Archive

Posts Tagged ‘wreck of the old 97’

Cooking - Off the Grid!

November 24th, 2012 Sears Homes 3 comments

As has become our annual tradition, hubby cooked our 18-pound turkey on his Weber Charcoal Grill. It was one of the most delicious birds I’ve ever enjoyed. The best part was that it was cooked 100% “off the grid.”

The charcoal is a no-brainer. Lots of people know how to use charcoal to cook their meat.

But the secret of a well-cooked bird  is the rotisserie attachment which spins the meat at a slow speed. This year, the small but powerful rotisserie motor was powered  by our new “Solar System,” three 15-watt solar panels which we recently installed at The Ringer Ranch.

These three photovoltaic panels convert the sun’s rays into electricity, which is stored in a 12-volt deep-cycle marine battery. The inverter (shown below) converts the 12-volt system into 120 volts, suitable for household use.

To learn more about how we installed these solar panels, click here.

Hubby proudly points out his delicious turkey spinning on the grill.

Hubby proudly points out his delicious turkey spinning on the grill.

*

Look

Our three 15-watt solar panels are on top of the shed roof.

*

The electrical items (inverter, solar controller and battery) are inside the shed.

The electrical items (inverter, solar controller and battery) are inside the shed. Notice the orange extension cord coming out of the inverter? That is powering the rotisserie.

*

The most amazing part is that the solar panels were charging the battery *faster* than the rotisserie motor was drawing off power.

The most amazing part is that the solar panels were charging the battery *faster* than the rotisserie motor was drawing off power. And this was at 8:00 am.

*

Safety first. Hubby uses the five-gallon bucket to keep the cords out of the wet dew.

Safety first. Hubby uses the five-gallon bucket to keep the cords out of the wet dew.

*

It was indeed a most splendiferous bird!

It was indeed a most splendiferous bird!

*

Want a “solar system” of your own? We did it for $351 (total cost). To buy your own, click here.

*

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

*

To read about a very happy Thanksgiving in 1918, click here.

*   *   *

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“This is a Most Attractive Little Home…”

November 18th, 2012 Sears Homes 2 comments

Last month, I wrote about “The Experiment,” where Sears built two Sears Rodessas (small bungalows) side-by-side in Cairo, Illinois, to prove the superiority of the Ready-cut System. The two homes were built in the late 1910s, and now, almost 100 years later, those wonderful little houses are still standing.

Why did Sears choose the Rodessa for their experiment? I don’t know. It was a popular house for Sears, but it wasn’t that popular! If I were to venture a guess, I’d say it was in the Top 50 Most Popular Designs.

However, it was, as the Sears ad promised, “a most attractive little home.” It was cute, simple and practical, which probably made it easy to build in a hurry.

In my travels, I’ve come across several Rodessas. In fact, there’s one not far from me in Urbana, Virginia. You can read about that house by clicking here.

To read more about the Rodessa, scroll down!

pretty

Indeed, the Rodessa is a "pretty little home." And look at the price!!

*

Little is right.

Look at those small bedrooms. In 2012, a room that measures 9-feet square is a walk-in closet!

*

Busy kitchen

And what does that "B" stand for in the kitchen? BOILER!

*

The boiler

The "boiler" (whose placement is indicated with the "B" in the floorplan) was a water heater with a water line that ran through the back of the cook stove. Pretty complicated affair.

*

text

"This is a most attractive little home."

*

In 1924,

In 1924, Mr. Kidwell built this Rodessa in Washington DC and sent this snapshot in to Sears and Roebuck. He was "fully satisfied" with his Ready-cut home.

*

Happy 1926

In 1926, Sears put out a brochure that was titled, "Happy Homes." The Rodessa was featured within its pages. According to the accompanying text, it was built in Independence, MO.

*

Happy

Not sure why Sears included a picture of corn with the testimonial.

*

HeWood

It's endured some significant remodelings, but at least it's still standing. This transmogrified Rodessa is in Wood River, Illinois (just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, MO). That salt-treated porch railing just does not work on this old bungalow.

