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Eight Pretty Maggies in a Row

August 29th, 2013 Sears Homes 13 comments

As of last month, we’ve found eight Sears Magnolias. There are probably more, but where are they?

The last three Magnolias that were discovered (in North Carolina, New York and West Virginia) were found thanks to the readers of this blog.

So where’s Number Nine?  :)

If you know, please leave a comment below!

Below are pictures of the eight Magnolias.

Enjoy!

The Sears Magnolia was featured on the cover of the 1918 Modern Homes catalog.

The Sears Magnolia was featured on the cover of the 1918 Modern Homes catalog.

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When first offered

When first offered in 1918, the Magnolia was also offered as a "plan" (blueprints only) for $10.

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The Magnolia in Benson, NC was discovered when a faithful reader of the blog sent me a note and reported that shed seen a Magnolia featured on the news. She even sent me a link to the news story, so I was able to conform it was a Magnolia before I traveld five hours south to Benson.

The Magnolia in Benson, NC was discovered when a faithful reader of the blog sent me a note and reported that she'd seen a Magnolia featured on the news. She even sent me a link to the news story, so I was able to conform it was a Magnolia before I traveled five hours south to Benson. This Magnolia has been in constant use as a funeral home since the early 1940s. The interior has been pretty well gutted and rebuilt, but at least it's still standing.

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Canton, Ohio

The Magnolia in Canton, Ohio was almost lost in the 1980s. The roof had collapsed into the second floor, but the house was purchased by someone who truly loved old houses, and they did a thorough restoration of the home. In 2002, I visited this house when filming a segment for PBS's "History Detectives." Photo is courtesy Janet LaMonica and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Located in the hills of West Virginia, this beautiful Magnolia also passed through its own shadow of death in the early 2000s. In 2003, it was purchased and lovingly restored.

Located in the hills of West Virginia, this beautiful Magnolia also passed through its own "shadow of death" in the early 2000s. In 2003, it was purchased and lovingly restored.

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In 1985, this Magnolia in Lincoln, Nebraska was in pitiful shape (when these photos were taken). In late 1985, the house suffered additional damage when it caught fire. It was razed sometime in 1985.

In 1985, this Magnolia in Lincoln, Nebraska was in pitiful shape (when these photos were taken). In late 1985, the house suffered additional damage when it caught fire. It was razed sometime in 1985. Photo is courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Syracuse

The Seventh Magnolia (in Syracuse, NY) was also discovered thanks to a faithful reader of this blog. It was built by Edward Knapp for his two sisters sometime between 1918-1921. In the 1990s, it was purchased and restored by someone who loved the house and appreciated its unique history. Photo is courtesy Mariel Proulx and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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house house house

The Magnolia in South Bend, Indiana is now going through its own trying time. If you look at the underside of the front porch ceiling, you'll see moisture damage. The aluminum trim around the eaves and soffit is also falling away. Hopefully, this wonderful old house will be spared the fate of the Maggy in Nebraska. These photos are more than a year old, so perhaps good things are now happening for this house. Photo is courtesy James Layne and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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The Magnolia in Piedmont, Alabama is also needing a little love.

The Magnolia in Piedmont, Alabama is also needing a little love. It's sold three times in the last six years and when I was there in September 2010, it was looking a little ragged around the edges. However, it sold very recently (less than six months ago) and hopefully the new owners will return it to its former glory.

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Last but not least is this Magnolia in Irwin, Pennsylvania. It was built as a brick house, and the floorplan was altered a bit when the house was built. Construction began in 1922 and was not completed until 1927.

Last but not least is this Magnolia in Irwin, Pennsylvania. The brick exterior is original to the house and the floorplan was altered a bit when the house was built. Construction began in 1922 and was not completed until 1927. Photo is courtesy Bob Keeling and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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And in Blacksburg, SC

This "almost-a-Magnolia" was discovered in Blacksburg, SC. According to the homeowner (and tax records) the house was built in 1910, and based on millwork and other design elements, that seems like a good date. The classic "widow's walk" (flat top) on the hipped roof is not in place (as with a traditional Magnolia). And see those tall columns? They're solid concrete. No kit house would have concrete two-story columns due to the tremendous weight. These homes were designed with the expectation that a "man of average abilities" could build them in 90 days - or less! I suspect that this house in Blacksburg was purchased from a planbook or architectural magazine, and then Sears "borrowed" the design, shaved a few feet off the footprint and the Sears Magnolia was born.

