Saturday, March 12, 2016

Sears Alhambras of Westchester County, New York

Catalog image of Sears Alhambra (1925)
Image courtesy of
The Sears Alhambra is one of the more interesting kit house models that Sears offered. First offered in the 1918 catalog, the Alhambra was Sears attempt to capture the flavor of the Mission Revival style architecture that enjoyed some popularity around the turn of the century. While the basic form of the Alhambra was the traditional foursquare house, the addition of Mission-style parapets to the dormers and porch paired with a stucco finish gave the house a much different flavor than most of the more traditional architectural styles offered by Sears.

Even though the Mission Revival style had started to fade in popularity by the time Sears started offering the Alhambra, the distinct design was a favorite among those who purchased Sears kit house owners. Examples of the Alhambra have been found in numerous states and it's one of the most common models on the national list of Sears houses.The popularity of the design explains why Sears continued to sell the house through 1931 when a number of models including the Alhambra were phased out in favor of newer models that reflected the architectural styles that had become popular in the 1930s.

As I've been researching Sears mortgages in Westchester County, New York, I've come across a couple of Sears Alhambras. This Alhambra in Yonkers was built in 1927.

80 St Johns Ave - Yonkers, NY - Sears Alhambra
Image courtesy of the Bing Maps
As you can see from these photos, the Alhambra could be ordered with different exterior finishes. While Sears promoted finishing the house in stucco, customers could choose a more traditional wood siding finish like this Alhambra in Mount Vernon, New York.

1 Hillcrest - Mount Vernon, NY - Sears Alhambra
Image courtesy of Google Maps
1 Hillcrest - Mount Vernon, NY - Sears Alhambra
Image courtesy of Google Maps
In later years, the Modern Homes catalog even included examples of the Alhambra finished with face brick like this example from the 1931 catalog.

Sears Alhambra - Sears Modern Homes Catalog (1931)
The Alhambra's distinct design helps account for why so many have been identified. Unlike some of its contemporaries in the world of Sears kit house models, the Alhambra rarely gets lost amid the sea of Arts and Crafts or Dutch Colonial Revival homes that often make up the streets lined with homes from the early 1900s. Once you've seen a couple of Alhambras, they're hard to miss when you're out hunting for Sears houses.


  1. I think it's interesting that we've seen quite a few that had minor alterations -- such as, a lower profile to the curvy element coming off of the roof, or changes to the porch roof style (like your Mount Vernon example).

    1. That's why the list is so useful to be able to compare and contrast.