*

House

This Rodessa may look a little blue, but it's actually a very happy house with lots of good self-esteem. It's in Northern Illinois. Photo is copyright 2010 Rebecca Hunter and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

Heres the Rodessa in my home state (Virginia). Its located in a tiny fishing village known as Urbana.

Here's the Rodessa in my home state (Virginia). It's located in a tiny fishing village known as Urbana. The plaque over the door reads, "Sears Roebuck House, 1924." I was told that the folks in Urbana didn't realize that Sears had 369 other kit home designs. This is a fairly common misconception. This 88-year-old house is in beautiful condition.

*

And here are the two Rodessas that were built side-by-side at the site of the old Sears Mill (in Cairo, IL).

And here are the two Rodessas that were built side-by-side at the site of the old Sears Mill (in Cairo, IL). They were built in the late 1910s as part of an experiment to prove that "The Ready-Cut Method" was far more efficient than traditional building practices of the time.

*

Ready

The house that was built using traditional building practices took 583 hours and the poor saps aren't finished yet. The yard is still a mess with scraps of lumber scattered hither and yon. The workers have collapsed on the front porch in utter despair and humiliation.

*

house

Ah, but the pre-cut Sears Kit Home is all buttoned up and beautiful! They even had time to finish up the landscaping! The kitchen windows are wide open. They had so much time to spare that they went inside and cooked dinner!

*

By 1933, the Rodessa had undergone a radical transformation.

By 1933, the Rodessa had undergone a radical transformation. The clipped gables were gone, as were the dramatically oversized eaves. The unique shape of the front porch was replaced with a simpler gabled roof. In a word, its flair and panache had been replaced with pedestrian and dull.

*

Learn more about the two Rodessas at the Sears Mill by clicking here.

How did Sears Homes become so popular so fast? Read about that here.

Looking for the perfect Christmas gift? It’s just one click away!

*   *   *

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Sears Homes in Danville!

March 21st, 2011 Sears Homes 13 comments

On Friday, I traveled to Danville, Virginia and had the good fortune to meet up with Gary, Joyce and Susan, and Tiffany (the indefatigable reporter from the local paper), and tooled around the town looking for kit homes. It was a delightful day and Danville is a city that’s heavy laden with beautiful architecture. Some day, I’d like to take some time and tour the city at a more leisurely pace!

Below are a few pictures of what we found in Danville.

The first house is the Sears Walton. This was one of 370 designs offered by Sears during their 32 years in the kit home business. The Walton was one of their most popular homes, and it’s easy to identify! Notice the large front porch, which extends several feet beyond the main wall of the house. In the front bedroom, there’s a box window with a shed roof. And in the dining room, there’s a gabled bay with three windows.

The Sears Walton

The Sears Walton

Most of the Sears Waltons Ive seen are yellow! Just like this one in Danville.

On this Walton in Danville, someone extended that dining room bay and turned it into a porte cochere! Notice the oversized front porch, with its roof line that's got a slightly different angle than the rest of the house. And you can see a piece of that box windows on the left front. Sears house designs could be "reversed" like this one in Danville. It's the mirror image of the catalog page (above).

The next house is also a kit home, but it was not sold by Sears, but by a company in Iowa known as Gordon Van Tine. Like Sears, they sold homes through mail-order catalogs. The houses were shipped in about 12,000 pieces and came with a 75-page instruction book and a promise that a “man of average abilities” could have the house assembled in 90 days. Sears offered mortgages with their homes (75% loan-to-value, 15 years and 6% interest), and it was a requirement of the mortgage that the home be 100% assembled within four months of shipment!

From the 1921 catalog, this is the Gordon Van Tine #705.

From the 1921 catalog, this is the Gordon Van Tine #705.

And here it is, in the flesh!

And here it is, in the flesh! Notice it still has those wide bands over the second-floor windows. It's unusual for a house of this vintage (1921) to still have original railings, columns, windows and siding!

Next is my favorite find:  The Wardway Lexington! Like Sears, Montgomery Ward also sold kit homes. Sears sold kit homes (12,000 pieces of house and a 75-page instruction book) from 1908-1940. Montgomery Ward started in 1910 and stopped about 1931. I found two “Wardway” kit homes in Danville!

