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Posts Tagged ‘the house of buster keaton’

The Other Magnificent Miltons: In Ohio and New Jersey

June 2nd, 2012 Sears Homes 6 comments

The Sears Magnolia gets all the press, but before the Magnolia, Sears offered another “Magnificent Mansion”:  The Sears Milton.

To my delight and astonishment, we have one in Stanley, Virginia. Read all about that one here.

According to the 1916 Sears catalog, the Sears Milton was also built in Fayette, Ohio (and other cities as well).

Milton

This little snippet appeared in the Spring 1916 "Sears Modern Homes" catalog, which tells us that the Miltons in these cities were built pre-1916.

The 1912 Sears Modern Homes catalog does not have The Milton, but it does appear in the 1916 catalog. Its final appearance was in the 1919 catalog, so it wasn’t offered for too many years.

In 1916, the price was $1,619 and by 1919, it had jumped to $2,491, an eye-opening 54% increase. The Milton was not offered as a pre-cut house.

As mentioned above, this was a big fancy house, and it shouldn’t be hard to find and identify. The Milton was built in New York City, Fayette, Ohio, Norfolk, Nebraska and “other cities” (such as Stanley, Virginia).

Each month, more than 30,000 readers visit this website. I’m hoping and praying a few of them have connections in Somerville, NJ, Fayette, OH, Norfolk NE, and New York City. It sure would be fun to find the Miltons in these towns.

And it’d be ever better to get a few photos of this old kit house.

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

Do you know where this house is in Fayette? If so, I really *need* a photo!  :)  To contact me, please leave a comment below!

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The Sears Milton as seen in the 1916 catalog.

The Sears Milton as seen in the 1916 catalog.

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Floorplan for the Sears Milton

Floorplan for the Sears Milton

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Sears Milton in Stanley, Virginia

Sears Milton in Stanley, Virginia

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To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

Are you able to get a picture of the Miltons in these other cities? If so, please leave a comment!

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Buster Keaton and Sears Homes

April 29th, 2012 Sears Homes No comments

Did you know that Buster Keaton did a short film about building a pre-cut kit house?

First released in 1920, the 20-minute film shows happy newlyweds (Buster and Sybil) receiving the gift of a “ready-to-assemble” kit home. Driven by jealousy, an old beau surreptitiously changes the numbers on the pre-cut framing members, thus wreaking havoc on Buster’s ability to build his 12,000-piece kit home.

As the saying goes, “True comedy is timeless.”

This is not only true comedy, but an awesome look back at a time when people built these kit homes. And it’s also interesting to think that - in 1920 - kit homes were such a big part of the American scene that moviegoers were expected to understand about “marked lumber.”

That “joke” would likely be lost on contemporary movie audiences because so little is known about this piece of America’s architectural history.

I first discovered “One Week” in Spring 2004, when my dear daughter highlighted this piece in a senior project. I was honored and touched that my daughter was drawn to an old movie about pre-cut kit homes - because of her mother’s career! :)

Click here to see Buster Keaton’s “One Week” on Youtube.

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Buster Keatons pre-cut kit house had a few minor problems.

Buster Keaton's pre-cut kit house had a few minor problems.

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It should have looked a little more like this.

It should have looked a little more like this. (Sears Whitehall under construction in Carlinville, IL - about 1919.)

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Sears kit homes did come with instruction books (as shown above).

Sears kit homes did come with instruction books (as shown above).

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The houses were ordered out of catalogs, such as this (1921).

The houses were ordered out of catalogs, such as this (1921).

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Framing members were marked (as shown) to help facilitate construction.

Framing members were marked (as shown) to help facilitate construction.

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To learn more about Sears Kit Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s latest book, click here.

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