Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Where are the Sears Houses - June 2020 Edition

Sears Puritan and Sears Ashland
9 and 11 Sears Avenue
Elmsford, New York
It's been six months since I posted the last update of "Where are the Sears Houses". None of us could have predicted what would have transpired over the past 6 months. But if I had been told that we were all going to have to stay home for 3 months straight because of a coronavirus, surely that would have meant a lot of new Sears kit house finds, right? You would have thought so.

But while many of us found ourselves with a lot of free time on our hands, that didn't translate into new kit house discoveries. Amongst our group of kit house researchers, the last few months have been a grind of finding houses one by one. It seemed like it was going to be another 6 months before we reached 12,500. But then just as quickly, our luck changed...

In the past three weeks, almost 200 new houses have been added to the list, many of them authenticated through building permits, deeds and mortgages that track back to Sears Roebuck. In fact, we're already 75 houses past the 12,500 mark. Why so many, so quickly?

Partly, it was good luck. Judith and I took advantage of free access to digitized deeds in Westchester County, New York, to track down a large number of houses for which we had names of people who had taken out mortgages through Sears but no legal description to locate their houses. From those deeds, we were able to locate a significant number of new homes plus authenticate a large number of homes that had already been identified but not definitively linked to Sears Roebuck. At the same time, Cindy and Marie were busy using mortgage records in a county in western Pennsylvania that has a number of Sears houses to do the same. Partly, it was a lot of hard work. Even with the information from mortgages and deeds, there's still a fair amount of sleuthing that has to be done before houses are found. 

Add in all the houses discovered by the rest of the research crew and we easily cleared 12,500 houses this past week. 

As of this date, Sears houses have been located in 45 states, the District of Columbia and the Provinces of Alberta and Ontario, Canada.

The following is a breakdown of the states that have the largest number of identified Sears homes.

1. Ohio (2700+ homes): Ohio continues to lead the way with over 2,700 homes, accounting for just under 22% of the houses on the list. 

2. Illinois (2300+ homes): Illinois is exactly 400 homes behind Ohio. The number of homes from Illinois account for over 18% of the houses on the list.

3. Pennsylvania (1700+ homes): Pennsylvania added 85 homes to the list and maintains its third place position with over 1,700 homes identified, thanks in part to the work of Cindy and Marie. 

4. New York (1400+ homes): New York added the most homes since the last update with almost 150 homes joining the list. This keeps New York solidly in fourth place on the list.

5. Michigan (900+ homes): Michigan added almost 30 homes as it gets ever closer to 1,000 homes.

6. Indiana (600+): Indiana has been on a roll the past couple updates. This time, almost 90 homes were added from Indiana, the second highest total after New York. 

7. New Jersey (600+): New Jersey did its best to keep up with Indiana with the addition of almost 80 homes, moving it past the 600 home mark.

8. Maryland (300+): Maryland added a few more homes and continues to hold onto eighth place.

9. Washington DC (307): Washington DC added three houses since the last update.

10. Virginia (200+): Virginia only added a handful of homes since the last update but it continued to hold onto tenth place on the list.

11. Wisconsin (200+): Wisconsin actually lost a home, which happens when we find that identified houses are demolished. However, it continues to stay at number eleven on the list. 

12. Kentucky (200+): Kentucky added a few houses and holds onto number twelve.

13. Missouri (100+): New to the list at the last update, Missouri added six more houses, which was good enough for thirteenth in this update. However, two new additions to the 100 homes or more group are close behind!

14. Connecticut (100+): New to the list of states with at least 100 Sears houses is Connecticut which moved past Massachusetts as it made its way onto the list. Connecticut, which added 14 houses since the last update is just 2 houses behind Missouri. 

15. Massachusetts (100+): Finally crossing the 100 homes threshold, Massachusetts is just a few houses behind Connecticut. 

Currently, there are 15 states where at least 100 Sears houses have been located within the state. The top 10 states account for 90% of the total number of houses on the list.

The national database of Sears Modern Homes is the collective work of a number of kit house researchers located across the country. The sources of the information in the database include the personal work of those researchers, the work of other kit house researchers, publicly available resources including newspapers and websites and information provided by home owners and other members of the public with an interest in kit houses.

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