Monday, September 19, 2016

Kit House Presentations

Catalog images of Sears Stratford
(1929 Special Supplement)
Images courtesy of Antique Home
Interested in hearing us speak about kit houses? Here's a current list of scheduled presentations. Interested in having us present? Drop us a line!

Wednesday, September 28
Greater West Bloomfield Historical Society - West Bloomfield Public Library: 7:00 p.m.

This is the correct date/time. The incorrect date and time appeared on the letter that was mailed to homeowners. 

Thursday, October 6
Preservation Farmington - Heritage and History Center: 7:00 p.m. ($5 admission)

View a list of previous presentations.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Sears Lexington Testimonial House in Chatham, New Jersey

Cover of 1932 Sears Modern Homes Catalog
Image courtesy of
One of the ways that we track down catalog and kit houses is by locating "testimonial" houses found in catalogs and promotional material put out by the kit house companies. As I explained in the post about a "testimonial" Sears Sherburne located in Fulton, New York, these customer testimonials sometimes include enough information to enable kit house researchers to locate these homes if they are still standing today.

Many of the known testimonial houses have already been located which made it a bit of a surprise that I wasn't able to find any references online to the testimonial house of Dr. Frederick and Mrs. Lum of Chatham, New Jersey. A photo of their house from Sears was included in the 1932 Sears Modern Homes catalog. So I decided to see if I could find it...

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Sears Willard in Waterford, Michigan

6372 Cleveland - Waterford, Michigan - Sears Willard
Image courtesy of
One of the ways that we discover kit houses is to scour real estate ads with an eye for potential candidates. I recently shared a few kit houses for sale that I located in online real estate listings. Today, I found a few more houses in the area that are for sale including a Sears Willard in Waterford, Michigan. Although I already had this Willard on my list of known houses in Waterford, the real estate listing gives us a chance to get inside and see a Sears house that still has some of the original features. Let's take a tour!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Sears Vallonia in Ferndale, Michigan

Wendy and I with Nicole Curtis and Tessa.
Tessa is a cancer survivor who Nicole and her fans
have helped support through fundraisers. 
Wendy and I were in Ferndale, Michigan recently to tour the latest project by Nicole Curtis. You may know her from her show "Rehab Addict" where she primarily restores (versus renovates) old homes back to their original glory. As homeowners who consider ourselves as caretakers of our Sears catalog house, we've always been fans of her approach. She respects the historic character of the homes she works on and attempts to maintain that character versus the gut and modernize approach you often see in many home "improvement" shows. I knew from my list of Sears mortgages for Oakland County that there is a Sears Vallonia on the same block as Nicole's project house. After we finished our tour of the house, Wendy and I walked down the block to take a couple photos of the Vallonia.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Post Impressions Entry - "Hidden in Plain Sight"

"Hidden in Plain Sight" (on the right)
Post Impressions Entry
Wendy and I are always looking for opportunities to educate people about catalog and kit houses in their community. When we heard about the "Post Impressions" Street Art exhibition in Waterford where I work, we jumped at the chance to put together an entry that features the history of catalog and kit houses with a focus on the houses in Waterford. You can see our entry directly south of the Buffalo Wild Wings across from the pathway that leads down to the Riverwalk.
Link to location in Google Maps

Waterford is home to over 75 identified catalog and kit houses, many of them authenticated with mortgages. However, many people in the area aren't aware that Waterford is home to so many of these houses. That's why we shamelessly borrowed the title for our entry - "Hidden in Plain Sight" - from our fellow kit house researcher Lara Solonicke (with her blessing!) who uses this phrase to explain the fact that often times people know of these homes without being aware that they were ordered from a catalog. We hope that our entry will make people more aware of all of the homes in Waterford and about the topic of catalog and kit homes. If you are interested in learning more, we've put together a page specifically about the homes in Waterford.