Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Sears Dover in Waterford, Michigan

Catalog image of Sears Dover (1935)
Image courtesy of AntiqueHome
First introduced in 1928 Modern Homes catalog, the Sears Dover was a popular model for Sears. It was the largest and most expensive of several "English cottage" designs that first appeared in the 1928 catalog. The Dover's continued popularity with house buyers was demonstrated by the fact that it continued to be offered by Sears through the final Modern Homes catalog in 1940. I've found 10 examples of the Sears Dover in Oakland County searching mortgage records for houses financed through Sears Roebuck. This Sears Dover in Waterford Township is one of four examples that can be found in the Township which is home to over 50 authenticated Sears houses.

This Sears Dover in Waterford provides a good example of how home buyers could customize the kit house that they purchased from Sears. The standard Dover was offered with wood siding but Sears helpfully offered that it would look equally attractive if finished with shingle siding. Sears also offered the option to finish the house with face brick as was done with the first story of this house. In several catalogs, Sears featured examples of the Sears Dover finished with face brick. For a few years, Sears also offered a variation on the Dover called the Mansfield that was finished completely in face brick and stone.

Sears did charge extra for customizations but many of the changes were relatively small in cost. Changing the exterior to a face brick finish was one of the more expensive modifications and helps account for the difference in mortgage amounts among the various Dovers in Waterford.

385 Gateway - Waterford, Michigan - Sears Dover
From this side of the house, you can easily see one of the distinctive spotting features of the Sears Dover - the triple window of the living room. While not every Dover had a triple window, it was a standard element of the design and helps differentiate it from models from other companies that share a similar design to the Dover.

In the close-up of the front door, you can see the decorative pattern that was incorporated into the brick work around the front entry. The front door appears to be original to the house although the size of window doesn't match any of the options that Sears offered for their front doors.



Sears Building Materials Catalog (1930)
Image courtesy of Judith Chabot

From the other side of the house, you can see a second-story dormer on the front of the house. It's hard to say whether this dormer was original to the house or was added later. It's possible that this is original.

385 Gateway - Waterford, Michigan - Sears Dover
We've seen a number of Dovers with dormers like this and it could have been added to the house design at the request of the original owner. The standard Dover design also has a large dormer on the back of the house to help accommodate two bedrooms and a full bath on the second story.

Second Story Floorplan - Sears Dover (1932)
Image courtesy of Archive.org
This Sears Dover in Waterford was financed with a mortgage from Sears Roebuck. The mortgage was for $5,600, which was the priciest of the four Dovers in Waterford that had Sears mortgages. The mortgage in March 1929 was between Sears trustee Walker O. Lewis and Lester D. Bigelow. I wasn't able to find much information on Mr. Bigelow and the 1940 Census lists him as living at a rented house in Pontiac, Michigan. If you know more about this house or the location of other kit houses in Waterford, Michigan, let us know in the comments!


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