Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Harris Brothers No. 117 In Massachusetts

Probable Harris Brothers No. 117 in Massachusetts
I recently had a wonderful visit with family I love, in the area of Massachusetts where my mother's mother spent her youth.  It's been a difficult year, with an important loss in our family, and this was an especially important trip for us.

My mother, aunt, and sister and I devoted an afternoon during our trip, to a drive up to Leverett, Massachusetts, to see the old family farm where my maternal great-grandparents (my mother's mother's parents) -- immigrants from Russian Poland-- eventually settled and raised their family in America. My great-grandfather had come first from Poland, leaving his wife and young son behind, to establish a home here in the United States.  He started off in New Jersey for a bit, working as a gardener for a well-known wealthy estate, and then moved up to Wisconsin, where he had heard that there was a settlement of other Polish immigrants.  My great-grandmother was able to join him there, with their little son, and there they continued to grow their family.

After a few years in Wisconsin, the family moved permanently to Leverett, Massachusetts.  Eventually, my grandmother met the man who would become her husband, and he courted her by taking the very long drive out to the countryside of Leverett, from Northampton, Massachusetts, where he lived (in a Sears No. 110, I can add).  I think the joke was, that he figured that they had better get married, because he was afraid he'd end up getting lost one day, having to take that long drive out to Leverett's farmlands.

My grandmother was a very special woman, proud to be a young woman with a high-school diploma, awarded with high honors, in the late 19-teens. She raised five children alone after my grandfather died, and lived to see tragedies occur in the lives of her own cherished children.  At one point, she told a loved one, "I finished crying a long time ago."

It was with dear memories of her, at the side of my own aging, and cherished mother, and with the special company of an aunt I love especially much, that my sister and I took that drive on a beautiful August afternoon, up to Leverett, to see the family farm.  It was a great day, capped off with dripping maple-walnut ice cream.

Of course, because my family knows of my special fondness for architectural history (even if they don't really quite understand it), they understood when I, the driver, suddenly yelped out, "Whoa! Hold on!", and veered the car off to the side of the road.  I thought that I had spotted a Sears No. 126-- what an exciting find that would have been.

This is a probable Sears No. 126, at 745 Atalanta, Webster Groves (Saint Louis area), Missouri.
Photo from the Circa Properties listing for this house.  The build year is wrong for this house, I think. It is listed as circa 1919, but I just found a building permit for this lot for 1910, and found no building permit anytime between 1915 and 1922 for this lot. It still may be a Sears, but Sears was not listed on the building permit.
I did not find this Sears house -- it was Rose Thornton, author of Sears homes books, and blogger at, who mentioned it in THIS newspaper article. I assume she found it herself, but this one may have been sent by the homeowner. 
But, though I snapped several photos of the house, I knew that there were definite differences, and that the house wasn't a Sears No. 126.  Still, I took several photos, wanting to check to be sure.
No. 28 on a road whose name I'm not sure I noted, in a town I'm not sure I noted, either.
Though the interesting shape of this house mimics that of the No. 126, the roof line -- especially the front eaves -- doesn't fit.  This cute little diamond-shaped dormer-ette (hah! what else can you call this little thing, eh?) doesn't belong, and the extension of the front porch roof doesn't match.

It's not a Sears No. 126, but what it probably is, is a Harris Brothers No. 117.  The image below is from the 1914 Harris Brothers catalog, just as they were transitioning to the company's new name, after having been known as Chicago House Wrecking Company, and I thank the ever-gracious owner of both Daily Bungalow and Antique Home, for making available this catalog image.


My find at house number 28, includes windows inside the front porch, that are not shown on the Harris No. 117, but I think it may be a match, nonetheless.

Well, you can't see much, I know, but this does show the curve of the front sections.
And... the floor plan. 
See how that first window doesn't start till a good bit back on this side? That seems to be what the floor plan shows, as well.

The gorgeous cover of the Harris Brothers Company 1914-15 catalog.
Thanks to Daily Bungalow, on Flickr.
Thanks, tonight, to my good friends and fellow researchers in the world of documenting Sears homes, and other kit homes and plan-book homes, for your help and fellowship.  On to more researching, and let's add on to that list!

Thanks to a reader who enjoys my blog and takes a personal interest in my family photos, I've learned of another Harris 117 that was recently for sale, at 54 N. Parsonage St., Rhinebeck, New York:

harris brothers model no 117

harris brothers model no 117


  1. What a nice story. You spotting this house was fate. So glad you were able to take your own photos, too. There is a lot of information on the internet these days, to help us in locating these kit houses, but there is no better thrill than seeing them in person. Keep up your good work. There are quite a few serious researchers who fully support what you are doing to further interest in these homes.

  2. You figured it out! Should have guessed Harris right away, now that I think about it. They had a lot of those "dormer-ettes" on their models. :)

  3. What a lovely post, about a lovely time!
    Some of the details are a little strange about this house -- the roofline in general has some odd features -- but it seems like there isn't anything that makes it impossible for it to have started life as a #117 design.
    Maybe my favorite detail is the porch railing -- so adorable! -- even tho it doesn't seem to be from the Harris design. Just a beautiful little house, and GREAT find!

    1. Yes, I'm not 100% convinced-- I agree. Isn't that Sears No. 126 a great one, though! Love it!

  4. It is very interesting post about your family. The first green house is my favourite one..


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