Saturday, September 18, 2021

Sears Modern Homes - 1941

We know that contrary to a common myth about Sears homes that Sears Roebuck was still actively selling their "Modern Homes" in 1941. I've shared some of the different ways that Sears was selling homes - individual homes, small scale developments and the large "Home Club" developments. I've also noted that the models that were being sold varied depending on location. But where was Sears selling homes during this time period? To help answer that question, I've put together a list of locations where Sears was actively reported selling homes. This information comes primarily come from digitized newspaper articles and advertisements from 1941. Let's take a look! 

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Where are the Sears Houses - September 2021 Edition

Sears Langston - Watervliet. New York
Image courtesy of Zillow
It's been almost a year since I did the last "Where the are the Sears Houses" update. But that's less a reflection on the pace of progress in finding Sears houses and more a reflection on your intrepid reporter being lax in posting an update. We actually reached the 13,500 house mark back in May, which means it took about 7 months to find 500 houses. Since May, we've made good progress towards 14,000! All that said, it's time to post another update of "Where are the Sears Houses?" 

Here is the breakdown of location of houses by state based on approximately 13,500 homes in the database. Let's take a look! 

Saturday, September 4, 2021

East Versus West

As I was exploring the topic of how many Sears homes were built between 1940 - 1942, my research took me from the East Coast to the Midwest as I read newspaper ads and articles from a number of cities. As these led to me examples of homes that were built during this time period, it became evident that there was a significant difference in the kinds of homes that Sears Roebuck was marketing and selling depending on where one lived in the country. It was as if there were two distinct versions of the "Modern Homes" program in operation during those years. 

On the East Coast, Sears had embarked on a bold new initiative to move away from just selling homes to individuals to playing the role of developer, selling entire neighborhoods of homes built from plans and materials from Sears. In the Midwest, sales of Sears homes continued to follow the tried-and-true pattern of individual home sales. But it wasn't just the method of selling homes that differed. Depending on where you lived, the home models that Sears was promoting varied too! There was very much a split between what was being sold and marketed on the East Coast versus the Midwest. Let's take a look!

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

The Wardway Houses in Poets' Corner (Hartsdale), New York

Cover of Wardway Homes catalog (1930)
In my most recent post about the Sears houses located in the Poets' Corner section of Hartsdale, New York, I noted that based on the USGS maps available from the 1930s, many of the houses that were shown in this section of Hartsdale were homes purchased from Sears Roebuck. Using the USGS maps, I decided to look at the other houses built in Hartsdale Lawns and Hartsdale Manor that were not among the list of 18 known or possible Sears houses. As I used Google Streetview to "drive" around the area, I came across two houses that I recognized. But these houses did not have designs from Sears. Instead, they were designs I recognized as being from one of Sears biggest competitors in the mail order business - Montgomery Ward! Montgomery Ward sold kit houses under the "Wardway" brand name. It's not uncommon to find Wardway houses in close proximity to Sears houses and so I wasn't surprised to see these Wardway houses. I was just surprised that it took me this long to recognize them. Let's take a closer look!

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

A Return to Poets' Corner (Hartsdale), New York

14 Longfellow St - Hartsdale, New York
Sears Gateshead
Five years ago, I wrote a few posts about the collection of Sears Roebuck kit houses in the Poets' Corner section of Hartsdale, New York. Between 1928 and 1933, at least 17 Sears houses were built in the Hartsdale Lawns and Hartsdale Manor subdivision plats where the streets are named after famous poets. At the time, I was able to document most of the Sears houses located in that area. However, in the intervening years, I've managed to locate and/or authenticate a few additional houses that didn't make it into the original posts about Hartsdale Lawns and Hartsdale Manor. Additionally, I've spotted a couple more houses that might be Sears (or might not) that I'll point out in case more information comes to light about those homes. Let's take (another) look!