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Posts Tagged ‘sears roebuck and hopewell’

Itty Bitty Homart Homes: Prefab vs. Precut

November 14th, 2011 Sears Homes 3 comments

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

Sears Modern Homes were kit homes, and there is a big difference. Sears Modern Homes were 12,000 piece kits and 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). You can read more about Sears kit homes here.

And then there’s Homart Homes. From 1948-1951, Sears sold prefabricated houses known as Homart Homes. These houses were shipped in sections. The walls came in sections of 4′ by 8′ to 8′ by 8′ and were shipped by truck. Fasteners came 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 also sold a line of hardware and home merchandise (electric fans, water heaters, tools) which bore the brand name “Homart.” 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 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!

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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Hopewell’s Historic Kit Homes: And They’re Not in Crescent Hills (Part V)

March 30th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

As mentioned in prior posts, Hopewell, Virginia is the proud owner of eight bona fide Sears homes in the Crescent Hills area.  That’s well and good, but they also have entire neighborhoods of Aladdin kit homes in other parts of Hopewell.   It’s a puzzle why the city invests so much effort in promoting those eight houses, while forgetting about the dozens of Aladdin kit homes. Why, if I were a little Aladdin home in Hopewell, I’d feel sorely neglected!

Most likely, the majority of the Aladdin Kit Homes were ordered by Dupont in 1914, for their dynamite factory in Hopewell.  And there along the waterfront - on Ramsey Avenue - are the Aladdin Wenonah, an Aladdin Brighton, and an Aladdin Plaza.

The Plaza sits at the end of Ramsey, and I’d just love to know - do these homeowners know that they’re sitting in a piece of Americana, enjoying their restful slumbers in a historically significant kit home, that was shipped in from Bay City, Michigan via boxcar, with 12,000 pieces of house?  And what about the city itself? Are they aware of these precious architectural gems that sit within its borders, uncelebrated, unheralded and unprotected?

It’d be a dandy idea for the city - at the very least -  to put a placard in front of these homes, identifying them as Aladdin kit homes, or perhaps include them on their tourism brochures. Urbana, Virginia has ONE Sears House, and look what they’ve done!

A city full of architecturally significant homes is a terrible thing to waste.

Click on these links to read Part I, Part II, Part III or Part IV of “Hopewell’s Historic Homes.”

Aladdin Plaza as shown in 1919 Aladdin catalog

Aladdin Plaza as shown in 1919 Aladdin catalog

Aladdin Plaza in Hopewell, very near the waterfront

Aladdin Plaza in Hopewell, very near the waterfront

To read Part VI, click here.

Click on these links to read Part I, Part II, Part III or Part IV.

Click here to buy Rose’s book.

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Hopewell’s Historic Kit Homes: And They’re Not in Crescent Hills!

March 23rd, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

More than 80% of the time, people who think they have a Sears kit home are wrong. Often, those folks do have a kit home, but it’s not a kit home from Sears. Here in Virginia (where I live), most “Sears homes” that I investigate turn out to be kit homes from Aladdin.

Aladdin was based in Bay City, Michigan (a long way from Virginia), but they had a lumber mill in Wilmington, North Carolina (not so far from Virginia).

Hopewell, Virginia has eight Sears homes in their Crescent Hills neighborhood, but they have dozens of Aladdin kit homes throughout the city. It’s a puzzle why so much focus is put on those eight Sears Homes, while the many Aladdin homes are ignored! If I were a little Aladdin Home in Hopewell, I might feel snubbed!

The eight Sears Homes in Crescent Hills are fine-looking residences. The cluster of Aladdin homes are definitely more modest, but they also have a story to tell. They tell about Dupont coming to Hopewell in the early 1900s and building a factory and creating jobs and investing in modest homes for their workers.

And it’s a part of Hopewell’s history that’s getting lost - quickly. Judging by the landscape in this neighborhood (where the Aladdin Homes are located), countless numbers of these modest homes have already been leveled. Perhaps as people become aware that this is a piece of Hopewell’s history, the rest of these houses might be spared.

Unfortunately, I know very little about Hopewell’s history and I’m hoping my readers will share what they know by leaving a comment.

In the coming days, I’ll post several blogs on Hopewell and their Aladdin kit homes, but I’ll start by featuring the Aladdin Edison.

Enjoy the photos and please leave a comment.

Aladdin promoted itself to companies as a supplier of industrial housing. It was believed that providing housing for workers created a more stable workforce. And that was probably true.

Aladdin promoted itself to companies as a supplier of industrial housing. It was believed that providing housing for workers created a more stable workforce. And that was probably true. (1919 Aladdin catalog)

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A close-up of the text from the 1919 catalog.

A close-up of the text from the 1919 catalog.

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The Aladdin Edison was a modest home, but darn cute. And easy to identify these many years later.

The Aladdin Edison was a modest home, but darn cute. And easy to identify these many years later.

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The Aladdin Edison was really a pretty small house. Take a look at the floor plan. How many people today would be content in such a wee tiny house? Typically, the front porch is enclosed on these 90+ year-old houses to create a little more living space. Enclosing the porch created an additional 240 square feet. Pretty significant in a house that measured 30 x 20.

Close-up of the Aladdin Edison

Close-up of the Aladdin Edison

First, my favorite Edison in Hopewell.

First, my favorite Edison in Hopewell. Oh, that's a cute house!

And from the side...

And from the side...

Another well-dressed Edison...

Another well-dressed Edison...

And another...

This one is located on Ramsey Street (near the water) and is in wonderfully original condition! Look at all those original windows! Somebody give this house a pretty placard identifying it as a beautiful example!

This little house is not in original condition

This little house is not in original condition, but it's still cute, and it's feeling happy because it has flowers growing in its front yard.

Pretty

On the Aladdin Edison, the bedroom (front left) and the dining room (front right) are both 10x10. The owner of this house probably wanted to add a little space to those tiny rooms. All in all, the remodeling done to this house isn't too bad. And they saved those awesome old windows in the dormer!

Ouch.

Hmmm. Looks like someone put a great big upholstery tack on that dormer.

Ocu

This house needs a red-tipped cane.

The little Edison waves good-bye, and hopes that someone will take action to include it, in Hopewells preservation efforts. A little house can dream...

The little Edison waves good-bye, and hopes that someone will take action to include it, in Hopewell's preservation efforts. A little house can dream...

To read part II, click here.

To learn more about Hopewell’s kit homes, click here.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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