Monday, November 23, 2015

Sears Ashmore: A Catalog Testimonial House in Cleveland, Ohio (2019 Update)

Sears Ashmore model in Cleveland Heights 3064 Corydon Rd
3064 Corydon Road, Cleveland Heights, Ohio • Sears Ashmore • 1920
Testimonial house of James J. Humpal
In the 1924 Sears Modern Homes catalog, there is a testimonial by James J. Humpal, reporting back to Sears to let them know how much he loves his newly-built Ashmore. Here it is:

Sears Ashmore model in Cleveland Heights 3064 Corydon Rd James J Humpal testimonial
The testimonial, as it appeared in the 1924 catalog.
Using, and Google maps street view, I was able to find James J. Humpal, and then his house, pretty quickly.  According to a check on Trulia, and then a double check in the Cuyahoga County real estate property files, I found that he had built his house in 1920. However, these records are not always accurate (sometimes off by a few years, sometimes by a decade or more), so a more reliable way to find when this house was first available and occupied, on Corydon Road, was to check city directories for Cleveland. Using that resource, I checked back starting in 1915, and found no James J. Humpal at this address until 1921. There were two James J. Humpals listed in 1920, but neither was at this address. Finally, in 1921, there was only one James J. Humpal, and he was at this address. Bingo! He must have built the house in late 1920. He is then listed here in 1922 through 1925 (though somehow not in 1923 --he's not listed at all), but 1926 saw James J. Humpal move to Morton Street, where he is also shown as living, in the 1930 U. S. Census, with a wife named Stella.  He appears to have worked as a carpenter.
Sears Ashmore model in Cleveland Heights 3064 Corydon Rd James J Humpal testimonial
1925 City Directory for Cleveland and surrounding suburbs.
C H denotes Cleveland Heights.
Additionally, the current owners shared with me a copy of the original deed for the lot, signed by James J. Humpal and wife Stella L. Humpal, and it is dated June, 1919. So, they must have bought the lot in mid 1919, and were finally finished with the construction of the house by some time in 1921.

Back to the house itself:
Do you see the big white house to the right of the Humpals' Ashmore? That big house is still there today! Here it is in a current Google Maps Street view shot:
Sears Ashmore model in Cleveland Heights 3064 Corydon Rd James J Humpal testimonial
There's that big white four-square house, right next door! The same one that you see in the testimonial photo.
According to the price in the 1920 catalog, they would have paid over $4,500, just for the kit, not counting labor, and extras, such as the heating system, electrical wiring, and bathroom fixtures.  It looks like WWI took its toll on the housing market: only two years earlier, in 1918, the Ashmore was offered -- not Ready Cut, however -- for a full two thousand dollars less, and then, two years after the Humpals built their Ashmore, it was available, in 1922, as an "Already Cut" and fitted kit, for just over $3,600 -- almost a thousand dollars less than they paid in 1920.

price of Sears Ashmore 1920
The Ashmore in the 1920 catalog.
price of Sears Ashmore 1918
The Ashmore two years earlier, in the 1918 catalog--
Not Ready Cut.
price of Sears Ashmore 1922
The Ashmore two years later, in the 1922 catalog.
The Ashmore is an impressive bungalow, and the catalog images always like to show off its very interesting side view:

catalog image of Sears Ashmore 1920 catalog
1920 Catalog image of the Sears Ashmore
(click to enlarge)
I love the look of this house, and wish that the Humpal Ashmore didn't have a house to the left of it, so that we could get a good look at it, with Google Streetview, but... no... there's a tree in the way. The testimonial photo gives us a nice look, though:
Sears Ashmore model in Cleveland Heights 3064 Corydon Rd James J Humpal testimonial
Testimonial photo of James J. Humpal's Ashmore
Sears Ashmore model in Cleveland Heights 3064 Corydon Rd James J Humpal testimonial
The same Ashmore, as it looks today.
At some point in the life of the house, an owner previous to the current owners, enclosed that side porch, making a very nice little sitting room off of the dining room. Here is what it looks like, now, from the outside:
Sears Ashmore model in Cleveland Heights 3064 Corydon Rd James J Humpal testimonial
Enclosed side porch of the testimonial Ashmore in Cleveland Heights.
I know this not only because  you can see it from the outside, on the left, but because I recently (in June 2019) visited Cleveland with some other Sears House researchers, and we were treated to an inside visit of this very house. The current owners were working on the lovely yard, and we struck up a conversation, and were then invited in. Their house is absolutely stunning inside! It has been kept very true to its original look, with a very tasteful and attractive newer kitchen installed. The breakfast nook had already been converted to use as part of the kitchen, before the current owners bought the house a few years ago.

