Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sears Hazelton in Kirkwood, Missouri, a St. Louis Suburb

central place historic district kirkwood mo
322 Central Place, Kirkwood, Missouri • 1913 •  Sears Hazelton ... I think
You'll notice right off the bat, that the dormer has a peaked roof, instead of the expected flat, shed dormer style.  Is that enough to eliminate this house as a Hazelton? Probably not, as we've often seen dormer roof changes like this, though not usually on suspected Hazeltons... or, maybe we've been missing some, because we didn't expect that change?
Those of us in the world of researching historic homes, put great store in authenticating the houses we find.  Because of this, when there is a known "clone" (a model from another company that is almost an exact lookalike, not just similar), and we have no way of definitively authenticating the house through blueprints or a mortgage,  we hesitate to share the house publicly. But... in the case of this house, on a block full of beautiful little bungalows, in historic Kirkwood, Missouri, the idea of finding a probable/possible Sears Hazelton and NOT sharing it, was unthinkable. So, here we go... let's take a look at what we've got.

Side Windows and Bump-out
Everyone knows this iconic depiction of the Sears Hazelton:

sears no 172 1914 catalog
From my 1914 Sears Modern Homes Catalog -- known in 1913 simply by its number, No. 172.

But, what about this No. 118, from plan-book company, Chicago Millwork Supply Company?

chicago millwork supply company no 118

Chicago Millwork Supply Company even chose their Sears Hazelton clone model (Design No. 118) to grace the cover of their 1914 catalog:

chicago millwork supply company 1914 cover
Source (click to enlarge)
What's different?? Anything at all?? Well, the porch is shown as having open railings, on the Sears model, and the Chicago Millwork model is shown with that area of the porch being solid.  So... on our house in Kirkwood, how does that compare? It's stucco! It wasn't made with a brick support base for the porch columns, and open railings... but, it's not solid, either. It has large, screened-in openings cut into the porch base.  That doesn't match either company, so that's not going to rule out either model.

Let's look at the right side of the house-- On both companies' models, there should be three evenly-spaced windows on the first floor of that side, with the center window being a bit shorter... and that's what we have on our Kirkwood house:

right side of sears hazelton model 3 windows

And, here is a probable Hazelton in Guthrie Center, Iowa, to compare:

sears hazelton guthrie center iowa 3 side windows
This house is not an authenticated Hazelton, but, most probably is one
(read my blog post about it here).
I do notice that the Iowa house has an enclosed section on the end of this side.  Since there is a small porch in the floor plans, on the other side of the back of the house, one of the owners along the way must have extended and enclosed that porch.

Here is another almost-certain Sears Hazelton (it's in Cincinnati, so that's almost a given, but, it also has the one other feature that only the Hazelton has ... little side windows on the bumpout on the other side of the house). It's at 1522 Maple, and I ran across it while researching Cincinnati mortgages recently... but, it was already on our National Database of Sears homes.  It shows the 3 windows on this side, exactly like our Kirkwood house:

sears hazelton 3 windows on side
1522 Maple Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 
The other side of the house should have a nice, big bump-out for the dining room, and that should have four long windows in it.  Just behind that bump-out, should be a small double window. And, in front of that bump-out, should be a set of three small, square windows. Let's take a look (click any image to enlarge):

sears hazelton bumpout three windows
Iowa Hazelton: all systems go! Everything as it should be on this side.
Cincinnati Hazelton: Great! But, hold on, there are only two little square windows.
Well, that's because these folks opted for a fireplace (that's the living room),
so there is a chimney running up in between those two little windows
(see the chimney sticking out of the roof?)
bumpout side of sears hazelton
Kirkwood house: same issue as the  Cincinnati Hazelton...
there was a fireplace added in the living room,
so there is a chimney rising up where the middle square window should be.
You can also see that this house has had a small addition added on to the back.
This was confirmed for me when I met the owner.
A closer look at the bump-out area, noting the medium-sized double windows behind it.
The bump-out on the Hazelton is normally flat-roofed,
but, like the front dormer, it may have been customized to make a change to the peaked style.
At this point, you may have noticed that the Kirkwood house does not have the little side windows on the bump-out. Darn! But... that isn't actually going to rule it out, because we've seen some Cincinnati open-railing probable Hazeltons that didn't have those little windows.  We assume that it was a cost-cutting option, to leave out those windows, or, they were eliminated during a later re-siding of the house. But... of course, this could be a sign that the Kirkwood house is a Chicago Millwork Supply Company model.

