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Posts Tagged ‘the sears mill in cairo’

The Sears Bandon: Neat, Practical And Modern

January 5th, 2013 Sears Homes 5 comments

The Sears Bandon is a rare bird indeed. The only one I’ve ever found was in Pulaski, Illinois, not far from the Sears Lumber Mill in Cairo, Illinois. That mill was the site of a 40-acre mill where Sears created and produced up to 250 pre-cut kit homes per month. It was a tremendous operation with more than 100 employees at its peak, and 20 acres of outbuildings.

It was also the site of “The Experiment.” Click here to see the only remnant of the Sears Mill in Cairo.

In 2001, whilst doing research on  Sears Homes at the Cairo Public Library, I stumbled across a little item in their vertical file about a Sears Bandon built in nearby Pulaski. Later that day, I hopped into the car and drove out to Pulaski and found my Bandon on the main drag through town. It was perfect in every way.

In March 2010, when I traveled to Illinois to do research for my newest book (”The Sears Homes of Illinois“), I went back to Pulaski to get newer/better photos. While standing on this main drag in this tiny town, I had three people stop and ask me if I needed help.

Speaking as a former long-time resident of Illinois, I don’t miss those long, cold Illinois winters, but I surely do miss the kind, generous, hard-working folks of small-town Midwestern America. They’re truly the crème de la crème of our country.

Below is the information I found in the vertical files at the Cairo Public Library;

The house (identified specifically as the Sears Bandon) was built in 1921. According to this document, the lumber for this kit home was shipped from the Sears mill in Cairo. It gave the following costs:

Cost of The Bandon $2794.00
Plaster (extra)  $133.00
Material to finish attic rooms  $241.00
Complete hot water heating system  $403.66
Wire and light fixtures  $133.66
Labor for carpenter (including masonry work)  $1600.00

Total $5305.32

This document also stated that, in 1924, a Sears Cyclone Barn (shipped from Cairo, IL) was built on the property. The kit barn cost $943.00.

Is there a Sears Home in your neck of the woods? Please send photos to Magnolia2047@gmail.com.

Enjoy the photos!

The Sears Bandon was a beauty, but why wasnt it more popular? Ive only seen one - ever - and that was just outside of Cairo, Illinois.

The Sears Bandon was a beauty, but why wasn't it more popular? I've only seen one - ever - and that was just outside of Cairo, Illinois (image is from 1921 catalog).

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It had a very busy floor plan. Note

It had a very busy floor plan, and it's the only house I've ever seen with a "dining porch." This room - which jutted out from the rest of the house - had ventilation on three sides, and seven windows.

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Close

Close-up of the floorplan shows how busy this house is! Look at the kitchen! The ice box was in the staircase landing. And the kitchen was oh-so tiny!

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And it was a fine-looking house!

And it was a fine-looking house!

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And here is the real-life beauty in Pulaski!

And here is the real-life beauty in Pulaski!

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Nice, isnt it?  :)

Nice, isn't it? :)

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house

The 1921 catalog image included this thumbnail from straight--on.

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Pretty, pretty house!

Pretty, pretty house! While southern Illinois does have some of the nicest people, it also some of the worst, mean, loud and scary-looking dogs! These dogs never did stop barking!

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The  Sears Bandon is perfect in every way!

The Sears Bandon is perfect in every way!

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Its perfect! Down to the details!!

It's perfect! Down to the details!!

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And its in a beautiful, bucolic setting!

And it's in a beautiful, bucolic setting!

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From this angle, you can get a better view of the Dining Porch.

From this angle, you can get a better view of the Dining Porch.

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As a nice bonus, the old barn (built 1924) is still standing, and in beautiful condition.

As a nice bonus, the old barn (built 1924) is still standing, and in beautiful condition.

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The Cyclone Barn was a very popular item for Sears (shown here in the 1920 catalog).

The Cyclone Barn was a very popular item for Sears (shown here in the 1920 catalog).

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Want to contact Rose? Please leave a comment below.

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

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Quite Possibly, The Most Beautiful Elsmore in the World

December 10th, 2012 Sears Homes 9 comments

The Elsmore was a hugely popular house for Sears, and it was probably one of their top five best selling models.

Since all sales records were destroyed during a post-WW2 corporate housecleaning at Sears, it’s hard to know for sure, but I do know that I’ve seen a whole lot of Elsmores in my travels.

Earlier this year, I posted another blog on the Elsmore (click here to see that), but I was inspired to post a second blog, due to this home’s incredible popularity and also because Cindy Catanzaro found and photographed one of the prettiest (and most well-cared-for) Elsmores that I’ve ever seen.

To read more on the Elsmore, click here.

Refinement and Comfort here.  How elegant sounding!

"Refinement and Comfort here." Sounds lovely!!

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Heres an Elsmore that was built in Cairo, IL not far from the spot where Sears had their 40-acre mill.

Here's an Elsmore that was built in Cairo, IL not far from the spot where Sears had their 40-acre lumber mill. This Elsmore, built at 1501 Commerce Avenue, was torn down pre-2001. I visited Cairo then and went looking for this house, but 1501 Commerce was an empty lot at that point. How many Sears Homes in Cairo have been razed? It's a vexing question.

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Another vintage Elsmore.

Another vintage Elsmore. This one was in Glenshaw, PA (1919 catalog).

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This is one of my favorite Elsmores. Its in Park Ridge, Illiois. Picture perfect in every way. Photo is copyright 2010, Dale Patrick Wolicki and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

This is one of my favorite Elsmores. It's in Park Ridge, Illinois. Picture perfect in every way. Photo is copyright 2010, Dale Patrick Wolicki and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

Visit Dale’s website by clicking here.