Everyone who blogs about the beautiful Sears Ashmore, always includes the great interior images shown in the catalog--why should I be different, eh?
catalog page from 1918 showing interior images for Sears Ashmore
Sears Ashmore interiors, as shown in one of the early catalogs -- 1918, I believe.
Here is an online version of that page of the 1918 Sears Modern Homes catalog
I don't think that anyone noticed, until last night, that the photos changed beginning with the 1922 catalog. And, the set of photos is labeled, "As built by one of our customers at Cleveland, Ohio". Now, we are currently only aware of one Ashmore in Cleveland, Ohio... there could be another, of course... but, what we noticed right away, was that this new photo of the Ashmore dining room, has a particular look that we recognized... the built-in hutch, as well as the wall paneling that goes 2/3 of the way up the wall, are painted white, with sections of the natural brown stain left, for example, on the drawers of the hutch, and in sections of the paneling. And... guess what Ashmore we just visited, has that exact same look! You bet! The Cleveland Heights Ashmore built by James J. Humpal. The current owners made a point of mentioning that it was already painted white when they bought the house, but I'm not sure if they knew that this was actually the original look in this house. Take a look:
James J Humpal testimonial Sears Ashmore in Cleveland Heights, shown in 1922 Sears catalog
Thanks to Andrew Mutch for discovering this interesting tidbit for us.
Here is an online version of this page in the 1923 Sears Modern Homes catalog
I didn't want to take, or share, too many interior photos of the current house, as we were visiting, but I did ask permission to photograph this hutch... I hadn't intended to add it to the blog, but you really have to see how this shows that the 1922-1924 catalog images of the Ashmore interior, are most surely ones sent in by James J. Humpal:
James J. Humpal tesimonial Sears Ashmore Cleveland Heights Oh dining room hutch

dining room hutch in 1924 Sears catalog Sears Ashmore model in Cleveland Heights 3064 Corydon Rd James J Humpal testimonial

1924 catalog image of dining room of Sears Ashmore model in Cleveland Heights 3064 Corydon Rd James J Humpal testimonial
This same photo is used for the rest of the run of the Ashmore, through the 1924 catalog, which was its last year.
We can all verify that, yes, the paneling looks just like this.

For contrast, take a look at the interior of this Sears Ashmore in Erie, Pennsylvania:
Erie PA Sears Ashmore dining room
This Ashmore has the reverse floor plan of the one shown in the catalog, and of the one in Cleveland Heights.
And, though the cabinets themselves in this next image, look to be drawn, they do show the two-color door that leads from the dining room into the kitchen:
kitchen image shown in 1924 Sears catalog Sears Ashmore model in Cleveland Heights 3064 Corydon Rd James J Humpal testimonial
I imagine that the layout of the kitchen looked like this, but Sears polished up the image a bit.
So, that was a very cool discovery, indeed!

