Monday, March 20, 2017

Sears Testimonial Houses in Kansas City, Missouri

Recently, I've been looking for Sears kit houses in and around the Kansas City, Kansas/Missouri metro area. I wrote about a couple of Sears houses that I located in Prairie Village, Kansas, a suburb of the two Kansas Citys. While researching another Sears-house related topic, I came across one of the Sears promotion posters that I own that's titled "Honor Bilt Homes Make Happy Homes". The two-sided poster contains several dozen testimonials from satisfied customers from various cities in the Midwest and Eastern United States where Sears kit houses had been built. One of the cities that is featured on the poster is Kansas City, Missouri with 3 different testimonials. A check of the National Database of Sears Homes didn't reveal any testimonial houses for Kansas City so I decided to get looking! Let's see what I found!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

ID this House! Sears Hawthorne

Catalog image Sears Hawthorne (1932)
I was recently scanning through real estate listings online when I spotted what looked like a rare Sears model, the Hawthorne. The listing included some great photos of the Hawthorne, a model that was offered by Sears Roebuck in the early 1930s. Those photos give us the chance to see some of the distinct elements of this model, details that could help us identify other examples of this house. As we only have one other example of this house on the National Database of Sears Homes and I've run across some look-a-likes for this model, I thought this house would be an excellent candidate for my "ID this House!" series. Let's learn to ID this house!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

ID this house! Sears Van Dorn

Catalog image of Sears Van Dorn (1928)
Sears offered a number of Dutch Colonial Revival style houses in the Sears Modern Homes catalog. Many of these models were large, spacious homes. But Sears also offered several smaller, more modest houses in this style, the best known example being the Sears Puritan. Similar in size to the Puritan but not as well known is the Sears Van Dorn. While the Van Dorn may not appear as distinctive as the Puritan, it actually has several elements that I've found make it fairly easy to spot once you know what to look for on this model. Let's learn to ID this house!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Sears Oakdale in Prairie Village, KS

7341 Belinder Ave - Prairie Village, KS
Sears Oakdale
Here in Michigan, we're a long way from Kansas. But sometimes an example of a kit house comes up that has to be shared. This Sears Oakdale in Prairie Village, Kansas is just one of those houses. It's a picture perfect example of the Oakdale on the outside with a gorgeous interior filled with original hardwood floors and unpainted millwork. The real estate listing from when the house was last sold in 2015 gives us the opportunity to take a "tour" of a well-kept Sears Oakdale inside and out. Let's take a look!

Thank you Livonia!

20085 Inkster Rd - Livonia, MI - Sears Bellewood
This past week, Wendy and I presented on "Catalog and Kit Houses of Michigan" for the Friends of the Livonia Public Library. We were happy to see so many people come out to hear our presentation. The audience came with many good questions and it gave us the opportunity to speak to several homeowners about their homes. Among the houses that we shared in our presentation was this Sears Bellewood on Inkster Road in Livonia. In addition to this house, we identified several other examples of kit homes from Lewis and Sears. Hopefully, we'll be able to authenticate these homes as kit houses.

Do you know of any kit houses in the Livonia, Michigan area? Share those with us in the comments!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Kit House Presentations

Catalog images of Sears Stratford
(1929 Special Supplement)
Images courtesy of Antique Home
Interested in hearing us speak about kit houses? What for upcoming presentations. Interested in having us present? Drop us a line!

Michigan Kit Houses
May 18, 2017 - 6:30 pm
Oak Park Library

Michigan Kit Houses
May 20, 2017
Okemos Library
Sponsored by the Friends of the Okemos Library

View a list of previous presentations.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Sears Cinderella in Warren, Ohio

Catalog Image of Sears Cinderella
At the end of 2016, I shared a post about the "Missing Models", which were all the "named" models offered by Sears in the Modern Homes catalogs between 1918 and 1940 for which an example had not yet been located. In assembling that list of missing models, I managed to miss one - the Cinderella! But I didn't realize that I had missed it until I recently discovered what appears to be a Sears Cinderella in Warren, Ohio. It was only at that point that I noticed that the Cinderella hadn't made it on the list. I've since updated that post to add the Cinderella and note its discovery. The Cinderella is a rare Sears model but after we review some of the ways to spot one, perhaps you'll find one too. Let's take a look!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Where are the Sears Houses - February 2017 Edition

815 Loraine St - Ardmore, PA
Sears Alhambra
A few months ago, the national database of Sears houses passed the 5,500 house mark. On reaching that milestone, I took the opportunity to review some of the data available from the database including the locations, by state, where we are finding Sears houses. Today, the database passed the 6,500 house mark and I thought it would be a good time to revisit the breakdown by state to see if there had been any changes from the previous order or to see if we can spot we spot any new trends. Let's take a look!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Making Lists

Regular readers of this blog know that one of my kit house-related projects is contributing to a national database of Sears catalog and kit houses. As I shared last year, the database grew out of the need to have a centralized listing of Sears houses. Started four years ago in January 2013, the Sears database has grown to almost 6,500 homes. While the Sears database is the largest in number of homes, it's not the only database we're working on. Just as there was a need to document houses from Sears, the same is true for homes from the other major kit house manufacturers.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sears Yates in Boonton, New Jersey

