Thursday, November 15, 2018

Where are the Sears Houses - November 2018 Edition

2237 S 71st St - West Allis, WI
Sears Walton
Image courtesy of Trulia.com
It has been about five months since the last update of "Where are the Sears Houses?" In that time, the national database of Sears houses grew to over 10,500 houses, which means it's time for another update of "Where are the Sears Houses?" Here is the breakdown of the location of houses by state based on approximately 10,500 homes in the database. Let's take a look!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Welcome Detroit Free Press Readers

Sears Sherburne - Berkley, Michigan
If you landed here from the Detroit Free Press article about kit houses, check out these links to learn more about what we do and about the history of kit houses.


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 article and we're getting back to folks just as quick as we can. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Thank you Petoskey!

This past week, Wendy and I journeyed up to the northern tip of Michigan's Lower Peninsula to present about "Michigan Kit Houses" as part of the "Friends @ the Carnegie" speaker series in Petoskey, Michigan. Hosted by the Petoskey District Library and sponsored by the Friends of the Library, the presentation took place in the historic Carnegie library that sits across the street from the current library building. 

Historic Carnegie library building in downtown Petoskey
Not only did the original Carnegie library provide a nice venue for the evening's attendees, it was outfitted with the largest screen we've ever stood in front of for a presentation!

Andrew and the Giant Screen!
We had a wonderful time talking about the history of kit houses, sharing the process of buying and building a kit house and  showing examples of kit houses in Petoskey, nearby cities and from across the state and the country including a wonderful example of a Sears house in downtown Petoskey. Everyone we met at the presentation was very gracious and we even had a couple of invitations to tour homes that we took advantage of the next day. If you ever get a chance to travel to northern Lower Michigan, you must find the time to visit Petoskey. We guarantee that you'll find it well worth the trip! 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Where are the Sears Houses - June 2018 Edition

41 Palmer St - Stamford, CT
Sears Hathaway
Image courtesy of Zillow
It has been about three months since the last update of "Where are the Sears Houses?"  In that time, the national database of Sears houses eclipsed the 10,000 house mark, which 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 10,000 homes in the database. Let's take a look!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

10,000 Sears Houses!

Our virtual group of kit house researchers was popping virtual champagne bottles this week when it was announced that that 10,000th Sears house (a Sears Conway) had been added to the national database of Sears homes. As excited as we were about reaching this milestone, I have to admit that I'm still in a bit of shock at passing it. When I first mentioned the national database of homes two and a half years ago after the addition of the 3,000th house, I couldn't have imagined that we would reach the 10,000th home so quickly - or at all! It had taken 3 years to reach 3,000 homes. A big chunk of that total was thanks to the list of homes that Bea Lask had compiled in and around Cincinnati, Ohio. At the rate that we were adding homes at that time, if you had asked me, I probably would have guessed that it would take another 7 years to reach 10,000, and that assumes that we would even be able to find that many houses.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Hampton Manor, New York - An Introduction

Sears Priscilla
Image courtesy of Google Maps
I recently saw a Facebook post showing the blueprints for the Sears Stuyvesant that was built in Hampton Manor, New York. From the comments, I realized that outside of our kit house research group, most folks in the Sears house research community apparently are not familiar with Hampton Manor or the large number of kit houses, mostly from Sears, that were built there over a 15 year period. The models range from the modest, like the Sears Kismet, to large Dutch Colonial models like the Priscilla and Rembrandt. You'll also find numerous examples of some of the most popular models from Sears including the Crafton, the Hampton, the Vallonia and the Winona. You also see several examples of one-of-a-kind designs like the Stuyvesant and the Sears "Apartment Bungalow". To keep things interesting, you can also find a couple of houses from Wardway! To assist those doing research on the houses in Hampton Manor, I've put together a list of homes that have been identified to date.

Image courtesy of FultonHistory.com
The Veeder Realty company that developed Hampton Manor in several phases and built Sears houses in each phase was also responsible for several other developments around Albany and Schenectady, New York where you can find more examples of Sears houses. I'll share some of those finds in future posts!


