Archive

Posts Tagged ‘sears walton’

Why I Love Ferguson, Missouri

October 5th, 2014 Sears Homes 3 comments

In Fall 2002, I was broke, depressed, lonely and very worried about the future. Months earlier, my beloved mother had died unexpectedly and my marriage of 24 years had ended in divorce.

Those were tough times.

I had one thing going for me: My newly published book, The Houses That Sears Built.

Working 100-hour weeks, I did nothing but promote that book and send out free copies to local media outlets. I slept and I worked. There wasn’t time or money for anything else.

If the book didn’t start selling fast, I’d have to do something I dreaded: Get a real job, and jobs in Alton, Illinois were tough to find.

Sometime in late 2002, I drove around Ferguson, Missouri and found a few Sears Homes. I’m sorry to say I’ve forgotten how it unfolded from there, but I hooked up with a local architect and history lover named Alan. He put me in touch with a couple folks from the city of Ferguson. In time, I was hired to do a survey of the kit homes in the city of Ferguson.

Alan drove me around to the different neighborhoods and it was great fun. Most of what I knew about architecture came from reading books. Alan graciously answered my many simple questions about architecture. I will always remember his kindness and patience.

After I’d identified a few kit homes,  the city had a lovely ceremony, and each Sears Home owner was presented with a beautiful plaque. I was invited to be part of the presentation ceremony.

It was a lovely memory for so many different reasons.

First and foremost, the folks in Ferguson - homeowners, Alan the Architect, city officials and employees  - showed me so much kindness and respect.

Secondly, this was my rubicon.

My divorce had been heart-breaking, but this experience in Ferguson showed me that my work had value and my life had purpose, and that there were people in the world who shared my passion for these old houses.

Some time later, the kit homes in Ferguson were featured on “Show Me St. Louis” (a popular TV show),  and that also warmed the cockles of my heart, and gave me new hope that I could make a career out of this vocation.

In subsequent years, my book and I have been featured on PBS History Detectives, CBS Sunday Morning News, A&E’s Biography, MSNBC, NPR, BBC Radio, and many more. I’ve traveled to 25 states doing surveys and giving talks.

But it all started with the grace and kindess of the many fine folks in Ferguson.

That’s why I love Ferguson so much.

BTW, if you know the addresses of these homes or even street names, please send me a note or leave a comment.  When I did this survey, I didn’t know much about the other kit home companies. I’d love to come back and do a more thorough survey.

Lastly, these images are from 12-year-old slides. The colors are off and the images are grainy.

*

One of the reasons there are so many kit homes in St. Louis is because there was a Sears Modern Homes sales center in St. Louis. There were only 40 of these in the country, and these were only placed in areas where sales had been strong. And once a Modern Homes sales center opened, sales were even stronger!

One of the reasons there are so many kit homes in the St. Louis area is because there was a Sears Modern Homes sales center in St. Louis. There were only 40 of these in the country.

*

And in the early 30s,

Sears only placed these "Sales Centers" in communities where sales were strong.

*

Ferguson

Sears Walton as seen in the 1928 catalog.

*

Ferguson

I remember the homeowner here was just THRILLED to learn she had a Sears House!

*

Leanon

The Lebanon was a popular house for Sears (1921 catalog).

*

Lebanon

Lovely Lebanon in Ferguson. Notice the placement of the door next to the one window.

*

Marina

Sears Marina (1916)

*

Marina

A perfect Marina in Ferguson.

*

Lex

The Sears Lexington was one of their biggest and most expensive homes.

*

Lexington

Initially, I'd missed this stately Lexington hiding behind the hedge, but this IS a Lexington!

*

compare

Nice comparison of the Lexington entryway. Although it's somewhat obscured, you can see the fan light in the 1928 image. The details on the porch are spot on!

*

Ferguson

Sears Barrington (1928).

*

Pattern book

Although I initially identified this as a Barrington, I'm starting to wonder if it is a pattern book house. These many years later, I do not remember if we went inside this house.

*

Gordon Van Tine

In addition to Sears Homes, I also found a Gordon Van Tine home in Ferguson.

*

GVT

Very distinctive house!

*

Ferguson House

The porch has been enclosed, but this is a lovely GVT #605 in Ferguson.

*

Spent years

I have spent many years trying to identify this house. I've yet to find it in any pattern books, kit house catalogs or magazines. But hey - it's only been 12 years. I'm still looking!

*

To read about the kit homes I found in Kirkwood, click here.

