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Sears Modern Home #163: Elusive *and* Odd-looking!

September 27th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

In all my travels, I’ve only seen two examples of Sears Modern Home Model #163.

The first was in Taylorville, Illinois, and the second was in Raleigh, NC.

In talking with my dear friend Rebecca Hunter, I learned that she’d never seen one either. In other words, this is a very rare model. The one in  Taylorville, is a victim of insensitive remodeling and the one in Raleigh is in splendiferous condition!

To learn more about the Sears Homes of Illinois, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

Now whod think that this is a Sears kit home? Strangely enough, it is.

Now who'd think that this is a Sears kit home? Strangely enough, it is.

house

Mega House

here

Looking much like the day it was built is this Modern Home #163 in Raleigh. Every detail is perfect. And the best part - it retains its original siding, windows and rafter tails.

Another view

A view from the front of the house. Every detail is perfect. May God bless those pesky vinyl siding salesmen - and keep them FAR AWAY from this house!

Sears Modern Home #163 in Taylorville, Illinois.

Sears Modern Home #163 in Taylorville, Illinois. This one is in sad, sad shape.

Modern Home #163 from the Sears Modern Homes catalog

Modern Home #163 from the Sears Modern Homes catalog

To read another blog about Sears Homes, click here.

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The Kit Homes of Colonial Place (Norfolk, Virginia)

February 19th, 2011 Sears Homes 3 comments

From 2002-2006, I gave about 200 lectures in 24 states and the #1 most frequently asked question I received was, “Do you live in a Sears Home?

No, I don’t, but I do live amongst them.  :)

In January 2007, I was married to a Norfolk resident and in February 2007, we moved into a 1925 center-hallway Colonial Revival in Colonial Place.

It’s not a kit house, but there are several here in Colonial Place and Park Place (and one in Riverview). Most of the kit homes in Norfolk are not from Sears, but Aladdin. Based in Bay City, Michigan, this was another mail-order kit house company. They had a large mill in Wilmington, North Carolina, so it’s not surprising to find so many Aladdin kit homes in our area.

Enjoy the photos!

Aladdin Virginia from the 1919 Aladdin catalog.

Aladdin Virginia from the 1919 Aladdin catalog.

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Aladdin Virginia on Virginia Avenue in the state of Virginia!

Aladdin Virginia on Virginia Avenue in the state of Virginia! This is one of my favorite kit homes - ever. It's in wonderful condition and it's a spot-on match to the original catalog image! Part of what makes this house such a treasure is that it's in original condition.

Wow.

Wow.

Wow

What a beauty.

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Aladdin Plaza

Aladdin Plaza as seen in the 1919 catalog.

An interesting aside: The Pungo Grill in Virginia Beach is also an Aladdin Plaza. Click here to learn more.

Perfect Aladdin Plaza. Just perfect.

Perfect Aladdin Plaza. Just perfect.

The Pomona (named after the city in California) was a classic Arts & Crafts bungalow.

The Pomona (named after the city in California) was a classic Arts & Crafts bungalow.

This Pomona has seen some changes in its many decades of life, but still retains its classic lines.

This Pomona has seen some changes in its many decades of life, but still retains its classic lines. Notice the eave brackets, and compare them to the original catalog picture.

The Aladdin Venus was one of their most popular houses.

The Aladdin Venus was one of their most popular houses.

Close-up of the Aladdin Venus

Close-up of the Aladdin Venus

Looking a little rough around the edges, this Aladdin Venus still retains many original features.

It's had siding added and original railings removed, but this Aladdin Venus still retains many original features. There's a second Aladdin Venus in Park Place on 35th Street.

Notice the original wooden casement windows are still in place, now hidden behind double-hung aluminum storm windows.

Notice the original wooden casement windows are still in place, now hidden behind double-hung aluminum storm windows.

Aladdin Sheffield

Aladdin Sheffield

Despite the fact that the front porch on this house is quite different from the Aladdin Sheffield (pictured above), Im still quite certain this house is an Aladdin kit home. The Sheffield has a number of quirky details that are unusual, and the subject house has each and every one of those quirks.

Despite the fact that the front porch on this house is quite different from the Aladdin Sheffield (pictured above), I'm still quite certain this house is an Aladdin kit home. The Sheffield has a number of quirky details that are unusual, and the subject house has each and every one of those quirks. Unfortunately, this is not a great photo, and the angle is wrong. One of the funny features of the Sheffield is the fireplace chimney on the other side. It cuts right through the eaves of the second-floor dormer window (as does this Sheffield in CP).

