Thursday, September 29, 2016

Thank You West Bloomfield!

Last night, Wendy and I were delighted to do a presentation on "Kit Homes in Michigan" for the Greater West Bloomfield Historical Society at the West Bloomfield Township Public Library. The Historical Society covers the communities of Keego Harbor, Orchard Lake, Sylvan Lake and West Bloomfield which provided us with the opportunity to highlight the many kit houses that are found in those communities as well as the northwest portion of Bloomfield Township. Thank you to the Historical Society and the Library for giving us the opportunity to talk about catalog and kit homes.

2071 Maddy Ln - Keego Harbor, MI - Sears Crescent
It was a wonderful audience that filled the library's meeting room. They laughed at some of our jokes and asked several good questions. We were fortunate to have a couple of kit house owners in the audience too. It's always great to hear first hand from the owners themselves about their homes. For those who weren't able to attend, I'll be highlighting some of the homes that we shared in the presentation. For those who did attend, welcome and take the time to explore further!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Sears Lexington Testimonial House in Chatham, New Jersey

Cover of 1932 Sears Modern Homes Catalog
Image courtesy of
One of the ways that we track down catalog and kit houses is by locating "testimonial" houses found in catalogs and promotional material put out by the kit house companies. As I explained in the post about a "testimonial" Sears Sherburne located in Fulton, New York, these customer testimonials sometimes include enough information to enable kit house researchers to locate these homes if they are still standing today.

Many of the known testimonial houses have already been located which made it a bit of a surprise that I wasn't able to find any references online to the testimonial house of Dr. Frederick and Mrs. Lum of Chatham, New Jersey. A photo of their house from Sears was included in the 1932 Sears Modern Homes catalog. So I decided to see if I could find it...

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Sears Willard in Waterford, Michigan

6372 Cleveland - Waterford, Michigan - Sears Willard
Image courtesy of
One of the ways that we discover kit houses is to scour real estate ads with an eye for potential candidates. I recently shared a few kit houses for sale that I located in online real estate listings. Today, I found a few more houses in the area that are for sale including a Sears Willard in Waterford, Michigan. Although I already had this Willard on my list of known houses in Waterford, the real estate listing gives us a chance to get inside and see a Sears house that still has some of the original features. Let's take a tour!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Sears Vallonia in Ferndale, Michigan

Wendy and I with Nicole Curtis and Tessa.
Tessa is a cancer survivor who Nicole and her fans
have helped support through fundraisers. 
Wendy and I were in Ferndale, Michigan recently to tour the latest project by Nicole Curtis. You may know her from her show "Rehab Addict" where she primarily restores (versus renovates) old homes back to their original glory. As homeowners who consider ourselves as caretakers of our Sears catalog house, we've always been fans of her approach. She respects the historic character of the homes she works on and attempts to maintain that character versus the gut and modernize approach you often see in many home "improvement" shows. I knew from my list of Sears mortgages for Oakland County that there is a Sears Vallonia on the same block as Nicole's project house. After we finished our tour of the house, Wendy and I walked down the block to take a couple photos of the Vallonia.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Post Impressions Entry - "Hidden in Plain Sight"

"Hidden in Plain Sight" (on the right)
Post Impressions Entry
Wendy and I are always looking for opportunities to educate people about catalog and kit houses in their community. When we heard about the "Post Impressions" Street Art exhibition in Waterford where I work, we jumped at the chance to put together an entry that features the history of catalog and kit houses with a focus on the houses in Waterford. You can see our entry directly south of the Buffalo Wild Wings across from the pathway that leads down to the Riverwalk.
Link to location in Google Maps

Waterford is home to over 75 identified catalog and kit houses, many of them authenticated with mortgages. However, many people in the area aren't aware that Waterford is home to so many of these houses. That's why we shamelessly borrowed the title for our entry - "Hidden in Plain Sight" - from our fellow kit house researcher Lara Solonicke (with her blessing!) who uses this phrase to explain the fact that often times people know of these homes without being aware that they were ordered from a catalog. We hope that our entry will make people more aware of all of the homes in Waterford and about the topic of catalog and kit homes. If you are interested in learning more, we've put together a page specifically about the homes in Waterford.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Sears Houses of Massapequa Park, New York - Tyrconnell Avenue

September 14, 1930 - "Brooklyn Daily Eagle"
Image courtesy of the Brooklyn Public Library
When we last visited Massapequa Park, I shared a number of Sears houses found on Grand Boulevard and Pacific Street. The models on those streets include some of the most popular models from the 1920s. But Massapequa has more than just 1920s era Sears houses. On the south side of the village are two streets where you can find ten houses that represent three different models of Sears houses that were popular in the early 1930s. Eight of those houses are located on Tyrconnell Avenue.

Sears Houses of Massapequa Park, New York - Glengariff Road

Catalog image of Sears Stratford
Image courtesy of Antique Home 
The last street in southern Massapequa Park where we've found Sears kit houses is Glengariff Road, one street south of Tyrconnell Avenue. These houses were part of the same order of 10 Sears houses that was placed in late 1930 as part of the development of Section "H" of Massapequa Park. There are just two Sears houses on Glengariff - a Sears Strathmore and next door, a Sears Stratford. As we've found on Tyrconnell Avenue, the Strathmore appears to be a substitution for the Sears Hillsboro, which had been listed among the models to be built in this area.

Sears Worchester in East Lansing, Michigan

Catalog image of Sears Worchester (1929)
Image courtesy of Antique Home
I recently shared an example of the Sears Newark in White Plains, New York. As I noted, sightings of the Newark and its brick faced fraternal twin, the Worchester, have been few and far between. I recently came across a Sears mortgage that led me to this Sears Worchester in East Lansing, Michigan. During a recent trip to the Lansing area, we were able to get some good photos of the house. These photos should help you see several of the elements that will aid in identifying this model.

The Sears Worchester at 845 Touraine in East Lansing is located right off of Saginaw Street, one of the main east-west roads through the city. Many people in town have driven past this house and likely never realized that they were driving past a Sears catalog house. Let's take a look!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Sears Newark in White Plains, New York

Catalog image of Sears Newark (1930)
Image courtesy of Sears Homes of Chicagoland
As I've been reviewing mortgages in the Town of Greenburgh, New York, I've run across some of the less common examples of Sears houses, like the Sears Elmhurst that I shared recently. Another house that I located through a mortgage record is this Sears Newark located in White Plains, New York. There are a number of Sears houses located in the surrounding neighborhood but this Newark is one that stood out because there's been so few examples identified to date. This Newark is one of two that I've been able to identify and authenticate from the mortgage records in Greenburgh.

Kit Houses for Sale - September 2016

Do you want to own your own kit house? If you're in the market for a "new" old house, there are several kit houses currently on the market in southeastern Michigan.

Catalog image of Sears Starlight
Image courtesy of Sears Homes of Chicagoland
Sears Dover - Waterford, Michigan: This Sears Dover and its next door neighbor, also a Dover have been authenticated with Sears mortgages for $4,800 each in August 1928. There are at least 15 Sears kit houses in the Maceday Gardens subdivision.

Sears Starlight - Birmingham, Michigan: A completely renovated Starlight in Birmingham. This house has been authenticated with a mortgage from Sears for $3,000 in 1923.

Sears Claremont - Ortonville, Michigan: Although not noted in the listing, this Sears Claremont is an authenticated Sears house. It was purchased with a mortgage from Sears in February 1929. 

Sears Windsor - Eastpointe, Michigan: Eastpointe is home to several Sears houses in addition to this Windsor.