Another thing you'll notice on the hutch, is the "Sears hinge"... well, that's what we call it. It seems to be only offered by Sears, and we love when we run across a house with these hinges. The Cleveland Heights Ashmore has these hinges both on the dining room hutch, and on the built-in cabinets on either side of the fireplace (in that fabulous little fireplace nook -- you should have seen it!):
Sears Ashmore model in Cleveland Heights 3064 Corydon Rd James J Humpal testimonial showing Sears hinge

Sears Ashmore model in Cleveland Heights 3064 Corydon Rd James J Humpal testimonial sears hinge

Sears Modern Homes catalog 1920 showing hinge
Here it is, in the 1920 Sears Modern Homes catalog
This hinge is shown on the page of the 1920 catalog, showing the Chicago Design door hardware, which is what we found all throughout the Cleveland Heights Ashmore (the hinge is particular to Sears, but the Chicago style door handle hardware is offered by most all of the kit companies, under their own name):
Chicago design hardware in Sears Modern Homes catalog 1920
Chicago Design Hardware, as shown in the 1920 Sears Modern Homes catalog.
Here it is online, in the 1921 catalog
The floor plan for the first floor, helps you place in your mind the location of the dining room to the kitchen and the now-enclosed porch (labeled "Pergola" on this drawing) that creates the sitting room to the side of the dining room:
first floor layout Sears Ashmore
Sears Ashmore floor plan, from my 1924 catalog.
Sears Shipping Labels
When a buyer purchased a kit from Sears, besides the framing lumber being ink-stamped with a letter/number combo (for the pre-cut kits), the trim pieces were always sent with affixed paper shipping labels on the back. We've seen some various designs of these shipping labels, depending on the year, and maybe depending on which Sears-owned plant shipped the labels. Sometimes, the address and name shown on the shipping label, was Norwood Sash & Door, in Norwood, Ohio, because this was the company that Sears owned, that fabricated their trim, windows, and doors. Sometimes, too, the labels mentioned Sears & Roebuck by name, and sometimes, instead, the label simply mentioned an address on Homan Avenue, in Chicago... that would have been the Sears address. The owners of the Cleveland Heights Ashmore found numerous shipping labels on trim pieces in their house:
paper shipping label from Sears, affixed to back of Sears kit trim pieces, Sears Ashmore
There it is! We see James J. Humpal as the recipient of the kit pieces. And, the "notify at" address, is the address that the Humpals lived at in 1920, according to the Cleveland City Directory of that year. 
One cautionary comment about these shipping labels: Finding one of these shipping labels on the back of trim pieces in your house, does surely mean that the wood came from Sears. However... it does not necessarily mean that the house is a Sears kit. Sears also sold building supplies, independent of their packaged kits. To be considered a kit, the house design had to have been designed and sold by Sears, and the whole "package" bought together. Usually, that means that the house matches one of the models in the Sears Modern Homes catalogs. 

A Few Last Looks At The Humpal Sears Ashmore
During our June 2019 visit, I was able to get a few more exterior shots, to update this blog post:
Sears craftsman purlins on Sears Ashmore model in Cleveland Heights 3064 Corydon Rd James J Humpal testimonial

Sears Ashmore model in Cleveland Heights 3064 Corydon Rd James J Humpal testimonial
The floor plan indicates a nice little porch off the back door, and here it is! 

Sears Ashmore model in Cleveland Heights 3064 Corydon Rd James J Humpal testimonial view of back exterior
This is what we've seen the back of other Ashmores to look like, though some have closed in the back porch.

Sears Ashmore model in Cleveland Heights 3064 Corydon Rd James J Humpal testimonial
Two nice bumpouts on the right side, one for the living room, and one for the bathroom.

Sears Ashmore model in Cleveland Heights 3064 Corydon Rd James J Humpal testimonial front entry porch
Nice, shady front entry porch. 
We can't thank the owners enough, for graciously allowing us into their home. It was the highlight of our weekend! And, we took their suggestion and headed next for a delicious lunch at the locally-owned Stone Oven Artisan Bakery and Café, on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights. It was time for a break, and we were not disappointed! Check it out, if you find yourselves in Cleveland Heights.
Stone Oven Bakery and Cafe in Cleveland Heights Ohio
I spy some Sears House Hunters!

Stone Oven bakery and cafe Cleveland Heights Ohio
Interesting back info on The Stone Oven (Artisan Bakery and Café). There are now three locations in the Cleveland area.

