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Posts Tagged ‘starlight’

New Bern’s Numerous and Nobby Kit Homes (Or “How I Spent My Second Honeymoon Last Week”)

January 21st, 2016 Sears Homes 13 comments

How did New Bern come to have so many kit homes? Is it because of New Bern’s proximity to Aladdin’s largest mill in Wilmington, North Carolina? Perhaps, but how does that explain the grandiose Sears Homes I found on Spencer Street?

It’s a mystery, but I hope it’s one that this community will fully explore!

What is a kit home?

Sears is the best-known name in the kit home business, and they started selling houses through their mail-order catalogs in 1908. These “kits” came in a  boxcar in 12,000 pieces, and included a 75-page catalog that told you how all those pieces and parts went together. Sears promised that a “man of average abilities” could have the house complete and ready for occupancy in about 90 days.

Sears closed their “Modern Homes Department” in 1940, and during a corporate house cleaning, all sales records were destroyed. The only way to find these homes today is literally one by one.

I’m confident that New Bern has many more kit homes than shown below. I saw less than 30% of the town, and I went through that 30% very  quickly! I’d love to return to New Bern soon and do a proper, thorough street-by-street survey.

If you enjoy the information and pictures, please share this link with friends on Facebook and/or via email!

To contact Rose (who art in Norfolk) about returning to New Bern, please leave a comment below!

To read the prior blog on New Bern, click here.

Read about The Peach House in nearby Kinston here.

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New Bern has many Aladdin kit homes. Is that due to their proximity to a large Aladdin Mill in the southern part of the state?

New Bern has many Aladdin kit homes. Is that due to their proximity to a large Aladdin Mill in the southern part of the state? Most likely, yes. Image is from the 1923 Aladdin catalog.

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One of my favorite finds in New Bern was the Aladdin Hampshire located in the heart of the historic downtown. This house was offered in the early 1920s.

One of my favorite finds in New Bern was the Aladdin "Hampshire" located in the heart of the historic downtown. This house was offered in the early 1920s.

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This must surely be infill, because the houses around it all date to the mid-to-late 1800s.

This must surely be infill, because the houses around it all date to the mid-to-late 1800s. It's a beautiful little house in wonderful condition. And it retains its original casement windows!

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Due to heavy landscaping, I had trouble getting a good shot, but you can see that little bay window poking up from the bushes.

Due to heavy landscaping, I had trouble getting a good shot, but you can see that little bay window poking up from the bushes, and the small fixed sashes flanking the fireplace. It's a thrill to see a 90-year-old house in original condition.

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What a cutie!

What a cutie! The house in New Bern is "flipped" (the mirror image).

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The Aladdin Plaza was another very popular house for Aladdin (1919).

The Aladdin Plaza was another very popular house for Aladdin (1919).

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Is this an Aladdin Plaza? Given its proximity (near other Aladdins), Id say its very likely.

Is this an Aladdin Plaza? Given its proximity (near other Aladdins within Ghent), I'd say it's likely.

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The Pomona was one of Aladdins most popular homes.

The Pomona was one of Aladdin's most popular homes. I saw two of these in New Bern, and neglected to capture the address of the second one. The first one (in Ghent) is shown below.

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Its a terrible picture, but it shows a piece of the Aladdin Pomona in New Berns Historic Ghent neighborhood.

It's a terrible picture, but it shows a piece of the Aladdin Pomona in New Bern's Historic Ghent neighborhood, on Spencer Avenue. It's definitely a Pomona, but has endured a great deal of remodeling. The front porch is 100% enclosed.

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The Aladdin Cape Cod (1923) was another popular kit home.

The Aladdin "Cape Cod" (1923) was another popular kit home.

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Did someone order an Aladdin Cape Cod from the Wilmington Mill and say, Supersize Me?

Did someone order an Aladdin Cape Cod from the Wilmington Mill and say, "Supersize Me"? It is a nice match to the Aladdin, but it's much too wide. It's likely that this is a pattern-book house, but I haven't been able to find a corresponding match in my collection of early 1900s pattern books. More than 30% of kit homes were customized, so it's possible this was ordered "extra large" from the Aladdin mill.

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Gordon Van Tine,  like Sears and Aladdin, also sold kit homes through a mail-order catalog. Shown here is the GVT Roberts

Gordon Van Tine, like Sears and Aladdin, also sold kit homes through a mail-order catalog. Shown here is the GVT "Roberts"(also known as the #560).

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And heres a near-perfect Roberts I found on Rhem Avenue.

And here's a near-perfect Roberts I found on Rhem Avenue.

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Within New Bern, I found two of these Gordon Van Tine homes, but neglected to make a note of the address. The porch on this

Within New Bern, I found two of these Gordon Van Tine homes, but neglected to make a note of the address. The porch on this house and those clipped gables are what first catch your eye. If you find this missing "Mt. Vernon," please give me an address (and a photo)!

