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Posts Tagged ‘the sears house’

Sometimes, They’re Hiding Right By Your Biscuits…

April 5th, 2013 Sears Homes 6 comments

Having lived in Norfolk for seven years now, I have scoured every street in this city, searching for mail-order kit homes. I’ve ridden around with several friends, studied maps, queried long-time residents and harangued my husband and I was quite certain that I’d seen every early 20th Century neighborhood that Norfolk had to offer.

Wednesday night, my buddy Milton and I were on our way to CERT class, and we swung by Church’s Fried Chicken to buy some of their world-famous honey biscuits. For reasons I can’t explain, an integral part of the CERT class is a pot-luck supper. (We’re  expected to bring a piquant and palatable platter of something wonderful to these weekly classes.)

As we pulled out onto Virginia Beach Blvd, I noticed a lovely Dutch Colonial staring back at me.

“Huh,” I thought to myself. “That Dutchie has an interior chimney,  just like the Martha Washington (Sears Home). Isn’t that something?”

And then I noticed that it had the curved porch roof, just like the Martha Washington.

And then I looked again and thought, “And it’s got those short windows centered on the second floor, just like the Martha Washington.”

Next, I looked at the small attic window and thought, “And it’s got that half-round window in the attic, just like the Martha Washington.”

As Milton drove down the road, I twisted my head around and saw that the Dutchie had the two distinctive bay windows on the side, just like the Martha Washington. Those two windows are an unusual architecture feature, and that was the clincher.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” I told Milton. “I think that’s a Sears House.”

Now anyone who’s hung around me for more than 73 minutes knows that I’m a pretty big fan of Sears Homes, and my friends understand that a significant risk of riding around with Rose is that there will be many detours when we pass by early 20th Century neighborhoods.

Milton gladly obliged and gave me an opportunity to take a long, lingering look at this Dapper Dutchie.

That night at the CERT meeting, I kept thinking about the fact that one of the most spacious and fanciest Sears Homes ever offered was sitting right here in Norfolk, and after seven years of living in this city, I just now found it.

The next day, Milton picked me up around 11:00 am and we returned to the Sears Martha Washington so that I could take a multitude of photos. Sadly, as we drove through the adjoining neighborhoods, we saw that the nearby college (Norfolk State) had apparently swallowed up great gobs of surrounding bungalows.

Between that and some very aggressive redevelopment, it appears that hundreds of early 20th Century homes are now just a dusty memory at the local landfill.

Do the owners of this Martha Washington know what they have? Based on my research, more than 90% of the people living in these historically significant homes didn’t know what they had until I knocked on their door and told them.

What a find! What a treasure! And it’s right here in Norfolk!

So is there a Magnolia hiding somewhere nearby?  :)

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

To learn how to identify marked lumber, click here.

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The Martha Washington was a grand and glorious house.

The Martha Washington was a grand and glorious house. According to this page from the 1921 catalog, it had seven modern rooms. I wonder how many "old-fashioned" rooms it had?

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According to this

Here's a Martha Washington that was featured in the back pages of the 1919 Sears Modern Homes catalog. This house was built in Washington, DC, and shows the house shortly after it was finished.

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This line drawning from the 1921 catalog shows the

This line drawing from the 1921 catalog shows those two bay windows on the side.

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This was described as a snowy white kitchen de Lux.

This was described as a "snowy white kitchen de Lux." For its time, this really was a very modern kitchen. Notice the "good morning stairs" too the right, and the handy little stool under the sink. According to a 1928 Sears Modern Homes catalog, the "average woman spends 3/4ths of her day in the kitchen." So maybe that's why she got a hard metal stool to sit on at the sink?

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Oh may

"Judge for yourself how attractive, bright and sanitary we have made this home for the housewife." And a "swinging seat"! I guess that's a desperate attempt to make kitchen work seem more recreational, and less like drudge work.

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CheckAn “exploded view” shows the home’s interior. That baby-grand piano looks mighty small!

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Second

Check out that bathtub on the rear of the house. And that's a sleeping porch in the upper right. Again, that furniture looks mighty small.

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As you can see from the picture (1921), this was a fine home!

As you can see from the picture (1921), this was a fine home!

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Be still my quiveringg heart!

Be still my quivering heart! And it's right on Virginia Beach Boulevard!

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A view from the side.

A view from the side, showing off those bay windows.

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The PVC fish scales over the porch are a pity (and do a fine job of hiding the beautiful fan light),

The PVC fish scales over the porch are a pity (and do a fine job of hiding the beautiful fan light), and the badly crimped aluminum trim on that porch roof doesn't look too good, and the wrought-iron is a disappointment, but (and this is a big but), at least it's still standing.