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Sears Most Popular - April 2018 Edition

Every few months when the national database of Sears houses passes a major milestone, I do an update of how many Sears houses have been located in various states and provinces. The most recent update was in March of this year. As the national database closes in on 10,000 homes, I thought it would be interesting to share some additional information that is available from the database. One of the data sets that is of interest to our kit house researchers is the relative popularity of models of homes in the database. While we can't say definitively that the popularity in the database is an exact match with the popularity of the homes sold by Sears, it's likely that it's a close match.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Sears Hamilton in Ypsilanti, Michigan

As owners of a Sears "Hamilton" kit house, we are always interested in seeing other examples of this model. The very first Sears Roebuck house we went hunting for was another "Hamilton" so we could compare our house against one just like it. Fortunately for us, there are a fair number of examples of the "Hamilton" in some of the communities near us. One of those "Hamiltons" is currently for sale. It's a very nice example of the model finished in brick and the real estate photos give us a chance to check out the interior and exterior of the house. Let's take a look!

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Where are the Sears Houses - March 2018 Edition

123 Lampeter Rd - Lancaster, PA
Sears Somers
Image courtesy of Zillow
It's been just over three months since the last update of "Where are the Sears Houses?" While many of us experienced an extended winter this year, that didn't keep our intrepid band of Sears kit house researchers from finding houses. The winter weather provided a good excuse to hunker down and do a deep dive into resources like mortgages records to find more - and in some cases, rare! - examples of Sears houses. Recently, the national database of Sears houses passed the 9,500 house mark which 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 9,500 homes in the database. Let's take a look!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Washington DC - Sears Houses Over The Years

Two years ago, I wrote about the "The Great Sears Paper Trail", the idea that even though the original sales records from Sears Roebuck no longer exist, across the country, there is a trail of documents in the form of building permits, deeds, mortgages, newspaper articles and other recorded documents that allow us to find and authenticate Sears houses. Nowhere is the trail of document as robust or as accessible as in Washington DC. As I've shared in previous posts, online databases of mortgages and deeds, building permits as well as articles from digitized newspapers have allowed us to locate and/or authenticate hundreds of kit houses from Sears as well as other kit house manufacturers. This wealth of information has not only helped us to find Sears houses, it has assisted us in learning more about how the Sears Roebuck Modern Homes program operated in the Washington DC area. As we've assembled the data that is associated with these homes, it gives us the opportunity to share more about what we've learned.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

McClure #3060 in Cheverly, Maryland

Image courtesy of the
Bentley Historical Library
 
The McClure Company was a manufacturer of kit houses based in Saginaw, Michigan. While McClure only sold homes for a handful of years, I've been able to locate examples of McClure homes in several states. As I shared in a previous post, I learned of the McClure Company from research that had been done in Cheverly, Maryland. There are at least five examples of houses from McClure located in Cheverly. Today, I want to share one of the houses located in Cheverly, as it's a very nice example of the McClure #3060 model. To date, I'm not aware of any other examples of this model from McClure. But I'm hoping that by highlighting it, more examples of this house may come to light.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

McClure #3063 in Ypsilanti Township, Michigan

Image courtesy of the
Bentley Historical Library
 
If you have done any amount of research into kit houses, you're probably familiar with the big names in the kit house business - the three Chicago-based companies: Sears, Wardway (Montgomery Ward) and Harris Brothers and the three Bay City, Michigan companies: Aladdin, Lewis and Sterling and Davenport, Iowa based Gordon-Van Tine.  But there were a number of smaller, regional players in the kit house business too including companies like Bennett Homes out of North Tonawanda, New York and the McClure Company of Saginaw, Michigan. Most people have never heard of these smaller companies. But examples of homes from these companies can be found in communities across the country. While there's a fair amount of information about Bennett Homes available online, there's very little documented about the McClure company. To help fill that gap, I'm going to do a series of posts sharing examples of authenticated houses from McClure to help you identify examples in your hometown! Let's take a look!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Hyattsville, Maryland