Catalog Image of Sears Yates (1940)
Image courtesy of
The 1930s were a difficult time for the Sears Modern Homes division. The effects of the Great Depression led Sears to close the division for a short time in 1934. But as the decade wore on and the United States slowly emerged from the worst of the Depression, the sales of Sears kit house business started to improve. In 1939, despite gathering war clouds in Europe, Sears introduced a number of new home plans, including the Sears Yates. Recently, I came across a house in Boonton, New Jersey that may be an example of this rare model. Let's take a look!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Sears Sherwood in Chatham, NJ

Catalog Image of Sears Sherwood (1930)
Image courtesy of Lara Solonickne
The last time we visited Chatham, New Jersey, it was to see a Sears "testimonial" house from the 1932 Modern Homes catalog. Today, I want to share an example of a very rare Sears model that I came across recently in Chatham. The Sears Sherwood was only offered for two years in the Modern Homes Catalog - in 1929 and 1930. To date, only three examples have been located in North Chicago, Illinois, Bound Brook, New Jersey and Leetsdale, Pennsylvania. Due to the relatively short time period that the house was offered and the cost of the house, It's likely that Sears didn't sell very many of these models. The Sherwood has some distinctive elements that can help you identify it. Let's take a look!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

ID this house! Sears Priscilla

21 Oak St - Irvington, NY - Sears Priscilla
Image courtesy of Zillow
As I've been researching mortgages in Westchester County, I've been able to see several examples of houses from Sears Roebuck that I rarely see elsewhere in the country. One of those models is the Sears Priscilla. To date, I've located five different examples of the Priscilla in the County. That's notable as we have less than 20 Priscillas in the national database of Sears houses. Thankfully for us, one of the well-kept examples of the Priscilla was recently for sale and the real estate listing photos included many views of the inside and outside of the house. From these photos, I want to share with you some of the distinct characteristics of the Priscilla in case there's one in your town. Let's take a look!

Friday, February 3, 2017

ID this house! Sears Wayne

The Sears Wayne is a story and a half house that Sears Roebuck offered between 1925 - 1931. As I shared previously, the Wayne is almost identical to the Sears Delmar, which appeared in the Sears Modern Homes catalog for one year in 1924. The fact that the Wayne was offered for 6 years makes me believe that there are a lot more examples of this house than the dozen examples that are currently listed in the national database of Sears homes. Recently, I came across a fine example of the Sears Wayne that provides the opportunity to learn some of the key features of the Wayne. Let's take a look!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sears Hammond in North Muskegon, Michigan

Catalog image of Sears Hammond (1932)
Image courtesy of
When Wendy and I visited North Muskegon, Michigan to see some Sears homes, we found more homes than we had on our list to visit. One of the surprises for us was a Sears Hammond. Unlike the Alhambra we spotted, I wasn't 100% sure that I had spotted a Hammond when we first drove past the house. We had to circle back around so I could look for a couple of details that made me confident that it was a Sears house. This is a very nice example of the Hammond so let's take a look at the clues that tipped us off that it is likely a Sears house.

Thank You Brighton!

Aladdin Roseland (1918)
Image courtesy of Clarke Historical Library
This past week, Wendy and I presented on "Michigan Kit Homes" at the Brighton District Library. It was a wonderful evening with an attentive audience that had come with a lot of good questions. But the best part of it was hearing the stories from the attendees who had personal connections to kit houses. One woman shared photos of an Aladdin Roseland that her family had built. Another gentleman told us about his family's Sears duplex in Ann Arbor. Turns out, it's a testimonial house! We also talked to homeowners who owned 1950s-era kit houses from Aladdin and Lewis. We don't often see examples of kit homes from that era so it was great to connect with those homeowners. We had a great time making those connections. Last but not least, a big thank you to the Friends of the Brighton District Library who made the evening possible. Great Friends groups help make great libraries!

Do you know of any kit houses in the Brighton, Michigan area? Share those with us in the comments!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Sears Alhambra in North Muskegon, Michigan

Last fall, I went searching online for kit houses in the villages and cities that dot the west side of the state of Michigan. While the "west coast" of Michigan doesn't have the density of kit houses that we find on the east side of the state, we've found examples of catalog and kit houses along the rural roads and in the villages and cities of western Michigan. One of the places I searched was the City of North Muskegon, which lies just east of Lake Michigan along the shores of Muskegon Lake. My search through the City of North Muskegon turned up a couple of possibilities for Wendy and I to check out in person when we traveled west. Little did we know what else we would find!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Sears Albion in Elmsford, NY

A few weeks ago, I blogged about "The Missing Models" which are all the "named" models from Sears that don't yet appear in the national database of Sears homes. A couple of weeks later, one of my fellow kit house researchers Judith Chabot located and authenticated our first example of the Sears Albion. I had never seen the Albion before so it was exciting to finally see an example of this model "in the wild". The next day - with some help - I located not one but two Albions! One of the Albions is a good example to review so let's take a look!