Aladdin Lamberton

Aladdin Lamberton

Its done up pretty in brick, and its had many modifications, but Im 97.736% certain that this is an Aladdin Lamberton.

It's done up pretty in brick, and it's had many modifications, but I'm 97.736% certain that this is an Aladdin Lamberton.

This is the only Wardway House I know of in Colonial Place. Like Sears, Montgomery Ward also sold kit homes. To learn more about Wardway Homes, click here.

Sears sold about 70,000 houses during their 32 years in the kit home business. Montgomery Ward sold about 25,000 homes. Not surprisingly, there are very few Wardway Homes in Hampton Roads area.

This is the only Wardway House I know of in Colonial Place. Like Sears, Montgomery Ward also sold kit homes. To learn more about Wardway Homes, click here.

Seems like this house should be located on Michigan Avenue, since it is the Wardway Michigan. Ive always wondered how we ended up with a Michigan Avenue in a neighborhood named after the 13 original colonies.

Seems like this house should be located on Michigan Avenue, since it is the Wardway Michigan. I've always wondered how we ended up with a Michigan Avenue in a neighborhood named after the 13 original colonies.

In addition to kit homes, we also have pattern book houses in CPRV, such as this Regent from a 1926 pattern book. Interested homebuyers would order blueprints from a pattern book. Typically, your purchase price would also include a detailed inventory of all the building materials youd need for your new home.

In addition to kit homes, we also have "pattern book houses" in CPRV, such as this "Regent" from a 1926 pattern book. Interested homebuyers would order blueprints from a pattern book. Typically, your purchase price would also include a detailed inventory of all the building materials you'd need for your new home.

This Regent is a perfect match to the pattern book page (above). THeres another Regent in Larchmont.

This "Regent" is a perfect match to the pattern book page (above). THere's another "Regent" in Larchmont.

In addition to Sears, Aladdin and Wardway, there was also Lewis Manufacturing. Heres a Lewis Manufacturing kit home, The San Fernando. BTW the bungalow craze started (in the early 1900s) in California, hence all the Californian names for these bungalows!

In addition to Sears, Aladdin and Wardway, there was also Lewis Manufacturing. Here's a Lewis Manufacturing kit home, The San Fernando. BTW the bungalow craze started (in the early 1900s) in California, hence all the Californian names for these bungalows!

Is this a Lewis San Fernando? Hard to tell for sure, but it sure looks like it. However, this is precisely why its so difficult to identify kit homes. Closeness does not count. Precision does.

Is this a Lewis San Fernando? Hard to tell for sure, but it sure looks like it. However, this is precisely why it's so difficult to identify kit homes. Closeness does not count. Precision does.

And onto the kit homes in Park Place…

Like Colonial Place, Park Place also has several kit homes. This house (see picture below) was from Gordon Van Tine, a kit home company based in Davenport, Iowa. As you can see from the original catalog picture, it was a fine and spacious home.

Park Place

The ad promises that this is an "exceptionally well planned" home!

Is this a Gordon Van Tine #703? Again, without inspecting the homes interior, its hard to be sure.

Is this a Gordon Van Tine #703? Again, without inspecting the home's interior, it's hard to be sure.

Another spacious foursquare is the Aladdin Wenonah.

Another spacious foursquare is the Aladdin Wenonah.

The Wenonah was an unusual home and this is the only one Ive seen in my many travels. Its in Park Place.

The Wenonah was an unusual home and this is the only one I've seen in my many travels. It's in Park Place.

Whitehall

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

Whitehall

Whitehall in the flesh on 26th Street.

Sears Lebanon. Note the flowerbox in front of the second floor windows.

Sears Lebanon. Note the flowerbox in front of the second floor windows.

Lebanon in Park Place area

Sears Lebanon on 26th Street. This Lebanon is missing its flower box, but still has the wooden support brackets jutting out from the wall.

Sears Americus

Sears Americus

Americus in nearby Park Place

This Sears Americus still retains so many of the unique features that make it so distinctive. Notice how the front porch roof extends well beyond the home's width? And the second floor juts out a bit (on the right) but the first floor is flat across the front. Unfortunately, those eave brackets have been covered in great gobs of aluminum. Ick. This house has been converted into a duplex (sigh) and is on a main drag in Park Place.

