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Posts Tagged ‘sears prefab kits’

Ann Arbor: An Impressive Ensemble of Kit Homes

March 7th, 2013 Sears Homes 1 comment

Many folks enjoy seeking and finding kit homes, but they’re not sure where to begin. Between Sears, Gordon Van Tine/Montgomery Ward, Lewis Manufacturing, Sterling and Harris Brothers, there were at least a couple thousand designs.

If you want to find kit homes, how do you begin?

Well, this very blog might be an ideal starting point because as it turns out, Ann Arbor has a lovely smorgasbord of “typical” (and very popular) kit homes from Sears, Gordon Van Tine/Montgomery Ward, and Lewis Manufacturing. Take a few moments and memorize these photos, and then see if you can find these houses in your town!

Be forewarned, it’s a lot of fun and highly addictive. Bet you can’t stop at just one!

If you’re able, you might even visit one of these communities that has an abundance of kit homes (as identified by this blog).  Interested in finding such a city? Go to the search box at the top of the page (right side) and type in your state and see what pops up. There are 700 blogs at this site and several thousand photos representing 32 states. That’s a  lot of places!

And what about Ann Arbor? Well, thanks to Andrew and Wendy Mutch, we have a gaggle of photos from that city highlighting the many kit homes. One recommendation: You might want to don a sweater before gazing upon these pictures. Just looking at all those snow-covered houses gives me the shivers!

Thanks to Andrew and Wendy for supplying all these wonderful pictures of kit homes in Ann Arbor.

Did you know that there’s a “Sears Home Group” on Facebook? Join us!

To learn more about Wardway, click here.

Interested in Sears kit homes? Click here.

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The Barrington, as seen in the 1928 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

The Barrington, as seen in the 1928 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

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And heres a beautiful example in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

And here's a beautiful example in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Notice the bracketing for the flower boxes (2nd floor window) is still in place. Photo is copyright 2012 Andrew and Wendy Mutch and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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The Brookwood is similar to the Barrington but theyre different houses. Do you see the difference between the two?

The Brookwood is similar to the Barrington but they have a few minor differences. Do you see the difference between the two? The Brookwood is smaller, and has two living room windows (and the Barrington has three). For a time, I'd get these two confused, and then it dawned on me that "Brookwood" has two syllables and two windows! Barrington has three! This is from the 1933 catalog.

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And heres

And here's a fine-looking Brookwood in Ann Arbor. Photo is copyright 2012 Andrew and Wendy Mutch and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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The Sears Dover was an immensely popular house and easy to identify, thanks to its many unique features (1928).

The Sears Dover was an immensely popular house and easy to identify, thanks to its many unique features (1928).

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Heres a picture-perfect Dover in Ann Arbor.

Here's a picture-perfect Dover in Ann Arbor. You may notice it has two windows down the left side, where the catalog has three. This was a very common alteration. Photo is copyright 2012 Andrew and Wendy Mutch and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Another beautiful Dover.

Another beautiful Dover in Ann Arbor. However, this house looks really cold. The extra snow shovels on the porch are part of that "chilly look" I suppose. Photo is copyright 2012 Andrew and Wendy Mutch and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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The Crescent was probably one of the top ten most popular designs that Sears offered (1928).

The Crescent was probably one of the top ten most popular designs that Sears offered (1928).

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Not only does it have the original windows, but it has the original wooden storm windows too, and even the half-round gutters are true to 1928. Are these original or just high-quality replacements? Tough to know, but they sure do look good. Photo is copyright 2012 Andrew and Wendy Mutch and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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The Rembrandt was one of their finer homes.

The Rembrandt, a classic Dutch Colonial, was one of their finer homes.

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Another perfect match. How cool is that?!

Another perfect match. Note that the windows on the 2nd floor are centered over those paired windows on the first floor. This single detail can help figure out - is it a Sears Rembrandt, or just another pretty Dutch Colonial? Photo is copyright 2012 Andrew and Wendy Mutch and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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The Sears Puritan was a diminuitive version of the Rembrandt (1925).

The Sears Puritan was a diminuitive version of the Rembrandt (1925).

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Like the Rembrandt, you can study the position of the windows to figure out if its a Puritan or something else. The 2nd floor windows on the Puritan are NOT aligned with the first floor windows.

