Monday, May 29, 2017

Almond, NY: Sears No. 118 and Sears Maytown

Sears No. 118 / Clyde large two-story farmhouse with front porch side gables front gable and front dormer
17 S. Main Street, Almond, New York • 1917 • Probable Sears No. 118 (early Clyde)

sears clyde in the 1918 catalog
Sears No. 118, 1918,
the one year that it was given the name Clyde.
(click to enlarge)
Wellll... do you want low resolution, or big, fat electric wires? That's your choice for online images of this Almond, New York beauty: a probable Sears No. 118 (early Clyde), currently for sale.

The real estate ad for this home says that it is a "Historic, well-crafted home built by a well-known local builder as his own residence. "  

It is beautiful inside.  Let's take a look, because I don't have much else to tell you about this house.  The No. 118 was offered by Sears in the very first catalogs that included homes, and continued through the 1918 and 1919 catalogs, which are the only years that it was given a name, instead of a just a number: Clyde.  It was never offered as a pre-cut kit, so it would have arrived at the train station -- and then the job site -- with standard-length lumber, that still needed a lumber yard or construction crew to cut the boards to the correct length.  We refer to it as "the big Clyde", because for a long stretch throughout the 1920s, Sears offered a small, shotgun-style bungalow by the same name.

sears No. 118/Clyde two-story pale green farmhouse with white trim, front porch, back porch on side, and lots of windows
sears No. 118/Clyde two-story pale green farmhouse with white trim, front porch, back porch on side, and lots of windows

Because this was built by a prominent builder, for his own residence, we can imagine that he spared no expense in filling it with high-quality elements, and no-doubt used his home as a showpiece for advertising his company.  Though we often think of Sears homes as being built by the homeowners themselves, it's definitely true that many homeowners hired a construction crew to put together their home -- certainly if it was of the size that the No. 118 was.  So, this builder may well have used his home to advertise his company's services to help others build Sears homes. And, in fact, just two doors away, we see what looks to be another Sears home of the era, a Maytown. More about that in a bit.

One of the upgrades that we see in this house, is that the builder replaced the plain square window in the upper front gable on the left side of the house, with the big Priscilla frame and sash that were offered especially for the gable windows on the big Saratoga model offered by Sears.

Sears Clyde 1918 catalog

sears No. 118/Clyde two-story pale green farmhouse with white trim, front porch, back porch on side, and lots of windows

Sears Priscilla frame and sash as offered in a 19-teens catalog

There's a good bit of decorative stained glass and leaded glass in this home, but, unfortunately, the stained-glass windows do not seem to be of designs marketed by Sears in their catalogs. They offered some beautiful windows, so it's surprising that these are not from Sears.

Sears Clyde No. 118 floor plan
Here is the floor plan, as shown in the 1918 catalog, for the No. 118.
It did not change over the 10 years that the model was offered.
Sears Clyde No. 118 front staircase and leaded-glass window
That is a Sears staircase newel, and a leaded-glass pattern window offered by Sears.

Sears Clyde No. 118 side rectangular leaded-glass window in diamond pattern at top and bottom

Sears Clyde No. 118 front parlor
Lovely interior pillars flank the entry into the parlor.

Non-Sears stained glass.

Sears Clyde No. 118 front parlor
The parlor.

Stained glass in the front parlor window. Not a Sears design.

Sears Clyde No. 118 dining room
Dining room with more non-Sears stained glass.
The beautiful sideboard here was also not a style offered in the Sears catalog.

Sears Clyde No. 118 dining room

Stained-glass in the dining room.

Sears Clyde No. 118 front staircase seen from 2nd floor
Looking down the main staircase from the second floor.
This home looks to be freshly painted on the exterior, and comes with some nice outbuildings (I wonder if those were Sears kits, too?). It is being offered for sale by the owner, and has only just come on the market, as of May 29, 2017. You can see it on Trulia, here.

