Saturday, March 28, 2020

A Pretty Sears San Jose In Brigantine, New Jersey


Probable Sears San Jose206 18th Street, Brigantine, New Jersey

Sears San Jose model, in my 1930 Sears Modern Homes catalog

We have only six seven* Sears San Jose models on our National Database of Sears Houses In the U.S. Of those, three are in New Jersey, and two of those three are  authenticated examples (*UPDATE, April 4, 2020: A third authenticated example has just been found, in Wilton, Connecticut! ) This one in Brigantine, New Jersey, is not authenticated, but certainly looks to fit the bill! It was sent to us by James Young, who left a comment on a blog post of mine about an Elmhurst in Pennsylvania. James informed us that this Sears San Jose belongs, or belonged, to Brigantine's former Mayor Spiro. Brigantine is an ocean-side town, just north of Atlantic City, and just south of LBI (Long Beach Island-- where I've spent several summer vacations, and where our researcher, Karen, has vacationed, and found several Sears houses!). This house in Brigantine has a pretty, new, orange paint job, because, in its 2008 real estate listing, it was white stucco with brown trim, and lots of foliage around it:

 
white stucco Sears San Jose model in Brigantine, NJ
It's had the tree and shrubs removed, and a new coat of paint, but there's the same wrought-iron railings. The 2008 listing doesn't have very good interior photos, but I have some from another house, to show in this blog post.
One of the distinctive features of the San Jose model, is the wrought-iron grill insert in the little alcove up in the tower area above the entryway, and this Brigantine San Jose still has that:
Spanish flair accents on Sears San Jose kit house
206 18th St next to a closeup of the San Jose in the 1930 catalog. The ironwork and the alcove give it a nice Spanish flair.
The San Jose was only offered for three years: 1928, 1929, and 1930 (that's a correction to Houses By Mail, which doesn't include 1930). In 1928 and 1929, the interior door hardware that came standard, was the Narcissus style offered only by Sears, but the 1930 listing names the La Tosca hardware (again, a style only offered by Sears) as the standard. The standard exterior is stucco, over metal lath, though we've found two examples in brick veneer.

1928 catalog image of Sears Narcissus door handle hardware
Sears Narcissus design door hardware, as shown in my 1928 Sears Modern Homes catalog

1930 catalog image of Sears La Tosca door handle hardware
Sears La Tosca door handle hardware, shown in my 1930 catalog
The 1930 catalog also mentioned the kitchen cabinetry that came standard with the San Jose: wall unit A, counter unit H, and broom closet F.
features of Sears San Jose model in catalog
1930 Sears Modern Homes catalog description of the features of the San Jose model
The 1930 catalog includes color photos of kitchen cabinets, so we can see what came standard with the San Jose:

vintage Sears kitchen cabinets in 1930
Sears kitchen wall unit A, counter unit H, and broom closet F (with top unit E )

kitchen display in color in 1930 Sears Modern Homes catalog
Here's what a similar setup might have looked like, though the upper cabinet unit is smaller, and this shows an extra F unit.
The San Jose sold for $2,026 in 1928, its first year in the catalogs, was bumped up to $2,129 in the 1929 catalog, and the 1930 catalog doesn't show full prices in the listings... though, as mentioned in the 1929 listing, the expected full monthly cost, including labor, would be between $40 and $50 per month. Sears always added, "on your lot", because you had to already have a lot, to purchase a Sears kit (if, heaven forbid, you were unable to make all of your payments on a mortgage with Sears, that lot would become their property).
catalog image of Sears San Jose

catalog image of Sears San Jose

Sears San Jose in 1930 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Here's a good look at the right side of the Brigantine San Jose, showing the fireplace chimney, the windows on either side of it (one long, one short, meant to go over a built-in set of shelves), and the bank of three windows for the dining room:
freshly painted orange stucco Sears San Jose in Brigantine New Jersey on 18th street