Like the Rembrandt, you can study the position of the windows to figure out if it's a Puritan or something else. The 2nd floor windows on the Puritan are NOT aligned with the first floor windows. Study this single detail, and it will help you easily differentiate the Puritan from the look-alikes. As with all these houses, also pay attention the chimney placement. Remodelings come and go, but chimneys don't move. Photo is copyright 2012 Andrew and Wendy Mutch and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Another hugely popular house was the Sears Westly (1919).

Another hugely popular house was the Sears Westly (1919).

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Pretty, pretty Westly in Ann Arbor.

Pretty, pretty Westly in Ann Arbor. Still has its original railings. Photo is copyright 2012 Andrew and Wendy Mutch and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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The Rodessa was a cute little bungalow and very popular! (1925)

The Rodessa was a cute little bungalow and very popular! (1925)

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And this Rodessa is in wonderfully original condition!

And this Rodessa is in wonderfully original condition! Photo is copyright 2012 Andrew and Wendy Mutch and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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The Hathaway was another popular house (1928).

The Hathaway was another popular house (1928), and distinctive enough that it's easy to identify. Just look at all those clipped gables!

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Anther very fine match. Sadly, this house has been hit with some permastone (front first floor), but other than that, it's a dandy! Photo is copyright 2012 Andrew and Wendy Mutch and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Another fine match

Another fine little Hathaway in Ann Arbor. Photo is copyright 2012 Andrew and Wendy Mutch and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Ann Arbor

I wonder if the Realtor knows it's a Sears kit house? Based on my research, more than 90% of the people living in these houses don't realize what they have. Photo is copyright 2012 Andrew and Wendy Mutch and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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The Conway, as seen in the 1919 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

The Conway (also known as "Uriel"), as seen in the 1919 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

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Another snow-covered example in Ann Arbor!

Another snow-covered example in Ann Arbor! Notice the original bracketing under the oversized front gable, and that "phantom" brick pillar on the far right. Photo is copyright 2012 Andrew and Wendy Mutch and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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As seen in the 1928 catalog, The Ashland.

As seen in the 1928 catalog, "The Ashland."

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Where's a good chainsaw when you need one? Photo is copyright 2012 Andrew and Wendy Mutch and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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As mentioned, in addition to Sears, Ann Arbor also has kit homes from other companies, including Gordon Van Tine/Montgomery Ward, and Lewis Manufacturing.

As mentioned, in addition to Sears, Ann Arbor also has kit homes from other companies, including Gordon Van Tine/Montgomery Ward, and Lewis Manufacturing. Shown above is one of GVT's biggest and bet kit homes, "The #711." Quite a house!

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And what a fine 711 it is!

And what a fine 711 it is! By the way, this was a huge house, measuring 48' wide and 30' deep, giving a total of 2,880 square feet. I have to double check, but I believe this was the largest kit home that was offered by Gordon Van Tine, and size-wise, it's the same as the Sears Magnolia (also 2,880 square feet). Photo is copyright 2012 Andrew and Wendy Mutch and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Gordon Van Tine fulfilled all of the orders for Montgomery Ward (Wardway), and their catalogs were nearly identical. Wardway had a few designs not seen in the GVT catalog, and GVT had a few not found in the Wardway catalog. Shown above is the Wardway Laurel, as seen in the 1929 catalog.

Gordon Van Tine fulfilled all of the orders for Montgomery Ward (Wardway), and their catalogs were nearly identical. Wardway had a few designs not seen in the GVT catalog, and GVT had a few not found in the Wardway catalog. Shown above is the Wardway Laurel, as seen in the 1929 catalog.

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That offset front porch is a distinctive feature of the Wardway Laurel. Photo is copyright 2012 Andrew and Wendy Mutch and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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The Laurel as seen from the other side.

The Laurel as seen from the other side. That small side porch is original to the house, and surprisingly - in still open (as when built). Photo is copyright 2012 Andrew and Wendy Mutch and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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The Devonshire was one of those kit homes that was offered in the Wardway catalog, but not in the Gordon Van Tine catalog. It was on the cover of the 1931 (which was the last) Wardway catalog.

The Devonshire was one of those kit homes that was offered in the Wardway catalog, but not in the Gordon Van Tine catalog. It was on the cover of the 1931 (which was the last) Wardway catalog.