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And now Sears. The Sears catalog identified the Osborn as a bungalow from the West. Its distinctive and easy to pick out in a crowd (1921 catalog).

And now Sears. The Sears catalog identified the "Osborn" as a bungalow "from the Golden West." It's distinctive and easy to pick out in a crowd (1921 catalog).

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Alson

It's had some remodeling, but it's very likely that this house on Spencer Avenue is the real deal: A Sears Osborn. Check out the tapered chimney, rafter tails and detailing on the porch railing.

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The Sears Roanoke is another distinctive Sears house (1921).

The Sears Roanoke is another distinctive Sears house (1921).

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That

That side entry (originally with a pergola) is a unique feature of the Roanoke, as is the wooden awning and symmetry on the home's front. It's so lovely to see that awning still in place. And look to the left. What's that next door?

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And whats that next door to the Roanoke?

Is that a Sears Chelsea? Hmmm...

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Boy oh boy, its hard to know for sure.

Boy oh boy, it's hard to know for sure. In that the "Chelsea" (also known as #111) in New Bern was built without a basement, that side with the staircase bay is not going to have a doorway under it (as shown here). I'd have to see this house up close and personal to make a positive ID. For now, I'd say it's a "definite maybe."

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Just down the street from the Roanoke and Chelsea is something that looks a lot like a Sears Chelsea.

Just down the street from the Roanoke and Chelsea is something that looks a lot like a Sears Saratoga.

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Is this a Sears Chelsea?

Is this a Sears Saratoga? The Saratoga is 30 feet across the front. This house in New Bern looks much wider than that. Again, was it supersized? It's another house that is a "definite possibility." I'd need to see the interior to make a proper judgement. It certainly is a good match in many other ways.

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The majestic Milton (1918 catalog).

The majestic Milton (1918 catalog).

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What a glorious house!

What a glorious house, and it's in such beautiful condition!

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And just across the street from the Milton is Modern Home #178. Its the ONLY #178 Ive seen in my many years of traveling (25 states and 200 cities).

And just across the street from the Milton is Modern Home #178. It's the ONLY #178 I've seen in my many years of traveling (25 states and 200 cities).

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What fun to scratch one more house off my never seen this model list! And right in New Bern, North Carolina.

What fun to scratch one more house off my "never seen this model" list! And right in New Bern, North Carolina.

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The Lynnhaven is a tricky model to identify authoritatively because it had so many kissing cousins that looked very similar.

The Lynnhaven is a tricky model to identify authoritatively because it had so many "kissing cousins" that looked very similar. The position of the shed dormer and the depth of that front-facing gable are good clues for this model.

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Is this the Real Deal? Might be. It looks like a good match.

Is this the Real Deal? Might be. It looks like a good match.

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Last but not least is the sweet little Starlight (1921).

Last but not least is the sweet little "Starlight" (1921).

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Forlorn and forgotten, it sits next door to the RollerLand Skating Rink in the 3500-block of Neuse Blvd.

Forlorn and forgotten, it sits next door to the RollerLand Skating Rink in the 3500-block of Neuse Blvd. Stay strong, little Starlight. Perhaps help is coming. Either that, or you'll be eaten by Kudzu soon, and it'll all be over.

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If you enjoy the pretty pictures, please share this link with friends on Facebook and/or via email!

To contact Rose (who art in Norfolk) about returning to New Bern, please leave a comment below!

To read the prior blog I did on New Bern, click here.

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The Dandy Dundee in Alton, Illinois

June 1st, 2012 Sears Homes No comments

When I first started researching Sears Homes in 1999, I was living in Alton, Illinois. By 2002, I had driven the city many, many times, finding all the Crescents, and Gladstones, and Starlights and Craftons and Westlys - in short, all the most popular, easy-to-identify models.

In my spare time, I’d alternately study the old catalogs and then cruise around town, hoping to discover something new.

In late 2002, I drove down Park Avenue in Alton and discovered the Sears Dundee. It’s the only one I’ve ever found and - thank goodness - as of March 2010 (when this photo was taken), it was still in beautifully original condition.

To read more about Sears Homes, click here.

The Dundee from the 1921 catalog.

"The Dundee" from the 1921 catalog.

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By 1928, the house had undergone some changes.

By 1928, the house had undergone some changes. The square footage was increased by extending the home's length, and the price increased a mere $58 (from 1921 to 1928).

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The floor plan in 1921

The floor plan in 1921 showed two wee-tiny bedrooms, with a small mudroom on the rear.

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Sears Homes

In the 1928 floor plan, the kitchen and the rear bedroom have increased by two linear feet.

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The 1921 catalog showed a front view of the Dundee.

The 1921 catalog showed a "front view" of the Dundee.

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The Sears Dundee in Alton, ILlinois.

