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!