Do You Know Of An Ashmore?
We have a number of Ashmores on our National Database of Sears Homes, but I've read that there is one in north west Pennsylvania, and one in New Berlin, Illinois.  I'd love to know where! Feel free to leave me a comment if you know of the location of these two Ashmores, or any others.

Here's an authenticated beauty in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania:
snowy exterior photo of Sears Ashmore in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
9760 East Road, Pttsburgh, Pennsylvania • 1916 Sears Ashmore
In the mean time, if you're interested in seeing more Ashmores, try:

This August 2015 post on Sears Houses in Ohio, by Cindy Catanzaro
This August 2015 post on Kit House Hunters, by Andrew Mutch
This new, June 2019, post of mine about the Ashmore in Erie, Pennsylvania

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Blogs About Sears Homes and Other Kit Homes

sears houses in cincinnati
A beautiful, authenticated Sears Osborn, as shown in a post on the tribute blog, Sears Houses in Cincinnati
I love reading about, and researching, Sears kit houses. If you do, too, you might be interested in a few of the blogs I turn to regularly for well-presented and thoughtfully-researched information, along with wonderful photos of Sears houses, and homes by other kit companies and plan-book companies of the 19-teens through 1930s.

radford gordon van tine wardway sears modern homes lewis sterling

Along the way in my own readings and research, I learned that several other kit-house companies existed, too (some larger than Sears, and older), and some of the bloggers I read include excellent information about homes by those companies, too: among them Aladdin, Gordon-Van Tine, Wardway (by Montgomery Ward), Harris Brothers (and their earlier name, Chicago House Wrecking Company), Lewis (later Lewis-Liberty), Sterling, and Bennett Homes.  All of these companies sold houses through catalogs, selling house blueprints, and bundling them up with all of the needed pre-cut-and-labeled lumber, screws and nuts and bolts, windows and doors, framing wood and millwork, staircases and built-ins, and even paint, stain, flooring, shingles, light fixtures, bathtubs, sinks, faucets, and heating systems.

Other companies sold only the blueprints, requiring you to turn to your local lumber yard for all of the needed supplies. We call these, Plan Book companies, and their house plans were usually compiled in books available at local lumber yards (who were all in deep competition with the mail-order kit-house companies). Some of the big names you might read about are: Radford, C. L. Bowes, Standard Homes, and Home Builders Catalog. There are others, too.

Here's a list of a few blogs you might enjoy, given in no particular oder. They're all informative and well-done. They're not updated daily, because research takes time, but each post is worth the wait:

1. Sears Houses in Cincinnati
laraine shape blog
This blog is a tribute blog, re-creating the blog posts of Laraine Shape, a Cincinnati Realtor and Sears House enthusiast, who passed away in January of 2015.  Her good friend, Cindy Catanzaro (of Sears Houses in Ohio), collected all of the words and photos of Laraine's original blog, and, little by little, re-published her posts.  Cincinnati is, as Cindy has said, like Disneyland for Sears House enthusiasts, because there are hundreds (and hundreds?) of Sears houses there, thanks to the existence there of a company called Norwood Sash & Door, which was headquartered in Cincinnati. Sears bought the company, and used them for the fabrication of its millwork, doors, and windows. The image at the top of today's blog post, is of a beautiful, authenticated Sears Osborn, and comes from the November 14, 2015 blog post.  Since Laraine was a realtor, many of the posts she wrote included lots of great interior photos, which is rare.
Click here to read the informative post about that Osborn
Click here to get to the home page of Sears Houses in Cincinnati

2. Sears Homes of Chicagoland
Whenever I needed information and photos of houses, I found myself turning to this blog all of the time, before I even knew its author, researcher Lara Solonickne.  Lara began this blog several years ago, when she realized that there was a real dearth of information available to show Sears Homes in the greater Chicago area... another area of the country that is rife with Sears homes, because Sears was headquartered in Chicago. While the blog focuses on Sears homes in the Chicago area, Lara also occasionally includes Wardway or Gordon-Van Tine homes, or the occasional Harris or Home Builders plan-book home.  Her blog is informative, well-researched, and often includes some history about the original owners of the homes.  As Lara is an avid researcher, she also sometimes includes posts that provide background information on how Sears developed its Modern Homes division. Lara is responsible for beginning the National Database of Sears Homes.
Click here to go to the home page of Sears Homes of Chicagoland (