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Before

The porch, in its pre-aluminum siding salesmen and pre-wrought-iron and pre-PVC state.

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compare

A comparison of the Martha Washington in DC with the house in Norfolk!

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And heres a Martha Washington in Cincinnatti, Ohio.

And here's a Martha Washington in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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To learn more about the Martha Washington, click here.

To learn more about biscuits, click here.

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The CLH, by Sears!

February 11th, 2013 Sears Homes 1 comment

When Dale, Rebecca and I were gallivanting about the Midwest, seeking and finding kit homes, we developed a few “abbreviations” and one of them was, “The CLH.”

“No, don’t bother pulling out the books for this one,” one of us might say. “It’s just a CLH.”

The other two would sigh  and then we’d move on to the next house.

CLH could stand for many things:  “Cute Little House,” or “Compact Little House” or “Common Little House” or sometimes…

“Crummy Little House.”

In other words, the house was so modest, so plain and so tiny (and typically so remuddled) that there was no way to identify it. Further complicating the issue was that all the major companies (Sears, Lewis Manufacturing, Wardway, Gordon Van Tine, Aladdin, Sterling and Harris Brothers), all offered several versions of the CLH.

These houses were so tiny (under 600 square feet) that they were often the victims of significant remodeling and additions, making identification more problematical.

Because of this, I don’t have any photos of CLHs. But we do have testimonials, which might help us find a few CLHs.

One such example of a CLH is the Wayside, and this a fun one because the 1919 Sears Modern Homes catalog showed INTERIOR photos of the house! Those interior photos bear little resemblance to the true facts, but hey, why let facts get in the way of a good story?  :)

If you know where this house is, and/or are willing to get me a photo, I’d be very grateful!

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The Wayside, as seen in the 1919 catalog. Notice, it has no bathroom.

The Wayside, as seen in the 1919 catalog. It has only 520 square feet.

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Floorplan

Notice it does not have a bathroom! And the bedrooms are teeny!

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Which means youll

Which means you'll need to spend an extra $41 for a two-seater.

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But the price was right!

But the price was right!

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Yikes, it was so cheap you didnt even get wooden railings, but chains!

Holy Toledo, it was so cheap you didn't even get wooden railings, but chains!

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Yup, chains!

Yup, chains!

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The interior shots were not quite honest.

The interior shots were not quite honest.

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I mean cmon, does this look like

I mean c'mon, does this look like a room that's 10 by 12? But I do love the Arts & Crafts decor, complete with little hearts carved into the coffee table. A&C furniture is notoriously bulky and massive, but these four pieces fit with ease into a 10x12 room!

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The kitchen - another fantasy.

The kitchen - another fantasy. It's 10-feet by 9-feet in reality. The object hanging over the sink (the thing that looks like a soap dispenser) is a light fixture. This was the ONLY light fixture in the kitchen, and it was also the only electricity in the kitchen. In the 1919, electrical outlets in the kitchen were considered unsafe and unnecessary (by male architects). At least the larder is full! That cook stove on the left would have been a behemoth, and would have taken up a lot of real estate, especially in a room that was nine-feet wide!

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Ah, the good news!

Ah, the good news! We know where they are! Do you have a wayside in your town?

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Have you seen this house?

Have you seen this house?

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To read the next really fun blog, click here.

To learn more about Sears Homes in the Midwest, click here.

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“Different People Like Different Things…”

May 25th, 2012 Sears Homes 2 comments

Or so my husband tells me - frequently.

But I’d have to say that Sears Modern Home #190 was not one of their better designs - in terms of attractiveness.

Perhaps others thought so, as well, because I’ve only seen one of these kit homes and it was in a tiny town in Illinois. Sears Modern Home #190 was gone well before 1918 (when Sears Homes were given names). I’ve only seen it in the 1912 catalog. It’s not in the 1910 and it’s not in the 1916, so apparently, it didn’t last too long.

Ick

From the 1912 catalog.

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icky two

An unusual floor plan, for sure. Plus, it has a coat closet?? That's unusual. The polygon bay (first and second floor) is the most prominent feature on this little house and makes it easy to identify. On a house of this vintage, you may find a centered bay on the first floor, but it's unusual to see it extend to the second floor.

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ickey three

Kind of has a face only a mother could love.

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icky four

Is this Sears Modern Home #190? The porch roof is different (shed vs. hip), but porches get rebuilt , plus there was a tornado that went through this area in the 1930s and did a lot of damage to a lot of porches. My first impression (and second and third) is that this *is* the #190.

Sears Modern Home #190.

This actually looks *more* like Modern Home #190 because (unlike the house above), this home has in Richmond has the massive cornice returns.

