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Posts Tagged ‘the kit houses from sears’

The Ferndale: A Charming English Bungalow

April 21st, 2013 Sears Homes No comments

There are many ways to find a Sears House, but Andrew and Wendy Mutch found a very rare Sears House in Ann Arbor using a technique I had never thought about before: Reading the obituaries.

They discovered an obituary for an elderly woman that mentioned the building of a Sears House.  Seems that Helen Bethke and her husband Emil Bethke had built a kit home in 1931, and after enjoying 64 years of wedding bliss, Emil passed on (in 1995).

Andrew and Wendy were able to figure out Mrs. Bethke’s address, but couldn’t readily identify the model. In fact, when I first saw their photos, it took me a few minutes to figure it out.

And that’s because, it’s a model I’ve never seen before.

Now that’s a thrill!  :)

And frankly, the only reason I was able to identify this darling little house was because it was in mostly original condition. Had this beauty been slathered in vinyl siding and aluminum trim, I’d still be scratching my head and wondering.

Fortunately, Mr. and Mrs. Bethke did a fine, fine job keeping their Sears Fernwood in first-class shape. Let’s hope the home’s next owners follow their worthy example.

Mrs. Bethke’s obit:  On Aug. 31, 1930, Helen married Emil Carl Bethke, and after 64 years of marriage, he preceded her in death in June of 1995. They built their Sears kit home in 1931, and raised their children in that old West Side home on Koch Street.

To learn more about the kit homes in Ann Arbor, click here.

On May 2nd, come to Rose’s lecture in Staunton, Virginia!

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Charming

The Ferndale was only offered for two years, 1929 and 1933. It's shown here in the 1929 catalog.

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Those dark shutters are not only pleasing, but functional!

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It tickles me that the tub on the Ferndale juts out in this floorplan.

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It is indeed a "charming" little house.

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And thanks to Mrs. Bethke, it's still in mostly original condition, looking much like it did when built in 1931. Will the new owners take good care of it, and preserve the original windows, siding and shutters? We can only hope. Photo is copyright 2013 Andrew and Wendy Mutch and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Check out the detail around the front porch (1929 catalog).

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Picture perfect! Looks just like the catalog. Photo is copyright 2013 Andrew and Wendy Mutch and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Now it's for sale, but 80 years ago, Mr. and Mrs. Bethke bought it as a 12,000-piece kit from Sears and Reobuck, and then built their own home. Very impressive. Photo is copyright 2013 Andrew and Wendy Mutch and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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A view of our darling Fernwood from the other side. If you look at the floorplan above, you'll see it's a perfect match. Photo is copyright 2013 Andrew and Wendy Mutch and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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To learn more about the kit homes in Ann Arbor, click here.

On May 2nd, come to Rose’s lecture in Staunton, Virginia!

Want to learn a lot about Sears Homes in a hurry? Join us on Facebook!

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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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