Monday, December 11, 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? Check out our list of upcoming presentations. Interested in having us present? We're scheduling presentations for 2018. Contact us to schedule a presentation in your community!

2018 Scheduled Presentations

Waterford Township Public Library
Thursday, April 19, 2018
7:00 pm

Capital Area District Library - Holt Branch
Saturday, June 9, 2018
11:00 am

Petoskey District Library
Monday, July 23, 2018
7:00 pm

View a list of previous presentations.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Searching for Kit Houses using Zillow

If you've ever bought or sold a house or are just interested in what your house may be worth, you are probably familiar with the real estate listing site Zillow. Every day, thousands of houses across the country are listed for sale or rent on Zillow. These listings usually include a set of interior and exterior photos of the home. Searches can be done as broadly as the entire country down to a specific address. As you can imagine, this kind of resource has a lot of potential to help kit house researchers find and explore potential additions to the various databases of homes. I have used Zillow to successfully find hundreds of kit houses and if you are interested in finding kit houses in your area, it can help you quickly review a lot of houses without having to know exactly where those houses are located. Let's learn how!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Sears Americus in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York

One of the more popular Sears models, at least according to our national database of Sears houses, is the Sears Americus. It's also one of the most distinctive models that Sears sold, easily singled out from other homes of the same era. To date, over 175 examples of the Americus have been located around the United States. It's hard to say whether its popularity on the list is due to its actual sales number or its distinctive design, which makes it easy to identity. Whatever the case may be, once you've seen one Sears Americus sporting its original design, you should have no problem spotting more. Fortunately, I have a fine example of the Sears Americus to share. Let's check it out!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

ID this House! Sears Newark

30 Bellwood Ave - Dobbs Ferry, NY - Sears Newark
Image courtesy of Zillow
Westchester County, New York is home to hundreds of identified and authenticated Sears houses. You'll find Sears houses in almost every community in the county and Dobbs Ferry is no exception. Dobbs Ferry is home to several of the most popular models offered by Sears like the Americus, the Cornell and the Starlight. But it is also home to one of the less common examples - the Sears Newark. I've previously written about the Newark but a recent example that I came in Dobbs Ferry is a great match for the Newark and a good candidate for the "ID this House!" series. Let's learn to ID this house!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Sears Medford in Little Falls, New York

I recently was searching one of my favorite online resources for historical newspapers from New York, FultonHistory.com. I was looking for newspaper articles related to the Sears Modern Homes program that were newly added to their collection. One of the articles that I found led me to a rare Sears model - the Medford - in Little Falls, New York. Lara Solonickne, who blogs over at the Sears Homes of Chicagoland, coined the name the "Rare 10" for a group of Sears models that were introduced in 1939 and the Medford is one of them! This house in Little Falls is only the second example in our national database. Let's take a look!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Behold the Future of Kit House Research


Earlier this month, fellow kit house researcher Catarina Bannier announced the launch of a new interactive map that features all of the authenticated kit houses located in the Chevy Chase section of  Washington DC.
Map of Historic Chevy Chase Kit Houses
Image courtesy of Catarina Bannier
As Catarina shared in her announcement, this area of Washington DC is home to almost 100 kit houses that have been authenticated using building permits and mortgage records. The interactive map not only documents the location and model of each house but includes catalog images for the specific model and images of the homes themselves. I created a similar kind of interactive storybook - on a much smaller scale - for the Sears houses located in the Oakwood Subdivision of Northville, Michigan.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Databases of Houses

Image courtesy of
Clarke Historical Library
In a recent post, I shared some of the data that I was able to extract from the national database of Sears homes. That database is the most frequently mentioned in my posts. But it's not the only database being maintained by myself and my fellow kit house researchers. There's seven databases representing the major kit house companies that sold houses nationwide as well as one regional company that sold houses across the northeast United States. While none of these others have the number of homes that can be found in the Sears database, some of them have a significant number of homes. The homes that are included in the respective databases can assist homeowners, historians and researchers authenticate and identify kit houses in their communities.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Where are the Sears Houses - November 2017 Edition