To learn more about kit homes, click here.

Did you know that Buster Keaton did a short on Sears Homes?

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The Martha Washington: A Vision of Hospitality

May 11th, 2012 Sears Homes No comments

There’s something about a Dutch Colonial that just makes me swoon, and the Martha Washington is a fine example of the Dutch Colonial design.

And it was spacious, too. Sans optional sunporch, the Martha Washington was about 1,800 square feet, with four good-sized bedrooms upstairs. Unlike so many early 20th Century homes, the Martha Washington also had an abundance of closet space.

As the text in the catalog page said, “The view to the visitor or passerby presents a vision of hospitality.”

An interesting bit of trivia: The Martha Washington has the same floor plan as the Sears Alhambra, with two small differences. The Martha Washington doesn’t have the box window on the front (as does the Alhambra) and the Alhambra is smaller. The Martha Washington is 28′ by 32′ and the Alhambra is 28′ by 28′.

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

To see more pictures of pretty kit homes, click here.

Martha Washington, as seen in the 1921 catalog.

The Honor Bilt "Martha Washington," as seen in the 1921 catalog.

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This testimonial appeared in the 1924 Sears catalog.

Mr. Brewood was darn happy with his Sears House in DC! (1924 Sears catalog).

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A side view of the Martha Washington, as seen in the 1921 catalog.

As seen in the 1921 catalog.

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Houseie

This Martha Washington in Lombard, IL has its original windows and STORM windows!

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How appropos! A Martha Washington in Virginia!  (Bedford, to be precise.)

How apropos! A Martha Washington in Virginia! (Bedford, to be precise.)

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Located in Oakwood, Ohio, this Martha Washington is in beautiful condition.  And it looks happy, too!  Photo is copyright 2012 Mark W. Risley and can not be used or reprorduced without written permission.

Located in Oakwood, Ohio, this Martha Washington is in beautiful condition. The red door and green roof are nice complements. And the house *looks* happy, too! Photo is copyright 2012 Mark W. Risley and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Cincinnatti

Every Martha should have a flag flying in front of it! This beauty is in Cincinnati Ohio.

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Martha meets Maggy!  The two-story columns are reminiscent of the Sears Magnolia, but I seriously doubt that this poor Martha Washington was BUILT with these super-sized columns.

Martha meets Maggy! The two-story columns are reminiscent of the Sears Magnolia, but I seriously doubt that this poor Martha Washington (in Chicago area) was BUILT with these super-sized columns. And look - another flag!

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Floorplan

The Martha Washington (shown here) and the Alhambra (shown below) had the same floor plan, with two minor differences: The Alhambra had a box window on the front and the Martha Washington was four feet wider than the Alhambra.

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floorplan

Alhambra's floor plan.

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The kitchen!

And the kitchen was "the last word in convenience and sanitary comfort"!!

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houseie

The Martha Washington.

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To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

See more pictures of fine-looking old houses by clicking here.

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The Sears Sadstone

May 3rd, 2012 Sears Homes 1 comment

In 2002, when I wrote The Houses That Sears Built, I lived in Alton, Illinois. Many, many times I drove past this house on the main drag, never really paying attention to it. It was probably a year after I’d written my book that I happened to notice this badly blighted house was a Sears Gladstone.

For a time, I wondered if I should even bother putting it on my “list” as a Sears House. It was such poor condition that its original beauty was hardly discernible. Would this help or hinder my cause of promoting Sears Homes in Southwestern Illinois?

Ultimately, I did add it to my list. A short time later, the house  (and its glommed-on addition) was demolished.

To learn more about Sears Homes in Illinois, click here.

To learn more about Rebecca Hunter’s newest book, click here.

Nice house

Several times, I tried to get a photo of the house sans trash pile, but it seemed to be one of those houses that *always* had trash piled up in front.

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If you look closely at the second floor, you can see where the double windows were removed and replaced with storm windows. Nice tough.

If you look closely at the second floor, you can see where the double windows were removed and replaced with storm windows. Double icky.

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The Sears Gladstone was actually a very popular house (1916 catalog).

The Sears Gladstone was actually a very popular house (1916 catalog).

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By todays standards, it wasnt very spacious but in the early 1900s, this was considered an average

By today's standards, the Gladstone (an American Foursquare) wasn't very spacious but in the early 1900s, this was considered an average-sized home.

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As seen in the 1916 Modern Homes catalog.

As seen in the 1916 Modern Homes catalog.

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And heres a fine Gladstone in West Virginia.

And here's a fine Gladstone in West Virginia. This house can bee seen from I-64, and it's located about 30 minutes east of Charleston, WV. I always wave at it when I go by.

