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


  1. Hi! I believe I found a Sears Elmwood house in Texas. Can I get more information from you about the original catalog and any other resources? I would love to add to your collection!

  2. Hi! I would love to hear more about the possible Elmwood. Could you please contact me at SearsHouseSeeker (at gmail)? Thanks!
    Judith Chabot
    Sears House Seeker blog

  3. I just purchased a 1929 Sears “The Vallonia” here in Elkhart, IN


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