My pretty pretty house on Gosnold

My pretty pretty house on Gosnold is not a Sears House.

To learn more about how to identify Sears Homes, click here.

To read about the Sears Homes in Hampton Roads, 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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“Coming Out of the Mud”

January 26th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

If you could spend a day in the early 1900s, you might have a little trouble understanding what people were saying! Some words had radically different meanings.

For instance, there’s the word “slacker.”  A slacker was any able-bodied young man who did not volunteer to serve in the military (and subsequently become part of the American Expeditionary Force).

Wanting to learn more about this time period in American history, I also studied World War 1. It wasn’t called WW1 until the late 1930s, when WW2 broke out. In the late 1910s, it was known as “The Great War.” It’s other name was also a political promise that we - the American people - were given sold to engender our support. We were told it was “The War to End All Wars.”

One of the most chilling definitions I learned was the true meaning of “basket-case.” During the The Great War, when a soldier lost his limbs in battle, a wicker basket was used to carry the limbless figure off the battlefield. One can only imagine the mental state of such a soldier. The fellow soldiers described him as “a real basketcase.”

“Smut” was another interesting term. It was a disease of the wheat crop, and in the early 1900s, smut damaged so much wheat that it caused a nation-wide shortage of wheat.

An article in the 1920 Stanolind Record (employee newsletter of Standard Oil) said that soon Carlinville residents would be “coming out of the mud.” (Carlinville’s “Standard Addition” neighborhood has 152 Sears Homes in a 12-block area. Carlinville is in central Illinois.)  For several months, I asked every smart person I knew what this meant. No one had a guess. Finally, I found a clipping that said a neighborhood had just “come out of the mud.” It showed freshly paved streets and sidewalks. “Coming out of the mud” meant the subdivision now had proper sidewalks and city streets.

yyrr

Vintage photo of Carlinville's Standard Addition before they "came out of the mud." This photo was taken sometime in 1919.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book on Sears Homes, click here.

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An Entire Neighborhood of Sears Homes Near Philadelphia!

October 15th, 2010 Sears Homes 4 comments

UPDATED!  Thanks to a reader, I’ve found that this blog has some errors. I’ve since re-written it and corrected it. Please read the updated version (with better pictures) HERE.

Less than 30 miles from our nation’s first capital (Philadelphia) there’s an entire neighborhood of Sears Homes. Yes, an entire neighborhood of Sears Homes in Chester, PA. Recently, I was looking through a 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog when I found this promotion in its front pages. (See photos below.)

This is quite remarkable, for there are not that many known “Sears House Communities” and finding these homes today could be a real tourism bonanza. In short, this is a real find, but where is it? And does it still exist?

The houses were built by a company known as “Sun Ship Company.”

It’s possible that this entire neighborhood was demolished and no longer exists, but if it does, I sure would like to find it. If you know the area or even a few addresses, please contact me by leaving a comment below. And if you’d like to read more about how to identify Sears Homes, please click here.

UPDATED!  Thanks to a reader, I’ve found that this blog has some errors. I’ve since re-written it and corrected it. Please read the updated version (with better pictures) HERE.

Sears Homes in Chester, PA

Sears Homes in Chester, PA

Featured in the above photos are several sytles of Sear Homes, including the Sears Gladstone

Featured in the above photos are several sytles of Sear Homes, including the Sears Gladstone

The Sears Whitehall was another house featured in Chester, PA.

The Sears Whitehall was another house featured in Chester, PA.

If you look at the vintage photo (above), youll see a little Carlin tucked in among the foursquares.

If you look at the vintage photo (above), you'll see a little Carlin tucked in among the foursquares.

Again, if you know where these homes are, please leave a comment below, or you can write me directly at thorntonrose@hotmail.com. Please put “Chester PA” in the subject line.

West Point, Virginia: Sears Homes - Yes, Military Academy - No.

September 26th, 2010 Sears Homes No comments

Recently I made the 90-minute drive to West Point, Virginia, looking for Sears Homes. Thanks to Rebecca Hunter’s book, “Putting Sears Homes on the Map,” I knew there were at least four Sears Homes in West Point. Her book is a compilation of testimonials from old Sears catalogs, organized by city and state.

