Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Sears No. 178 In Iowa

sears house model number 178
Sears model No. 178 • 901 State Street, Guthrie Center, Iowa • 1910
I was incredibly excited to run across this 1910 Sears model No. 178.

Back in June, I came across this incredible house, in Guthrie Center, Iowa.  I had found another Sears house here, and thought I'd take a look around some more.  When I stumbled upon this No. 178, my jaw dropped and my eyes bugged out, and I gasped. I'm sure I gasped.  The funny thing, is that I had seen this house numerous times in the catalogs, and remember thinking to myself, "This is such an odd-looking house, that I bet it's one that no one ever even built." And... here it is!

sears modern homes catalog 1914
From my 1914 Sears Modern Homes catalog, page 44.
Because it isn't a testimonial house, or one whose mortgage deed I've found, it isn't authenticated. But, many of our Sears homes finds are not able to be authenticated.  It is good, and important, however, to check some basic information, like the all-important footprint.  If tax records show a house to be several feet bigger in one direction or another, than the floor plan footprint shown in the catalog, you have to wonder about whether it is, indeed, a Sears.

So, I did my duty, and checked the tax records. Once again, though, I had great trouble finding the exact address of this house, despite a good bit of playing around with Google maps.  In fact, I did get, eventually, that the house number is 901, but, if you plug in "901 State Street" for this town, into a search for a possible real estate listing, you don't get this house, you get the one across the street. Throws you off!

sears modern homes 1914 milton floorplan
This is the floor plan for either the model No. 264P210, or for this one, the No. 178.
Comparison of the footprint images.
The tax records show that this house is a good match in size.  It's 42' wide, and 24' deep (discounting the several feet of depth for the bay window)... though the catalog shows 23'. Sometimes, I think, the tax folks measure outside, and then they also round off, and the catalog folks are showing inside measurements, so you get a little bit bigger measurement from the tax records sometimes, because of the siding materials.

More photos (all from Google maps, so none of them are the best shots, but they do show the details we need to see):

sears model milton or 178
The roof eave on the side is deep enough to accommodate the gable build-out that the catalog shows, but they apparently opted not to include that.
The chimney is great. And, it matches the design of the chimney in the catalog! The windows match, too.
Matching chimney design!
Even little details like the tracery work above the arched opening on the side of the porch, match:

Love the tracery detail.
Notice the triple windows.
The triple windows that you see in the back, center, upper floor, bring light in to shine on the upper-floor center hall, and the large staircase. I wish I could see this house's interior. I'd love to see that roomy center hall on the second floor.

That's a bay window there, on the right side of the porch -- on both levels!
The windows on the right side, follow the floor plan layout for windows. That's a dining room there in the front, on this side, with a bay window there on the first floor, but also above, in the front bedroom.

sears house 178_stonekote
Straight-on view of the front. The house is missing the little "wings" at the top of the columns, but, the owners may have opted against having those, especially with this "Stonekote" exterior. 
It looks like the exterior of this house is probably the gritty cement substance known as Stonekote, which Sears mentioned in their catalogs.  According to the Garden City Sand Company, in their advertisement in "Sweet's" Catalogue of Building Construction for 1911 , it "is a ready to use Portland cement... made with White Silica Sand".
Buying This House In 1910
According to Houses By Mail, this house wasn't in the catalog until 1911, and it was last offered in 1913.  But, the tax records give 1910 as the build year of this house, and I also have this model in my 1914 catalog. So, HBM is a bit off-- and/or, the tax records reflect when the original owners bought the plot of land. In any case, it was only offered in the not-yet-kit-home era, meaning that, though you'd get the plans, and (almost) all of the materials to build it, the lumber wouldn't have been pre-cut, and labeled, for ease of construction. That pre-cut-and-fitted option didn't start until about 1916.  In 1910, Sears estimated that, after buying the plans and materials from them for $1,440, with "a fair price for labor, cement, brick, and plaster, which we do not furnish", you could build this house for a total of $3,200.

And, they offered a chart for heating, plumbing, and light options, which were all additional costs:

The No. 264P210 (The Sears Milton)
The No. 178 appears in the 1914 catalog, on the same page as the No. 264P210 (later re-named The Milton), and Sears wrote that the two models shared the same floor plan, and, for no additional cost, you could choose either front design:

Either exterior, same floor plan, same price.
There is a 264P210 in Virginia: The Milton House Bed & Breakfast Inn, at 113 W. Main Street, Stanley, Virginia. It was recently up for sale, so I'm not sure if it is still in business, but here is the house:
It's funny that I ran across this on my own tonight, and didn't realize that it was already on our National Database of Sears Homes, because I was looking under, "No. 264P210", and not under, "Milton" -- I didn't realize that this model was the Milton! Ha! Always learning :) And, apparently, someone sent this home to another blogger, and its images were posted here, in 2012.
(Image Source

These last two are from the Trip Advisor website.
The No. 124
A similar house to the No. 178, is the maybe-not-quite-two-full-stories bungalow model No. 124. The 124 only has the bay window on the first floor.

sears model 124 in 1914 sears catalog
From page 33 of my 1914 Sears Modern Homes Catalog.
sears house model 124 floor plan

From reader comments on a blog post at (Rose Thornton's blog), I learned that there is a No. 124 in Medina, Ohio:
915 Wadsworth Road, Medina, Ohio
And one at 913 Washington Avenue, in Rensselaer, New York, which has recently been for sale (see the Trulia listing here). There are some gorgeous interior photos of that house, so I'll close with those.  They should give you a good idea of what the interior of our Guthrie Center, Iowa, No. 178 might have looked like (they don't have the exact same layout, but the look of the interior would have been similar (Click any to enlarge them.)

913 washington ave rensselaer new york for sale


  1. Great feature on this very unusual Sears House. I love it when these older models come to light. Happy Sears House Seeking!

  2. Replies
    1. Glad you liked it, Nicholaus Buthmann! Are you related to the original owners, by any chance?


Please include your contact information if you have a question or are offering information!
Your comment will appear after it has been previewed and approved by the blog author. Thanks for your interest!