The left side of the San Jose includes a side entry door, and a pair of short windows for the kitchen, plus one bedroom window at the back half of the house. The current Google maps streetview is pretty obscures that side pretty much, but we have a good shot of it from that 2008 real estate listing, when the house was still white stucco:
side view of Probable Sears San Jose • 206 18th Street, Brigantine, New Jersey
2008 side view of 206 18th Street, Brigantine, NJ
Actually, the streetview of that side isn't all that bad... you can see that Spanish-flair side extension that has an arched entry to that side of the property, and it looks like the 2008 deck was re-done:
freshly painted orange stucco Sears San Jose in Brigantine New Jersey on 18th street
2020 side view of 206 18th Street, Brigantine, NJ
One last shot of the Brigantine San Jose, next to the catalog image:
side by side views of catalog image and real Sears San Jose
1930 catalog image on the left • 206 18th Street, on the right (click to enlarge a bit)
A Sears San Jose In Boonton, New Jersey
The first Sears San Jose model that we knew of in New Jersey, was one on Kenmore Road, in Boonton, New Jersey. Though I did not originally locate this one, I did come across the original mortgage for it, in the Morris County land records, when I went there a couple of years ago, to do research. It was originally purchased, in 1929, by Clara and Herbert Lehman, with a mortgage signed off on by Sears trustee William C. Reed. This one is another beauty... and, we have lots of interior photos, thanks to two different real estate listings for it (one in 2015/2016, and one in 2019). It's pretty unusual for both listings to still be viewable -- usually newer listings pop the older listing off of the MLS. The newer listing is staged with attractive furnishings, but I'll show you comparisons from both sets of photos.

First of all, let's take another look at the floor plan, so you can follow along a bit, with the photos:
floorplan of Sears San Jose
Sears San Jose floor plan from my 1930 catalog
Let's just dive in!
Sears San Jose kit house at 128 Kenmore Rd Boonton NJ
128 Kenmore Road, Boonton, New Jersey, Morris County • authenticated Sears San Jose model

Sears San Jose kit house at 128 Kenmore Rd Boonton NJ

Sears San Jose kit house at 128 Kenmore Rd Boonton NJ

Sears San Jose kit house at 128 Kenmore Rd Boonton NJ

side of Sears San Jose kit house at 128 Kenmore Rd Boonton NJ
And, inside:
living room of Sears San Jose kit house at 128 Kenmore Rd Boonton NJ

living room and dining room of Sears San Jose kit house at 128 Kenmore Rd Boonton NJ

dining room and living room of Sears San Jose kit house at 128 Kenmore Rd Boonton NJ

living room and entry vestibule of Sears San Jose kit house at 128 Kenmore Rd Boonton NJ

living room of Sears San Jose kit house at 128 Kenmore Rd Boonton NJ

kitchen of Sears San Jose kit house at 128 Kenmore Rd Boonton NJ

bedroom of Sears San Jose kit house at 128 Kenmore Rd Boonton NJ

bedroom of Sears San Jose kit house at 128 Kenmore Rd Boonton NJ
same space, without furniture, and before re-painting

bedroom of Sears San Jose kit house at 128 Kenmore Rd Boonton NJ

Sears San Jose kit house at 128 Kenmore Rd Boonton NJ

A Sears San Jose In Blue Island, Illinois
Researcher Lara Solonickne, who leads tours and classes about Sears houses, and who writes the blog, Sears Homes of Chicagoland, wrote about this Sears San Jose in Blue Island, Illinois, when there was a real estate listing for it. It was originally located by Elgin, Illinois researcher, Rebecca L. Hunter, and Lara notes the names of the original owners in her blog post about it.
Authenticated Sears San Jose at 2324 120th Place, Blue Island, Illinois
In Lara's blog post, she noted that the front door to this San Jose, had been moved over to the right side of the entry vestibule... see it, in the photo below? 

Authenticated Sears San Jose at 2324 120th Place, Blue Island, Illinois (with a Sears Vallonia next door)
Normally, that front door is straight ahead of you, as you approach the vestibule area, and it walks you right into a little interior alcove vestibule, as you can see in the catalog images:
The front door of the Sears San Jose is normally straight ahead of you, as you approach the front of the house.
floorplan of Sears San Jose
Enter the exterior alcove, and head into the interior vestibule, straight ahead... the living room is then, normally, entered into by a right turn from the interior vestibule.
Looking closely at the interior photographs of the Blue Island, Illinois San Jose, it looks like that interior vestibule, and the closet to its left, were taken over to enlarge the kitchen. Then, the main front entry was moved, to head you right into the living room, as Lara noted:
1929 catalog image of floorplan for Sears San Jose model

living room with entry door • Authenticated Sears San Jose at 2324 120th Place, Blue Island, Illinois

