Friday, February 3, 2017

ID this house! Sears Wayne

The Sears Wayne is a story and a half house that Sears Roebuck offered between 1925 - 1931. As I shared previously, the Wayne is almost identical to the Sears Delmar, which appeared in the Sears Modern Homes catalog for one year in 1924. The fact that the Wayne was offered for 6 years makes me believe that there are a lot more examples of this house than the dozen examples that are currently listed in the national database of Sears homes. Recently, I came across a fine example of the Sears Wayne that provides the opportunity to learn some of the key features of the Wayne. Let's take a look!

First things first - I haven't authenticated this Sears Wayne in Thornwood, New York. Hopefully, I'll be able to match this house up to a Sears mortgage. Even though I haven't been able to authenticate this house, I'm confident in my identification. After reviewing this house, I hope you will agree!

Sears Wayne (1925)
Image courtesy of
Our first view of this house roughly approximates the view we see from the catalog. I'll call this the "right" side of the house.

270 Westchester Ave - Thornwood, NY - Sears Wayne
Image courtesy of Redfin
The one significant change that has been made to this house is that the porch has been enclosed. Because of that, we can't see the porch pillars. But we can see some of elements that can help us identify this house as a Sears Wayne. 

Starting at the top of the front-facing gable, there's a half-moon vent. Below the vent is a pair of windows that sit just above where the porch roof meets the body of the house. While we can't see that connection in this view, this house shares that design. Keep in mind that over time, details like the vent and original shutters often disappear when houses are resided or otherwise changed.

This next view of the side of the house shows us more things to look for when trying to determine if the house is the Sears Wayne. 

270 Westchester Ave - Thornwood, NY - Sears Wayne
Image courtesy of Redfin
From this angle, you can clearly see the arrangement of the vent at the top of the gable, the windows and the side door. Take note of the location of the second story window and how it is located towards the back of the house. This window sits at the top of the staircase from the first to the second floor. One minor difference from the catalog design is the paired windows to the right of the side door. These are kitchen windows and where the catalog shows a single window,  two windows makes sense. This may have been original to the house or changed by an owner since the house was built.  

When trying to ID houses, we don't often get to see the back of the house. Likewise, the Sears catalog rarely showed illustrations of the rear view of the house. But in this case, we can compare the locations of the windows on the rear view of the house to the location of the windows (and doors when present) to the floor plan. They all match up nicely to the catalog with the only variation being a second set of paired windows for the kitchen. You can also see how the house has a second story dormer on the back and that half moon vent again!

270 Westchester Ave - Thornwood, NY - Sears Wayne
Image courtesy of Redfin
From the "left" side of the house, we can see that it has a different arrangement of windows as compared to the "right" side.

270 Westchester Ave - Thornwood, NY - Sears Wayne
Image courtesy of Redfin
On the first floor, we see windows where we expect them to be (keeping in mind that the porch was enclosed). In the image below, the arrows show the location and style of the windows on the first floor. In this case, we expect to see those paired windows for the dining room. 

On the second floor, there's a window for each bedroom and above those, a vent of the same design as the vent on the other side of the house. You may have noticed in the floor plan that the Sears Wayne only has 2 bedrooms and the master bedroom is quite large. Using the interior floor plan to match up the location of rooms and closets can be helpful for owners and realtors and others who have access to the inside of the house. 

This Sears Wayne has a chimney on this side of the house. Not every house was built with a fireplace so if the house you are trying to identify doesn't have a fireplace chimney, that's OK. The floor plan doesn't even show a fireplace but its location in the living room makes sense for this house (the location of the fireplace is shown on the floor plan as a place to place a piano).

While we're on the topic of the chimney, I've highlighted on the floor plan the location of the chimney that serves the basement furnace. You can see the smaller chimney at the peak of the roof in several of the photos. Unlike the chimney for the fireplace, this wouldn't have been optional for a house with a furnace in the basement. Always match the location of this chimney to its location on the floor plan. I know of at least one example from the Sears catalog where the catalog illustrators showed the chimney in the wrong location in the house image!

That completes our tour of the exterior of this Sears Wayne. As you can see, identifying a Sears house (or any catalog/kit house) involves a process of identifying various elements on the house. Once we've done that, the sum total of those elements determines our level of confidence in our house identification both for the model and the company that produced the house. Even when we can't authenticate the house, with enough details, we can usually make a good educated guess.

If you would like to see more photos of the house including interior photos, you can check out the real estate listing that led me to this house. If you think you've found a Sears Wayne (or any other kit house), share it with us in the comments!


  1. Excellent resource, Andrew! I'm sure that I've passed up some Waynes, since there are so many similar style houses. This will be very helpful.

  2. When you look t it closely, it is an unusual looking house from the side. Thanks for the tips!