Friday, September 30, 2022

The Century Club - Communities with 100 Sears Homes (or more!)

As the national database of Sears homes has grown past 15,000 homes, I wanted to share a list of communities where we've identified 100 or more Sears houses, a group I've dubbed "The Century Club". The members of this club are part of a rarified group. Of the 2,600 plus named places where Sears houses have been identified, as of September 2022, only 17 of them can claim to be home to 100 or more Sears homes. As the national database continues to grow, I hope to see new members inducted into the club! Which communities made the cut? Let's take a look! 

Before I show you who's in the club, let's review some of the caveats about how we count the houses in case you're wondering how we decided who made the list. First, as I've discussed before, these lists aren't the definitive word on which communities have the most Sears house. While 15,000 homes is a lot of homes, it represents - at most -  about 25% of the total number of homes sold by Sears (and is likely a smaller percentage based on how many homes most researchers think Sears sold). 

As we find more homes, I expect more communities to join this list. As an example, a year ago, a little over 60 Sears homes had been identified in Arlington, Virginia. Now over double that number have been identified through mortgage research done by Judith Chabot, which pushed Arlington into the Century Club. The same is true of Anderson, Indiana and the research done by Cindy Catanzaro (who built on research previously done by Rebecca Hunter). 

Second, these numbers are largely a reflection of those places where more comprehensive research has been done. That's everything from mortgage research, newspaper searches, street-level surveys and all the other ways that we find Sears houses. If your community isn't on the list, it's possible that it simply hasn't had the same level of investigation as those listed. But also keep in mind that sometimes the local stories about "neighborhoods built from boxcars full of Sears homes" are legend, not fact. The one exception to that rule on this list is Carlinville, Illinois. Sears Roebuck made sure that everyone knew how many houses they had built in the Standard Addition neighborhood. 

Finally, the definition of place is always a bit arbitrary. Is it based on municipal boundaries? Zip codes? US Census defined boundaries? Sometimes local understanding of what constitutes a place may differ from the definition we've chosen for the database. Washington DC has well-defined boundaries and it's easy to say whether a house is located inside or outside the District of Columbia. But the boundaries of other places can be more fluid. 

A good example of this is Cincinnati, Ohio. The "Queen City" is number one of our list with over 750 Sears houses identified within its boundaries. But that number doesn't include the Sears houses built in Norwood, Ohio - another Century Club member - which is an enclave of Cincinnati, surrounded on all sides by its larger neighbor.  Nor does that total include the Sears homes built in many of its suburban neighbors, like Cheviot and Wyoming, that have significant number of Sears homes and border directly on the city. One could make an argument that the total for Cincinnati should include all its neighboring communities as they are understood to be part of the greater Cincinnati region. 

We'll leave that discussion for the local boosters of Sears homes to sort out. For now, we'll stick to the place names as they've been entered into the database. One last note - I've included Cranford, New Jersey, the home of the "Sunny Acres" Home Club development by Sears Roebuck. While we track the Home Club developments separately in the national databases, these houses were built from plans and materials from Sears Roebuck. I consider them a part of the overall "Modern Homes" program and worth noting on this list. 

As of September 2022, here are the communities where 100 or more Sears homes have been identified.

  • Cleveland, Ohio added January 2023.
  • LaPorte, Indiana added March 2023 
  • Colonie, New York added March 2023
  • New York City, New York added March 2023. 

Washington DC


  • Aurora
  • Carlinville
  • Elgin
  • Rockford


  • Anderson
  • Gary
  • LaPorte


  • Flint

New Jersey

  • Cranford (Home Club development)

New York

  • Colonie
  • New York City
  • Yonkers


  • Akron
  • Cincinnati
  • Cleveland
  • Columbus
  • Dayton
  • Norwood


  • Pittsburgh



  1. Nice post! I imagine that Lara Solonickne's work on mortgages in Gary, Indiana, with Chuck Holtzen, contributed, as well, to the big numbers in Indiana. Lots of authenticated houses!

  2. There's definitely a pattern among many of these cities--manufacturing jobs being one. US Steel (Gary, Pittsburgh), General Motors (Anderson, Flint), Cincinnati (Goodyear) Yonkers (Otis Elevator). Not to suggest these were the only manufacturers in those cities, but they certainly drew the workforce and made it attractive for other manufacturers to be nearby.

    I think if we took a step back and started researching areas where the big companies were located (you could start with all US Steel locations in the 1920's-1930's), the list of Sears houses would grow accordingly.

    Thanks, I enjoyed the post!