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

*

Is it or Isn’t it? (Gordon Van Tine #534)

March 18th, 2013 Sears Homes 5 comments

In Summer 2004, I visited the beautiful community of Cape Charles (on the Eastern Shore of Virginia), to give a talk on Sears Kit Homes. The folks there in Cape Charles treated me like a queen, and left me with many wonderful and happy memories of their hospitality and warmth and authenticity.

When I was there, I was driven around nearby communities as well, and in a town “across the street” (Route 13) from Cape Charles, I discovered this fine-looking old yellow bungalow. At first, I suspected it was a Gordon Van Tine kit house (Model #534), but once I got home and compared the photo to my catalog images, I decided it wasn’t a good “fit” and put it out of mind.

And then last month, Sears House aficionado and photographer Donna Bakke sent me pictures of a Sears kit house in Ohio, “The Paloma.”

As I compared that house to the line drawing, I saw that the actual proportions of the Sears Paloma were not a good match to the extant house. In fact, they were dramatically skewed.

And then my friend Rachel Shoemaker commented that she’d also discovered that these line drawings were often not good representations of the house itself.

So last week, I went through my old pictures and dragged out the Gordon Van Tine I’d seen on the Eastern Shore and as I got to studying it, I started to change my thought about the house. Based on what I saw in that Pomona (thanks to Donna), I’m now thinking, this could well be the Gordon Van Tine Model #534.

Ah, and a little PS. This house is on the east side of Route 13, “across” from Cape Charles and a little bit north. It’s in a tiny community and I neglected to get the name of this town. If anyone has any idea where this house is, I sure would be grateful to know!

To see the post on the Sears Paloma, click here.

To read more about the kit homes I saw in Cape Charles, click here.

To join our group (”Sears Homes”) on Facebook, click here.

*   *   *

house

Is this the Gordon Van Tine #534? When I first saw this house, I was 80% certain that it was, and then when I really studied the photo and compared it to the catalog image, I changed my mind. And then last week, I changed my mind - again! Now I just hope the house is still standing!

*

house house

It is exceptionally well planned! But it also looks BIG!

*

house

How wide would you guess that house to be?

*

GVT

And if you compare the two images side by side, you'd probably say that the GVT house is much wider than the little yellow house on the Eastern Shore.

*

house

If you look at the floor plan, you'll see this house is only 26' wide. Is the yellow house 26' wide? Yes, I'd say that it is. Does the house shown in the line drawing look 26' wide? Nope. It looks much bigger.

*

house house

So, what if we were to skew the house a bit to make it look more like it was 26' wide?

*

house

If you do a side-by-side comparison of the GVT 534 (with the catalog image skewed), they look like a perfect match. If someone can figure out where this house is, I'll go back and get a better picture.

*

line

And there's also this fact. The little yellow house has the same windows as the GVT 534 and they're very distinctive windows. Plus, that pent roof is a unique feature. The more I study this house, the more I think it's a darn good match.

*

Looks lke a match to me!

Looks like a match to me!

*

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

*    *    *

The Humble Waltons Among Us (Sears Waltons, That Is)

November 19th, 2011 Sears Homes 2 comments

The Sears Walton was probably one of Sears top-10 best selling models.

It was also one of Sears’ most practical houses, with 1200 square feet, a spacious front porch, compact kitchen, and less than 40 square feet wasted on the one small hallway.

One of the defining characteristics of the Sears Walton is that small box window on the front bedroom, the oversized front porch (which extends beyond the main wall of the house), and the contrasting rooflines on the porch and main house. Plus, the dining room has a gabled bay with three windows.

In short, it’s an easy house to spot, due to its many interesting architectural elements.

The Sears Walton was also a popular house, but John Boy never slept here.

The Sears Walton was also a popular house, but John Boy never slept here.

*

And it even has the little box window on the front of the house!

The floor plan for the Sears Walton shows the spacious living room and dining room, and wee tiny bedrooms! (10 x 9, 10 x 10, and 10 x 11).

*

Sears Walton in the Craddock section of Portsmouth, VA

Sears Walton in the Craddock section of Portsmouth, VA

*

Sears Walton in Muncie

This is my favorite Sears Walton. No kidding. Talk about "original condition"! This thing is a beauty! This photo was snapped in early 2004, and I'd bet money that this sad little house (in a commercial district) is probably long gone. This house is also a testimony to the quality of building materials used in Sears Homes. This house hasn't seen a coat of paint in 40 years (or more), and every smidge of paint is long gone from its cypress exterior, and yet - it still stands. Try neglecting a modern McMansion for 40 years and see what you have left! This house is (was) in Muncie, Indiana.

