Saturday, March 28, 2015

That's Not A Sears Silverdale... or a GVT No. 167!

Chicago Millwork Supply Company, Design A 114.
(From the 1912 catalogue, "Plan of modern homes, A 302", CLICK HERE)
There's a new kid in town.

Well, not very new in existence -- but, completely new to me.  I've discovered another look-alike to the Sears Silverdale (No. 110 in the early years): Chicago Millwork Supply Company model A-114.

I became interested in Sears homes because I found out, when I was a teenager, that my mother grew up in a Sears No. 110 (Silverdale). It was built by my mom's paternal grandparents in 1911 (you can read all about it, and the family history related to it, by clicking HERE). Since then, whenever I peruse kit-home or plan-book catalogues, I keep a keen eye out for similar houses.  Up until now, I had only found the Gordon-Van-Tine (GVT) No. 167. But, now, I have also learned of the A-114 by C-M (let's call them that for brevity). 

Here are the three models. Do you notice ANY differences??
Sears 1923   •    GVT 1916    •    C-M 1912

Looking at the exterior shots from the catalogues, no differences probably hit you right away-- right? 

And... here are the floorplans.
Notice any glaring differences??

You'd have to look really, really carefully, at every detail, to see any differences here, wouldn't you. They're all 40' deep, and 24'6" wide.  Every room is the same size, and every room is in the same spot. Oh... hold on.... Look! The C-M A 114 has a big built-in sideboard in the dining room.  That takes up some space from the right-side bedroom, making it smaller. Of course, you'd have to be INSIDE of the house to ever see this! Next... you should look at the windows, to see if they land in the same spot on each model... hmm... hold on.... the GVT bedroom window is not quite centered on the wall, as it is in the other two models. Boy, that would be hard to tell from the outside, though.

Ah... but, wait :) There is something that is very clear to see here: the front porch has differences across the three models. Take a look at this comparison:

Compare where the entry is to the front porch...
and, more importantly, how many sections there are to the roof of the front porch.

Here are three Sears Silverdale/110 front porches.
Obviously, the entry spot was moved on our Silverdale in MA, but the diagonal roof section is in place.

You can see that these three Sears Silverdales (1928, 1915, 1911) all have that diagonal section of the roof of the porch.

This google-maps image of a probable GVT 167 in Hettick, Illinois, shows the different look
of a porch roof with only 3 sections.
Notice that the diagonal section is not on this house.  Not a Sears Silverdale.  Most likely a GVT 167.
(This house was found by Rosemary Thornton, and written about originally in a blog post you can read HERE. )

But, there is another difference: the size of the window of the entry vestibule off of the front porch.

The Silverdale image here is from the 1923 catalogue.
Actually, I've just noticed that the 1916 catalogue image shows a full-size window in the vestibule, not a 3/4.
Still... not the little box window of the GVT.

Here are the three Sears Silverdales... with their 3/4 size vestibule windows:

And, here is the probable GVT 167 in Hettick, Illinois, with its little square window in the vestibule:

I believe that the Sears model was available in the first catalogue, in 1908.  Though I haven't seen it, I understand that the GVT model was available beginning in 1910.  The earliest C-M catalogue I've seen, is the 1912 on Archive. org. 

If you'd like to see some of these images in the catalogue, these links will lead you to them:

 Sears 264B110 in the 1916 Catalogue: click here
 Sears Silverdale in the 1923 Catalogue: click here
 Gordon-Van Tine's Standard Homes, 1916, on

 Chicago Millwork Supply Company, 1912 Catalogue, A302

And if, like me, you hadn't really heard much about Chicago Millwork Supply Company, here is a little blurb about them (thanks to Cindy Catanzaro, who leads tours of Sears homes in Springfield, Ohio):

This comes from a book entitled, The Central Manufacturing District (info HERE).

All of these models, by the way, were available as kits-- blueprints along with lumber, screws, nails, lathing, windows, paint, roof shingles, and plenty more... but, not pre-cut to size.  At least, not for Sears, until about 1916.  And, the designs for Gordon-Van-Tine in the 1916 "Standard Homes" catalogue I link to, were also not pre-cut.

This is from the  1912 Chicago Millwork Supply Co. catalogue ad for the A-114.
That's the same price that the Sears model cost in the 1916 catalogue. The GVT in 1916 was $924.
By 1923, the Sears Silverdale included a bathroom, and the price was up to $2, 247.
Thanks to Lara, from Sears Homes of Chicagoland, for finding the white 1915 Pennsylvania Silverdale I've mentioned here.  Her blog is full of interesting information on Sears homes, and you can also find there a link to an online database of Sears homes (she, along with several other noted researchers, have been working hard to document the history of these historic homes). You can find her blog HERE.

If you know of another Silverdale look-alike, please don't hesitate to let me know in a comment, below.


  1. This presents a problem because windows often change over time, as do porches.

    I don't know when Chicago Millwork started selling plans but I know they weren't in 1910 based on their advertising.

    Thanks for compiling all this information in one place!

    1. I was thinking that, too, Lara, as I was writing this. Of all of the things that might get modified, the porch and the windows are the biggest candidates, probably.

  2. "Remarkably pleasing," indeed! Nice work assembling all of these examples and their differences for us all to use in identifying these models and their look-alikes.


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