Sunday, November 22, 2015

Custom Wardway House in Ann Arbor, Michigan

One of the great things about working with fellow kit house researchers are the discoveries that come about through the collaborative effort of the group. Such was the case with a recent find in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I first came across this house in November 2014 after discovering a mortgage from Wardway (Montgomery Ward) for this house in the records of the Washtenaw Abstract Company.

Custom Wardway - 3061 Dexter - Ann Arbor, Michigan (1999)
Image courtesy of the City of Ann Arbor, Michigan

Monday, November 16, 2015

Where are the Sears houses located in Oakland County?

Map of Oakland County Municipalities
Image courtesy of Oakland County
One of the questions we most frequently get asked about kit houses in Oakland County is "where are the kit houses located?" Our answer - "Just about everywhere!" While we haven't identified kit houses in every one of the county's 61 communities, you will find kit houses in all parts of the county, from the densely developed southeastern corner to the more rural northern and western portions of Oakland County. In reviewing the over 300 identified Sears houses with mortgages discussed in the "The Sears Mortgages of Oakland County", we found Sears kit houses in 28 different cities, villages and townships. But you might be surprised by which communities have the most Sears kit houses.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Sears Mortgages of Oakland County, Michigan

One of the more time-intensive methods of researching Sears kit houses is by searching through mortgage records. Depending on where you are doing the research, it can take quite a bit of work to look through these records and related property records to find homes that were financed through Sears Roebuck. But when they are found, these mortgages help to authenticate possible Sears houses or lead us to houses that had not previously been identified.

Advertisement for financing a Sears kit house (1928)
Image courtesy of Detroit Free Press

Monday, November 9, 2015

When did Sears first start offering houses with pre-cut lumber?

One of the commonly quoted dates about Sears houses is that Sears first started offering homes with pre-cut lumber in 1916. Kit house researcher Rebecca Hunter was quoted in this article from 2006 outlining the timeline of when this first happened:
"Hunter said Sears didn't start marketing precut homes or "kits" until 1916. From 1908 to 1915, they provided plans and materials, but nothing was cut to size. So early Sears mail-order homes carry no part numbers on the materials." 
Researchers generally point to the 1916 Sears Modern Homes catalog as the first advertisement for houses with pre-cut lumber.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Thank you Kalamazoo!

Sears Crescent - Kalamazoo, Michigan
We wanted to send our thanks to everyone who attended this evening's presentation at the Kalamazoo Public Library. A special thanks goes to the ever gracious Beth Timmerman, ‎Local History Specialist at the Library, for having us over to present. We especially enjoyed having kit house owners in attendance and we now have a few more addresses to add to our list for Kalamazoo. We heard a lot of good questions and we appreciated everyone sticking around to the end! If you have more questions or leads on kit houses, please drop us a line!

Andrew and Wendy