Saturday, January 30, 2016

2015 - A Look Back on the Blog

Sears Hamilton
When 2015 started, there was no "Kit House Hunters" blog. Although several of my fellow kit house researchers had been encouraging/prodding me to start a blog for some time - usually following  comments from me like "this would make good material for a blog post" - I had kept putting it off. I think I was concerned that I wouldn't have time to keep up with it or that I might not have enough material to post regularly. I'm still not sure I don't have enough time to keep on it but I haven't lacked for material! Finally, in August 2015, I took the plunge by creating this blog and publishing my first post titled "In the Beginning" that explained how my interest in kit houses got started.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Sears Winona in Pleasant Ridge, Michigan

31 Kensington Blvd - Pleasant Ridge, Michigan - Sears Winona
Image courtesy of Bing Maps
I discovered this Sears Winona in Pleasant Ridge, Michigan through a mortgage with Sears Roebuck. It's one of the over 300 Sears houses in Oakland County that I was able to locate by researching mortgage and deed records. This Sears Winona also has the distinction of being the oldest Sears house still standing that I was able to locate using mortgage records (although not the oldest Sears house in the county). This house was financed by Earl Lamberton for $3,000 in December 1919 through a mortgage with Sears trustee Walker O. Lewis. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Sears Houses of Poets' Corner (Hartsdale), New York - Hartsdale Lawns

49 Shelley Ave - Hartsdale, NY - Sears Brookwood
Image courtesy of Google Maps
I recently blogged about a number of Sears homes that I was able to identify in the Hartsdale Manor section of the Poets' Corner area of Hartsdale, New York. The other half of the Poets' Corner area is the Hartsdale Lawns subdivision plat. Like its neighbor to the south, the streets of Hartsdale Lawns were named after prominent poets. Hartsdale Lawns is also home to a number of Sears houses including several that I've been able to match to mortgages that were financed through Sears Roebuck. Let's take a look at what I was able to find.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Sears Houses of Poets' Corner (Hartsdale), New York - Hartsdale Manor

77 Holmes Ave - Hartsdale, NY -  Sears Lynnhaven
Image courtesy of Google Maps
My recent discovery of a possible Sears Gateshead happened as I was tracking down houses with Sears mortgages in the Hartsdale area of Westchester County, New York. Hartsdale is an unincorporated part of the Town of Greenburgh that has developed its own identity in part because it has its own post office and railroad station.

Hartsdale appeared on my radar when I discovered that there were a number of houses that were financed through Sears that were built in the Hartsdale area. Most of these houses were built in an area of Hartsdale known as Poets' Corner. Poets' Corner gets its name from the naming of the local streets after prominent poets including Keats, Milton, Poe and Shaw. Poets' Corner is primarily made up of the Hartsdale Lawns and Hartsdale Manor subdivision plats. Today, we'll explore the Sears houses of Hartsdale Manor.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sears Gateshead in Hartsdale, New York

Image courtesy of Sears Archives
I like to think that I follow a particular methodology when searching for kit houses - methodically reviewing old mortgages and deeds, matching names and properties to homes and matching those houses to known models from Sears, Wardway and other kit house companies. But sometimes, you have to admit to yourself that it's just serendipity when the search leads to a model you've never seen before. Such was the case with the most recent "discovery" of a possible Sears kit house in Hartsdale, New York.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Sears Elmhurst in Pelham, New York

116 Reed - Pelham, NY - Sears Elmhurst
Image courtesy of Google Maps
In a recent post, I shared the discovery of two Sears Elmhursts in Westchester County, New York. While these were once thought of as a rarity in the world of Sears houses, there's now more than 10 Elmhursts that have been identified and most of those have been authenticated with Sears mortgages. One of these Elmhursts is located at 116 Reed Avenue in Pelham, New York. Pelham is about 2 square miles in size and lies directly north of the borough of the Bronx. Like many suburbs of New York City, Pelham's population surged in the early 20th Century and in addition to the Elmhurst, it's home to several known Sears kit houses.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Sears Mortgages of Yonkers, New York - Overview