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Pretty cool, huh?  :)

Pretty cool, huh? :)

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To read more about Sears Homes (and see more photos), click here.

That Had to Hurt

January 6th, 2012 Sears Homes 6 comments

Yikes.

You know that had to hurt.

Talk about a splitting headache.

Talk about a splitting headache. This poor Sears kit house (The Woodland) is on East 233 and Wickham in the Bronx (New York). It must have been in pretty dismal condition prior to whatever *really* bad thing recently happened to it. This catastrophic damage appeared soon after a bad wind storm came through the area. It might have been a tree that befell this fine old house. (Photo is copyright 2012 Nicole Zernone and can not be reproduced or used without written permission.)

ow

Whatever it was, it surely put a hurtin' on this Sears Woodland. (Photo is copyright 2012 Nicole Zernone and can not be reproduced or used without written permission.)

Go to the light, little house. Go to the light.

Go to the light, little house. Go to the light. (Photo is copyright 2012 Nicole Zernone and can not be reproduced or used without written permission.)

Sears Woodland as seen in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Sears Woodland as seen in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

And a reasonably happy and healthy Sears Woodland in Clifton Forge, Virginia.

And a reasonably happy and healthy Sears Woodland in Clifton Forge, Virginia.

Not sure why, but Clifton Forge has an amazing collection of Sears Homes. Click here to see more.

Another happy Sears Woodland in Bluefield, WV.

Another happy Sears Woodland in Bluefield, WV.

And one in Bloomington, IL.

And one in Bloomington, IL.

And in the tiny town of Siegel, IL.

And in the tiny town of Siegel, IL. This has a bay window, but that was an option.

One of the distinctive features of the Sears Woodland (and 24 other popular Sears models) was this unique column detail.

One of the distinctive features of the Sears Woodland (and 24 other popular Sears models) is this unique column detail. Another eye-catching feature of the Woodland are the two windows flanking the front door.

Owe.

This is an old photo from 2002. This is a really "insensitive" siding job. Why oh why do people put siding over COLUMNS? If you are physically unable to turn off "Dancing with the Stars" long enough to paint your porch columns, perhaps you should reconsider this whole "homeownership" thing. I love this old photo because of the sign in the front yard. It says, "Gazebo Award: Home of the Month." I think that "gazebo" must be Latin for "creative overuse of poly-vinyl chloride in residential applications." I could be wrong about that, though .

Was this really necessary?

Was this really necessary?

Another Woodland thats feeling some pain. This one is in Tulsa.

Another Woodland that's feeling some pain, however it's being remodeled. This one is in Tulsa. (Photo is copyright 2010 Rachel Shoemaker and can not be reproduced or used without written permission.)

The Sears Woodland was a very popular house. It was offered in the late 1910s, and endured into the 1930s. Its shown here in the 1933 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

The Sears Woodland was a very popular house. It was offered in the late 1910s, and endured into the 1930s. It's shown here in the 1933 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

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To read about the Sears Magnolia (Sears fanciest house!) that’s in Syracuse, NY, click here.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To turn on to another obsession that’s even more addicting than Sears Homes, click here.

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The Sears Gladstone - a Popular House!

September 23rd, 2011 Sears Homes 1 comment

One of Sears most popular kit homes was The Gladstone. It was a small foursquare, but apparently its design, size and price appealed to thousands of American families. It was most certainly on of Sears Top Ten Most popular homes.

Below are some pictures of The Gladstone.

The Sears Gladstone - 1916

The Sears Gladstone - 1916

Close-up of the Sears Gladstone

Close-up of the Sears Gladstone. One distinctive feature is that teeny tiny window inside that large hipped dormer. Another is that third window on the front wall.

This Gladstone in Champaign is almost in perfect condition. Note the original columns, and that itty bitty window in the big dormer window.

This Gladstone in Champaign, IL is almost in perfect condition. Note the original columns, and that itty bitty window in the big dormer window. BTW, in Champaign, it's either in the middle of snowing, getting ready to snow, or just finished snowing. This photo is "B."

A Sears Gladstone in Carbondale, Illinois

A Sears Gladstone in Carbondale, Illinois

Gladstone/Langston

Gladstone/Langston from the 1920 catalog. There's very little difference between the Sears Gladstone and the Langston. Other than the placement of a couple windows, they're the same house.

Langston

The salt-treated porch railings, foundation lattice work, and satellite dish are probably not original, but this is a Sears Gladstone (verified).

Gladstone

The spacious porch on this Gladstone was closed in, but the remodeling was done in a sensitive manner. You can still see the unique porch columns with their flared blocks at the top. This Sears House. The fireplace was added. This house is in Carlinville, IL.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s books, click here.

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