Monday, January 20, 2020

Authenticated Houses - Part 1

Authenticated Sears Crafton
Yorktown Heights, New York
I'm starting a new series on the blog to help highlight kit houses that I have been able to authenticate. My hope is to do this on a bi-weekly basis, sharing houses that I have authenticated since the last update. Kit house researchers use a variety of ways to authenticate houses and I'll be sharing the methods I've used to authenticate the houses as part of this feature. By highlighting these houses, I hope to be able to assist some homeowners in identifying their kit house and showing that they own the real deal! I also hope to show other kit house researchers and those interested in researching their houses how we go about doing that. On to the houses!

What does it mean to authenticate a kit house? That means that we've been able to find definitive evidence that a house comes from one of the kit house companies whether that's through legal records, like mortgages and deeds, building plans or paperwork or newspaper records and articles as well as physical evidence like stamped lumber and shipping labels.

Here's the list of houses that I've authenticated since January 1, 2020:

1. Sears Somers - 93 Maple Street - East Hartford, Connecticut - Authenticated via a newspaper reference to a deed from the property owner to Sears Roebuck trustee, Edwards D. Ford. I was able to find the home address via another legal transaction with the property owner. 

2. Sears Van Jean (was unknown model) - 27 Orchard Street - Trucksville, Pennsylvania - Authenticated via a newspaper article from 1970(!) that referenced Sears Roebuck trustees, Edwards D. Ford and John M. Ogden. In this very unusual case, the property owners discovered an old outstanding mortgage on the property in favor of the Sears Roebuck trustees and were initiating legal action to clear it. Unfortunately, there's no online streetviews of this street in Trucksville so if the house is still standing, there's no way to identify the model. If you're from the area and can share pictures of this house, it would be much appreciated! Photos were shared that helped ID this house which you can read about in more detail

3. Gordon-Van Tine Braddock - 67 Archer Drive - Bronxville, New York - I can't take credit for authenticating this house, just reporting it. The owner contacted me indicating that they owned the house and had been able to view a microfiche of the original building plans at the Eastchester Town Hall showing that the house was based on plans from Gordon-Van Tine (and shared an image of the plans with me). 

4. Sears Conway - 51 New York Avenue - Wayne, New Jersey - Authenticated via a newspaper reference to the original mortgage with Sears Roebuck trustee, Edwards D. Ford. From that, I found another newspaper article with the address of the property owner.  Unfortunately, this house has either been demolished or expanded beyond recognition. 

5. Sears Crafton - 1695 Summit St - Yorktown Heights, New York - Authenticated via a newspaper reference to the original mortgages with Sears Roebuck trustee, F. C. Schaub. From that reference, I was able to use a property atlas from 1930 for this area of Westchester County to match the specific lot to this address. This property had 2 mortgages, which was fairly common in the late 1920s and early 1930s as Sears Roebuck tried to find more creative ways to help customers finance homes in the failing economy of the Great Depression. 

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