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I just love that the Devonshire in Ann Arbor is painted the same colors as the house on the cover of the 1931 catalog.

I just love that the Devonshire in Ann Arbor is painted the same colors as the house on the cover of the 1931 catalog. Photo is copyright 2012 Andrew and Wendy Mutch and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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The Cranford was another house offered only in the Wardway catalog (1927).

The Cranford was another house offered only in the Wardway catalog (1927).

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I surely do love a house dressed up in pink.

I surely do love a house dressed up in pink. I really do. This Cranford is (like so many of the houses in Ann Arbor) in largely original condition. Photo is copyright 2012 Andrew and Wendy Mutch and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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The Kenwood, as seen in the 1929 Wardway catalog. As with the Cranford and the Devonshire, the Kenwood was exclusively a Wardway home (milled, manufactured and shipped by Gordon Van Tine).

The Kenwood, as seen in the 1929 Wardway catalog. As with the Cranford and the Devonshire, the Kenwood was exclusively a Wardway home (milled, manufactured and shipped by Gordon Van Tine).

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Is this a Wardway Kenwood? />

Is this a Wardway Kenwood? Most likely it is, but the inset door is not a spot-on match. However, this house has had a substitute siding installed, and the door may have been squared off to accommodate the replacement siding. Photo is copyright 2012 Andrew and Wendy Mutch and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Perhaps Wardways most popular house, the Priscilla was pretty and practical (1929).

Perhaps Wardway's most popular house, the Priscilla was pretty and practical (1929).

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Crescent

And here's a fine example of the pretty, pretty Priscilla! Photo is copyright 2012 Andrew and Wendy Mutch and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Last but not least is Lewis Manufacturing. They were based in Bay City, so its not surprising to find a kit home from Lewis there in Ann Arbor. The Marlboro was a very popular house for them, and for good reason. It was a real beauty, and a big house!

Last but not least is Lewis Manufacturing. They were based in Bay City, so it's not surprising to find a kit home from Lewis there in Ann Arbor. The Marlboro was a very popular house for them, and for good reason. It was a real beauty, and a big house!

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Ann Arbors very own Marlboro. Sounds a bit poetic, doesnt it?

Ann Arbor's very own Marlboro. Sounds a bit poetic, doesn't it? The offset front door and the tiny closet window beside it are classic defining features of the Marlboro. Photo is copyright 2012 Andrew and Wendy Mutch and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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That little closet window is still in place, but it's been partially closed up. Photo is copyright 2012 Andrew and Wendy Mutch and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Teddy loves learning about kit homes. She spends much of her spare time reading The Mail-Order Homes of Montgomery Ward, and she can be a great help when were out hunting for kit homes.

Teddy loves learning about kit homes. She spends much of her spare time reading "The Mail-Order Homes of Montgomery Ward," and thanks to her tireless studying, she can be a great help when we're out hunting for kit homes. She's not called "Teddy the Wonder Dog" for nothing!

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To order your own copy of the “The Mail Order Homes of Montgomery Ward” click here.

To contact Rose, leave a comment below.

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The “Econo-Bilt” Vinemont

May 26th, 2012 Sears Homes 2 comments

There are more than 100 models of Sears Homes that I’ve never laid eyes on, but fortunately, I have friends in Ohio places.

And Ohio is loaded with kit homes.

One of the houses I have never seen (in person) is the Econo-Bilt Vinemont.

Econo-Bilt homes are scarce as hen’s teeth, in part because, they were not very sturdy houses and are not as likely to endure through the decades.  And the “Econo-Bilt” homes were only sold for a few years (about 1915 - 1925).

Despite all that, Donna Bakke found this Vinemont in Cincinnati.

The Vinemont was offered only as a pre-cut kit home, which is doubly weird because - as an Econo-Bilt house - it was the bottom rung of the construction ladder.

After you placed your $1 good-faith deposit with Sears, you’d wait patiently for your list of building materials and blueprints to arrive. If you liked what you saw, you’d send in the balance due ($804 on the Vinemont), and you’d soon receive about 12,000 pieces of house and a 75-page instruction book.

By anyone’s standards, that’s a swinging deal.

The Vinemont (1921 catalog).

The Vinemont (1921 catalog).

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Yikes, it's only one bedroom!

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details on the house

But it's a good price.

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House close up

If you read the description, you'll see the exterior walls were "slate-surfaced siding."

