Friday, November 24, 2017

Sears Sherburne In Nevada, Iowa

snow-covered Sears Sherburne Nevada Iowa
Probable Sears Sherburne (No. 187) • 1915 •  Nevada, Iowa

Sears Sherburne catalog image in color
Sears Sherburne (No. 187) (Thanks, Daily Bungalow!)
This wonderful 1915 home was shared with me by its owners, Andrew and Sarah. They were pretty certain that they had a Sears No. 187 (later known as the Sherburne), but they wanted a second opinion... especially since their fireplace was on the other side of the house, from where it's shown in the catalog image. See? This catalog image looks so much like the house photo... until you realize that there is no side door or raised bump-out with two windows, above that side door. In fact, the placement of windows on this side is all wrong. That's because we're looking at the opposite side of the house, as this house has had its floor plan reversed... except for the fireplace. So, inside the house, the layout is opposite of that shown in the floor plan, however the fireplace is on the opposite wall from where the original layout places it. Normally, it would be next to the beautiful staircase that you have in the Sherburne, but, instead, there is a nice big window on that wall.

Let's take a look at the original floor plan:
Sears Sherburne catalog floor plan
I've indicated, with an arrow, where the fireplace is located in our Sherburne in Nevada, Iowa. You can see, as well, that fireplace ends up on the same side of the house as the dining room bump-out, with its three windows. You can see that bump-out on the house photo above-- but, the whole floor plan is flipped.

I ran across a video posted on YouTube by SuperPalamara, that is a sort of 3-D drawing video of the Sherburne. This image is from that video, and it gives you a better idea of the layout of the living room. The staircase and the fireplace are not accurate in design, but they are accurate in placement.

Sears Sherburne Super Palamara living room image

Here is the actual 5-minute video-- it's great how it shows all of the sides of the house, and takes you inside, to give you a feel for how the rooms are laid out:
The developer of the video mentions that this is the 1913 Sears Sherburne, so I'm assuming that he has seen the catalog image that is posted on the Sears Archives page: 
sears 187 1913 on sears archives
Source: Sears Archives
The House In Nevada, Iowa
Since I  have the luxury of having some wonderful photos sent to me by the current owners, let's take a look.

This shows the side of the house where the fireplace would normally be situated. You can see the side entry door, and the bump-out that is for the staircase there:
Sears Sherburne front
The owners sent this great view of the front of the house, which reveals the nice Craftsman door that is hiding behind the storm door in the image below. You can also see that, up in the huge dormer, one of the openings is actually a door. Those are the two upstairs front bedrooms there, and I imagine that the door to this deck area, would have allowed the owners to use that deck as a sleeping porch in the summer. Many of the early Sears homes have upper sleeping porches.

Sears Sherburne front
Google maps streetview allows us to move over just a bit, and get the shot showing the side door a bit.
Here's the house, dressed up for 4th of July!:
I'm a fan of the bunting!
Thanks for the photo, Andrew!

Sears Sherburne side entry and staircase bump-out
I believe that's all original wood shingle and clapboard siding and brackets. 
Do you see those concrete blocks supporting the house, and the front porch? Those could have been made by the homeowner (or whoever he hired to build the house for him, or along with him), using the Triumph, Wizard, or Knox concrete- block-making machines. Sears wouldn't have shipped him the concrete itself (but they would have arranged for a local masonry supply house to furnish it), and then he could have ordered one of these block-making machines. This 1915 Concrete Machinery catalog from Sears, shows the variety of finishes you could choose from, and has a page where they show the steps in making the block.

Sears concrete machinery sears wizard sears triumph sears knox
Here is the catalog, on

Sears concrete machinery sears wizard sears triumph sears knox
Here's a closer look at the block-making process (click image to enlarge):
Sears concrete machinery sears wizard sears triumph sears knox

There was a good variety of finishes to choose from:
Sears concrete machinery sears wizard sears triumph sears knox
You can see this page more closely, here.
Inside The Sherburne
Here is the beautiful staircase that every Sherburne has... although the homeowner could choose from a few different styles of spindles (balusters), banister, and newel.
Sears craftsman newel and Sears colonial balustrade Sears Sherburne staircase

Sears staircase newel options
These are some of the staircase newels offered in the early Sears Building Supplies catalogs. This is from 1912.

Sears craftsman newel and Sears colonial balustrade Sears Sherburne staircase
It looks like the owners chose a nice, chunky Craftsman style newel, but the more shapely Colonial Baluster.
Now, normally, to the right of this staircase, would be the wall with the fireplace and bookcase. But, since that is on the other side of the living room, we have a nice sitting area there, with a large window:
Sears Sherburne living room
Isn't that just lovely!
And, then, across the living room, we have the fireplace wall:
Sears Sherburne living room fireplace
The opening to the right of the club chair, is to the dining room.
Now... we should take a closer look at that cast-iron fireplace insert... because.... it's from Sears! It's design No. 128. The catalog referred to that decorative piece above the grate, as the "Summer Front".
Sears cast iron fireplace insert no 128
This image is from page 12 of the circa 1910 Mantels and Consoles catalog from Sears.

