafton, Massachusetts.

I discovered this when I was reading through the testimonials in a 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

The house in the 110-year-old snapshot (shown below) was a real beauty, but given its location, I was very concerned that the house had been put to death by some overzealous developer, municipality, and/or a large institution filled with academia nuts (otherwise known as a bungalow-eating institution of higher learning).

All of these entities are a clear and present danger to modest dwelling places and they are notorious for cutting a wide swath through the heart of older neighborhoods, knocking down any little houses that get in their way (so they can build steel and glass monuments to further historical research on American culture).

The model that Mr. Chase selected and built - the Sears Maytown - was one of Sears nicer homes and fairly distinctive with that cantilevered turret on the front. Thanks to Kelly McCall Creeron, I now have a plethora of beautiful photographs showing the Maytown as it looks today.

It appears that those beautiful shakes (seen in the original photo) have been covered with a substitute siding, but siding or not, the house still is easily recognizable as a Maytown, and perhaps best of all, it was not torn down to make way for some plasticine palace.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

If you’re here to learn about Aunt Addie mysterious murder, click here.

Sears Maytown

Sears Maytown in Grafton, Mass, as pictured in the 1921 Sears catalog.

Ma

Thanks to Kelly McCall Creeron, I now have a picture of Mr. Chase's Maytown in Grafton, Massachusetts. It's been through some changes since that photo (above) was taken in the late 1910s or early 20s, but it's still easily recognizable as The Maytown. Photo is courtesy of Kelly McCall Creeron and can not be used or reproduced with written permission.

may

It appears that the house been re-sided. It's hard to tell from the photo, but the facia boards are now missing in action, which makes me suspect that this is a substitute siding job. Nonetheless, this Maytown has the two bay windows (front and side) and that remarkable turret. Photo is courtesy of Kelly McCall Creeron and can not be used or reproduced with written permission.

Original house

The original snapshot of Mr. Chase's Maytown shows a little detail on the fascia and soffit.

other

A close-up of the contemporary photo shows that the facia is gone, and the soffit appears to have been wrapped in a substitute material (aluminum perhaps).

Testimonial as it appeared in the 1921 catalog

Testimonial as it appeared in the 1921 catalog

Testimonial of D. S. Chase from 1921 catalog

Testimonial of D. S. Chase from 1921 catalog

Sears Maytown

Sears Maytown as shown in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Maytown

This Maytown is in Edwardsville, Illinois and still retains its original siding. Notice the sculpted block that's used on the front porch columns and even balustrade.

Ma

My favorite Maytown is this beauty in Shenandoah, Virginia.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

* * *

The Maytown Twins in Marlentin, WV

August 16th, 2011 Sears Homes 1 comment

Several months ago, a friend called and told me that there was a Sears House in Marlentin, and that it housed the local insurance company. While visiting my husband’s family in Elkins, we made a side trip to Marlentin (which as about a 90-minute trip - one way!) to check out the purported Sears House.

As is often the case, the alleged Sears House was not a kit house from Sears, or Aladdin, or Gordon Van Tine or Lewis Manufacturing, or any other company with which I am familiar. However, while we were driving the streets of Marlentin, I found these Maytown Twins, about three blocks apart!

The Sears Maytown as seen in the 1916 Sears Modern Homes catalog

The Sears Maytown as seen in the 1916 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears

Close-up of the Sears Maytown

Sears

Sears Maytown in Marlentin, WV.

Sears

Sears Maytown #2 in Marlentin, WV. And it's for rent, too!

Sears

This Maytown has been turned into a duplex, but it's still a fine-looking house!

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s books, click here.

*   *   *

Old Kit Homes in New England

November 1st, 2010 Sears Homes 1 comment

Recently, I was reading the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog and found this testimonial, written by D. S. Chase of Grafton, Massachusetts. He built his Sears Maytown somewhere in Grafton, Massachusetts.

The Maytown was one of their better homes and fairly distinctive with that cantilevered turret on the front. It’d be interesting to know if this house is still standing in Grafton!

If you know of it, and/or have an address, please leave a comment below.

BTW, notice that Mr. Chase’s home has a shake roof and shingled siding (instead of clapboard)?

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

If you’re here to learn about Aunt Addie mysterious murder, click here.

Sears Maytown

Sears Maytown in Grafton, Mass, as pictured in the 1921 Sears catalog.

Testimonial as it appeared in the 1921 catalog

Testimonial as it appeared in the 1921 catalog

Testimonial of D. S. Chase from 1921 catalog

Testimonial of D. S. Chase from 1921 catalog

Sears Maytown

Sears Maytown as shown in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

*   *   *