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House in Cincinnati

Donna Bakke found this Vinemont in Cincinnati. I'm still dazzled that she recognized it. I think I would have driven right past it! (Photo is copyright 2010 Donna Bakke and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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details on the hosue

I have a theory about which I feel pretty strongly. If you're not able to get out and PAINT your porch columns every 15 years or so, don't BUY AN OLD HOUSE. I've seen a lot of bad things happen to old houses, but this is really painful to gaze upon. (Photo is copyright 2010 Donna Bakke and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Donna did a good job getting a photo of the house from the *perfect* angle! No doubt about it - this is a Sears "Vinemont."

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Lighter Bilt was also known as Standard Bilt and Econo Bilt, but regardless of the name they affixed to this line of houses, they were still not suited for severe climates.

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To read the full list of Sears Houses that neither Rebecca nor I have ever seen, click here.

To learn more about the differences between Econo Bilt and Honor Bilt, click here.

To read the next fascinating blog, click here.

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The Lone Sears Home in Owaneco, Illinois

November 2nd, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

In 2011, I drove almost 3,000 miles throughout Illinois, finding and documenting the Sears Homes in that state. And it was during that long drive that I found this Sears Hollywood, sitting just off the main drag in the tiny town of Owaneco, Illinois. The house is a spot-on match to the original catalog image, but some of its flesh is missing and the skeletal system is also showing some signs of decay.

However, I’m gladdened to see that the house has not been ruined with insensitive remodeling. Fact is, this house will not be hard to restore, because it’s in largely original condition!

To read more about the Sears Hollywood, click here.

To learn more about how to identify a kit house, click here.

To contact Rose, leave a comment below.

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Owaneco is the home to a Sears Hollywood!

Owaneco is the home to a Sears Hollywood!

From the 1919 catalog, a Sears Hollywood

From the 1919 catalog, a variation of the Sears Hollywood.

Sears Home

Sears Hollywood, as seen in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Sears Hollywood in St. Charles, IL (found and documented by Rebecca Hunter).

Sears Hollywood in St. Charles, IL (found and documented by Rebecca Hunter).

From the 1919 catalog, a Sears Hollywood

From the 1919 catalog, a variation of the Sears Hollywood.

Sears Hollywood in Cairo, Illinois

Sears Hollywood in Cairo, Illinois.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

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A Crowning Jewel of a Bungalow: The Corona

July 5th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

One of the most interesting stories I ever heard came from a man who grew up next door to a Sears Corona in Gillespie, Illinois (about 70 miles northeast of St. Louis).

It was 2003, and I’d just finished a talk on Sears Homes in Bloomington, Illinois. A nice fellow approached the podium and told me that he’d grown up in Gillespie, Illinois, next door to the Sears Corona. He now lived in Chillicothe, Illinois (about 60 miles away), and he thought I should come out to Chillicothe and see his house, for it was really special.

“Oh brother,” I thought to myself. “Another nut job.”

But he continued.

All of his life, he’d appreciated the fine craftsmanship and beauty of the Sears Corona in his hometown, and he vowed that when he grew up, he’d live in a house just as beautiful and well-built.

He’d recently finished his own home in Chillicothe, and his beautiful new home had been built as a modern-day replica of the old Sears Corona.

Now it was getting interesting.

The next morning, I delayed my trip home to Godfrey, Illinois and detoured to Chillicothe. It was well worth the trip, and it was a beautiful home.

In my many travels, I’ve only seen three Coronas, and two of them were within 20 minutes of each other. The third was the reproduction Corona in Chillicothe.

By the way, “Corona” is Latin for the word “crown.”

To learn more about kit homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

Sears Corona as seen in the 1919 catalog

Sears Corona as seen in the 1919 catalog

The reproduction Corona in Chillicothe

The reproduction Corona in Chillicothe. It's a beautiful house, and he did a first-class job! This photo was taken in 2003, shortly after the house was completed. I'd love to get an updated photo.

And from the 1921 catalog

In this catalog picture (1921), you can see that the gabled dormer is centered on the roof. This is a pretty distinctive feature of the Corona.

The original Corona in Gillespie that provided the inspiration for the house in Chillicothe

The original Corona in Gillespie that provided the inspiration for the house in Chillicothe. This Corona in Gillespie, IL is one of the most perfect examples of a Sears house that I've ever seen. The fact that the original pergola is intact is remarkable.

