Wednesday, January 19, 2022

The Biggest Little Sears House Communities

Certain communities are well known for the large number of Sears homes that can be found within their borders. Those places, like Carlinville and Elgin, Illinois, Washington DC and Cincinnati, Ohio, offer ample opportunities to see many Sears houses in person. Less well-known but just as worth the attention of kit house hunters are several communities that are smaller in size but just as chock-full of Sears houses. Some of these communities have far more Sears houses per square mile than their better known counterparts. So whether you're a resident looking to learn more about the Sears houses in your community or looking to take a road trip to view Sears houses, these communities should be on your kit house hunting radar. Let's take a look!

Before delving into the details, it's important to point out that these lists are always a bit subjective because boundaries are drawn differently depending on where you live in the United States. There are bigger communities with large numbers of Sears houses in fairly concentrated areas. But I wanted to bring attention to smaller communities that may not have been on your radar. I also didn't include any of the Sears Home Club developments. If you want to explore those, check out the resource page I created for those. These numbers are current as of January 2022

Norwood, Ohio - 103 houses - 3.1 square miles

Anyone familiar with the history of Sears "Modern Homes" won't be the least bit surprised to see Norwood, Ohio at the top of our list of small towns with with lots of Sears houses. The city of Norwood, which is an enclave of the city of Cincinnati (which means it lies completely within the boundaries of Cincinnati) was the home of the "Norwood Sash and Door Company". 

Purchased by Sears Roebuck in the early years of the "Modern Homes" program, Norwood Sash and Door provided the doors, windows, millwork and more for many of the houses that Sears sold. In the later years of the "Modern Homes" program, it became the hub of the Modern Homes Division for Midwestern states after those offices were moved from Chicago to Norwood. One of the ways we authenticate Sears houses is by finding shipping labels on building materials shipped from Norwood. While owned by Sears, much of the local advertising for Sears houses featured Norwood Sash and Door and even offered discounts for houses that were shipped locally. Like the greater Cincinnati area, many local residents took advantage of the chance to build a house from the hometown company, which sold them at a discount as compared to the prices seen in the "Modern Homes" catalog. I'm sure that many of the houses were built by Norwood Sash and Door employees. 

Takoma Park, Maryland - 71 houses - 2.1 square miles

Hugging the northeast border of Washington DC, the city of Takoma Park, Maryland developed as a streetcar suburb of the nation's capital, experiencing an explosion of development during the years when Sears house sales were strongest. While the homes in Takoma Park tend to favor the smaller, less expensive models offered by Sears, there's a good variety of homes to see with no less than 35 different models found in Takoma Park. While you're there, make sure to check out the houses from Sears competitors "Lewis Homes" and "Aladdin Homes". The super customized "Colonial" at 7611 Takoma Ave was one of the largest models sold by Aladdin. 

Sears Jeanette - Takoma Park, Maryland

View a list of Sears houses in Takoma Park

Ossining, New York - 61 houses - 3.2 square miles

Perhaps best know for the Sing Sing Correctional Facility on the east bank of the Hudson River, the Village of Ossining, New York has a very diverse collection of Sears houses including some of the earliest models sold by Sears. There are also several testimonial models that were featured in the "Modern Homes" catalog. As I blogged about recently, a local inventory of possible Sears houses misidentified a lot of houses as being from Sears. I've pulled together a list of actual houses from Sears that you can use as a reference.

Sears Langston - Ossining, New York

View a list of Sears houses in Ossining

Hampton Manor, New York - 58 houses - 0.65 square miles

The smallest community on our list isn't even an incorporated municipality. Instead, Hampton Manor, New York is known as a CDP - a Census Designated Place - in the Town of East Greenbush, which lies southeast of Albany, New York. While it doesn't have official borders as we typically know them, the boundaries of Hampton Manor are well-defined and has - outside of the "Standard Addition" in Carlinville, Illinois - the most Sears catalog homes per square mile of anywhere in the country. Like some of the other communities on this list, you'll find Sears models from several eras of the "Modern Homes" program including a one-of-a-kind "Stuyvesant" built in 1939.

Sears Stuyvesant - Hampton Manor, New York

View a list of Sears houses in Hampton Manor

Berkley, Michigan - 40 houses - 2.6 square miles

Last but certainly not least is the city of Berkley, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. First developed during the streetcar era, among the oldest Sears houses in Berkley are 6 of the largest models sold by Sears, 5 of which were built in the same neighborhood. Berkley is home to over 30 different models of Sears houses including a number finished in brick veneer. In addition to the Sears houses, Berkley is home to almost a dozen kit houses from Montgomery Ward and perhaps the most unique location for a kit house - the Aladdin "Pomona" located inside the front gates of the Roseland Park Cemetery! 

Sears Honor - Berkley, Michigan

View a list of Sears houses in Berkley

Thank you for visiting and I hope your travels take you to one of these Sears Modern Homes towns soon! 

No comments:

Post a Comment