3.  Sears Houses In Ohio
blog on sears houses
Researcher and Sears house expert, Cindy Catanzaro, is based in Springfield, Ohio.  She became interested in Sears homes when she realized that she owned one, a Sears Jeanette model.  Since then, she has become a leading authority on Sears homes, and leads tours of Sears homes in Springfield, Ohio.  Her blog includes homes found throughout her state, and touches on research methods and other historic background on the houses she includes. A number of the homes that Cindy writes about, have been located and authenticated through meticulous research of mortgage records using Ohio's excellent on-site and on-line tax assessor and auditor resources.  But, she also has a great eye for spotting Sears models, as well as homes from other companies, and her Ohio Sears houses research has been the subject of more than one newspaper article and TV news segment.  Cindy is also the founding administrator behind the Facebook page, Sears Modern Homes, where you can see images of Sears homes, learn about the background of kit homes, and ask questions.
Click here to read Sears Houses in Ohio
Click here to go to the Facebook page, Sears Modern Homes

4.  Kit House Hunters
andrew and wendy mutch novi michigan
Researchers and kit-house enthusiasts Andrew and Wendy Mutch live in Michigan, in a wonderful 1926 Sears Hamilton model (see it, and them, here, in this 2017 segment on NBC Nightly news!).  Who knew there were so many kit houses in Michigan!? I didn't, but I've learned about tons of them, thanks to Andrew's input in our research-oriented Facebook group -- we've only seen the tip of the iceberg in the blog posts so far! Besides showing homes, Andrew's posts frequently highlight research that he has done authenticating Sears homes and Wardway homes, especially, and providing research-backed information on the development of kit-house companies in the U.S. He also loves to crunch the numbers, and periodically blogs about the data collected from our constantly-growing database of Sears Houses in the U.S.. Andrew has located hundreds of houses in communities in Michigan, New York State, D. C., Maryland, and elsewhere, through top-notch research of mortgages and historic publications, and has been interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, and numerous other national and local news outlets.  He and Wendy are both information professionals, and they share their research via the blog, but also through presentations in local communities in Michigan.  If you have the opportunity to attend one of their presentations, don't miss it!  
Click here to read Kit House Hunters

5. Sears House Seeker
My own blog, here, is my ongoing effort to document the American kit-house phenomenon. An educator by profession, I enjoy delving into the history of the families who bought these kit houses, while also explaining how we identify and locate Sears houses around the country. And, I love the houses, themselves, so it is a joy for me to show off the finds of our kit-house researching community! I began my blog with an in-depth presentation of the Sears No. 110 (Silverdale) that my mother grew up in, built by my Polish immigrant great-grandparents, in Northampton, Massachusetts, and the blog grew from there. I've been interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, Atlas Obscura,  and a few other news resources, and my research was the focus of a "St. Louis Character" piece by the St. Louis Business Journal, in 2017 (which led to never-ending references to me, by my husband, as "quite a St. Louis character"--ha!). These days, I'm usually the admin you see presenting the latest Sears House on our informational Sears Modern Homes Facebook page.
Click here to read Sears House Seeker
Click here to find links to many online catalogs for Sears houses and other kit-house companies

6. Catalog Homes Of Western New York
If you're hungry to see what Western New York State has to offer, in the world of kit homes, Sarah Mullane's blog, Catalog Homes Of Western New York, is the place for you. Sarah is our group's specialist in the homes of New York State kit-house company, Ray H. Bennett. But, she is an enthusiastic researcher of Sears houses, as well, and you'll find a number of well-researched, informative blog posts here, with quality photographs of houses that Sarah documents.
Click here to read Catalog Homes Of Western New York