This Corona is a little different with that supersized dormer. Its in Benld (pronounced Benn-eld), Illinois. The town was named for Ben L. Dorsey (some famous guy in Illinois). There was already a town named Dorsey, so the townfolk decided on Benld, which is an abbreviation of Ben L. Dorsey.

This Corona is a little different with that super-sized dormer. It's in Benld (pronounced Benn-eld), Illinois. The town was named for Ben L. Dorsey (some famous guy in Illinois). There was already a town named "Dorsey," so the townsfolk decided on "Benld," which is an abbreviation of Ben L. Dorsey. One of the unique features of the Corona is the cross-gabled porch roof. That always catches my eye. Perhaps the most unique feature is that dormer, centered squarely on the roof.

Another angle of the Corona in Benld.

Another angle of the Corona in Benld.

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And you can see how much the Benld house looks like the original catalog image.

Floorplan

The Corona is a spacious house, measuring 49.6 by 26'.

And theres more space upstairs.

And there's more space upstairs.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

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Homart Homes: I Know Where You Live (Part I)

July 4th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

When I retrieved old photos from a dead laptop, I wasn’t surprised to find that I had more than 35,000 photos on the hard drive. The great majority of those photos were Sears kit homes. Of those 35,000 photos, I have one photo of a Sears Homart Prefab Home.

One.

From 1948-1951, Sears sold prefabricated houses known as Homart Homes. These small houses were shipped by truck (not train) and arrived in sections measuring 4′ by 8′ to 8′ by 8′. Fasteners were included with these diminutive homes, and the houses were bolted together at the site. They were very modest homes with very simple lines and shallow roofs. Most were 600-850 square feet.

Sears Modern Homes - the kit homes that were sold from 1908-1940 - were not prefab houses. Prefabricated houses are - as the word suggests - prefabricated. In other words, they’re pre-built at a central plant, broken down into sections, and then transported to the building site, where they’re re-assembled, quickly and efficiently.

Sears Modern Homes were were true kits, containing 12,000 pieces of house. Each kit came with a 75-page instruction book. They were made with superior quality building materials (#1 southern yellow pine framing members and cypress for everything exterior).

From 1908-1940, about 70,000 Sears Modern Homes were built. Based on some educated guessing from reading old catalogs, fewer than 3,000 Homart Homes were built.

And now I need a little help from my friends. The 1949 Homart Homes catalog lists several addresses where Homart Homes were built. I’d love to have photos of these houses to publish at this site. If you’re so inclined, please get me a photo and send to me? Doing so will launch a veritable wave of good housing karma in your direction. :)  The Homart Homes (for which I have specific addresses) are in Illinois, Iowa, Ohio and Wisconsin. Click here to see the specific address of Homart Homes.

Sears also had a line of hardware and home merchandise (electric fans, water heaters, tools) which bore the name “Homart.” And where did they get that name? In the first decades of the 1900s, Sears headquarters was located in Chicago, at the corner of Homan and Arthington Street. Homart is a combination of those two street names.

To see pictures of Sears Modern Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

Homart Homes were very modest prefab homes offered after WW2. Today, its nearly impossible to find these houses, because they were so plain and in subsequent years, most have been covered with substitute sidings.

Homart Homes were very modest prefab homes offered after WW2. Today, it's nearly impossible to find these houses, because they were so plain and in subsequent years, most have been covered with substitute sidings.

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In the catalog shown above, there were several addresses of known Homart Homes in Illinois. This house (in Monmouth, IL) was listed in the catalog as a Homart Home. Thanks to Carol Parrish for sending in this photo!

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For the most part, these were very modest homes.

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Look at the size of the rooms in this first house!

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This was their most spacious Homart Home, but you can see from the photo below, this is also a pretty modest house. One of the bedrooms is 7 feet by 9 feet. As long as Junior never outgrows his crib, this should work just fine.

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This was the largest Homart Home offered in the 1950 catalog, and it's not very big at all.

Homart

Close-up shows that these Homarts were well-constructed homes.

Homart Homes arrived in sections, which were bolted together.

Homart Homes arrived in sections, which were bolted together.

Homart

The houses were not wholly prefabricated and pre-built. A significant bit of onsite building was required.