29 Lawrence Ave - Tuckahoe, NY
Sears Alhambra
Image courtesy of Zillow
With our recent appearance on NBC Nightly News and running for re-election here in Novi, it's been a busy few weeks around the Hamilton house. When the national database of Sears homes passed the 8,500 home mark, I took note of it but didn't get a chance to run the numbers. As there's a bit of friendly competition among our group of kit house researchers, I didn't want to keep them waiting too long for an update. Here is the breakdown of location of houses by state based on approximately 8,600 homes in the database. Let's take a look!

Elmhurst #20!

If you watched the NBC Nightly News segment on Sears houses that Wendy and I appeared in, you may have caught a glance of a catalog image of a stately brick and stucco Tudor-style house. If you watched closely, you would have seen that the model featured was the Sears "Elmhurst". If you are a regular reader of the blog, you know that finding and sharing examples of the Sears "Elmhurst" has been a recurring feature on the blog. Coincidentally, a Sears Elmhurst in Alexandria, Virginia was recently listed for sale.  This listing gives us a chance to see this model up close and personal. Let's take a look!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Welcome NBC Nightly News Viewers!

Sears Sherburne - Berkley, Michigan
If you landed here from watching the NBC Nightly News episode about kit houses, check out these links to learn more about what we do and about the history of kit houses.
Sears Alhambra - Milford, Massachusetts
Image courtesy of Zillow
After you visit the blog, join the Sears Modern Homes Facebook page to see many more examples of kit houses from Sears and other kit house companies. Interested in reading more? Check out the kit house blogs linked under "More about Catalog and Kit Homes" on the right hand side of the page.

Thank you for visiting!

PS - If you contact us, please be patient and we'll get back to you as soon as we can. We've received a lot of inquiries from the program and we're getting back to folks just as quick as we can. 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Thank you Howell!

This past week, Wendy and I presented on "Michigan Kit Homes" at the Howell Carnegie District Library. Even though it was a cold and wet evening outside, we had a good size crowd in attendance including a couple of people who had kit house connections to share with us. We'll be following up on those leads to see if we can turn them into kit house finds! One of the interesting aspects of the kit houses located in Howell is that Howell is home to at least 3 "generations" of Aladdin kit houses - an early Aladdin "Venus", a 1930s-era Aladdin "Lindbergh/Madison" and a 1950s-era Aladdin "Coronado". The first and last house were shared with us by fellow kit house researcher Dale Wolicki, who documented many of the kit houses located in Howell in the early 2000s. Thanks Dale!

Judith Chabot Interview

Judith Chabot, one of the members of our research group on Facebook, was recently interviewed by the Saint Louis Business Journal about her interest in kit houses and why and how she got started researching them. In addition to the print version, the Business Journal did a short video interview with Judith that you can watch below. Judith did want us to note one small correction - Bea Lask did her research in and around Cincinnati in the 1980s, not the 1970s as was stated in the video.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Welcome Wall Street Journal Readers

Sears Sherburne - Berkley, Michigan
If you landed here from the Wall Street Journal article about kit houses, check out these links to learn more about what we do and about the history of kit houses.
Sears Alhambra - Milford, Massachusetts
Image courtesy of Zillow
After you visit the blog, join the Sears Modern Homes Facebook page to see many more examples of kit houses from Sears and other kit house companies. Interested in reading more? Check out the kit house blogs linked under "More about Catalog and Kit Homes" on the right hand side of the page.