If you look at the new kitchen (clearly a renovation), you can see that the original pair of kitchen windows (shown over the sink, in the floorplan image) are still in place... you can see the door, to the right, that heads you out of the kitchen, to the side exit out of the house:
kitchen of Authenticated Sears San Jose at 2324 120th Place, Blue Island, Illinois
You can just see the right-hand window of that pair of kitchen windows, here, with the door out of the kitchen, to the right.

kitchen of Authenticated Sears San Jose at 2324 120th Place, Blue Island, Illinois
Here are those two window
floorplan of Sears San Jose
Floorplan, turned to the side
Here, I've rotated the floorplan for you. All of the area outlined in yellow (the original closet and vestibule), make up the space that you see to the left of the pair of windows, in the photo above. So, that refrigerator, would be inside the original closet space :) . Now, see how there is a window on the wall that sits perpendicular to the wall with the regrigerator? You can see that window on the front wall of the closet (on my rotated floor plan, it's to your left). Now, look at this photo of that same wall of the kitchen:
kitchen of Authenticated Sears San Jose at 2324 120th Place, Blue Island, Illinois
This is the original entry vestibule and closet area!
See that additional window? That area would have been where the front door was. Let's look at this area on another rotation view of that area of the floorplan-- the area that I've indicated in green, is the counter space and stove, that you see, above, and the living room is on the other side of this wall that has the stove:
floorplan of Sears San Jose

Here is that area, seen from the front of the house...so, the kitchen wall with its two little windows, separated by the sink, is behind these two windows :
front of authenticated Sears San Jose in Illinois

For comparison, here is that side wall of the kitchen, with its double windows and door to the side exit area of the house, in a photo that puts the Blue Island, Illinois kitchen next to the Boonton, NJ kitchen. The Boonton kitchen photo, on the right, shows you the original width of the San Jose's kitchen, as designed:
kitchen of Authenticated Sears San Jose at 2324 120th Place, Blue Island, Illinois
Kitchen comparison... these are not the original fixtures and cabinets of the Boonton San Jose, but the footprint is original.
And, again, the Blue Island San Jose's kitchen wall, extended to the left of the double windows:
kitchen of Authenticated Sears San Jose at 2324 120th Place, Blue Island, Illinois
Everything from the refrigerator, to the left, is not normally kitchen space.
But, the living room of this house still has the tapered wall area of the fireplace, that we expect to see on the San Jose, with the full-length window on the wall to the right of the fireplace, and a short window to the left of the fireplace, inside a coved bumpout, with built-ins under it... the built-in cabinets are just shelves, in this house, but the area is the same as in the Boonton, New Jersey San Jose:
living room of Authenticated Sears San Jose at 2324 120th Place, Blue Island, Illinois
Living room fireplace area, Blue Island, Illinois San Jose

Living room fireplace area, Boonton, New Jersey San Jose
Let's compare these two living rooms, however, to that of a probable San Jose that was built with brick veneer, in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. Lara noticed this one in the listings, and added it to our national database, though she notes that the back of the house isn't quite right. It looks to me like the house's elements were a bit modified, to make it have less of a Spanish flair. For example, here is the living room on that house. The fireplace wall has a bit of a different look, as the area above the fireplace is straight up, instead of tapered, the fireplace itself is a traditional brick style, and there is no coved styling to the bumpout to the left... also, the window in that spot is another full-length window, making the whole appearance of that wall more symmetrical... no built-ins, either, though a short shelf has been placed there. Oddly, the window space to the right of the fireplace, instead of being bumped out, is bumped in... no idea why that was done:
living room of Sears San Jose model in LaCrosse, Wisconsin
Probable Sears San Jose, in brick, with more traditional styling, at 2326 Madison Street, La Crosse, Wisconsin
The front of the house has the same features as the stucco, Spanish-styled original design of the San Jose, but there is no alcove with iron grill, above the entry area, and there is no side arched "arm" to form an entry to the side yard:

Sears San Jose model in LaCrosse, Wisconsin
Brick Sears San Jose, 2326 Madison Street, La Crosse, Wisconsin

Sears San Jose model in LaCrosse, Wisconsin
The entry spot is in the standard location, in the exterior alcove.

