Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Why You Should Be Authenticating Sears Roebuck Houses with Mortgages and Deeds

Regular readers know that I've spent a lot of time locating, documenting and authenticating houses from Sears Roebuck (and McClure and Montgomery Ward) using mortgages and deeds. To date, I've documented over 4,000 Sears Roebuck homes for the National Database of Sears Homes and a significant percentage of those were located by researching mortgage records. It's a method frequently used by myself and my fellow contributors to the National Database of Sears Homes and it's a big reason why we've been able to locate and authenticate so many homes. Because it's such an important part of the work that I do, I want to explain why I consider it the gold standard for authenticating houses from Sears Roebuck. 

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Washington DC Area Sears Houses by the Numbers

One of the most researched areas of the country for Sears houses is in and around Washington DC. That research took another big step forward this week with the completion of a comprehensive survey of Sears Roebuck mortgages in the City of Alexandria and adjacent Arlington County, Virginia. My fellow kit house researcher Judith Chabot spent about 3 months researching over 200 mortgages from Sears Roebuck (and a couple dozen from other kit house companies). That work fills in a big gap in our knowledge of how many Sears houses were sold in the Washington DC region. Although not every Sears house was financed through Sears Roebuck, where we've been able to do comprehensive surveys, like Arlington County and Washington DC, we've found that they represent a significant number of the Sears houses built. With Judith's work completed, I wanted to share some numbers. Let's take a look! 

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Sears Houses of Northern Kentucky

The state of Kentucky probably isn't on most people's radar as a hotbed of Sears houses. In the ranking of states with the most Sears houses, Kentucky sits at #11 with over 250 houses. It's a respectable number but pales in comparison to neighboring states like Indiana, with over 700, and the number one state in the country, Ohio, with over 3,000 documented Sears houses. 


But in one part of Kentucky, you can find Sears houses in just about every town. In fact, over 80% of the Sears houses documented in Kentucky can be found in just 3 counties - Boone, Campbell and Kenton. In cities like Covington, Dayton, and Florence, you'll find examples of Sears houses of all sizes over the range of years that Sears sold homes. What makes that part of Kentucky the home to that many Sears houses? It's all in the geography. Let's take a look! 

Friday, February 4, 2022

Making Lists - January 2022

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 in 2016, the database grew out of the need to have a centralized listing of Sears houses. Started nine years ago in January 2013, the Sears database has grown to over 14,000 documented homes with over 40 percent of those authenticated through various methods. 

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. We now have databases for 9 regional and national kit house companies. Let's take a look!

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Solving the Mystery of the Sears Houses of Southbridge, Massachusetts?

A number of years ago, I came across a 1939 newspaper article with a reference to a new 200 home Sears development in Southbridge, Massachusetts. 200 homes! Wow! At the time, I hadn't learned to be skeptical of such reports. But after doing some searching online, I didn't have any luck finding any information about this development. A quick look on Zillow and some searching around town didn't turn up anything that looked like Sears houses circa 1939. The article had implied that the homes were one of Sears new "Home Club" developments but like a couple of the other "Home Club" developments, I couldn't find any other information about it. 

Fast forward to this past fall and while searching Zillow for Sears houses, I came across a possible 1930s era Sears house in Southbridge. As I like to do when I find one Sears house, I started looking around the neighborhood and to my surprise, within a block of this house, I found another half dozen Sears houses from the same era including a couple rare examples. Was this the missing 200 home Sears development that had been mentioned in that newspaper article way back when? Let take a look!