Tuesday, February 23, 2021

A Return to Poets' Corner (Hartsdale), New York

14 Longfellow St - Hartsdale, New York
Sears Gateshead
Five years ago, I wrote a few posts about the collection of Sears Roebuck kit houses in the Poets' Corner section of Hartsdale, New York. Between 1928 and 1933, at least 17 Sears houses were built in the Hartsdale Lawns and Hartsdale Manor subdivision plats where the streets are named after famous poets. At the time, I was able to document most of the Sears houses located in that area. However, in the intervening years, I've managed to locate and/or authenticate a few additional houses that didn't make it into the original posts about Hartsdale Lawns and Hartsdale Manor. Additionally, I've spotted a couple more houses that might be Sears (or might not) that I'll point out in case more information comes to light about those homes. Let's take (another) look!

When I last posted about Poets' Corner, I had managed to find homes in both Hartsdale Lawns and Hartsdale Manor, two subdivisions that lie north and south of Secor Road. In the Hartsdale Lawns section on the north side of Secor Road, I was able to identify and authenticate 6 Sears houses. Since that original post, I've been able to identify and authenticate another 2 houses from Sears. 

In the Hartsdale Manor section on the south side of Secor Road, I was able to identify and authenticate 6 Sears houses and had one more possible match for a Sears house. I had done a separate post about a possible Sears Gateshead located in this section, making for a total of 8 houses from Sears. Since that original post, I've been able to authenticate the two possibles - the Sears Gateshead and a Sears Claremont. I've also located another two houses that could possible be from Sears. I also know of at least one more mortgage for a Sears house in Hartsdale Manor that I haven't been able to match up to a house. 

Hartsdale Lawns
The two houses that I had not previously shared are both located on Stevenson Avenue. I located both through newspaper references to their original mortgages with Sears Roebuck. I'm glad I had those because the first house at 88 Stevenson Avenue, is not a perfect match to any of the Sears models. The closest match to this house is the Sears Hillsboro. Sears offered two houses that appeared similar in design - the Hillsboro and the Strathmore. However, the Hillsboro is taller and larger than the Strathmore and from what I can see (not much), the house best matches the Hillsboro. It does not have the distinctive chimney that the Hillsboro has so it's also a possibility that this a custom design that was influenced by the Hillsboro but differs to some degree. The lack of any clear photos or imagery of the house just make it hard to say for sure. But we do know that the house was financed through Sears with a mortgage in 1931 for $7,600.

Catalog image of Sears Hillsboro

Blurry Google Streetview from 2007

Clearer image but more landscaping from 2013

Best side view of the house from 2013

The house next door at 96 Stevenson Avenue is much easier to ID - it's a Sears Oak Park with a reversed floor plan. The Oak Park was a Dutch Colonial model offered by Sears for a number of years with a couple different floor plans and from what we can see, this house matches up very well with that model. One detail that's not obvious from the streetview is that in addition to having a brick veneer on the first floor of the front of the house, the house appears to have been finished in brick on both sides, which likely accounts for the fairly high mortgage amount (as Sears houses go). This house was financed through Sears with a mortgage in 1930 for $9,000. 

Catalog image of Sears Oak Park

96 Stevenson Ave - Hartsdale, New York - Sears Oak Park

96 Stevenson Ave - Hartsdale, New York - Sears Oak Park

Hartsdale Manor
I've you read the all the blog posts about the Poets' Corner area, you've see these two houses located in the Hartsdale Manor section. While I had tentatively identified both houses as possible Sears houses, I had not been able to authenticate that they were in fact from Sears. Now I've been able to do so.

The first house is the Sears Claremont at 15 Bryant Street. As you can see from the photos, the house has been expanded significantly from when it was originally built. But there's still enough of the original design to be able to identify the house. This house was financed with a mortgages from Sears in 1929. I don't have an amount for this particular house. Those amounts came from newspaper references to the original mortgages including amounts and lot numbers. In the case of this house, I traced the owner back to the house from a newspaper article about a lost child that mentioned the mortgage owners name and the address of this house. 

Catalog image of Sears Claremont (1932)

15 Bryant St - Hartsdale, New York - Sears Claremont

The second house is a very rare Sears Gateshead at 14 Longfellow Street. It's ironic that it was the first house I blogged about from this area as it turned out to be the last house that I was able to authenticate (click over to the article to see more photos of the house). I was recently able to connect the original mortgage owner to this address. They had taken out a mortgage with Sears in November 1933. Again, I don't have an amount for the mortgage. This would have been among the last mortgages that Sears financed as Sears stopped financing new houses at the end of 1933. It's even been reported that Sears closed the Modern Homes operation down for a short time in 1934 although it must have been a short-lived closure as ads for Sears homes started appearing again in newspapers in 1935. 

Catalog image of Sears Gateshead (1935)

14 Longfellow St - Hartsdale, New York - Sears Gateshead

I have one more mortgage for Hartsdale Manor that I haven't yet connected to a house. I actually have the lots associated with the mortgage but neither house on those lots appear to match anything sold by Sears. It's possible that the Sears house was replaced for some reason. Or that one of the existing houses has been modified to a degree that it's not recognizable as a model from Sears. Or perhaps it was a custom design that doesn't match anything from the catalog. It's on my list of mortgages from Westchester County so I'll surely revisit it from time to time as I look to match up those missing mortgages on the list. 

While "driving" around this section checking for more recent Streetviews, I noted a couple of houses that may be from Sears The first I had noted the last time I was checking out this area. The second I spied for the first time. I'm sharing them here as both were built during the time that other Sears houses were being constructed and it's possible that these too may turn up at some point as being from Sears. But neither is an exact match for the models offered by Sears so I would want to be able to confirm that in some way before saying for sure that these too are from Sears.

The first house is located across the street from the Claremont at 12 Bryant Street. This house has the lines of a Sears Dover but there are differences from the standard Dover plan - the front windows look too small, the house looks too tall, the chimney design isn't just right and the window arrangement on the left side of the house isn't an exact match for the Dover. None of these alone are deal-breakers but taking as a whole, they raise too many questions to make me feel confident identifying this house as a Dover. There's an authenticated Dover at 51 Holmes Avenue that you can use for comparison. 

12 Bryant St - Hartsdale, New York - Possible Sears Dover

51 Holmes Ave - Hartsdale, New York - Sears Dover

The other house I spotted is this house at 10 Whittier Street. What caught my eye is the split level design that is very similar to a number of different models that Sears sold during the 1930s. However, while there are several different elements that match the elements of the different models, collectively, none of those models share all these elements. Also, the side door on the driveway side of the house isn't seen in any of those split-level models offered by Sears. So the odds are that this is not a house from Sears. But I'll list it here on the off-chance that something can convince me otherwise. 

10 Whittier St - Hartsdale, New York

10 Whittier St - Hartsdale, New York

As I was finishing up my research on these houses, one of the resources that I consulted were a couple of US Geological Survey maps from the 1930s that cover this section of Hartsdale. In some areas of the country, USGS maps provide a detailed view of the built environment that existed at that time. In the Hartsdale area, the houses that existed that time were represented on the map. What stood out for me was how many of those homes in Hartsdale Lawns and Hartsdale Manor were from Sears. While there were a few other homes built during the same time period that don't appear to be from Sears, a large percentage of homes in those 2 neighborhoods in the 1930s were Sears houses. Over the years, those neighborhoods have seen streets extended and new streets connected and many new homes built. But this area of Hartsdale is still home to a significant number of Sears houses. It's been fun finding them and even more exciting to document them. 

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