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Sears Modern Home #179: Magnifico!

June 24th, 2013 Sears Homes 12 comments

Last month, a reporter contacted me and asked if I knew of any kit homes in Jacksonville, Florida. My first thought was, Whoa boy, that might be tough finding many kit homes that far south!”

For a long time, it’s been widely believed that there just aren’t that many kit homes in the deep south.

The reporter and I exchanged a few emails, and much to my delight, she said that she’d found a kit house, Sears Modern Home #179.

Reading her email, I thought, “Suuuuuuure it is.”

Model #179 is a rarity, and neither me, nor Rebecca Hunter, nor Dale Wolicki have ever seen a Model #179.  This model was only offered for two years (1912 and 1913), and it’s a very distinctive house with a quirky floor plan.

But it turned out, this reporter was right.

And not only had she found Modern Home #179, this house was in beautiful condition!

And better yet, the home’s owners, Tami and George Lugeanbeal knew that they had a Sears House, and they love their remarkable, unique, historically significant kit home.  (Just across  the street from Modern Home #179, I found another delightful surprise: An Aladdin Georgia, and just like its pristine neighbor, the “Georgia” was also in beautifully original condition. Click here to read about that.)

George was kind enough to send me several photos of his wonderful house, so that all may see and enjoy this beautiful, rare and lovingly restored 99-year-old Sears Kit Home.

Thanks to Tami and George Lugeanbeal for sharing these pictures, and also thanks to Amanda Durish Cook (Florida Times-Union) for finding the Lugeanbeals and their beautiful Sears House!

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1913 colorized.

Modern Home #179 (offered in 1912 and 1913). George sent me this image, and it's been colorized. Not . Not sure where George found it, but it's a nice representation.

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As mentioned, the original floor plan is a little funky.

As mentioned, the original floor plan is a little funky. The bathroom is off the kitchen, and there is no bathroom upstairs (as built). Plus, the living room has nothing behind it.

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Up on the third floor, George found an original shipping label.

George found an original shipping label on that dormer window in the attic. Photo is copyright 2013 George Lugeanbeal and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Ship

On the left of the shipping label it reads "If not delivered in 15 days, return to 925 Homan Avenue in Chicago" (Sears headquarters). The destination for this kit house was originally Ortega Train Depot, on the CRI and P, which is the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad. Photo is copyright 2013 George Lugeanbeal and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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George has something every old house owner dreams of: An image of his house from the 1940s.

George has something every old house owner dreams of: An image of his house from the 1940s. Photo is courtesy George Lugeanbeal and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Georges Modern Home #179 as seen in the 1913 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Modern Home #179 as seen in the 1913 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

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And

And here it is, in the flesh! What a beauty! And it looks much like it did when built 99 years ago. Photo is copyright 2013 George Lugeanbeal and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Modern Home #179 also has the worlds most perfect front porch.

One day, I hope to visit Modern Home #179 and sit in one of those white rockers. This is surely one of the prettiest front porches in the world. Photo is copyright 2013 George Lugeanbeal and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Porchy porch porch porch

Look at those columns, still as straight and true as they were when first erected 99 years ago. According to George's information, the house was built in 1914. Photo is copyright 2013 George Lugeanbeal and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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One of the features that makes this house so wonderful are the details. This bracket

One of the features that makes this house so wonderful are the details. If you look at the original catalog image, you'll see this bracket on the underside of the front porch roof. Photo is copyright 2013 George Lugeanbeal and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Modern Home #179, as seen from another angle.

This looks like an ad for Sears Weatherbeater Paints, doesn't it? "Weatherbeater, by Sears, for great American homes, like yours." It's the perfect encapsulation of all that was right with America 100 years ago, and it's also a beautiful home. Photo is copyright 2013 George Lugeanbeal and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Wow

From this angle, you can easily see that bay window on the first floor. Photo is copyright 2013 George Lugeanbeal and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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The interior has some interesting details, too

The interior has some interesting details, too, such as this long, cool stack of drawers. Was this built as drawers, or was it originally a linen closet, or perhaps an ironing board cabinet? Photo is copyright 2013 George Lugeanbeal and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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And some cool door hardware, too!