The Official Seal of the City of Yonkers
Image courtesy of Wikipedia
After locating the two Sears Elmhursts of Westchester County, I decided to spend some time researching the mortgage records in Yonkers, New York. Yonkers is the largest city in Westchester County, the fourth largest city in the state of New York and lies immediately north of The Bronx, the northernmost borough of New York City. I've now completed my first round of review of mortgages from 1926 - 1932, which is the latest date I could find mortgages issued by Sears. To date, I've been able to identify over 30 houses that were financed through Sears. In this post, I'll review the process I used to research the mortgages for Yonkers, share a few examples of houses that I found and breakdown the totals by models.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Sears Elmhursts of Westchester County, New York

The past week, I've been blogging about the Sears Elmhurst model. In previous posts, I highlighted a few Elmhursts I was able locate and identify through mortgage records. Keeping with the theme of the week, I have a couple more Sears Elmhursts to share! Both houses have also been authenticated with mortgage records!

These Sears Elmhursts are located in Westchester County, New York. Located directly north of New York City and bordering western Connecticut, Westchester County saw its population boom during the time period when Sears kit house sales were at their peak. With all the new suburban homes built during that time period, it's no surprise that a quite a few Sears houses have been found in Westchester County. I don't know if these particular Elmhursts were model houses like the Elmhurst in Cincinnati. But with some more research, I hope to find out! I'm planning on doing a separate blog on each house but here's a quick preview so you can see what I found.

134 Park Dr - Eastchester, NY
Sears Elmhurst
Image courtesy of Google Maps

116 Reed - Pelham, NY
Sears Elmhurst
Image courtesy of Google Maps

Update - I've found another Elmhurst in Hastings-on-Hudson.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Sears Elmhursts - A List

Catalog image of Sears Elmhurst (1930)
Image courtesy of Judith Chabot
In the past month, I've had the good fortune to locate three Sears Elmhursts. As I noted in my post about the Sears Elmhurst in Washington DC, the Elmhurst was considered a rare Sears model because so few had been found. But that's less true today than it was a couple of years ago. To date, nine 24 Elmhursts have been located. While that is still a small number, it's still more examples than have been found of other well-known Sears models like the Honor (9 17) or the Ivanhoe (8 14). As we know from a recent post by kit house researcher Cindy Catanzaro, the Elmhurst model was built as a "model" home in the Cincinnati area. Based on contemporaneous news articles, it's likely that the Elmhurst was built as a model house in other cities as well.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Sears Elmhursts in Cincinnati, Ohio

As I alluded to in my post about the Sears Elmhurst in Washington, DC, I recently found a couple more Sears Elmhursts through newspaper articles and mortgage records. Kit house researcher extraordinaire Cindy Catanzaro has the rest of the story in her latest post about not one but two authenticated Sears Elmhursts located in the Cincinnati, Ohio area. Cindy's post includes some great current photos of the homes and the history of the houses and the families that lived there. It's definitely worth your time to read it!

Catalog image of Sears Elmhurst (1932)
Image courtesy of

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Sears Elmhurst in Washington DC

Catalog image of Sears Elmhurst (1930)
Image courtesy of Judith Chabot
One of the highlights of the exploration of Sears mortgages in Washington DC was the discovery of a Sears Elmhurst! Finding an Elmhurst in Washington DC was pretty exciting because the Elmhurst is considered a rarity in the world of Sears houses. A couple of years ago, less than a handful of Elmhurst models had been identified. But the Elmhurst may not be as rare as previously thought. In recent weeks, I've been fortunate enough to be able authenticate a couple previously unknown Elmhursts and known one through mortgage records. The number of known Elmhursts is approaching double digits. While researching kit houses in the Detroit area, I came across some new information that indicates that Sears had plans to build the Elmhurst in a number of cities as a model house, a topic I'll cover in more detail in a future blog. It's possible that there's many more Sears Elmhursts still to be discovered!