Thursday, January 1, 2015

Josephine by Sears • Columbus, Ohio • late 1920s

josephine by sears 1929
1926 Josephine, by Sears, with a 2003 little addition there on the side.

This little home was built on Acton Road in Columbus, Ohio,  in 1929, according to official assessor documents. But, we know better :)

So, that's what the assessor's site says about the house.  But, the foreclosure deed* says that Walker O. Lewis (trustee for Sears) received the house back from Ada Belle Murphy (and her husband, William Ray Murphy) in 1927... and that their mortgage deed began in 1926.  I'm still not fully clear on how these foreclosure deeds for Sears worked, but they usually show Walker O. Lewis, and then, a year or so later, Sears Roebuck & Co.  

This is a snippet from a public document on the Franklin County Assessor's site.

The Josephine was available in Sears catalogues from 1921 through 1929, according to HOUSES BY MAIL (that nifty book published by the National Trust for Historic Preservation).  The Josephine is on page 258.

I don't have an actual Sears catalogue, as so many avid researchers do.  These days, there are wonderful digital copies of several issues of kit-home and plan-book catalogues on  Right now, that's good enough for my needs. 

sears house joesphine in catalog 1921
Here is the Josephine, as shown in the 1921 catalogue.  You can see that, even though there is a little addition on the side now, the  little window closest to the front is visible there.  The front porch has had some changes, though,
The Josephine could be bought at one of two price points: 
Sears Josephine label in catalog

You can click on the images to see them in larger format.

                  description in Sears catalog of Lighter-Built houses
               catalog description of components of an Honor Bilt house by Sears
  • Honor Built (which meant, in this case, stronger build, and all lumber pre-cut and fitted)
  • Lighter Built (which meant that your joists were further apart, you had maybe 2 X 6 lumber instead of 2 X 8, you had a less-expensive roofing material, you had single-glaze window glass, and you had one single layer of flooring, instead of a sub floor plus finished wood layer -- and, your lumber would come to you not yet cut and fitted)
I don't know what Ada Belle and William Ray chose.  They would have paid about one third more, though, for the stronger, pre-cut Honor Built version.

If they did choose the Honor Built version, then here is what their flooring would have looked like:

Sears described the quality of their wood choices, and everything else, as being "a little better than you have a right to expect". Heh heh :) That made me chuckle.  My husband, too.  That was on page 11 of the 1921 catalogue I got all of these images from.  You can see it yourself here.

marked lumber by Sears on kit houses
No hemlock, spruce, or inferior types of lumber!
(You can see how the pre-cut, pre-fitted lumber was marked at the edges.)
Still, though... one of the selling points for these Sears kit houses now, is that we know that they were made of strong, old-growth lumber, of the type you can't even get anymore.  The wood in these homes was solid and strong.  

So, we don't know what the Murphy family had hoped for.  They must have hoped for their little 4-room, 1-bath home to look something like this lovely idea in the catalogue:

floor plan for Sears Josephine 3-D

I guess all we do know, now, is that they didn't get to live in their little Josephine.  But, since 2003, the current owners have an extra bedroom, and an extra bath,  thanks to that little addition there on the left side of the house... all packed into 952 square feet.  

*Thanks, Cindy C., for pointing my nose in the right direction to find this house you had already found :)


  1. I am the owner of this house. Let me know if you’d like an updated look inside!

    1. I would love to see photos of the inside! Please feel free to email me at


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