Her book listed one testimonial in Norfolk, Virginia and yet I’ve found more than 50 Sears Homes here in Norfolk. “Putting Sears Homes on the Map” listed four Sears Homes in West Point. Proportionately speaking, that meant there should be at least 200 Sears Homes in the tiny town!

I’m saddened to report that I couldn’t even find the four that were listed. Her book listed the Whitehall, the Greenview, the Ivanhoe and the Avoca. I found the Ivanhoe, but couldn’t get close enough to take a photo. It sat on a supersized lot, bordering the water. Unfortunately, it faced the water, making it especially difficult to get a photo! However, I did find (and photograph) the Avoca.

An aside:  Despite the fact that I’ve lived in the Hampton Roads area for more than three decades, I didn’t realize that Virginia was not home to the famous Military Academy of West Point! Only recently did I learn that it’s in New York. Who knew? Not me, obviously.

So, where’s the Whitehall and the Greenview? More than likely, the Whitehall has been torn down. I went up and down those streets in West Point many times and if there was a Whitehall to be found, I would have seen it. The Greenview was such a simple little house that it could have been remodeled beyond recognition. Below are catalog images of these two houses. If you find them in West Point, drop me a note.

Here are the Sears Homes that I found in West Point, Virginia.

To read more about Sears Homes, click here.

Sears Avoca has seen in the 1916 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Avoca has seen in the 1916 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Crescent

Sears Avoca in West Point.

Sears Crescent from the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Crescent from the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Crescent

Perfect Sears Crescent in West Point. This is in wonderfully original condition!

Sears Cranmore

Sears Cranmore. Kind of a crummy picture, but it was surrounded by trees and bushes and more trees and more bushes. Nonetheless, I am confident that this is a Sears Cranmore.

The Sears Homes of West Point probably rode into town on these very railroad tracks!

The Sears Homes of West Point probably rode into town on these very railroad tracks!

Sears Greenview from the Sears Modern Homes catalog. We know one of these was built in West Point, but where?

Sears Greenview from the Sears Modern Homes catalog. We know one of these was built in West Point, but where?

Sears Whitehall. We know there was a Sears Whitehall built in West Point, but I suspect its been torn down.

Sears Whitehall. We know there was a Sears Whitehall built in West Point, but I suspect it's been torn down.

Sears Ivanhoe from the 1919 Modern Homes catalog

Sears Ivanhoe from the 1920 Modern Homes catalog. There's one of these on the waterfront of West Point, but no one was home at the house. I'd love to get a photo!

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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The Lost Sears Homes of Atlantic City, NJ

August 12th, 2010 Sears Homes 7 comments

A few days ago, I was looking through the pages of my 1923 Sears Modern Homes catalog when I happened upon this page (see below). According to this little graphic, there were four Sears homes built in a row somewhere in a 1920s neighborhood in Atlantic City, NJ. I’d imagine there are many other Sears Homes in the area, too.

I live in Norfolk, Virginia and as soon as I can locate the general area of these little pretties (with a little help from my friends hopefully), it’s my intention to drive up there and check out the rest of the city.

There was a massive Sears Mill in Newark, NJ, so I’m confident that there are many Sears Homes in and around the New Jersey area.

In posting this info, I’m hoping and praying some kind soul that’s familiar with the area will drop me a note and tell me where to find these four little Marinas in Atlantic City, NJ. Simply post your response in the comments section (below) and leave an email address and you’ll hear from me pretty quickly.

To read more about Sears Homes, click here.

The Little Marinas of Atlantic City, NJ

The Little Marinas of Atlantic City, NJ

This is a Sears Marina. This is a close-up of the house Im looking for in Atlantic City, NJ

This is a Sears Marina. This is a close-up of the house I'm looking for in Atlantic City, NJ

Close-up of the other Marina with a shed (flat) former. Theres one of these in this grouping in Atlantic City, NJ

Close-up of the "other" Marina with a shed (flat) former. There's one of these in this grouping in Atlantic City, NJ

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Everything I know about the Sears Homes in Atlantic City, I learned from this paragraph in the 1923 Modern Homes catalog.

Everything I know about the Sears Homes in Atlantic City, I learned from this paragraph in the 1923 Modern Homes catalog.

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Cover of the 1923 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Cover of the 1923 Sears Modern Homes catalog