And George's #179 some cool door hardware, too! Photo is copyright 2013 George Lugeanbeal and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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More very cool door hardware, from Sears & Roebuck!

More very cool door hardware, from Sears & Roebuck! Photo is copyright 2013 George Lugeanbeal and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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And the pièce de résistance is a letter that George and Tami found hidden in a wall from the homes prior occupant.

And the pièce de résistance is a letter that George and Tami found tucked away in a wall from the home's prior occupant. Photo is copyright 2013 George Lugeanbeal and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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And here it is, in Jacksonville, Florida. And I never would have found it had it not been for that reporter from the

And here it is, in Jacksonville, Florida. And I never would have found it had it not been for that reporter from the Florida Times-Union. Photo is copyright 2013 George Lugeanbeal and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Thanks to George and Tami for sharing so many wonderful photos! And thanks to Amanda Durish Cook for finding the Lugeanbeals!

To read about the beautiful Aladdin kit home just across the street, click here.

To contact Rose, please leave a comment below!

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Georgia, Sweet Georgia (By Aladdin)

June 12th, 2013 Sears Homes 2 comments

Last month, a Jacksonville reporter contacted me and asked if I knew of any kit homes in the area. We exchanged a few emails, and much to my surprise, she said that she’d found a kit house, and in fact, she’d found a rare house:  Sears Modern Home #179.

Reading her email, I thought, “Sure you did. Right. And I bet that there are three Sears Magnolias around the corner and a whole block of Aladdin Villas just down the street.”

With a little digging, we found an address for this #179 and then (thanks to Google Maps), I “drove” to the address. Sure enough, it was a picture-perfect Sears Modern Home #179 (read about that here!).

Across the street from Modern Home #179, I found another delightful surprise: An Aladdin Georgia, and just like its pristine neighbor, the “Georgia” was also in beautifully original condition.

Jacksonville, Florida has two more kit homes than I would have thought likely and both are jaw-dropping gorgeous. And what a nice bonus, that this time, it was the reporter that told me about this rare Sears House!

Now about that Aladdin Georgia…

Did I mention that it’s a beauty? And the home’s owner did not realize it was a kit home prior to my discovering this house, and I would have never discovered this house if it weren’t for that resourceful reporter!

Thanks so much to Tracy and Bethany for supplying these wonderful photos!

To learn more about Aladdin click here.

The Aladdin Georgia as seen in the 1919 Catalog.

The Aladdin Georgia as seen in the 1919 Catalog.

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Aladdin Georgia was offered in two sizes, with two floorplans.

Aladdin Georgia was offered in two sizes, with two floorplans.

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floorlp

Floorplan #2 was two feet longer and two feet wider.

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In the mid-1910s, Aladdin built

In the mid-1910s, Aladdin built a "Georgia" in Bay City, documenting the progress day by day. The house was "move-in ready" in about 20 days. These were the days before portable saws, and for a small-time or novice homebuilder, the average two-bedroom bungalow would require more than 4,000 cuts with a hand-saw. (The electric portable saw was first marketed in the early 1920s.) Pre-cut lumber presented a huge savings in time and effort. To have a house ready for occupancy 20 days after construction began (not including foundation work) was a remarkable achievement.

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house

The photographic record of the fast-built Georgia (about 1915).

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Day ONe

Note, this house was framed using platform construction, NOT balloon! And the foundation was not included in the "built in 20 days" time-frame. Note the shingles in the foreground.

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Day Two

According to accompanying text, the carpentry work (framing in and sheathing) was done by one carpenter with two helpers. By day two, the house is framed in!

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Day four

By the fifth day, it's taking shape.

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Day seven

On the 7th day, the two workers saw all that they had done and they were very pleased. Note, the guy on the scaffolding is taking a smoke break.

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Day nine

Day eleven has arrived and it's looking substantially done (exterior).

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DOne and done

Twenty days later, it's complete, inside and out.

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Finis!

Finis!

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Oh my goodness!

Oh my goodness! There's the house in Jacksonville! What a dreamie house! And it's in such wonderful condition! Photo is copyright 2013 Tracy Greene and Bethany Pruitt and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Oh baby!