Here, by the way, is the 1920s Clyde:
Sears Clyde later model bungalow 1921-1929
Sears Clyde bungalow, 1921-1929,
with two different floor plan options for some of those years.
This page is from the 1921 catalog.
UPDATE: Here are some newer photos from a later version of the listing of this house:

Sears Maytown
Just a few houses away from this probable Sears No. 118, is the rectory for St. Brendan's Catholic Church, sitting at No. 11 S. Main Street, in Almond, NY.  This house looks to be a Sears Maytown, which was offered from 1911 through 1922.

Sears Maytown: turret sided two-story farmhouse with front porch and bay window on the front and side
11 S. Main Street, Almond, New York • probable Sears Maytown

Sears Maytown: turret sided two-story farmhouse with front porch and bay window on the front and side
Thanks to Daily Bungalow /
for the image from their 1916 catalog.
This house is a great match for the catalog image we see of the Maytown.  In early years, the Maytown was marketed as the No. 167, and it had a slightly larger version, marketed as the No. 188. You can see a No. 188 in Ohio, here in this blog post on Sears Homes in Ohio.

The 1916 catalog, shown to the right here, mentioned that you could order the home two feet wider, for an additional $45 (which wasn't a small amount, considering that the whole standard-cut kit was only $871).  

sears maytown for $871 or 2 feet wider for an additional $145
From the Maytown page in the 1916 catalog.
Interestingly, as 1916 was the first year that pre-cut kits were offered for many of the models in the Sears Modern Homes catalog, this offer was made on the page for the Maytown:
$940 would buy the kit for the Maytown with pre-cut lumber

Remember that this was one of the draws of the pre-cut kits: in the early 19-teens, most people didn't have any kind of motor-powered cutting equipment, so every single piece of wood going into a house, would have had to be sawn by hand.... or, brought to a lumber yard to pay for them to cut your pieces on their sawmill. With pre-cut, fitted-to-the-design framing lumber, the homeowner (or even his construction crew) could forego all of that trouble and time.  We don't know the build year of this house, but we can imagine that it must have been built around the same time as the Clyde/No. 118 a few doors away... and maybe even by the same builder?

Sears Maytown: turret sided two-story farmhouse with front porch and bay window on the front and side

Sears Maytown: turret sided two-story farmhouse with front porch and bay window on the front and side

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Sears Elmwood In Elkhart, Indiana

Authenticated Sears Elmwood, blue and white, 901 E. Indiana Avenue Elkhart Indiana open sleeping balcony
Authenticated Sears Elmwood • 901 E. Indiana Avenue, Elkhart, Indiana • c. 1912

Sears Elmwood image 1914 Sears Modern Homes catalog
The Elmwood, as shown in the 1914 catalog.
It was marketed as the No. 162 at that point.
Wow. This is a beautiful house, isn't it? 

I was pretty excited today when I connected this house to a lot number in the Hudson-Sterling neighborhood of Elkhart, Indiana, that I had seen mentioned in a 1914 newspaper snippet.  The house was being foreclosed on by Sears, and Sears trustee Walker O. Lewis was named in the suit against Hudson-Sterling properties.  They seem to have built a number of houses on spec, probably around 1912, or to use as rental properties, because there were a number of notices of foreclosure against them.  In this case, Sears was asking that a Receiver be put in place to be sure that rents continued to be collected, and that the property continued to be kept up.  
Sears Elmwood foreclosure notice Hudson-Sterling neighborhood Elkhart Indiana lot 231
Here is the newspaper clipping, from the Elkhart Truth, September 8, 1914.

I don't know much about the Hudson-Sterling neighborhood, but I did find mention of there being a big whip factory there (The Sterling whip factory), built in 1908, and a big wheel company (The American Wheel Company), builit in 1909.  However, in 1915, the Sun Motor Car Company was taking over what they referred to as "the old Hudson-Sterling factory buildings" in south Elkhart... I'm wondering if that was the Sterling whip factory? Already gone out of business?