The Montgomery Ward Lexington

The Montgomery Ward Lexington

A beautiful example of The Wardway Lexington!

A beautiful example of The Wardway Lexington!

Sears Lewiston

Sears Lewiston

Sears Lewiston

Sears Lewiston. This one has two windows (centered) instead of three, but these are replacement windows, and there's certainly room for three windows here. Plus, this house still retains the small windows to the left of the fireplace with their original diamond muntins!

This is a kit home from Aladdin, another kit home company that - like Sears - sold houses through mail order!

This is a kit home from Aladdin, another kit home company that - like Sears - sold houses through mail order!

From the side...

This house on Virginia Avenue is a beautiful match to the original catalog picture!

Close-up of the Hampshire (by Aladdin)

Close-up of the Hampshire (by Aladdin)

And in the flesh!

Note the original windows! When I first started learning about Danville, I was told this was a Sears Home, but it's not! It is a kit home, but it's from Aladdin (based in Bay City). This is a common mistake. About 80% of the people who *think* they have a Sears Home are wrong. Most often, they DO have a kit home, but it's from a company other than Sears.

Another Aladdin home - the Winthrop!

Another Aladdin home - the Winthrop!

This Winthrop is in wonderfully oriignal condition, and even has the same paint scheme as the house shown in the catalog!

This "Winthrop" is in wonderfully oriignal condition, and even has the same paint scheme as the house shown in the catalog!

Sears Sunbeam

Sears Sunbeam

Although its been altered (and added onto) this still appears to be a Sears Sunbeam!

Although it's been altered (and added onto with the roof being raised) this still appears to be a Sears Sunbeam!

Wardway

Wardway

Another Wardway Home: The Whatever

Another Wardway Home: The Mt. Vernon

In addition to kit homes, Danville also has prefab homes, such as this Lustron (see below).

“Never before has America seen a house like this,” read a 1949 advertisement for the Lustron, also hailed as “the house of the future.”

The Lustron was an all-steel house, with walls made of  2×2 20-gage metal panels, with a porcelain enamel finish. The roof was porcelain enamel steel, and unlike traditional roofing shingles, has a lifespan of at least 60 years (and perhaps much more).

The modest ranches were designed and created by entrepreneur Carl Strandlunds to help deal with the severe housing shortage after World War II. Unfortunately, Lustrons never became very popular. Three years after the company first started (in 1947), it went into bankruptcy. Sixty years later, there’s still much debate about the reasons for the company’s collapse.  The debate over the reasons for Lustron’s demise because a topic for a fascinating documentary.

About 2,500 Lustrons were created.

Quantico, Virginia was home to the largest collection of Lustrons in the country, but those 60 houses are now gone. Some were moved, most were demolished. An interesting aside: Turns out the Marines at Quantico weren’t too keen on living in a pink house! (The houses were offered in pink, blue, brown and yellow.)

On inside walls, nails were a no-no. Instead, magnets are used to hang pictures. The porcelain enamel finish on the 2×2 panels is tough, which makes re-painting the panels virtually impossible. The Lustron (seen below) in Danville was painted, and it’s trying hard to shed this second skin. Painting porcelain enamel never works out too well.

Lustron in Danville

Lustron in Danville

Lustron

Close-up of the window on Danville's Lustron.

And then on down the road a bit in Altavista, I found this perfect Sears Whitehall.

From the 1916 Sears catalog

From the 1916 Sears catalog

Heres a Sears Whitehall, outstanding in his field!  :)

Here's a remarkable Sears Whitehall. It fact, it's outstanding in his field! :)

And one of my favorite non-house finds in Danville! A tribute to “Old 97″! After I left Danville, I took the “mighty rough road” from Danville to Lynchburg, and it wasn’t too bad - for a car.  :)

Wreck of the Old 97 is commemorated with this mural in downtown Danville.

"Wreck of the Old 97" is commemorated with this mural in downtown Danville. If you know the meaning of the little white and yellow birds (upper right), please leave a comment!

Did you enjoy reading about the houses in Danville? If so, please share this link with others! Or copy and paste the link on facebook!

To learn how to identify Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

*   *   *