Friday, September 30, 2022

Sears Vallonia in Westfield Center, Ohio

This week's example of the Sears Roebuck "Vallonia", located in Westfield Center, Ohio, shows off one of the details you may see if the house still retains its original look. In the middle of the piece of trim that runs across the top of the front of the porch is what I call a "keystone". It kind of resembles the keystone in an arch, although it doesn't serve the same structural purpose. In the case of the "Vallonia", I believe it's both decorative and functional, providing support at a location where two trim boards meet. 

You can see the "keystone" better in this close-up of that portion of the porch below the front dormer. 

That detail is an original part of the "Vallonia" model as you can see from the catalog image. 

From this view from inside the porch, you can see how that piece functions. 

Although it's a small detail, spotting that on the front of a house that looks like the "Vallonia" can help you in confirming that you've found one. Here's one last view of the "Vallonia" in Westfield Center, Ohio. 

Watch for another example of the "Vallonia" coming soon! 

The Century Club - Communities with 100 Sears Homes (or more!)

As the national database of Sears homes has grown past 15,000 homes, I wanted to share a list of communities where we've identified 100 or more Sears houses, a group I've dubbed "The Century Club". The members of this club are part of a rarified group. Of the 2,600 plus named places where Sears houses have been identified, as of September 2022, only 17 of them can claim to be home to 100 or more Sears homes. As the national database continues to grow, I hope to see new members inducted into the club! Which communities made the cut? Let's take a look! 

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Aladdin Colonial in Maysville, Kentucky

As regular readers know, I search Zillow almost every day looking for potential kit houses. One of the searches that I do is looking for houses that have "Sears" in the description. As I've shared, this isn't a very reliable method for identifying houses from Sears Roebuck. I would say that more than half the houses that claim to be from Sears are definitely not from Sears and are likely not kit houses at all. Of the rest, most of them actually are from Sears. But a small percentage of those are models from other kit house companies that are erroneously listed as being from Sears. Such is the case with this lovely example of a "Colonial" from the Aladdin Company of Bay City, Michigan. Let's take a look!

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Testimonial House: Sears No. 306 in Griswold, Iowa

Recently, the group of kit house researchers I work with has been using Rebecca Hunter's "Putting Sears Homes on the Map" book as a reference to locate testimonial houses. Most of the locations listed in the book are for houses that were referenced in the "Modern Homes" catalog either tied to a specific owner or location in the United States. But some of testimonials listed by Rebecca come from a book that Sears put out around 1912 called "Successful Building". This book was filled with customer testimonials including photos of the houses that they built. While many of those testimonials also appeared elsewhere, some of them, as far as I know, didn't appear anywhere else in Sears advertising, either in the "Modern Homes" catalog or the General Merchandise catalog. I recently had the good fortune of tracking down one of those houses in Griswold, Iowa. Let's take a look!

Sears Vallonia in Scotia, New York

Staying in Scotia, New York, where I recently featured a Sears "Ardara", this week's example of the Sears Roebuck "Vallonia" is a good example of how you can still identify a "Vallonia" even if it doesn't retain all its original details. 

As you can see, this "Vallonia" had its front porch enclosed, hiding the original columns (if they are still there) and it has been given a modern treatment of "stone" bases where the original porch column bases were located. But even though the trim has been replaced with what appears to be aluminum siding and the purlins on the front dormer have been similarly wrapped, we can still see the original lines of the "Vallonia". 

On the left side of the house, we can see two distinct features of the "Vallonia" that help us differentiate it from the very similar looking Sears "Sheridan" and look-a-like houses. First,we can count the 7 purlins that, while wrapped, still extend from the side of the house, supporting the overhanging roof. To be honest, I don't know if the purlins on the "Vallonia" are structural or decorative. But we're always looking for 7. 

On the dining room dormer that bumps out from the side of the house, we want to see 2 single windows separated from each other. If you see 2 windows together on a house that looks a lot like a "Vallonia", it's probably a Sears "Sheridan". 

Even the back of the house can provide us clues about whether a house is a "Vallonia" or not. That tall  chimney for the furnace that's located in the middle of the roof? That's the correct location to find it on the "Vallonia". See you next week with another example of the "Vallonia"!