7. Sears Houses In The Midwest
Marie Vore has an eagle eye for identifying Sears houses, and she is the one who coined the phrase, referring to our shared enthusiasm for searching for kit houses around the country, as a "huge historical treasure hunt!". And, just like that, she summed up for us why this searching and documenting is so interesting to us. Her first blog post explained it this way: "This is a badass hobby! Can you imagine ordering a house from a catalog, having it arrive in thousands of pieces in a boxcar, and then having to build it yourself? And then 70,000 other people, all over the United States, do the exact same thing, only with different houses? Then in 1945, during a house cleaning, Sears Roebuck decides to throw out any and all records to do with their catalog homes. This isn't a weird hobby, this is a huge historical treasure hunt." 
Well, that's it in a nutshell!
Click here to read Sears Houses In The Midwest 

8. DC House Cat
D.C. area Realtor, and former news reporter for Der Tagesspiegel, Catarina Bannier, with her partner, Marcie Sandalow, is a specialist in working with buyers and sellers in the D.C., Maryland, and Northern Virginia real estate market... but, also a specialist in identifying and documenting kit houses. Catarina's blog, DC House Cat Chiming In, is her presentation of kit houses she has identified around the D.C. area, and includes some beautiful exterior and interior photos (it's great to be a Realtor, in this field!). Catarina has also led a presentation or two about kit houses in her area.
Click here to read DC House Cat Chiming In
Click here to read DC House Smarts, Catarina's professional blog about D.C. real estate, and kit houses
Click Here to go to the Bannier & Sandalow FaceBook page 
Click Here to read Catarina's professional bio

9. American Kit Homes
Realtor Nigel R. Tate, while still a high-school student, took a keen interest in kit houses, and joined our private research group. After a bit, he began a blog about some of the houses he had identified, and this is it! You'll find some well-documented research, on several interesting kit houses, here, in his blog, American Kit Homes.

Other Resources
If your blog reading has given you a taste for further research on your own, I've provided a list of a few great resources in the side column on the right of my blog (Don't miss Daily Bungalow's kit-company albums on Flickr, online original catalogs you can find via this link., and Dale Haynes' Pinterest version of Houses By Mail. ) Happy hunting! This is an enjoyable hobby, but also an important bit of research into an unusual phenomenon in American History. Visit our website for more information

Monday, November 2, 2015

Sears Homes in New Bern, NC: Sears Milton, No. 178, Saratoga, and Roanoke

sears houses new bern nc

Lara Solonickne writes the blog Sears Homes of Chicagoland.  She is passionate about finding and documenting Sears kit homes, and is a dogged researcher of everything related to the history of how this phenomenon developed in our country.

While researching recently, Lara found a document that led her to a listing of historic homes in New Bern, North Carolina, including these two gorgeous, early-model Sears homes, that are very rare finds: a Milton, and its fraternal twin, the No. 178.  The document was an application for inclusion of New Bern's Ghent Historic District, on the National Register of Historic Places.  Along with these two homes, three other possible Sears homes are cited in the document: a Saratoga, a Roanoke, and a Maywood.  Because Lara limits her blog to the documenting of Sears homes in the Chicago area, I was happy to oblige by writing up these wonderful finds in New Bern, North Carolina, here on Sears House Seeker.

Let's take a look:

The Milton (No. 264P210)

sears 264p210 1914

sears milton 264p210 1914 sears modern homes catalog
From my 1914 Sears Modern Homes catalog. The Milton was originally known by its number: 264P210
The Milton was offered in the 1914 catalog with another model that shared its floor plan: the No. 178.  For the same price, you could get either home -- same floor plan, different exterior look.  These homes, by the way, were before the pre-cut, cut-to-fit kits. The buyer received the plans and all of the necessary lumber, in standard lengths, and still had to cut the lumber to fit.

sears model milton and 178
From the same page of my 1914 catalog: Modern Home No. 178, sold for the same price as the Milton.
sears 1914 homes catalog milton and no 178

Both homes are the same, with the same room layout and window layout, but the front dormer and column options are different.
Click to enlarge.
A side view of the Milton in New Bern:
Click to enlarge. All house photos courtesy of Google maps.
According to the application for consideration of this house for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, this home was ordered by Charles P. Bartling, who was the first white barber of New Bern (p. 46).