sears hazelton clone chicago millwork
Chicago Millwork model without the side windows in the bump-out.
Now, there is one other issue that gives us pause: Andrew Mutch (researcher extraordinaire, and author of the blog Kit House Hunters) pointed out to me that the dining room bump-out should extend all the way to the ground.  However, on the Kirkwood house, it does not. Hmm. Even on the Chicago Millwork model, it extends all the way to the ground, so, that difference doesn't make it any more likely to be that company's model. Could be someone else's that none of us know of?? But, here are three examples of probable Hazeltons that have bump-outs that do not go all the way to the ground... two right next to each other, in Cincinnati (they are on Carthage Avenue, and Cindy Catanzaro just today published a blog post about a series of five Sears homes on Carthage Avenue, authenticated through mortgage records found by Andrew Mutch -- 5 of the over 3000 Sears homes in the Cincinnati area):

carthage avenue cincinnati ohio sears hazelton models
5350 and 5354 Carthage Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio.
And the third is a probable Sears Hazelton in Edwardsville, Illinois. It is not authenticated, but it does have that little side window on the bump-out... and, a bump-out that does not extend to the ground.
This image was found on the web, in a blog post by Rosemary Thornton (source).
By the way, if you want to see the most beautiful Hazelton ever, take a look at this blog post by Lara Solonickne, of Sears Homes of Chicagoland. This image from that blog post, shows what the dining room area looks like, where that bump-out is:
sears hazelton chicago illinois
This authenticated Sears Hazelton had some customization, and that bump-out is, I believe, a little bit deeper than normal.
Speaking of that Chicago-area Sears Hazelton: It is one of only two authenticated Hazeltons we know of. One, in Staten Island, at 108 Perry Avenue, has blueprints with Sears listed as the architect (interestingly, that one shows the closed-style front porch, like the Chicago Millwork model!).
sears hazelton staten island ny
108 Perry Avenue, Staten Island, NY -- authenticated Sears Hazelton
And, the other, this one in Chicago, has a series of authenticating details (including shipping labels), but, wow, talk about throw-off-the-researcher elements! The front door has been moved all the way to the side (and set back in a bit),  the roof brackets are a custom design, and the (beautiful!) porch columns have a custom decorative design we haven't seen on any other models. You can see all of those elements on Lara's post.

Porch Columns, Eave Brackets, Front Windows
In the photos below, however, we see the porch columns of the Kirkwood house, and see that they are the expected smooth, squared-off design of the Sears Hazelton (and of Chicago Millwork). Of course, this house also has a screened-in porch, and even the cut-out section of the porch is screened in. The owner told me that all of the screens were framed in with the house at the time that it was built (they have, of course, had to change the screening over the years, but the framework is original). This photo also shows the triple windows on the front of the house -- a set on each side of the front door.
These porch columns on the Kirkwood house, are what looks to be shown in the catalog image of the Hazelton (and Chicago Millwork), and is the style seen on most of our probable Hazeltons.
Notice that great cut-out section of the porch. 
Looking into the porch here, you can see the left-side set of triple windows to the side of the front door.
sears hazelton porch columns
There are three porch columns at each corner, and two on each side of the doorway.
sears hazelton
Three porch columns at the left corner of the front porch.
sears hazelton
Two solid, straight, squared-off porch columns on each side of the front doorway. 
sears hazelton porch columns
These are the porch columns on the probable Hazelton in Guthrie Center, Iowa-- same style as the Kirkwood house.
The roof brackets on many Sears houses have a tell-tale 5-part structure, with an open center, as seen in the image below, from a blog post by Washington D.C. realtor and Sears House researcher, Catarina Bannier:

