Tuesday, January 19, 2021

ID this House! Sears Carlin and Windsor

Sears Carlin in Kalamazoo, Michigan
Recently, while searching real estate listings, I spied what I thought was a model I've seen many times over, the Sears Windsor. On first glance, this house in Kalamazoo, Michigan had all the hallmarks of the Windsor. As I was drafting up a post for my "Sears Homes For Sale" Facebook page, I made sure to note that while this model is often misidentified as the "Carlin", in fact almost all of the hundreds of examples that have been identified to date are actually the "Windsor". I was going to point out some of the easy-to-spot differences between the two models that would show that this was a Sears Windsor. Except as I started reviewing the house more closely, it quickly became apparent that in fact the house in Kalamazoo was not a Windsor, it was a Carlin! To date, only 20 examples of the Carlin have been added to the national database of Sears houses. The house in Kalamazoo provided the perfect opportunity to showcase those differences and help other kit house researchers and homeowners easily determine whether a house is the Carlin or the Windsor. Let's learn to ID these models! 

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Sears Roebuck's "Home of the Week"

Over at Sears Homes of Chicagoland, Lara's latest post is exploring examples of advertising for "Modern Homes" from Sears Roebuck. Advertising for the "Modern Homes" program appeared in a number of different formats but the ones I've most frequently come across were ads in newspapers from those parts of the county where Sears sold their "Modern Homes". Thanks to digitization efforts, we've been able to see numerous examples of ads from a number of newspapers. Lara's post reminded me of some advertising I had come across again a few weeks ago while searching old newspapers for articles. These ads from Sears "Home Construction Division" featured a number of "Modern Homes" models. I'm calling these ads the Sears "Home of the Week" series. Let's take a look!

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Model Homes - Sears Roebuck

Sears Maplewood
Lansing, Michigan
Image courtesy of Newspapers.com
Modern residential builders often advertise their model homes to help spur interest in their new developments. Staffed with sales people, these homes - often with all the bells and whistles included - are open to the public to explore in the hope of enticing prospective homebuyers. Things weren't much different in the kit house era of the 1920s - 1940s. In some cases, developers of new subdivisions of the era built and featured a kit house (or houses) as an example of the style of home that could or would be built in the new development. 

Kit house companies also teamed up with some of their customers who allowed their new homes to be used as model homes. Often times, this meant opening one's new house to visitors from near and far, sometimes thousands in number, over a period of a couple weeks. Presumably, once the tours were done, the house would be made like new. Not as common but also done were models that were built without a prospective customer in mind. These model homes are notable because they often pop up in searches about the kit house companies in historic newspapers. Let's take a look! 

Friday, November 13, 2020

Where are the Sears Houses - November 2020 Edition

Sears Lynnhaven - Bay City, Michigan

It's been about five months since the last update of "Where are the Sears Houses". While this odd year continues on so does the search for Sears houses. While many of us took advantage of the summer weather to enjoy a bit of relief from being cooped up all spring, we still managed to find and add houses to the list, pushing past the 13,000 house mark. That means it's time for another update of "Where are the Sears Houses?" Here is the breakdown of location of houses by state based on approximately 13,000 homes in the database. Let's take a look!

Thursday, October 22, 2020

How Many Sears Houses? 1940 - 1942

"Sears Modern Homes" catalog (1940)

Back in 2013, my fellow kit house researcher Lara, who blogs at Sears Homes of Chicagoland, made a comprehensive effort to answer the eternal question of "How Many Sears Homes Were Built?" One would think that this would be a relatively easy question to answer - Ask Sears Roebuck! But even Sears doesn't know exactly how many houses they sold through their "Modern Homes" program. Because Sears purged the paperwork associated with the "Modern Homes" program, the records that would have answered that question definitively have been lost to time. The answer given by the Sears Archives is around 70,000 - 75,000 homes. After quite a bit of research and best guesses to fill in blanks, Lara came up with a total of between 63,000 and 65,000 homes. I think Lara's research is pretty spot on. But one area where there was very little information was the time period from 1940 -1942 when Laura estimated that Sears sold around 700 homes. I think that number is low and I'll run through the numbers to explain why I think that's the case.