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The Venerable, Vintage Villas of Vinton, Virginia

February 21st, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

In April 2008, my husband and I traveled to Roanoke for a vacation. While he rested at the hotel, I drove out to Vinton to hunt for Sears Homes. This was a quickie drive through, so I suspect I missed a few.

And it turns out, I was right.

About a year later, I drove through the same area with Dale Wolicki. He immediately spotted this kit home (see below) that I had missed. The Wardway Sheridan. It’s a real beauty, too.

The Wardway Sheridan, as shown in the Wardway catalog

Wardway Sheridan in Vinton, Virginia (just outside of Roanoke)

And here’s another unique house: The Harris Brother’s Ardmore. Once you’ve seen this house, it’s not hard to remember it - and find it elsewhere! Note the unique details around the front porch. Very distinctive home.

This is from the Harris Brothers catalog. Its the Ardmore, and its not hard to spot with that odd second floor sticking up out of the bungalows roofline!

This is the Harris Brothers Ardmore, and it's not hard to spot with that odd second floor sticking up out of the bungalow's roofline!

HB

This Ardmore is in Vinton, Virginia, a small town just outside of Roanoke.

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In Vinton, I also found an Aladdin Marsden.

Aladdin Marsden from the 1919 catalog.

Aladdin Marsden from the 1919 catalog.

Aladdin Marsden in Vinton

Aladdin Marsden in Vinton

The Sears Sunbeam was one of their most popular kit homes.

The Sears Sunbeam was one of their most popular kit homes.

Dressed up in brick, this Sears Sunbeam is in very good condition.

Dressed up in brick, this Sears Sunbeam is in very good condition.

To read about the kit homes in Roanoke, click here.

To learn how to identify a kit home, click here.

To buy Rose’s book (and get it inscribed!), click here.

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An Abundance of Sears Homes in Raleigh, NC

February 9th, 2011 Sears Homes 12 comments

In May 2012, I gave a talk on the Sears Homes in RaleighClick here to read more about that.

To my astonishment and delight, I found an impressive number of kit homes in this part of North Carolina, including Sears, Harris Brothers, Lewis Homes, Montgomery Ward, Gordon Van Tine and more!

Kit homes are historically significant for too many reasons to go into here, but in short, these homes were ordered from a mail-order catalog and were shipped in about 12,000 pieces, arriving via boxcar at the local train station. The kits came with 75-page instruction books and a promise that “a man of average abilities” could have one put together and ready for occupancy in 90 days!

Here are a few examples of the many pretties I found during my travels to Raleigh.

If you know of the location of a Sears Home, please leave a comment below.

Continue reading (Part II) here.

Read about what I found in Chapel Hill by clicking here!

Listen to Rose’s inteview on WUNC (with Frank Stasio) here.

Not surprisingly, the Mordecai Historic District has several kit homes, including an Aladdin Plaza!

Not surprisingly, the Mordecai Historic District has several kit homes, including an Aladdin Plaza! This image is from the 1919 Aladdin catalog.

This Aladdin Plaza sits high on a hill in Mordecai (Raleigh)

This Aladdin Plaza sits high on a hill in Mordecai (Raleigh)

Another favorite house (of mine) and a popular house for Sears: The Crescent.

Another favorite house (of mine) and a popular house for Sears: The Crescent.

Sears Crescent (also in the Mordecai area)

Sears Crescent (also in the Mordecai area)

Sears Whitehall, as seen in the 1925 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Sears Whitehall, as seen in the 1925 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Sears Whitehall, also located in the Mordecai area of Raleigh

Sears Whitehall, also located in the Mordecai area of Raleigh

Mordecai has several Sears Homes, including this Sears Sunbeam. Note how the rear roof is much shorter than the front side of the roof. Also note how the large shed dormer comes off the ridge of the roof.

Mordecai has several Sears Homes, including this Sears Sunbeam. Note how the rear roof is much shorter than the front side of the roof. Also note how the large shed dormer comes off the ridge of the roof.

This Sears Sunbeam is a lovely example and in original condition.

This Sears Sunbeam is a lovely example and in original condition. The tin roof is a very nice touch.

The Sears Sunbeam was offered in two versions: One had the open sleeping porch and one had a glassed-in porch. Below is a catalog picture of the house with the enclosed porch, which is more similar to the house pictured above.

The Sears Sunbeam was offered in two versions: One had the open sleeping porch and one had a glassed-in porch. Above is a catalog picture of the house with the enclosed porch, which is more similar to the house in Mordecai.

Sears Argyle, from the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog. Note the big bold columns on the homes front, and the faux beams around the eaves.

Sears Argyle, from the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog. Note the big bold columns on the homes front, and the faux beams around the eaves. Also note how the porch overhangs on one side, extending beyond the home's exterior wall.

The Sears Argyle, near the downtown area.

The Sears Argyle, near the downtown area.Classic and beautiful!

Harris Brothers

This is the Harris Brothers Ardmore, and it's not hard to spot this house with that unusual second floor poking up out of that roofline! (Vintage catalog image supplied by Dan Becker.)

Here it is: THe Harris Brothers kit home, the Ardmore. Id bet money that the owners have no idea that they have a kit home from a small, Chicago-based company.

Here it is: THe Harris Brothers' kit home, the Ardmore. I recently learned that the owner knows all about the home's unique origins!

Aladdin Sheffield, as seen in the 1919 Aladdin catalog. This is an interesting house with its dramatic oversized eaves and hooded dormers.