The Sears No. 178

Just across the street from the Sears Milton, is this beautiful No. 178.  It was bought in 1918 by Frank G. Godfroy, superintendent of the New Bern Water and Light Department, from the Ghent Land Company (p. 33).  According to the application cited previously, it has been converted into a duplex, with two separate entrances, and an additional one-story wing was added in the back. (p. 34)
Closeup of the top of the front porch roof supports. 
sears house new bern nc
You can see the one-story addition along the back, and the unusual jutting-out gable
across the top of the side of the house, a design element shared by the Milton,
and found on both sides of this house, and the Milton.
sears house new bern nc
Notice the rafter tails jutting out and supporting the side gable.
(Click to enlarge any photo.)
You can see that the double-floor bay windows are on the left side of this house.
The Milton across the street has the reverse of this floor plan.
sears house new bern nc

To read more about Sears model No. 178, you can click here to read a blog post I wrote about another No. 178, one that I found in Guthrie Center, Iowa.  There is another Sears Milton shown in that blog post, as well.

Sears Saratoga
On the same street as the Milton and the No. 178, sits another rare and beautiful model, a Saratoga:

sears modern homes catalog saratoga
1402 Spencer Avenue, New Bern, North Carolina • Probable Sears Saratoga • c. 1913
It's always important to make the point that any house that does not have accompanying blueprints, or marked lumber, or purchase documents, is not an authenticated Sears house.  This house at 1402 Spencer Avenue fits all of the visual cues to be a Sears Saratoga, but there may be a "lookalike" model by another company out there, and so we can't say with 100% certainty that this home was bought from Sears. In any case, given the build year of circa 1913, this house would have pre-dated the sale of cut-to-fit kits, and so would not have any marked lumber. However, it might have shipping labels behind some of the trim pieces. The Saratoga was one of the earliest models of Sears homes, offered in the very first Modern Homes catalog, in 1908.

If you look at the catalog view below, and note the placement of windows and "bump-out" sections on the floor plan, you'll see that this home at 1402 Spencer must be a reverse of the standard floor plan:

sears modern homes catalog 1914 saratoga
Here, you can see the bay window that is actually on the opposite side of the New Bern Saratoga.
(From my 1914 catalog.)
You'll notice that the wraparound porch extends around to the right side of the New Bern house,
and you'll see the dining room bump-out just behind the end of the porch.
sears house in new bern nc
There is the dining room bump-out, with its four long windows,
and the edge of the wraparound porch, just next to it.
Here's a bit of information on the early owners of this house, as well as a few comments about some likenesses and differences between this house, and the catalog model view:
national register of historic places application new bern nc
From pages 27- 28 of the  NRHP application. Click to enlarge.
This beautiful home was sold in October of 2015, and so interior photos are available, thanks to this listing on ZillowThanks to an avid reader of my blog, for pointing out the listing ;) The photos show that the house is just a wonderful match for the floor plan of the Saratoga --more evidence that this unauthenticated house is quite probably a Sears Saratoga. Let's take a look. (Keep in mind that the Spencer Avenue house follows the reverse floor plan of the Saratoga, so, I've flipped the floor plan drawing in each photo. ) Click to enlarge any photo :
sears saratoga entry hall
Note the wall to the right of the staircase. In the pattern-book lookalike
version of this model, that wall is not there. Instead of an entry hall area,
the whole living room spans the front of the house, and includes
this entry area as one big, open space.  
Pattern-book lookalike to the Saratoga.
sears saratoga
And, look at that! A Sears Newel
straight out of the 1912 catalog of building supplies!
sears saratoga kitchen
sears saratoga dining room
sears saratoga
Throughout the home, you can see numerous examples of
the budding Craftsman style, which was rather new in 1913,
but was offered in the 1912 Sears building materials catalog.
sears saratoga
And, again, the lovely Craftsman door surround from Sears.
sears saratoga
And the simple elegance of the Craftsman window surround.
sears saratoga living room