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Roof trusses were pre-built in Homart Homes, and walls arrived in sections. Lap siding covered the sectioned walls, hiding the home's prefab origins.

These porches could be a clue in identifying Homart Homes. Every Homart Home offered in the 1950 catalog had this unique configuration on the front stoop.

These porches could be a clue in identifying Homart Homes. Every Homart Home offered in the 1950 catalog had this unique configuration on the front stoop.

A variation of that unique woodwork around the stoop.

A variation of that unique woodwork around the stoop.

An old Sears Homart (prefab house) sits on the edges of the city, not far from the Sears Mill in Cairo, IL

An old Sears Homart (prefab house) sits on the edges of the city, not far from the Sears Mill in Cairo, IL. Homart Homes were post-WW2 Sears Homes that were shipped out in sections, which were then bolted together at the building site. These were radically different from "Sears Modern Homes" which were pre-cut kit homes. And usually, they just don't "age" as well as the sturdier "Modern Homes" (Honor Bilt homes).

To learn more about kit homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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Homart Homes: I Know Where You Live (Part II)

July 4th, 2011 Sears Homes 1 comment

From 1948-1951, Sears sold prefabricated houses known as Homart Homes. These small houses were shipped by truck (not train) and arrived in sections measuring 4′ by 8′ to 8′ by 8′. Fasteners were included with these diminutive homes, and the houses were bolted together at the site. They were very modest homes with very simple lines and shallow roofs. Most were 600-850 square feet.

Based on some educated guessing from reading old catalogs, fewer than 3,000 Homart Homes were built.

And now I need a little help from my friends. The 1949 Homart Homes catalog lists several addresses where Homart Homes were built. I’d love to have photos of these houses to publish at this site. I’d be so grateful if someone could get me a photo of these houses. When photographing houses, remember to remain on a public right-of-way (street or public sidewalk) when shooting your photos.

The addresses (as found in the 1949 Homart Homes catalog) are:

Albert C. Helm, 615 North 10th Street, Monmouth, Illinois.

R. W. Countryman, 614 E. Avenue, Nevada, Iowa.

Dale Keeth, 495 Melmore Street, Tifflin, Ohio

Lawrence Clemen, 1845 University Avenue, Dubuque, Iowa

Harold Snell, 426 4th Street, LaSalle, Illinois

Clarence Wyman, Cerro Gordo, Illinois

Richard J. Gilbert, Gox 565, New Glarus, Wisconsin

Jeffrey Hicks, Route 2, Box 479, Pekin, Illinois

Elmer Timm, 3238 Schlueter Road, Madison, Wisconsin

Pictures from the original Homart Homes catalog is below. The house you’re photographing should bear some slight resemblance to these modest homes below. Rarely, cities will re-number houses, so these addresses are not guaranteed to be Homart Homes, but it’s 99% likely that they are. Because these homes are so modest, they often undergo extensive remodeling.

To read Part I (more info on Homart Homes), click here.

To see pictures of Sears Modern Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

Homart Homes were very modest prefab homes offered after WW2. Today, its nearly impossible to find these houses, because they were so plain and in subsequent years, most have been covered with substitute sidings.

Homart Homes were very modest prefab homes offered after WW2. Today, it's nearly impossible to find these houses, because they were so plain and in subsequent years, most have been covered with substitute sidings.

Small

For the most part, these were very modest homes.

small

Look at the size of the rooms in this first house!

bigger

This was their most spacious Homart Home, but you can see from the photo below, this is also a pretty modest house. One of the bedrooms is 7 feet by 9 feet. As long as Junior never outgrows his crib, this should work just fine.

bigg

This was the largest Homart Home offered in the 1950 catalog, and it's not very big at all.

Homart Homes arrived in sections, which were bolted together.

Homart Homes arrived in sections, which were bolted together.

These porches could be a clue in identifying Homart Homes. Every Homart Home offered in the 1950 catalog had this unique configuration on the front stoop.

These porches could be a clue in identifying Homart Homes. Every Homart Home offered in the 1950 catalog had this unique configuration on the front stoop.

A variation of that unique woodwork around the stoop.

A variation of that unique woodwork around the stoop.

