Monday, January 30, 2023

Sears Rodessa in The Bronx, New York City, New York

One of the last places that most people would think to find Sears houses is in New York City. "New York City?!" Yes, the home of skyscrapers, subways, brownstones and Central Park is also home to Sears houses - almost 150 of them identified to date. While many of us picture Times Square as the quintessential New York City setting, the reality is that New York City is a geographically big city - over 300 square miles in size. Large swaths of the city were developed as the "suburbs" of the high rises of Manhattan, particularly during the years when kit houses were most popular, and on these streets, we've found quite a few Sears houses. Let's take a look! 

To date, we've found Sears houses in 4 of the 5 boroughs (still looking for one in Manhattan). The Bronx, the northernmost of the boroughs, has the second largest number of identified Sears houses of the 5 boroughs. I wasn't too surprised by that because Westchester County which lies directly north of The Bronx (including the City of Yonkers), is homes to hundreds of Sears homes. But considering the growth that all parts of New York City have experienced over the past 100 years, it's still exciting to find Sears houses wherever we find them in the city. 

What I love about this example of the Sears Rodessa on Wickham Avenue is how much of the original details can still be seen on this house. Having viewed most of the houses found in New York City, I can tell you that most of them have been altered to one degree or another, sometimes to the point that it's difficult to see the original lines of the house. But not this house! Decorative bargeboards, rafter tails and the trellis work on the porch columns - all original details that often disappear after 100 years. 

Another cool aspect of finding Sears houses in New York City is that the city maintains an archive of photos taking in the 1940s and 1980s for tax assessments. These photos allow you to view a snapshot in time of a building as it appeared at various points in its history. As you can see from the 1940s photo of the Rodessa on Wickham Avenue, it looked largely the same as when it was built and it hasn't changed much over the past 100 or so years. 

Image courtesy of the City of New York, New York

Here's a couple more views of the Rodessa showing how well it matches up with the catalog image. 

Thank you for joining me! I plan on sharing more examples of Sears homes in New York City in the near future. 

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