Oh baby! Excuse me, haven't I seen you somewhere before, like a glossy magazine featuring the most beautiful bungalows in America? Where have you been all my life? Photo is copyright 2013 Tracy Greene and Bethany Pruitt and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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house house

Nice comparison of the subject house and the vintage image. Photo is copyright 2013 Tracy Greene and Bethany Pruitt and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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And the homes owner was kind

And the home's owner was kind enough to supply some photos of the home's interior. Photo is copyright 2013 Tracy Greene and Bethany Pruitt and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Homeowner pictures inside lif

It's a house filled with windows and light. Photo is copyright 2013 Tracy Greene and Bethany Pruitt and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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house house kitchen house

From the living room, looking into the dining room. Photo is copyright 2013 Tracy Greene and Bethany Pruitt and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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house fireplace

This fireplace is in the dining room, and those narrow cabinets are actually pass-throughs to the kitchen. Photo is copyright 2013 Tracy Greene and Bethany Pruitt and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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house house house

What a house!

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Do you know of any other kit homes in Jacksonville? Please leave a comment below!

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

What fueled the bungalow craze? Germs!

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The “Boom Towns” of Dupont

January 10th, 2012 Sears Homes 4 comments

Since I moved to Norfolk in September 2006, the 16 identical bungalows on Ethel Avenue have been whispering my name, and imploring me to come close, and learn more about their unique origins. Problem was, I could never quite make out what they were saying.

For years, I pored through my vintage catalogs from Sears, Aladdin, Gordon Van Tine, Lewis Manufacturing, Sterling Homes and even Pacific Ready Cut Homes, hoping to identify them as kit homes from a mail-order company.

I never could find a matching design.

Someone in town said the houses were built for the Jamestown Exposition (1907) and moved from that site to their resting place in Riverview (Norfolk). That didn’t ring true, because these little bungalows were more typical of the early 1910s.

And then we learned that DuPont had a munitions plant in Penniman, Virginia (about 30 minutes from Norfolk), and that the houses might have come from Penniman. And then I started doing research on Hopewell, Virginia and learned that Hopewell has also been the site of a DuPont munitions factory. So Mark Hardin (Hopewell resident and fellow researcher) and I drove around Hopewell, trying to find our “Ethels” (as they came to be known).

There have been many interesting discoveries along the way. To read a full history of our* project, click here.

In short, DuPont had at least twelve designs of houses that were built for their workers in factory towns such as Dupont, Washington, Louviers, Colorado, Ramsay, Montana, Old Hickory, Tennessee, and Hopewell and Penniman Virginia.

In the 1910s and 1920s, it was widely believed that providing housing for employees created a more stable work force. In the case of DuPont, their plants manufactured things that went BOOM, such as dynamite and gun powder and gun cotton. DuPont built their factories outside of population centers, due to the constant threat of explosion. (In November 1915, 31 men died in a horrific explosion at the DuPont plant in New Jersey when a horse’s shoe created a metal spark, igniting several thousand pounds of black powder.)

After The Great War was over (November 11, 1918), some of these factories - such as the one in Penniman - were no longer needed. An unknown number of houses at Penniman were put onto a barge and floated down the York River and Chesapeake Bay to the Elizabeth River and then to the Lafayette River to Norfolk, Virginia. According to an article in the Richmond News Leader (1938), more than 50 houses came to Norfolk.

And then on January 9, 2012, Robert Hitchings (Head, Sargeant Memorial Room, Norfolk Public Library) sent me a photo of these houses coming to Norfolk via barge (see below).

And if anyone knows where I might find more of these “Dupont Designs” in Norfolk, please leave a comment below!

To read the first blog on this topic, click here.

*David Spriggs and Mark Hardin have done most of the research on this subject. On this project, I’ve been the blog writer and photo taker! :)

Photo from 1921 shows the houses being transported by barge down the Lafayette River.

Photo from 1921 Virginian Pilot shows the houses being transported by barge down the Lafayette River. These are the houses that now sit on Major and Glenroie Avenue in Norfolk. There are two Dupont Designs shown here. The house on the left is the Dupont "Haskell," and the house on the right is the "Cumberland."