And the crème de la crème

And the crème de la crème. Cindy Catazaro found this house in Oakwood Ohio and it has been lovingly and faithfully restored. The house has obviously had some "renovations," but they've been done in a thoughtful, sensitive manner. I'm so impressed to know that there are people in the world who love their Sears House *this* much! Photo is copyright 2012, Cindy Catazaro and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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An mini-Elsmore? It might be a trick of the eye, but it appears this Elsmore in Walnutport, PA is a little narrower than the catalog version.

An skinny mini-Elsmore? It might be a trick of the eye, but it appears this Elsmore in Walnutport, PA is a little narrower than the catalog version. The window arrangement is also a little different. I'd love to know the history behind this house. Photo is copyright 2012 Angela Laury and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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The Elsmore, as it appeared in the later 1910s and 20s was actually a remodel of this

The Elsmore, as it appeared in the later 1910s and 20s was actually a remodel of Modern Home #126, which was first offered in the 1908 (first) Sears Modern Homes catalog.

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If you compare the two floorplans, youll see how similar they really are.

If you compare the two floorplans, you'll see how similar they are. This is the floorplan for the Sears Modern Home #126 (1908). Notice the size of the rooms and placement of windows.

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Floor

And here's the floorplan for the Elsmore (1916). The chamfered corners are gone and the front porch is different, but the rest of the house is the same, down to window placement and room size. The front porch roof on Modern Home #126 (with cantilevers) *always* sagged due to its fantastic weight. Not a good design. The changes to the Elsmore porch fixed that problem.

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Thanks to Cindy Catazaro and Dale Wolicki for providing such beautiful photos!

To read more about the Elsmore, click here.

To visit Dale’s website, click here.

Did you enjoy this blog? Please take a moment and leave a nice comment below. I’m living on nothing but love.

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The Race is On! (To Build a Sears Rodessa)

October 23rd, 2012 Sears Homes 1 comment

Sometime in late 1918, Sears conducted a “race,” building two houses, a Sears Honor Built pre-cut kit home and an identical house with no pre-cut lumber. For their experiment, they chose the Sears Rodessa, a darling little bungalow with clipped gables and oversized  eaves.

The result of this race was thoroughly documented in the 1919 and subsequent Sears Modern Homes catalogs.

It’s a very interesting story with many interesting images.

The “race” was conducted at the Sears Mill in Cairo, Illinois (at the southern most part of Illinois).

Today, those two Rodessas are still standing side by side, and they are the last remnant of the  40-acre mill that was once a substantial manufacturing center, employing more than 100 men, and cutting enough lumber every day to build 10-12 kit homes. The Sears Mill had 20 acres of outbuildings, several sidings of railroad track, and a  massive berm, built to keep out the springtime flooding of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.

The pre-cut Honor Bilt Rodessa was the easy winner in this race, with 231 hours to spare (compared to the stick-built house). To learn more about the specifics, read the captions on the photos below.

To learn more about the old Sears Mill in Cairo, click here.

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hosue

Two Rodessas were built side-by-side at the site of the old mill in Cairo.

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House being built Sears Rodessa (1921)

The house they chose to build was the Sears Rodessa (1921).

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Rodessa

Perhaps the Rodessa was chosen for this experiment because it was a "Pretty little home." After all, you probably wouldn't want to build a pretty BIG home for an experiment (1919).

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Comparison of the two building techniques

A thorough comparison of the two building techniques.

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And the ordinary way

In the "ordinary" way, the old hand saw is to blame. In fact, many carpenters would not have used a steam-powered saw at the building site, but would be stuck sawing all the wood "the old fashioned way." The electric saw didn't come into widespread use until 1925 (according to "American Carpenter and Builder" magazine).

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The full page showing the experimeent

The full page showing the experiment.

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Wow.

According to their experiment, a Sears pre-cut home could be built 231 hours faster than a stick-built version of the same house. And this was probably realistic, too. Pre-cut lumber did create a substantial savings of time and money.

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Really ture

Time and money saved - "the modern way."

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I love this. Theyre slouchers.

I love this image. Look at these guys. They're a pair of slackers. All their lumber is pre-cut and ready to use. They can take their time and start the work day with a rest break.

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But look at these poor saps.

But look at these poor saps. They have everything laid out and ready. They even have their saws stacked up against the massive piles of lumber, ready to go. In fact, it looks like they've already started! And there are three guys on this crew.

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The end result is strikingly similar

More than 230 hours AFTER the pre-cut Rodessa was finished, the stick-build Rodessa was finally done. Kinda of like being the very last soul to drag across the finish line at a 26K marathon. These folks are so pooped, they collapsed in exhaustion on the front porch. And the yard is still a mess, full of construction debris! They didn't have the time or energy to tidy things up. Why, they're sitting down before it's finished! The shame of it all!!

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These

Meanwhile, the pre-cut Rodessa was done 230 hours before the stick-built house, and the builders not only tidied up the yard but planted many fine-looking bushes! Pretty darn impressive. You think there's a little subtle message going on here? Looks like it to me! If you buy a pre-cut Sears House, you''ll have time and energy for pretty gardens!

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Sears House - The Rodessa - in Cairo.

Throughout the city of Cairo, you'll find several Rodessas, such as this one. I suspect that the folks at the Sears Mill had several "practice" sessions building the Rodessa before the timed experiment actually took place at the mill.

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Today, those two Rodessas sit side by side, the last remnant of the massive Sears Mill that sat on this site in the early 1900s (in Cairo, IL). I'm sorry to say that I don't know which Rodessa is pre-cut and which one is stick built. If the graphic above is accurate the pre-cut kit house has a stucco foundation and the stick-built has a brick foundation. Next time I'm in Cairo, I'll check that out. BTW, these homes are located on Sears Road.

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To read more about Sears and Roebuck Road, click here.

To read more about the history of the Sears Mill, click here.

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