Thank you for visiting!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Kit Houses of Cleveland Park

If you live in the Washington DC area, take advantage of this opportunity on October 1, 2017 to hear fellow kit house researcher Catarina Bannier present on kit houses and visit an actual Sears catalog house! Seating is limited so don't miss out!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Where are the Sears Houses - August 2017 Edition

3 Oak St - Beacon, NY
Sears Lakecrest
Wow, that was quick! It was just over a month ago that the national database of Sears Modern Homes passed the 7,500 home mark. In less than 6 weeks, the list of homes has grown by over 500 homes, passing 8,000. As the members of our group of kit house researchers like to see how they're doing in their respective states, we are revisiting the breakdown of location of houses by state and comparing that to our previous update in June 2017. Let's take a look!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Welcome Boston Globe Readers!

Sears Martha Washington
Quincy, MA
If you landed here from the Boston Globe article about kit houses, check out these links to learn more about what we do and about the history of kit houses.
Sears Alhambra - Milford, Massachusetts
Image courtesy of Zillow
After you visit the blog, join the Sears Modern Homes Facebook page to see many more examples of kit houses from Sears and other kit house companies. Interested in reading more? Check out the kit house blogs linked under "More about Catalog and Kit Homes" on the right hand side of the page.

Thank you for visiting!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Sears Elmhurst in Niskayuna, New York

Once upon a time, I thought the Sears Elmhurst was a super rare model offered by Sears Roebuck. It made sense that we wouldn't expect to find more than a handful of them. The Elmhurst is a fairly large house, pricier because it was finished in brick veneer and only offered for a handful of years at a time when home sales were in decline, all factors that would tend to keep the number of houses built down to a small number. But in fact, we've discovered through our research that if the Elmhurst was once considered a rare model, it's a rarity no more. With almost 20 examples located to date, there's more than a handful of them out there. Still, it's an interesting looking house and always fun to find one. So I want to share with you another example of the Elmhurst that I recently came across in Niskayuna, New York.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Thank you Flint!

2002 Windermere Ave - Flint, MI - Sears Lexington
Photo courtesy of Nigel Tate
Wendy and I want to thank the attendees of our recent presentation on "Michigan Kit Houses" at the Flint Public Library. We enjoyed highlighting the history of kit houses in the Flint community and sharing examples of kit houses - like the Sears Lexington - that still exist in Flint. We know there's more research to be done in Flint and more kit houses to be found. We look forward to continuing that effort!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Sears Parkridge in Katonah, New York


6 Nightingale Rd - Katonah, NY
Sears Parkridge
Image courtesy of Zillow
"Houses by Mail" by H. Ward Jandl and Katherine H. Stevenson is the go-to book for Sears catalog house researchers. Published in 1986, it includes an image of almost every house that Sears sold through their mail order catalogs from 1908 - 1940. But due to the lack of availability of a few catalogs back in 1986, not every model made it into the book. One of the missing models is the Parkridge. Recently, while looking for Sears houses with mortgages in Westchester County, New York, I came across a very nice example of the Sears Parkridge and was able to identify it myself. Let's take a look!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Where are the Sears Houses - June 2017 Edition

19 Flower Ave - Hastings on Hudson, NY
Sears Newark
The national database of Sears Modern Homes just passed the 7,500 home mark which means it is time to revisit the breakdown of location of houses by state and compare that to our previous update in February 2017. Let's take a look!

As of this date, Sears houses have been located in 42 states, the District of Columbia and the Provinces of Alberta and Ontario, Canada.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Thank You Ann Arbor!

1754 Jackson Ave - Ann Arbor, MI - McClure #1106
Wendy and I want to thank everyone who was able to attend to attend tonight's presentation - "Kit Homes of Ann Arbor: A Historical Tour" at the Ann Arbor District Library. This was our largest audience to date for a presentation and we were pleased that so many kit house owners were able to attend. We wanted to especially thank the members of the Rickelmann family who attended and for allowing us to share your family's story of the Sears La Salle on Pauline Avenue with the Ann Arbor community.

We've posted a page that includes some of the Ann Arbor resources. We'll be adding more information on that pages soon!

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!

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 Archive.org
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 Archive.org
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!