Saturday, October 16, 2021

Sears Vallonias of Metro Detroit - East Side Edition

I recently had a chance to attend a meeting on the grounds of the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan. The "Ford House" and estate is everything you might expect from one of America's most famous automotive families. Located north and east of the City of Detroit, the five Pointes communities were among the earliest "suburbs" of Detroit and home to some of the grandest examples of homes built with the wealth of the titans of the automotive industry.

As Detroit experienced explosive growth during the first half of the 20the Century, the surrounding communities like the Pointes grew too, especially those located first along the railroad and interurban lines and later along the major roads, like Gratiot Avenue, that radiated out from the heart of Detroit far into the farmland of the surrounding counties. People looking for the 1920s version of the suburban life took advantage of new transportation options to built homes in urbanizing outposts like Center Line, Roseville and St. Clair Shores. Among those new homes were kit houses from Sears, including one of the most popular models, the "Vallonia". Let's take a look! 

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Sears Jefferson in New Britain, Connecticut

Some of the houses that I post about tend to be outliers in the Sears Roebuck "Modern Homes" program. Because they are "rare" models (or at least I thought so when I first started posting about them), I like to share them so that other kit house researchers (and fans of these houses) can see real-world examples. Some of them are rare because the model only appeared for a year or two in the "Modern Homes" catalog before being replaced by something more appealing to customers. Or they were introduced near the end of the run of the "Modern Homes" catalog (see the "Rare 10" listing from Lara at "Sears Homes of Chicagoland"). But in the case of today's example, the "Jefferson", this model appeared in the catalog for 5 years. But to date, only 4 examples of this house have been found. We'll discuss why as we review this example from New Britain, Connecticut. Let's take a look!

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Thank You Michigan Questers!

This past week, I had the opportunity to present to the annual conference of the Michigan Questers that was held in Bay City. The conference draws members of Questers chapters from across the state. As kit house fans know, Bay City was the home of the Aladdin company which produced the first mail order kit houses. Bay City was also home to two of Aladdin's competitors in the kit house business - Lewis Homes and Sterling Homes. All three companies had long histories and numerous examples of their homes can be found locally. As an homage to the host city, the conference theme was "Kit Homes: From Catalog to Curb" and I was asked to speak about the history of kit homes. 

In keeping with the Questers motto of "It's fun to search and a joy to find", a portion of the presentation focused on the research process that I follow to locate and identify kit houses. It's the first time that I've done a presentation with that as the focus. But from the feedback I received, the audience found it quite informative. As for the audience, they were delightful, attentive listeners (after a delicious lunch, no less!) had a lot of good questions and I believe is the largest group to hear my kit house presentation. It was nice to get back in front of a crowd and tell the story of Michigan's kit house history and share examples from our state. Thank you Michigan Questers for having me and happy kit house hunting!