Sunday, August 28, 2016

Massapequa Park Mystery Solved?

The "fact" that first brought us to look for Sears houses in Massapequa Park was the statement in an article from January 1990 that:
Image Credit
"One of the largest single sales, according to Sears records, was 100 homes to a developer in East Massapequa, N.Y., which was incorporated as Massapequa Park in 1931."
As I noted in the introduction to the Sears Houses of Massapequa Park, the prospect that there were at least 100 Sears homes to be found has drawn many a kit house researcher to the virtual streets of Massapequa Park. But having viewed in Google Streetview just about every street in the Village of Massapequa Park and the adjacent areas of East Massapequa, I'm pretty confident in saying there's not 100 Sears houses to be found. Streets with some of the largest models offered by Sears? Yes! Streets with multiple Sears houses? Yes! Sears houses from the 1920s and 1930s? Yes! But 100 Sears houses? No!

But I do think I've figured out how the "100 homes" from Sears story got started....
While searching for information about the Sears houses in Massapequa Park, I found this article from the September 14, 1930 "Brooklyn Daily Eagle":

September 14, 1930 "Brooklyn Daily Eagle"
Image courtesy of the Brooklyn Public Library
As you can see from the article, one of the developers of Massapequa Park placed an order with Sears for 10 houses that would be the first 10 houses in the development. It was noted that the 10 houses would be the first of 100 houses to be built. But what it doesn't say is that the the remainder of the houses would also be from Sears. But the writing is kind of ambiguous on this point. I can see how over time, this story may have morphed from an order for 10 Sears houses to 100!

In the article from 1990, it was noted that Sears had "no record identifying the New York buyer". As Sears didn't retain the sales records from its Modern Homes Division, it doesn't appear that there's any way to authenticate or debunk the claim of 100 homes relying on records from Sears. But we can use our eyes and look to see if there's any signs of Sears houses beyond the ones we've already identified on Grand Boulevard, Pacific Street and those that the article stated were planned for Tyrconnell Avenue and Glengariff Road (they are there, we'll visit them soon!)

To date, I haven't found any other examples of 1930-era model Sears houses or from earlier years in Massapequa Park, on the off-chance that the 100 homes represented an earlier order. Nor have I found any references to such a large order with Sears in any of the sales catalog. If there had been an order of 100 houses, it's likely that Sears would have referenced that somewhere in their sales literature. Of course, it's possible that a buyer with an "East Massapequa" address purchased homes that were built elsewhere. But more likely is that this story was distorted over the years so that an order for 10 Sears homes in a 100 home development became an order for 100 Sears homes.

Have we solved the mystery? I believe so. But if you know more about this story, leave us a comment!

Image credits:
1. Icons made by Dave Gandy from is licensed by CC 3.0 BY

1 comment:

  1. I think that makes sense. Sears had a copy of the article in their files and the archivists made an assumption.