Typical Sears five-part eave brackets, as shown in this blog post.
The Kirkwood house does not have this five-part bracket... but, looking at the catalog images of the Hazelton, and at current-day Google-map images of most of the Hazeltons on our list, the five-part bracket doesn't seem to have been used on the Hazelton. The owner of the Kirkwood house did tell me that the brackets were, originally, open (but, they didn't look quite like the image above), and she had terrible problems with roosting pigeons (and the accompanying pigeon droppings), so she had them enclosed with aluminum, as shown below (and now gets no more visits from pigeons):

The Footprint and the Floor Plan
Here is a comparison between the floor plans of the two companies' models.  You can see that absolutely everything is the same, except that the bathroom sink and tub have been placed differently. Below that, you see the footprint of the Kirkwood house (thanks to the assessor's website). It is the same size.
sears hazelton chicago millwork clone floor plan
Both footprints are just about 30' wide X 39' deep. So is the footprint of the Kirkwood house.
The term chamber probably is a throwback to the French term, chambre, which means bedroom.
We've seen that term used on older house plans, such as early Radford and Gordon-Van Tine house designs, on both first-floor and upper-floor bedrooms.  If you think about it, we've all seen movies where they spoke of "my lady's chamber", when referring to the Queen's bedroom, for example.  You wouldn't see it on any modern-day house plans, though!
Same footprint as the Sears Hazelton and its Chicago Millwork clone,
though the current owners (since 1970!) added an extension on to the back to make a new kitchen area.

What About the Other Lookalikes?
If you're really interested in comparing the lookalike models to the Sears Hazelton, you can check out some comparisons I presented in this earlier blog post I did, about the Guthrie Center, Iowa house. To cut to the chase, however, let me say this:  none of the other lookalikes are the same size as the  30' X 39' footprint of the Hazelton and Chicago Millwork models. Gordon-Van Tine, Wardway, Radford, and Keith's Magazine, all have models that look remarkably like the Sears Hazelton, but there are definite size differences, and the Keith's model also has a bump-out on both sides (see more specifics about sizes, here.)

Image courtesy of Cindy Catanzaro of
Sears Houses in Ohio
Notice the bump-out on both sides of the house,
unlike the single bump-out on the Hazelton, and all of the other models.
And, here is a comparison of the footprint of the GVT lookalike, next to the Sears Hazelton:
Sears Hazelton footprint vs GVT 573 footprint
This is from an earlier blog post of mine, about a probable Sears Hazelton in Guthrie Center, Iowa

Who Lived at 322 Central Place?
I met the current owner when I stopped by to look more closely at the Kirkwood house, and to take my own photos of it.  She was very gracious about my snooping around on the perimeters of her beautifully-kept-up home, and we discussed my thoughts about the possible origin of her house. She told me that they bought the house in 1970, from the estate of (what she thought were) the original owners, Albert and Malinda Ruhl. She had heard something along the way, about it being a Sears house, but I don't know from whom, and she didn't offer up any authenticating details.  The house was one of the very first homes built on this block.

I wasn't sure about the 1913 build date (given on the tax assessor's website), once I looked up Albert and Malinda Ruhl on  I found that, according to the 1920 census, and possibly as late as 1923, according to city directories, they still lived on a farm off of Woodsmill Road, in Chesterfield, a nearby suburb. I thought that perhaps someone had mis-read a "1923" as a "1913", or something like that.
The 1923 St. Louis County City Directory shows Albert and Malinda Ruhl still living in a house at a rural (RFD) location in Chesterfield, not Kirkwood.
That meant that another trip to the best resource in town, was in order: The Missouri History Museum research library.  I knew that I could find a good selection of St. Louis County "city" directories, and probably Gould's Red-Blue book, which would be necessary to look up the residents of this street, via a street search, instead of a name search (later city directories include this type of listing in the back half of the book, but the earlier years split that listing into a separate directory, called Gould's Red-Blue book).