The Sears Dundee in Alton, Illinois. Between landscaping and hills, it was impossible to get a photo from the same angle as the catalog image.

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porch

The Dundee in Alton is a little larger than the Sears Dundee, but it's likely that this house was either customized when built or added on to, later in life. Because of the distinctive ornamental detail on the porch roof, I am confident this really is the Sears Dundee.

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Had this house been covered in crappy vinyl siding, I would never have discovered it.

Had this house been covered in crappy vinyl siding, I would never have discovered it. That distinctive gable on the front porch was the item that caught my eye!

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To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To read about a big fancy Sears House in New York City, click here.

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Starlight, Starbright, First Kit House I See Tonight…

April 28th, 2012 Sears Homes No comments

In the early 1910s, it’s probable that the Sears Starlight was their most popular model. In the early days, it was offered with and without an indoor bathroom.

In 1921, the Starlight had a significant model change. The small shed dormer in the attic was enlarged and changed to a hipped dormer with three windows. In addition, the pitch of the attic was made more steep, creating space for an additional room (for short people with a good tolerance of summertime heat).

The pre-1921 Starlights are miserable to try and identify because they are so simple, and they look like every other little house out there. Plus, before 1920, lumber in Sears Homes was not marked. Authentication of these pre-1921 Starlights requires measuring the home’s footprint and measuring individual rooms to affirm that it really is a Starlight, and not a “look-alike.”

Click here to learn more about Sears Homes.

In the 1919 catalog,

This little ad appeared in the the 1919 catalog, showing the many sizes and shapes of the Sears Starlight. This shows the houses with a myriad of dormers!

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In 1920, the Starlight had the shed dormer (most of the time).

In 1920, the Starlight had the shed dormer (some of the time).

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This Starlight in Boone, Iowa has a

This Starlight in Boone, Iowa has a traditional shed dormer.

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But this little Starlight in Painesville had

But look at the dormer on this little Starlight in Painesville. It's a gabled dormer and it's really, really tiny. And the front porch roof is flat, and it's not an integral part of the house, as it is with the traditional Starlight. How confusing!!

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Built in Castalia, Ohio, this

Built in Castalia, Ohio, this Starlight has a different railing, and I have no idea what the floor plan is, because those windows down the side are in the wrong place.

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Detroit

Again, the railing is different and this one has a hipped dormer (rather than shed) and this appears to be a bathroom-less model.

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Starlight

In the 1921 catalog, these interior photos were featured.

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house

A view of the Starlight's dining room (1921 catalog).

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Early starlights

The bathroom-less Starlight was offered into the 1920s.

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1921 Starlight

In1921, the Starlight sold for $1,553.

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Sears Starlight in Alton, Illinois.

Sears Starlight in Alton, Illinois.

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This Starlight in Duquoin, IL is in mostly original condition.

This Starlight in Duquoin, IL is in mostly original condition.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To learn about Wardway Homes, click here.

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Starlight, Starlight, First Kit Home I Find’s Not Right

February 12th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

There’s a whole lot of confusion around Sears Homes. Most often, people rush to declare they have a Sears Home, when in fact, their home bears little resemblance to an actual Sears Home. Way too often, I hear the exclaim, I know it’s a Sears Home because the floor plan is a good match!

If you’re going to use a floorplan to identify a Sears Home, it must be precise. Each of the rooms in the subject house must be exactly the same dimension as shown in the original catalog image. For instace, the living room in a Starlight should be 12′8″ by 10′5″.   Not 12 by 10, but exactly 12′8″ by 10′5″.

Often people say, “Well, it has the same room arrangement as a Sears House.”

When you’re dealing with little homes (like the Starlight), there aren’t but so many ways to lay out the rooms. Living Room, Dining Room, Kitchen on the left, and bedroom bath bedroom on the right. That’s pretty much it. There’s a lot more to identifying Sears Homes. Click here to read the rest.

An article in the Green Bay Press Gazette mistakenly called this house (click here) a Sears Starlight. It’s not. Click on the link (to see images of the house in the piece) and then look at these photos below.

What’s most troubling about this erroneous piece is that Wisconsin is loaded with Sears Homes. Perhaps there are several Sears Homes in the same neighborhood as the NASH (Not a Sears House) featured in this Green Bay Press Gazette piece.

Alas!

This is what a Sears Starlight looks like.

Starlight

Starlight, as seen in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Starlight in Alton, IL. Now this is a Starlight! These houses should be a spot-on match to the original catalog image (as shown above).

Starlight in Alton, IL. Now this is a Starlight! These houses should be a spot-on match to the original catalog image (as shown above).

Starlight in DuQuoin, IL

Starlight in DuQuoin, IL

And in the basement, you should see this.

Stamp

This mark (a 3-digit number with a letter) together with a 75-page instruction book helped the novice homeowner assemble his own house!

For more information on how to identify Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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