December 31, 1915, page 3 of the Bristol Banner (Bristol, Indiana).
In any case, someone built this beautiful Elmwood, mortgaging it through Sears, and was then unable to continue to pay for it.  And that's why we know about it today.

We have very few authenticated Elmwoods on our National Database of Sears Houses, so I'm excited to add this one to the list.  Another aspect that I'm happy about, is that this is one of the very few Elmwoods we've seen that retains the original design of an open sleeping porch up in that dormer. Most that we find have had that dormer enclosed, to give a nice little extra bit of interior living space.  

Sears Elmwood price from 1914 Sears Modern Homes catalog
The Elmwood as listed in the 1914 catalog.
Here is the 1914 price for this model, for the basic version that used yellow pine for all finishes. Sears supplied almost everything, but not masonry supplies, such as brick, plaster, or cement, though they would arrange the purchase of any of those needed supplies, for you, through a local supplier. They estimated that with any of those items added in, coupled with labor costs, you could build this nice bungalow, with yellow pine finish, for about $1,660.00.

Sears Elmwood floor plan from 1914 Sears Modern Homes catalog
Here is the floor plan of the Sears Elmwood, as shown in my 1914 catalog. 
However, for an up-charge of $148, you could upgrade to oak finish downstairs, and birch for the second floor:
Sears Elmwood interior wood finish choices descrbed in 1914 Sears Modern Homes catalog

If you wanted the upgraded wood choices, you specified plan No. 264P153,  and you then would have the following wood finishes throughout the house:
Sears Elmwood interior description from 1914 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Elmwood interior description from 1914 Sears Modern Homes catalog

 The 1911 catalog shows interior views of what your living room and dining room would look like:
Sears Elmwood interior 1911 catalog Sears Modern Homes from Arts & Crafts Society website
Source: Arts & Crafts Society web page
Here is the living room of a home in Wheaton, Illinois, that we originally believed to be a Sears Elmwood from 1918. However, we now believe that this must be a Sunbeam, which would mean that it would date from 1922 or later. This is based on the number of steps entering into the staircase, shown in the photo below. If you look closely, you see that there are two steps entering the first section of the staircase. During the Elmwood years, there was only one step there. Sunbeam-era floor plans show two steps there. So, we think this must be an early Sunbeam. I detail these differences in this blog post, about another Elmwood, in Normal, Illinois.

living room of 224 Kellogg Place, Wheaton, Illinois
224 Kellogg Place, Wheaton, Illinois • Source
Heating, plumbing, and lighting ("Acetylene Lighting Plant") were an additional cost, as well, and you had a few options there, too:

Sears Elmwood 1914 catalog Sears Modern Homes extra costs for heating and plumbing

The Sunbeam
Sears eventually made a few modifications to the Elmwood model, and re-named it the Sunbeam, for the 1922 catalog. The most obvious difference, on first glance, is the enclosure of the sleeping balcony, but there were a few changes inside as well... that staircase issue, and also the placement of some doorways, and of the chimney vent.  I wrote about an authenticated Sunbeam in Orlando, Florida, a little while back, and included a comparison of the Elmwood and Sunbeam floor plans.  You can read that blog post here. In the mean time, here is a snippet from that post, showing you what the Sunbeam looked like:

Sears Sunbeam in Orlando Florida and Sears Sunbeam in 1925 catalog
Sears Sunbeam in 1925.
Please don't hesitate to contact me (through a comment or the "Contact Me" spot on the right side of the blog) if you know of an Elmwood or Sunbeam... or any kit house!

Here are two more views of our wonderful Sears Elmwood in Elkhart, Indiana:

Sears Elmwood circa 1914 side view showing chimney and 4 windows
Sears Elmwood circa 1914 front view open balcony
901 E. Indiana Avenue, Elkhart, Indiana