And look at that gorgeous fireplace surround, and that rich, thick crown moulding. That's surely not an original Sears, run of the mill fireplace surround. No doubt this was added sometime later in the over 100 years of life of this gorgeous home. Or, even possibly at the time of construction... perhaps the owners simply wanted something more colonial, and of more of an impact,  than the rather simple fireplace mantels more appropriate for a simpler area, such as, say, Oklahoma.
You can see from this image, that the owners of this home preferred
a less bulky, less "country" kind of porch look, and went, instead,
with the simpler, more elegant square porch column that Sears offered. 
sears saratoga front porch
Sears Roanoke
A few houses down from the Saratoga, sits a big home from the early 1920s: a probable Sears Roanoke model.

1410 spencer avenue new bern nc
1410 Spencer Avenue, New Bern, NC • c. 1922 • probable Sears Roanoke
If you compare this home to the catalog view, you'll see that the front porch columns are not the standard brick look of the catalog image, but I'm sure that changing them to wood must have been an option. You can see that the base of the porch columns is actually painted brick.  You'll also notice that the cute side porte-cochère has had its standard pergola-design roof changed to add a peaked gable roof. But, if you look closely at the center double windows above the front porch roof, you'll see that the catalog shows a space between those windows only about the size of the width of one of those windows.  The actual house at 1410 Spencer, shows a space twice that size. This is a concern for documenting this home, however, information at this link, from a realtor, states that this home was built from a Sears kit by his aunt and uncle. He gives the build year as sometime in the early 1930s, but the Roanoke was not offered much after 1922, and that is the build year given on the application for placement on the National Register of Historic Places (pages 27-28).

sears modern homes catalog 1922
The Roanoke as shown in my 1922 Sears Modern Homes catalog.
I found this home on a 2013 Zillow listing-- take a look at the porch columns. The two center columns (which are not present on the catalog image, but which might have been necessary if the original buyers opted for a slightly wider, enlarged version) were not of the same style as the two outer columns, and look to have been updated since then... so those center columns are not original to the build year of the home.

sears roanoke for sale
Close up of the front elevation, as shown in this Zillow listing.
A few interior photos show placement of windows, fireplace, and rooms, that match the catalog floor plan:
Side entrance from porte-cochère, shown between the Dining Room and the Living Room.
Living Room's fireplace and side window fit.
Left side view. Are we missing a first-floor side window?
The upper windows fit the 2nd floor plan (not shown).
And, information from page 29 of the application, tells us that this home may have been ordered by a teller for the National Bank of New Bern, W. Herman Bland.

Sears Maywood ?
There is one house mentioned on the application, that gives us pause. It is right across the street from the possible Roanoke, sitting at 1401 Spencer Avenue.  The application states that this house is a possible Sears Maywood. And, on first, quick glance, it looks very similar. However, there is one major differing factor: the roof of the side dormers, that are such a characteristic element of the Maywood, and of its "lookalikes" (and there are many, by numerous plan book companies).

The Sears Maywood should have flat-roofed dormers. This house has a different style of roof over those dormers.  We see this other style on a Standard Homes model "lookalike" to the Maywood, and on an American Home Builder "lookalike" (American Home Builder was a product of the Radford company, another major plan book company).

1401 Spencer Avenue, New Bern, NC
Catalog depiction of the Sears Maywood.
Source for American Home Builder image:
November 1923 catalog on
We just can't say for certain about this house.  Was it possible to order that dormer from Sears, with a different porch roof? Not sure. Other dormers had options with similar changes. Who knows?

The Peter B. Sandbeck Book

Lara Solonickne points out, in a comment below, that it was author Peter B. Sandbeck, in his 1988 book, The Historic Architecture of New Bern and Craven County, North Carolina, who revealed these historic homes in New Bern, along with a large number of other kit homes.

sears saratoga in rolfe iowa
Read about this Rolfe, Iowa Sears Saratoga, in one of Lara's blog posts at Sears Homes of Chicagoland.