I recently came across a nicely written article on the history of Sears homes by the Hyattsville Preservation Association of Hyattsville, Maryland. In that article it was noted that "Half a dozen or more of them [Sears houses] exist today in Hyattsville." Or more is right! I had a chance to see a lot of the Sears houses that still stand in Hyattsville while doing mortgage research in Prince George's County and have since supplemented that work with quite a bit of Google driving around the streets of Hyattsville and help from fellow kit house researchers. A number of the Sears houses that are located in Hyattsville have been previously documented. But I wasn't able to find a single source that listed all the houses in Hyattsville that are included on the national database of Sears houses. So I've put together a list of known Sears houses in Hyattsville for homeowners, residents and local groups like the Hyattsville Preservation Association to use for reference. Hyattsville, Maryland has some nice examples of Sears kit houses. Let's take a look!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Revisiting the History of the Final Years of Sears Roebuck's Modern Homes Program


If you've done any reading on the history of Sears Roebuck's Modern Homes program, one of the common "facts" that you'll encounter is that the Modern Homes program ended with the issuance of the last "Modern Homes" catalog in 1940. I read this version of events so many times in books by authors who knew far more than I did about the Modern Homes program that I simply accepted it as fact. At the time, those statements made sense to me. The absence of any catalogs after 1940 must have been a sign that Sears had closed up shop on the Modern Homes program, a victim of slow sales and the hangover of the financial losses incurred from defaulted mortgages during the Great Depression. But over time, as I continued to research the Modern Homes program and followed the research of my fellow kit house bloggers, I came to realize that this ending to the story simply wasn't right. The information from a wide range of contemporary sources told a very different story about the last years of the Modern Homes program.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

ID this House! Sears Ellsworth

Recently while searching for kit houses in Lake Station, Indiana, I was pleasantly surprised to find two houses that match the Sears Ellsworth model. While these aren't the first examples of the Ellsworth that I've located, it was unusual to find two in short order. There are less than 10 examples of the Ellsworth on the National Database of Sears Homes. Yet the Ellsworth was offered by Sears in the Modern Homes catalog for almost 10 years. That long run in the catalog makes me think that there are a lot more examples of the Ellsworth still waiting to be found. Fortunately, once you know what to look for, the Ellsworth is a fairly easy house to spot "in the wild". Let's learn to ID this house!

Friday, January 12, 2018

ID this House! Sears Brookwood

Catalog images of Sears Brookwood
Images courtesy of Archive.org
The very first kit house that I identified by myself was a Sears Brookwood in Ann Arbor, Michigan. While the Brookwood was only sold for a few years, several dozen are listed on the national database of Sears homes, including a number of authenticated examples. One of the challenges of identifying the Brookwood is that it looks very similar to the larger and more popular Sears Barrington. But there are differences between the two models that can assist you in differentiating between the two models. Once you've learned the differences, you may find your own examples of the Sears Brookwood. Let's learn to ID this house!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Custom Sears House in Tonawanda, New York

Sears Modern Homes catalog (1932)
Image courtesy of Archive.org
One of the more interesting but lesser known aspects of the Sears Modern Homes program are the custom homes that were ordered from Sears Roebuck. For a few short years, Sears made a concerted effort to encourage homebuyers to come to Sears with ideas for a custom designed home or even bring their own plans that Sears would provide the materials to construct. Because these houses often were not based on house plans found in the catalog, absent some documentation like a mortgage record, they can be difficult to identify these homes "in the wild". Fortunately, I found an example of a custom Sears house that has both a mortgage and can be found in the Sears Modern Homes catalog. Let's take a look!

Monday, January 1, 2018

More Sears Houses in Massapequa Park


Image courtesy of Newsday
(Brittany Wait)
While researching the history of the Sears houses built north of the Long Island Railroad in Massapequa Park, I was pretty sure that all of the possible Sears houses in that portion of the village had been identified. Searching Zillow gives us a pretty good idea of where houses from that era are located. Also, several of us had gone through that portion of the Village pretty thoroughly using Google Streetview looking for those "100 Sears houses". But in the course of researching "Hollywood Gardens", I found a couple of references to locations for Sears houses that were not on our list of homes. I also realized at least one known Sears house had not made it to my list of homes that has been shared. To fully document all the Sears houses in Massapequa Park, I want to make sure these are included. Let's take a look!