*

Sears Walton in West Lafayette, Indiana

Sears Walton in West Lafayette, Indiana. Notice the oversized front porch.

*

And a beautiful Walton in Glen Ellyn, Illinois

And a beautiful Walton in Glen Ellyn, Illinois

*

The Sears Walton

The Sears Walton in Champaign has had some changes (vinyl siding, replacement windows and a closed-in porch), but it's still a Walton.

*

Most of the Sears Waltons Ive seen are yellow! Just like this one in Danville.

On this Walton in Danville, Virginia, someone extended that dining room bay and turned it into a porte cochere! Despite the landscaping, you can see a piece of that box windows on the left front.

*

Sears Walton, but if only I knew where! Its somewhere near downtown Raleigh.

Sears Walton in downtown Raleigh.

*

Walton in Paducah, Kentucky.

I suspect this is also a Sears Walton, but has been dramatically altered. The small gable over the box window could easily have been added when all this plastic and vinyl was being installed. This Walton is in Paducah, KY.

*

Is this a Sears Walton? Id say it probably is, even though its missing the little box window on the front. Thatd be an easy change for a carpenter to make on the site.

Is this a Sears Walton? I'd say it probably is, even though it's missing the little box window on the front. That'd be an easy change for a carpenter to make on the site.

*

Sears Walton at 102 Oakwood Avenue

Sears Walton in a small town just outside of Richmond, Virginia.

*

This Walton is one of two, side by side, in Cape Charles, Virginia

This "Walton" is one of two, side by side, in Cape Charles, Virginia

*

Sears Walton

Sears Walton as seen in the 1921 Modern Homes catalog.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

*   *  *

Cape Charles, Virginia: One of My Favorite Places on Earth!

June 13th, 2011 Sears Homes 4 comments

In 2004, I was invited to Cape Charles to give a talk on Sears Homes. Even though I was born and raised in Portsmouth, Virginia (about an hour away), I’d never seen this waterfront community on the Eastern Shore. During my time there, I stayed at the Cape Charles House Bed and Breakfast and the owners (Carol and Bruce) were so good and kind to me.

In fact, everyone in Cape Charles treated me like royalty. A girl can grow accustomed to that in a hurry!

The entire Eastern Shore is a gem, but Cape Charles is an especially well-polished jewel of a city.

And about those Sears Homes…

It was surprising to find so many kit homes in this little fishing village. And yet, we found several. And there was also an Aladdin kit home, too.  Scroll on down for the virtual tour of kit homes in Eastern Shore. And if you know of any others in the area, drop me a note.

To read more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s books, click here.

C

As shown in the 1912 Sears Modern Homes catalog, this was an interesting house with that crazy oversized eave. In all the #126s I've seen, some additional support has been added to that porch roof. It's inevitable that it'll sag in time.

F

Floorplan for the 126 shows those chamfered corners on all four sides, as well as in the porch indent.

Here it is, in Cape Charles

Here it is, in Cape Charles. Note the detail of the bracketing under the eaves. The front porch has been closed in, but this is definitely a #126.

Detail of eaves on #126

Detail of eaves on #126

Sheffield

Sheffield as seen in the 1919 Aladdin catalog.

Heres an Aladdin Sheffield in Cape Charles, Virginia (on the Eastern Shore)

Here's an Aladdin Sheffield in Cape Charles, Virginia (on the Eastern Shore)

____

This was one of Sears biggest and nicest homes.

This was one of Sears' biggest and nicest homes.

Right down the street from the Sheffield (see above) is the Sears Glenn Falls. Although its partly obscured by the trees, you can see the familiar lines of the Glenn Falls.

Right down the street from the Sheffield (see above) is the Sears Glenn Falls. Although it's partly obscured by the trees, you can see the familiar lines of the Glenn Falls.

____

The Pheonix is one of Sears most unusual kit homes. Interesting design and lots of fun details.

The Pheonix is one of Sears' most unusual kit homes. Interesting design and lots of fun details.

Sears Pheonix - in the flesh - in Cape Charles, Virginia

Sears Phoenix - in the flesh - in Cape Charles, Virginia

Side view of the Pheonix

Side view of the Pheonix

____

Sears Somerset

Sears Somerset

The porch has been altered, but Id be willing to be money that this is indeed a Sears Somerset.

The porch has been altered, but I'd be willing to be money that this is indeed a Sears Somerset.

____

Sears Walton

Sears Walton

This Walton is one of two, side by side, in Cape Charles, Virginia

This "Walton" is one of two, side by side, in Cape Charles, Virginia

Is your house a Sears House? Click here to learn more.

*   *   *