Saturday, December 19, 2015

Sears Twins - The Delmar and the Wayne

Catalog image of Sears Delmar (1924)
Image courtesy of Judith Chabot
Fellow kit house researcher Cindy Catanzaro recently asked me to assist her in reviewing Sears deeds in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, where Cleveland and its suburbs are located . As I traced deed records back to actual Sears houses, I was fortunate enough to spot what I thought was a model that I don't see very often - the Delmar. In its design, the Delmar isn't that unusual. It looks very similar in design to a lot of two story homes from the 1920s. But it doesn't look like a lot of the Sears houses from the 1920s. You won't find any of the distinctive eaves brackets or detailed columns that other Sears houses sport. According to the Sears Modern Homes catalog, the Delmar was "one of our more popular designs". That's clearly a bit of marketing fluff when you consider that the Delmar was only offered in the 1924 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

I have in my head that the Delmar is a rare Sears house and it is, as it was only offered for one year. Its rarity is one challenge in finding the Delmar. Its relatively plain design is another. It easily blends in with all of the other two story homes of the era that blur the line between bungalow and farmhouse style. But once you have a Delmar in front of you, it's fairly easy to identify - at least that's what I thought.

Catalog image of Sears Wayne (1928)
While flipping through "Houses by Mail" to confirm my identification of the Delmar, I spotted its twin, the Wayne!  I had forgotten that the Delmar has an almost identical twin in the Wayne, a model that was offered from 1925 through 1931 ("Houses by Mail" incorrectly lists 1929 as the last year the Wayne was offered).

While "Houses by Mail" lists them separately without a reference to the "twin", it's pretty clear that the Wayne is an almost identical match to the Delmar. Between the Sears marketing and design teams, it appears that the Delmar got an overhaul between the 1924 and 1925 catalogs to emerge as the Wayne.

Where the Delmar had a stairway off the back of the living room to the second floor, that staircase was shifted to the front of the living room in the Wayne. If you were able to get inside one of these houses, this would be the quickest way to differentiate the two. This change in the staircase location created a much simplified design around the side entrance and allowed for a staircase to the second story that didn't include any turns, a helpful detail when moving furniture. It also allowed for a larger kitchen, a selling point even back in the 1920s. Upstairs, the bedrooms were rearranged, eliminating large walk-in closets in favor of smaller closets. Sears apparently didn't anticipate the future demand for large closets!

Sears Delmar - First Floor Plan (1924)
Image courtesy of Judith Chabot
Sears Wayne - First Floor Floorplan (1928)
On the outside of the house, the view of the front of the house won't show any differences. The two models look the same, all the way down to the few distinctive elements like the column designs on the front porch and the half moon vent at the top of the second-story gable. You have to look around to the sides of the house to see the minor differences in window placement that came with the change in the design of the interior. If you can't get inside the house, you'll need to rely on these side views to tell whether the house is a Delmar or a Wayne. After closer inspection, the house that I first thought was a Delmar turned out to be a Wayne. Next time, I'll remember that the next time I spot what I think what might be a Delmar that it has a twin in the Wayne!

Sears Wayne - 6909 Plainfield, Cleveland, Ohio (2014)
Image courtesy of Google Maps


  1. Very interesting:) I wonder about these re-designs... About what prompted them to do them. Like the GVT 535/536 and its three floor plan changes over the years... What would have driven them to tweak the designs?

    Glad that my new '24 was of use :)

    1. They probably got a certain amount of customer feedback in terms of requests to change plans and from the sales office salesman. Also, I think some changes were probably done to simplify construction costs for Sears and for customers.