Aladdin Sheffield, as seen in the 1919 Aladdin catalog. This is an interesting house with its dramatic oversized eaves and hooded dormers.

Aladdin Sheffield in Raleigh

Aladdin Sheffield in Raleigh. This house is in wonderfully original condition.

Wardway (Montgomery Ward) Mt. Vernon, a very popular house

Wardway (Montgomery Ward) Mt. Vernon, a very popular house

Wardway Mt. Vernon - in the flesh!

Wardway Mt. Vernon - in the flesh!

And one of my favorite Sears Homes, The Kilborne.

And one of my favorite Sears Homes, The Kilborne.

I wonder if theyd sell me this house for $2,499?

I wonder if they'd sell me this house for $2,499?

Sears Alhambra from 1923 Modern Homes catalog

Sears Alhambra from 1923 Modern Homes catalog

Sears Alhambra in Raleigh!

Sears Alhambra in Raleigh!

The Sears Winona, as featured in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog. The house in Raleigh (see below) is just a spot-on match, a rarity in a house of this age!

The Sears Winona, as featured in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog. The house in Raleigh (see below) is just a spot-on match, a rarity in a house of this age!

Sears Winona in downtown area (Raleigh, NC)

Sears Westly from the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Westly from the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog

It may not look like a Westly to you at first glance but youll have to trust me on this. It is! The small porch on the dormer has been enclosed to create more space in an upstairs bedroom. This is a common modification, as these areas often leak.

It may not look like a Westly to you at first glance but you'll have to trust me on this. It is! The small porch on the dormer has been enclosed to create more space in an upstairs bedroom. This is a common modification, as these Westlys often leak around that porch area upstairs.

From this angle

From this angle, you can see a bit of that truncated roof on the rear, identifying it as the Sears Westly. Well, it's one of many key identifying features.

Most likely, this really is the tip of the iceberg. In fact, this is about half of the photos I took whilst in Raleigh.

Please share this link with others, and/or contact a local historical organization in Raleigh and urge them to do something to preserve this amazing piece of Raleigh’s history.

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

To buy Rose’s book (and get it inscribed!), click here.

To contact Rose, leave a comment below.

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PS.  And I found several kit homes in Hillsboro, too. I’ll try to post those on another blog entry later.

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Beyond Standard Addition (Carlinville’s OTHER Kit Homes)

January 20th, 2011 Sears Homes 2 comments

I get lots of interesting notes from lots of interesting people. Unfortunately I find that amongst those many emails and letters, there are a lot of common misconceptions about Sears Homes.  One of the more persistent myths is that Carlinville has the largest collection of Sears Homes in the country. This is not true. Elgin (in Illinois) has the largest known collection (with more than 210 Sears Homes), and that word “known” is an especially important one.

Is it possible that some community has more than 210 Sears Homes? Absolutely!!  I am personally acquainted with three serious researchers who have devoted themselves to this work:  Dale Wolicki (Bay City, Michigan), Dr. Rebecca Hunter (Elgin, Illinois), and myself (Norfolk, Virginia). We’ve traveled tens of thousands of miles visiting towns throughout the country. We’ve literally traveled from sea to shining sea looking for these kit homes. Personally, I’ve been from Chicago to Baton Rouge and Boston to Los Angeles on research trips.

My point is, in all our travels, we have not discovered any city that can beat Elgin’s 210 Sears Homes. But we haven’t been to every city in America. In fact, I’d guess that the three of us together have seen fewer than 10% of all the kit homes in America.

With that as a backdrop, let’s go back to Carlinville, Illinois. Interestingly, there are a handful of Sears Homes outside of Standard Addition (the 12-block area with 152 Sears Homes). And there’s a Gordon Van Tine house in Carlinville! (Click here to learn more about Gordon Van Tine.)

To read more about Sears Homes, click here.

Heres a Gordon Van Tine Roberts in Carlinville. GVT was another kit home company that (like Sears) sold entire houses from a mail-order catalog. GVT was based in Davenport, Iowa.

Here's a Gordon Van Tine "Roberts" in Carlinville. GVT was another kit home company that (like Sears) sold entire houses from a mail-order catalog. GVT was based in Davenport, Iowa.

Gordon Van Tine home in Carlinville, not far from the Standard Addition neighborhood.

Pictured above is a Gordon Van Tine home in Carlinville, not far from the Standard Addition neighborhood. This was a popular home for GVT and was known as "The Roberts."

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Sears Beaumont in Carlinville, Illinois

Sears Beaumont in Carlinville, Illinois, and it's a beauty! I didn't know about this Sears house until early 2003, when someone attended a lecture I gave in Carlinville and told me that there was a Sears Beaumont "near the college"!

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Sears Sunbeam, as shown in the 1919 Modern Homes catalog

Sears Sunbeam, as shown in the 1919 Modern Homes catalog

Sears Sunbeam in Carlinville.

Sears Sunbeam in Carlinville.

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Sears Lebanon from the 1919 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Lebanon from the 1919 Sears Modern Homes catalog

This little Sears Lebanon is outside of Standard Addition, but the Lebanon was one of eight models found in Standard Addition. The other houses were the Roseberry, the Warrenton, the Roanoke, the Langston, the Gladstone, the Whitehall and the Madelia.

This little Sears Lebanon is outside of Standard Addition, but the Lebanon was one of eight models found in Standard Addition. The other houses were the Roseberry, the Warrenton, the Roanoke, the Langston, the Gladstone, the Whitehall and the Madelia. This house is one of two Lebanons outside of Standard Addition.

To learn more about Standard Addition, click here.

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