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house house house

The Magnolia was also known as Sears Modern Home #2089. I found this marking in the basement of the Magnolia in Benson, NC. When these framing members were shipped out of Cairo, Illinois, one of the mill workers grabbed a blue grease pencil and marked the top beam in the pile of lumber that was about to be loaded onto a train for Benson. Today, this faint mark can be used to authenticate that this is indeed a Sears kit home.

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marked lumber

Years ago, I talked to an elder gent who remembered helping Mom and Dad build a Sears kit home. The father, standing on the building site, would yell out, "I need a G 503!" and the kids would scramble over the massive piles of framing members to find a beam marked G 503. The floor joist shown above was found in the Magnolia in WV.

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Now, about that 9th Magnolia…

Where is it?  :)

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

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The Sears Magnolia - in South Bend, Indiana!

May 8th, 2012 Sears Homes 11 comments

OOOH! I have new photos! Click here to see the new photos!

Faithful readers of my fun little blog will note that I have pictures of the five living Sears Magnolias in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Ohio, Alabama, and New York. There was a Sears Magnolia in Nebraska, but it was torn down decades ago.

However, until now, I didn’t have any photos of the “Maggy” in South Bend, Indiana.

And then I sold my car.

Or tried to.

When the odometer on my tired old Camry hit 170,000 miles, I decided it was time to replace the old girl. But then, I couldn’t find the car title. Boy did I search. After all, I’m a writer. I don’t lose things. I have 27 boxes of research notes, all painstakingly organized and carefully filed away.

But that car title eluded me.

In the process of searching the entire house, I did find many other things, including these photos of the Sears Magnolia in South Bend, Indiana. Only thing is, I have no idea who snapped these photos for me. Some kind soul took these photos and mailed them to me. Based on markings found on the pictures, it appears that the photos date to Fall 2003.

The Sears Magnolia was the the crème de la crème of Sears Homes. It had 2-1/2 baths, two fireplaces, four spacious bedrooms and a sleeping porch, two staircases (front and rear), and a grand total of almost 3,000 square feet. The front of the house boasted two-story ionic (and sometimes Corinthian) porch columns, with a porte cochere on one side and a 140-square-foot sunporch on the other side.

It was quite a house.

Is there a Sears Magnolia in your neighborhood? If so, send me a photo. I suspect there are many more Magnolias in the country. Heretofore, we’ve found seven. It sure would be fun to find Number Eight!

Two requests:  If anyone reading this blog lives in South Bend, I’d love to get some newer photos! And it’d be just swell to have an address for this house in South Bend.  :)

To learn more about the Sears Magnolia, click here.

Or here.

Read about the fellow who built a Magnolia in Ohio here.

To read about the exhumation of my Aunt Addie, click here.

To buy your dear mother the perfect Mother’s Day gift, click here.

The Magnolia

The Magnolia as seen in the 1921 catalog.

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You can see from the floorplan, this was a big house!

You can see from the floorplan, this was a big house!

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And thanks to some unknown soul, heres a photo of the Sears Magnolia in South Bend, Indiana. Photo was taken sometime in late 2003.

And thanks to some unknown soul, here's a photo of the Sears Magnolia in South Bend, Indiana. Photo was taken sometime in late 2003. If that "unknown soul" is reading this, please contact me, so that I may give proper photo credit! :)

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Another view of the Maggy in South Bend.

Another view of the Maggy in South Bend. And yes, it's clad in a scratchy aluminum outfit, but maybe - just maybe - that's been removed since this photo was snapped nine years ago. And aluminum siding is recyclable (unlike vinyl). After it's removed, it can be taken to a salvage yard and it often fetches a handsome price!

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Another view

Another view of our Sears Maggy in South Bend. LOVE those columns!

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Just a cool old picture (early 1940s) of the Magnolia in Benson, NC.

A cool old picture (early 1920s I think) of the Magnolia in Benson, NC. I found it interesting that this house was photographed from the same angle as the house in South Bend!

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Heres a picture of the person who drove the getaway car for our mystery photographer. I surely would love to know who got these photos for me, and Im mighty grateful.

Here's a picture of the person who drove the getaway car for our mystery photographer. I surely would love to know who got these photos for me, and I'm mighty grateful.

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To see more photos of the Sears Magnolia, click here.

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