In early 2009, The History Press contacted me and asked me to write a book about the Sears Homes of Illinois.
For more than three weeks, I traveled throughout Illinois, documenting and photographing the Sears Homes from Cairo to Chicago.
My adventure began in early February 2010, when I took the Amtrak to Chicago (from Charlottesville) and the Metra to Elgin, where I met up with Rebecca Hunter in Elgin. For three whole days, Rebecca drove me throughout the northern Illinois suburbs, helping me photograph these amazing Sears Homes. For three whole days, Rebecca allowed me to stay in her home, too!
To learn more about Rebecca, click here. Thanks wholly to Dr. Rebecca Hunter, more than 200 Sears homes have been identified in Elgin. By the way, this makes Elgin the city with the largest known collection of Sears Homes in the country - not Carlinville (as is often misreported).
To learn more about the Sears Homes in Elgin, visit the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin, and check out The Elgin Illinois Sears House Research Project (by Rebecca Hunter). This book is also available for interlibrary loan within the state of Illinois. You can also visit Dr. Hunter’s website at www.kithouse.org.
By the way, if you like what you see, please share the link with others!
To read more about the Sears Homes in the Midwest, click here.
The Sears Normandy: A very rare kit home!
The only Normandy I've ever seen was in Elmhurst, and it's a pretty one!
Sears Princeville, as seen in the 1919 cataog.
Sears Princeville in West Chicago, with an enclosed porch.
Another Sears Princeville, and this one is in St. Charles. Notice, it's been slightly remodeled. I would never have identified this as a Sears House, but Rebecca found it using grantor records. It is a confirmed Princeville, based on old mortgage records. Rest in peace, poor little Princeville. I'm sure you were a beauty back in the day.
An especially odd-looking duck, the #124 didn't last long enough to be granted a name. In 1918, Sears Homes were given names (instead of numbers).
Looking much like it did when built in 1916, this house is in Crystal Lake.
From the 1928 catalog, the Solace was a fairly popular house, but those original pergola ends (front porch) rarely survive the decades.
This little Solace is in Wheaton. Those three windows on the side (descending in size) always catch my eye. A small, clipped-gable dormer was added to this Solace.
Searss Newbury, from the 1936 cataog.
This Newbury is in Elmhurst, and it's a spot-on match to the catalog page.
Sears Lexington from a late 1920s Sears catalog.
Sears Lexington in Glen Ellyn, IL. Notice the oversized cornice returns, and also that goofy placement of the window/door on the second floor balcony. Very unusual feature.
Sears Hathaway from the 1921 catalog.
Sears Hathawaay in Elmhurst. This is another very rare house. I don't think I've seen five in 10 years.
Columbine, from 1921.
This Columbine in Wheaton has had several changes, but fortunately, the remodelings and additions have been done in a sensitive, thoughtful way.
A "bungalow from the Golden West" the Osborn was another very popular house. This picture from the 1919 Sears Modern Homes catalog also shows interior views of The Osborn.
Sears Osborn in St. Charles, Illinois (next door to the Princeville, above).
The Sears Newcastle was a Colonial Revival and a popular design
Sears Newcastle in Geneva, Illinois
Sears Matoka, another popular Sears Homes
Sears Matoka in St. Charles
Sears Fullerton in Aurora, Illinois
Sears Fullerton in Elgin, Illinois
Sears Del Rey
Sears Del Rey in Wheaton, Illinois
Sears Marina, Model #2024
Sears Marina (2024) in Geneva, Illinois
The Sears Hamilton was a modest, but a big seller for Sears.
Sears Hamilton in Elgin, IL
Perhaps one of their top ten most popular designs, the Sears Crescent was offered in two floor plans, with an expandable attic option in both plans.
Significantly remodeled Crescent in Elmhurst, IL
The most notable feature on the Americus (shown here from the 1925 catalog) was the oversized front porch roof, unique front columns and the second floor front wall that juts out a little from the first.
Sears Americus in Glen Ellyn, Illinois
To buy Rose’s book, click here.
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