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.

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know that I've been spending some time researching kit house mortgages in some of the communities of Westchester County, New York. In the process of matching mortgages to houses in neighborhoods, I've come across other potential kit houses as I drive the streets of Westchester County using Google Streetview. Driving around one neighborhood recently, I spotted this house and stopped to check it out. It looked vaguely familiar, like a Wardway model I had seen a few examples over the past few months, the Wardway Fairfax. I shared my find with my fellow kit house researchers, asking if anyone recognized it.

Image courtesy of Google Streetview
One of my fellow kit house researchers gently pointed out that this house didn't match this house, which is a Wardway Fairfax.

312 School Street - Tonawanda, NY - 1932 Wardway Fairfax
Image courtesy of Sarah Mullane
Oops! I guess my memory wasn't so good! Clearly, the house I found wasn't a Wardway Fairfax. We had a good laugh at the not-matching houses and moved on. I had more mortgages to track down and I knew there were more kit houses to be found in the area.

Fast forward a few days and one of my fellow kit house researchers Judith Chabot who blogs over at Sears House Seeker told me to check out page 223 of "Houses By Mail". For those not familiar with "Houses By Mail", it's considered the definitive field guide for Sears houses. It's not 100% complete and it has a few errors and omissions but for a document put together 30 years ago, it still holds up very well. On page 223, there's an image of the Sears Gateshead. Judith share an image of the Gateshead from Antique Home.

Catalog image of Sears Gateshead (1935)
Image courtesy of Antique Home

Well now! That does look like it could be a match! This was an exciting find because it would be the first Gateshead on our master list of identified Sears houses in the United States. But before we could add it to the list, we needed to review the house from various angles to see whether it was a match for the Gateshead.

Let's review the front again.

14 South Longfellow - Hartsdale, New York - Sears Gateshead
Image courtesy of Google Streetview
From this angle, all of the key elements appear to match up - the chimney placement, the small dormer, the location and design of the front door, the stucco and half timber finish on the second floor and the main windows - 2 upstairs and 3 downstairs. On the left hand side of the house, you can see that the open porch has been enclosed. The design of the decorative timbers include an arched design that doesn't appear in the catalog image but is common among houses designed along Tudor Revival lines including several Sears models.

Image of Sears Colchester (1929)
Image courtesy of Antique Home

14 South Longfellow - Hartsdale, New York - Sears Gateshead
Image courtesy of Google Streetview
Looking at the house from the left hand side, we can see how the front vestibule design matches the design in the catalog. Also, in addition to the enclosed porch, we can see the windows on the left hand side of the house. They match the window location as seen in the catalog for both the second floor and the attic. So far, so good!

14 South Longfellow - Hartsdale, New York - Sears GatesheadImage courtesy of Google Streetview
For the right hand side of the house, we don't have a catalog view of the house. But we can compare the elements on the left hand side of the house to the floor plan for the house as it appeared in the catalog.

From what we can see from the floor plan, we can see a door on the first floor with a window at the first floor stairway landing and in the kitchen at the back of the house - these all appear to match what we can see in this view. On the second floor, we have a single window at the top of the stairs to the second floor. This window is set back slightly from the doorway on the first floor - again, another match. We can also see in the floor plan that there's a bedroom and bathroom along the back of the house. On the second floor, we see that roof alignment would create full height rooms along the back of the house. From what we can see, everything matches.

Image of Sears Gateshead (1935)
Image courtesy of Sears Archives
The Gateshead was offered by Sears through their Modern Homes catalog from 1933 - 1935. During this time period, Sears sold relatively few homes. In the depths of the Great Depression, Sears even closed their Modern Homes department for a time in 1934. That means that there's probably very few Gateshead models that were built. Is this a Sears Gateshead? Perhaps! But further research is needed before we can authenticate it as a Gateshead. Hopefully, we'll find more information that confirms that this is a Sears Gateshead.

Update on February 20, 2021: I was finally able to authenticate this house! The first owner had a mortgage from F. C. Schaub in November 1933. Schaub's name appeared on mortgages from this time period. 


  1. It is, l'm positive!
    Heh heh, no, like you, I wouldn't be so foolhardy as to ever declare a house with no documentation, as a sure thing. But, it is fun thinking that we most probably have one here, and it's thanks to you. I hope we can match it up to a mortgage.

  2. Another great find! I'm with you. I'll bet there are more. There's probably one in Cincinnati. :)