Saturday, September 9, 2017

Sears Elmhurst in Sewickley, Pennsylvania

front facade of Sears Elmhurst 412 Edgeworth Lane Sewickley PA
Probable Sears Elmhurst • 412 Edgeworth Lane, Edgeworth, Pennsylvania (Google streetview image)
Yes, we've found another Sears Elmhurst 

Thanks to a reader of our recent article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, by Stephanie Rittenbaugh, with photographer Stephanie Strasburg, I learned of one new Sears house in Sewickley, and then checked out a tip to look in this neighborhood of Edgeworth, where I discovered this fabulous Elmhurst, on Edgeworth Lane. This suburb of Pittsburgh is called Sewickley, but the neighborhood is known, more specifically, as Edgeworth. 

sears elmhurst in 1929 catalog
Here is the Elmhurst, as it appeared in the 1929 special brick supplement of the Sears Modern Homes catalog.
(Image courtesy of our friend at Antique Home / Daily Bungalow).
The Elmhurst was first offered in that 1929 brick supplement, and continued to appear in the catalogs until at least some of the 1933 editions.  

A key element to look for when identifying the Elmhurst, is the set of three pointy dormers along the roof line of the left side elevation of the house. Through the trees in this neighborhood, you can just make out the dormers:
3 side dormers of Sears Elmhurst 412 Edgeworth Lane Sewickley PA
Left side elevation of the Elmhurst at 412 Edgeworth Lane.

In the 1929 brick supplement, Sears lists all of the supplies that would come with the kit-- but, they make a point of reminding buyers that they did not ship plaster, cement, stucco, or brick. Those were to be obtained locally, and I understand, that Sears would arrange that for you with a local supplier.

1929 catalog listing Sears Elmhurst specs listing
From the 1929 brick supplement catalog, about the Elmhurst
The standard choice for door hardware for the Elmhurst, was the LaTosca design, but I have seen an Elmhurst in Secane, Pennsylvania, that looked to have the Narcissus design hardware. Our house here in Edgeworth might have either of these two Sears door hardware choices.
Sears Narcissus door handle from 1930 Building supplies catalog
The Narcissus design door hardware on a house in the DC area,
thanks to DC Realtor, Catarina Bannier.

Sears LaTosca door hardware from 1930 building supplies catalog
The La Tosca design, as seen on a 1930 Sears Gladstone in Pennsylvania,
and in the 1930 Sears Building Supplies catalog.
Our Edgeworth Elmhurst has the customized feature of a tuck-under driveway, which required that the right-side elevation of the house be extended to cover that area:
right side elevation showing tuck-under garage of Sears Elmhurst 412 Edgeworth Lane Sewickley PA
The Edgeworth Lane Elmhurst sits at the corner of Edgeworth Lane and Nichols Place. This side of the house is visible from Nichols Place.
Who Lived Here?
I'm not 100% sure who first lived in this house on Edgeworth Lane... in part because I'm not certain of when it was built. The Allegheny County assessor's real estate records give a 1930 build date. While that's possible, I have to say, once again, that Pittsburgh area build dates almost all seem to end in a 0 or a 5... and have often been found to be wildly wrong. We think that they are mostly all just guestimates. So, since I did not see this house address on the Edgeworth Lane section of the U.S. Census for Sewickley, and I didn't find a mention of any owners until about 1935, I'm thinking that it may have been built as late as 1934 or 1935, by Robert H. Denehey, and his wife, Alma Wahl Denehey.  We know that they lived here in 1935 (thanks to the Pittsburgh City Directory of that year), and that they moved to the Pittsburgh area in 1934 (thanks to a Harrisburg Telegraph newspaper article in June of that year) and that Robert was a Publicity agent for the Pennsylvania Railroad. They had moved to Sewickley from the Philadelphia area, with their daughter, Mary Alma Denehey.
Robert Herr Denehey - early owner of Sears Elmhurst 412 Edgeworth Lane Sewickley PA
Robert Herr Denehey, from a family photo published on
by Allison Sidel.

Rober Herr Denehey transferred to Pittsburgh source
The Deneheys married in November of 1916, and, in 1917, the Harrisburg Telegraph announced the birth of their daughter, Mary Alma Denehey.
Mary Alma Denehey birth annoucement Harrisburg Telegraph 1917
Harrisburg Telegraph, November 3, 1917, page 4
In September of 1936, the Pittsburgh Press posted this about Mary Alma Denehey, saying that she was graduated from the Winchester(-Thurston) school, and then, later in the year, posted that Mary Alma was headed to Briarcliff Junior College, in Briarcliffe, New York.  Mary later married, and became Mary Alma Denehey Comer.
Mary Alma Denehey graduation annoucement Pittsburgh Press 1936

Mary Alma Denehey Briarcliffe annoucement Pittsburgh Press 1937
Unfortunately, a family tragedy hit on the night of Mary Alma's graduation in June. Her grandfather, William R. Denehey, who was in town with his wife for their grand-daughter's graduation, suffered a fatal heart attack in the Denehey home on Edgeworth Lane. The others had gone out for a drive, and, upon their return, found the elderly Denehey unresponsive on the floor of the living room.
death of William R. Denehey in Harrisburg Telegraph June 1936
Other Sewickley Sears Houses
One house usually leads to another: so far, we've found, in Sewickley, a probable Crescent, Glen Falls, Newark, Puritan, Vallonia, Sherwood, and Stratford (the brick Mitchell ).

Other Elmhurst Examples
We've found, now, about 19 Elmhurst examples. 

You can check out the list of all that we've found (with links to see many of them), on this blog post at Kit House Hunters, by researcher Andrew Mutch. 

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