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On the left is a vintage picture of a Dupont Design (The Haskell) that was built in Old Hickory, TN. On the right is a house in Norfolk (on Major Avenue). We now know that most of the houses on Major and Glenroie Avenue came from Penniman (site of a Dupont Munitions Factory) and were floated by barge to this location. According to an article in the "Richmond News Leader" (June 1938) there are 51 of these "Dupont Homes" in Norfolk, in varying designs.

Of all the Dupont houses on Major, this one retains most of its original features.

This Dupont "Haskell" still retains most of its original features. You can see the unique window arrangement on the Haskell design in this photo, with the left side of the brown house and the left side of the white house next door (which is also a Haskell).

Some of these DuPont Haskells have undergone significant remodeling, but

Some of these DuPont "Haskells" have undergone significant remodeling since being moved here in 1921. They were probably built about 1912 - 1914 at Penniman.

Some

Some are turned 90 degrees on the lot.

And some have gabled roofs, but theyre all Dupont houses.

And some have a gabled roof on the front porch, but they're all Dupont houses.

Vintage photo of Old Hickory (site of a Dupont Munitions Plant) shows two of the eight housing styles found there. These are the same two housing styles found on Major Avenue in Norfolk, VA.

Vintage photo of Old Hickory (site of a Dupont Munitions Plant in Tennessee) shows two of the eight housing styles found there. These are the same two housing styles found on Major Avenue and Glenroie Avenue in Norfolk, VA.

This little Dutch Colonial

This little Dutch Colonial was one of the "Dupont Designs" found in Old Hickory, TN. Note the narrow windows by the front door. This house was named "The Georgia."

Dutchie

There are nine of these "Georgia" (Dupont' designs) on Major Avenue and Glenroie Avenue in Norfolk. These Norfolk houses are a perfect match to the houses in Old Hickory, TN.

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Another "Georgia" on Major Avenue.

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There are many "Georgias" in Norfolk!

Cumberland

The Cumberland was one of 12 designs created by Dupont and found in both Norfolk and Old Hickory. There are two of these on Major Avenue (Norfolk). It's one of the houses shown on the barge in the photo above.

And heres the real life example.

And here's one of two Cumberlands on Major Avenue. It is a perfect match to the Dupont Cumberland found in Old Hickory, TN.

The other Cumberland on Major Avenue

The other Cumberland on Major Avenue.

This is the two-story house (ensconced in the land of Ethels) in Riverview. Note the unusual attic window.

This is the two-story house (ensconced in the land of Ethels) in Norfolk. Note the tall thin attic window which is a perfect match to the Old Hickory house above. There are other architectural features which lead us to believe that this is also a "Dupont Design." This house was floated by barge to its location here in Norfolk. This is a big house to move!

Close-up of the attic window.

Close-up of the attic window found on all the two-story Dupont designs.

I spent many hours of my life, poring through old mail order catalogs, trying to identify these bungalows as kit homes.

And it all started with these houses on Ethel Avenue (which are also DuPont designs).

And there are dozens of Ethels in Dupont, Washington, site of another Dupont Munitions plant.

And there are dozens of "Ethels" in Dupont, Washington, site of another Dupont Munitions plant. This Ethel is in Dupont, Washington (and shares the neighborhood with 100 identical twins).

Theyre 3,000 miles away, but their identical to our Ethels in Norfolk.

They're 3,000 miles away, but these houses in Dupont, Washington are identical to our "Ethels" in Norfolk on Riverview.

While we call them Ethels, they were actually given a name - The DuPont.

While we call them "Ethels," they were actually given a name - "The DuPont Model."

Close-up of dormer

This dormer window on these "Ethels" in Riverview (Norfolk) is a pretty distinctive feature. And it's a spot-on match to the Ethels (er, Duponts) in Dupont, Washington.

Dup

In the early 1900s, making things go boom was a very popular idea.

The picture above was from a DuPont pamphlet, but there was an employee newsletter called, “The Projectile,” which featured a story on the building of these houses. Finding that would also be an incredible bonus!

We’re still hoping to find more “Ethels” (and Haskells and Cumberlands and Georgias) in Norfolk and other parts of Hampton Roads. If you know the location of any more of these “DuPont Designs,” please leave a comment below!

If you’d like to read earlier posts, start with Part I.

And then go to Part II.

Part III.

Part IV.

Part V.

Part VI.

Part VII.

Part VIII.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

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