An old Sears Homart (prefab house) sits on the edges of the city, not far from the Sears Mill in Cairo, IL

An old Sears Homart (prefab house) sits on the edges of the city, not far from the Sears Mill in Cairo, IL. Homart Homes were post-WW2 Sears Homes that were shipped out in sections, which were then bolted together at the building site. These were radically different from "Sears Modern Homes" which were pre-cut kit homes. And usually, they just don't "age" as well as the sturdier "Modern Homes" (Honor Bilt homes).

To learn more about kit homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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Kris Kristofferson; The Original Axe Man!

June 17th, 2011 Sears Homes 3 comments

Recently, I’ve been scanning my old Sears Modern Homes catalogs so that it’ll be easier to share the many delightful images contained within their aged and brittle pages. An added bonus is that I’m learning ever more about this fascinating piece of American history.

For instance, this blurb on the inside cover of the 1938 Sears Modern Homes catalog is quite loquacious, thoroughly explaining the many benefits of wood (see below). When I zoomed in on the images, I was surprised to discover that one of the first axe men employed by Sears and Roebuck was Kris Kristofferson!

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Before he became a famous singer, Kris Kristofferson worked as a lumberman for Sears and Roebuck. Here he's shown working with a fellow axeman, wrestling a log into place!

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The original graphic, as it appeared in the 1938 catalog. Dick Clark learned his longevity secrets from Kris Kristofferson, who appears to be in his late 20s here.

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Fascinating prose about the many benefits of wood.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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Sears Modern Home #119

June 15th, 2011 Sears Homes 6 comments

My dear friend Rebecca Hunter found a Sears Modern Home #119 in Iowa (in 2003) and she got a nice photo.  Other than that ONE house she found in Iowa, I’ve never laid eyes on a #119, which is pretty remarkable. But we know that there was one built in Martinez, Georgia, by R. T. Lyle sometime before 1915. That was 95 years ago!

Below is an actual snapshot from the 1916 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

If this house is still standing, I’d love to get a photo. Anyone near Martinez?  :)

House

Sears Modern Home #119 in Martinez, Georgia.

Way down south

"It is a roomy and substantial structure..."

It *is* a roomy structure!

It *is* a roomy structure! Image is from the 1916 catalog.

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Pre-WW1, bedrooms were called "chambers" - not sure why.

119

#119 as seen from the Rebecca's motorcycle. Note the porch's unusual roofline, and the gable peak atop the house. Photo is courtesy of Rebecca Hunter.

house

And all for under $1,800.

And it can also be found in these cities!

And it can also be found in these cities!

To learn more about Sears Homes in Georgia, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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The Natural Beauty of Natural Bridge

May 21st, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

In September 2010, my husband and I visited Natural Bridge (the city with the bridge) and saw THE Natural Bridge. After paying our $18 per person admission fee (yikes!), we walked down the 137 steps to see one of the Seven Natural Wonders of The World. It was as beautiful as promised.

Gazing upon its magnificence, I thought about this Bible verse from Hebrews 11: “For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (New International Version 1984).

The Indians were similarly inspired. According to a placard at the site, “Before white men came to our shores, the Monacan Indians considered this ancient wonder a sacred site and called it ‘The Bridge of God.’”

I love gazing upon magnificent architecture and I love thinking about how old houses were put together. But more than anything else, I love thinking about God as The Greatest Architect, and like the writer of the Hebrew verse, I look forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. :)

To read about the Sears Homes in nearby Buena Vista, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

Natural Bridge

Natural Bridge is open to visitors seven days a week.

Natural Bridge

Wayne resting along the way to Natural Bridge

To read another article on Sears Homes, click here.

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So, What Did You Learn?

May 21st, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”

It was about a year ago today that this website was redone and revamped. I’ve been trying to - systematically and patiently - post a few of the 35,000 photos I’ve taken in the last 10 years of researching kit homes.

Have you enjoyed the site? Have you learned something new from the 200+ posts (and 1000+ photos) that I’ve put here in the last year? Earlier this month, this site had its 100,000th visitor.

If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read, I’d sure be grateful to hear from you. If you’ve learned something wonderful, please tell me, and leave a comment below.

Like Twain, I can live for a couple months on one good compliment.  :)

And in the meantime, I think I’ll take a few days off from blogging and dream about my future life in the mountains.  I love the mountains, and one day, I’ll live there.

Beauty

Valley view of Hightown, Virginia (very near the West Virginia border).

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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