Unfortunately, there were no Red-Blue books available at the library, for the County, for that early. But, through a bit of digging and cross-referencing through the names of other residents whom I found on that street in the late 20s, I was able to use the census to find that there were residents at this address in 1920, and they weren't the Ruhls.  The Ruhls were there by 1926, but not earlier than that.
1926 puts Albert and Malinda Ruhl at 322 Central Place, Kirkwood
The earliest residents that I found, were, according to the 1920 census, a 40-year old widow by the name of Cora Lee Gardner Wilson, and her younger brother, Major Harry Gardner, who owned and lived in the house at 322 Central Place, in Kirkwood.
1920 Census for 322 Central Place, Kirkwood, Missouri
Cora was the head of the household, but I did not find a county directory listing for her under the name as it is shown on the census, with her first name... though I did find one for brother Harry. I looked again, focusing on the last name of Wilson, and found that she was listed as, "Wilson, Mrs. Harry H.", at that address:

1920 St. Louis County City Directory
Major H. C. Gardner at 322 Central Place, Kirkwood
 St. Louis County City Directory
By 1922, however,  the directory was searchable by street name and number, and... voilĂ ! Under the street listings, I found a new couple listed at 322 Central Place:

St. Louis County Directory, 1922
Julian C. Harvey, and his young wife, Mary E. White Harvey, were both from Kirkwood families, he from a home on a street very near by Central Place, and she from another spot in Kirkwood. He is shown as an insurance actuary, with an office in downtown St. Louis, but with a residence in Kirkwood, throughout the 19-teens (but no address was given). I found a newspaper mention saying that they married in September of 1913 (he was much older-- already in his mid 40s-- and she was only in her mid 20s), and I found listing after listing in the Society Pages in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, of Mary participating in, and working on arranging, a variety of dances and gatherings, especially at Kirkwood Country Club.

1913 St. Louis Post-Dispatch mention of Julian and Mary's wedding.
The only specific pre-1922 address I found for them, was a 1920 St. Louis County directory listing, showing them as living at 600 N. Taylor (a spot now occupied by a house built in 1957), so that may be where they lived after they first married in 1913.

By 1930, Julian and Mary were shown by St. Louis County Directories, to be living at 445 N. Taylor, still in Kirkwood, but in a larger, colonial style house, in a wealthier neighborhood.  Julian had become General Manager of St. Louis Mutual Life Insurance Company.

Thanks to a family tree by P. Greenwood, on, I was able to find a few photos of the Harveys:

Here's a lovely photo of a young Mary.
(click to enlarge)

Julian C. Harvey, Senior, Mary's husband.

445 N. Taylor, Kirkwood, Missouri,
the home of the Harvey family after they left 322 Central Place in 1925.
The house is listed as being built in 1925.
This is Mary and Julian's son, Julian  C. Harvey, Jr., who was born in 1916, and
therefore would have spent his first four years living in the house at 322 Central Place.
(source: P Greenwood,
So, based on what I was able to find, I can only document residents for 322 Central Place, beginning in 1920,  that being Mrs. Cora Lee Gardner Wilson, widow of Henry H. Wilson, and her brother, Major Harry Gardner, 10 years younger. A 1917 directory did not list them at that address, so the years between 1913 and 1920 remain a mystery. By 1922 the Harveys had moved in, and by 1926 it was the Ruhl family, who remained there until the current owners bought the house in 1970.

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  1. Judith your post is really interesting,. I always admire your American houses . They are so lovely and in the nice setting. So different from ours ..

  2. Fabulous research! I live in a 1914 Hazelton so I found this page quite interesting.
    I'm on the Atlantic coast of Florida; think of how many hurricanes my Sears House has survived.

    1. I also am in a 1914 Hazelton in WA! Too neat!


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