Sears San Jose model in LaCrosse, Wisconsin
The side has a more traditional look, without the arched, adobe-look arm jutting off of the left side 

Sears San Jose model in LaCrosse, Wisconsin
The right side is pretty normal, with the expected windows, with all being full length.
And, it does present with a more traditional look, in the neighborhood:
Sears San Jose model in LaCrosse, Wisconsin
Madison Street, La Crosse, Wisconsin
By the way, here is the kitchen, with the original footprint (though these are surely not original cabinets and counters). You can see the pair of windows that we've seen in the other two kitchens, with the door waay to the right of them, that leads to the side exit:
Sears San Jose model in LaCrosse, Wisconsin
On the other houses, this area to the right of the windows is actually a doorway--this has been opened up. Looks good!

Sears San Jose model in LaCrosse, Wisconsin
Theres the side door exit.
Two last examples are kind of sad looking. But, one of them is the other authenticated San Jose in New Jersey, and the other is the second brick veneer example. Here's the brick one, that looks like the brick thieves have been at work. This one was identified by Rebecca L. Hunter, as well:
Sears San Jose model in Romulus, Michigan
5845 Wayne Road, Romulus, Michigan • probable Sears San Jose

Sears San Jose model in Romulus, Michigan

This one may not even be still standing, sadly, as I saw one listing for it as LAND FOR SALE:
This was on Loopnet, and it does actually say that it is no longer advertised on Loopnet. Maybe it was already sold, and demolished? or maybe it hasn't been sold.

Finally, we have the 1928 San Jose, purchased with a $5,200 mortgage, by Fred and Wilma Bland, signed off on by Sears trustee William C. Reed. That mortgage would have had construction costs rolled into it, which usually about doubled the price of the house, from the purchase price of the kit, alone. This house is in Kenvil, New Jersey, in Morris County:
Sears San Jose model in Kenvil, NJ
This is from the March 10, 2020 listing for 17 N. Dell Avenue, Kenvil, New Jersey. It is no longer listed, so it was either bought up fast, or removed once the market nose-dived with everything that is going on with Corona Virus. In any case, there's that iron grille in the inset area of the tower, above the doorway alcove!
The house was bought in October of 2019, for $80,000. They have done lots of work to the lot, since then, removing overgrown shrubs and trees. It looked like this, before:
Sears San Jose model in Kenvil, NJ
17 N. Dell Avenue, Kenvil, New Jersey • Authenticated Sears San Jose, built in 1928

Sears San Jose model in Kenvil, NJ

Sears San Jose model in Kenvil, NJ

Sears was not the only house company in that era to offer these homes that had a Spanish flair to them. Gordon-Van Tine and Montgomery Ward, for example, had several models each, as did Aladdin, and Sears had additional models with a Mission or Spanish Colonial look to them. Lara Solonickne did a nice blog post in 2016, called, "The Spanish Craze That Swept the Country", that shows examples of those models. Check it out, if  you're interested!

If you know of a Sears San Jose that I haven't mentioned here, please let me know about it! As always, be sure to leave your contact information in any comment that you leave, as there is no way for me to reply to you, otherwise.

UPDATE April 4, 2020:
Lara Solonickne just messaged me that she has found a seventh San Jose, through a mortgage release in the records for Wilton, Connecticut! John and Elsie Sundlof were released from their mortgage, by Sears, in 1942. The Wilson Historical Society inventoried this house at 48 Own Home Avenue, but nowhere in the historical record do they mention that the house was a Sears kit house, so we have to imagine that they don't realize that. The inventory record gives some interesting historic background on the residents of the San Jose. And, here it is:
Authenticated Sears San Jose • 48 Own Home Avenue, Wilton, Connecticut
Authenticated Sears San Jose • 48 Own Home Avenue, Wilton, Connecticut



4 comments:

  1. I kinda suspect there are many more Sears San Joses out there. Thanks for giving us something new to read!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope there are more! It was fun to get the lead on this one in Brigantine.

      Delete
    2. Judith, I just found one!

      Wilton, CT

      http://gis.vgsi.com/wiltonct/Parcel.aspx?Pid=472

      Delete
    3. Fabulous find, Lara! I added the Wilton, CT, San Jose, to the blog post!

      Delete

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