Sears cast iron fireplace insert no 128
From page 12.

cover of Sears catalog for mantels and fireplaces
The cover of the catalog, which you can browse here, on
The hinges that you see on the bookcases to each side of the fireplace, are also shown in the Sears catalog, though they are a design that I believe other companies carried, as well:

Sears house hinge
The owners told me that this hinge is found throughout the house, including on this gorgeous built-in storage hutch. Just look at the patina on that wood!

Sears built-in cabinet with Sears hinges
When ordering built-in cabinetry, the homeowner could choose from a variety of hinges and drawer pulls.
I would like to thank Andrew and Sarah, for sharing their beautiful home with us, and providing these great photos.

More Sherburne Examples
If you're interested in seeing other Sherburnes around the country, here are a few links:

Sears Sherburne Gahanna Ohio
We have interior views of this probable Sherburne in Gahanna, Ohio, thanks to a real estate listing: click here.
Sears Sherburne Bloomington Illinois
This probable Sherburne is in Bloomington, Illinois. This photo was taken by Andrew and Wendy Mutch (of the NBC Nightly News segment!), and I've taken photos of it, myself, on a visit to Bloomington. It looks to be a bit customized... it has some fabulous woodwork in side, which you can see in this real estate listing.

Sears Sherburne Fulton NY
This authenticated Sherburne, in Fulton, New York, is a testimonial house, that appeared in Sears catalogs. Andrew Mutch shows more, and explains what a testimonial house is, in his Kit House Hunters blog post, here

Additionally, this house was recently sold as a HUD property, and you can view a sales video by Jon Adolfi, here, to get some interior views.

Sears Sherburne Berkley Michigan
I just love, love, love this Sherburne. Andrew and Wendy Mutch found it in Berkley, Michigan, and Andrew writes about it, here.

Sears Sherburne Cincinnati Ohio
You can read about this probable Sherburne in the Mount Washington area of Cincinnati, Ohio, here, at Cindy Catanzaro's recreation of Sears Houses In Cincinnati, a blog originally written by the late Laraine Shape.

One last look:
Sears Sherburne 1918 catalog
The Sears No. 187 / Sherburne was never sold as a pre-cut kit, only as a kit with standard-length lumber.
It was available through 1923 in the Sears Modern Homes catalogs.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sears Crescent: Frank Ohlson's Testimonial Sears House

front of grey and white Sears Crescent at  247 Chapman Street New Britain Connecticut
Authenticated Sears Crescent • 247 Chapman Street, New Britain, Connecticut

Sears Crescent in 1930 catalog

This is the testimonial home of Frank August Ohlson. I saw mention of Frank's Sears house in Rebecca L. Hunter's book, Putting Sears Homes On The Map, which lists locations for all of the testimonial and "built here" Sears homes mentioned in the Sears Modern Homes catalogs. Frank Ohlson's listing simply said, "house", so I assume that the testimonial didn't specify what model Frank had bought. But, here it is: A Sears Crescent, and he bought the larger of the two floor plans.

Sears had two sizes and floor plans of the very popular Crescent model. This larger floor plan had a back extension off of one side, where one of the bedrooms was located (the other bedroom is at the front of the house, on that same side of the house). The larger model also has three columns, instead of two, on each side of the front porch. You can see that clearly on this house on Chapman Street, in New Britain, Connecticut.

left side of grey and white Sears Crescent showing deep green top half of side gable
Here you can see that the left side of the house matches the right side that we see on the catalog image. The home is the reverse floor plan. 
On the floor plan, you can see that three porch columns are shown, and you can see the extension for the back bedroom. This floor plan is 34 feet wide, and 36 feet deep on that longer side:
Sears Crescent larger floor plan
This is from my 1930 Sears Modern Homes catalog.
And, here, a close-up view of the front porch, indicates the three columns:
3 porch columns
Three columns!
The smaller of the two floor plans has only two columns on each side of the porch. While it is also 34 feet wide, it is only 24 feet deep, on both sides. On the larger floor plan, the secondary entrance is in the back, off of a little porch, behind the kitchen, but this smaller floor plan has the secondary entrance on the side:
Sears Crescent smaller floor plan 1925 catalog
You can see this floor plan here, in the 1925 catalog.
Frank August Ohlson lived here with his wife, Anna (the former Anna Pauline Swanson), and their little boy, Frank E. Ohlson, and little girl, Dorothy. It looks like Frank and Anna built their house in 1928, as that is the year given on the tax records, and 1929 is the first year that the New Britain city directory places them at this address. The 1930 census puts them here, and shows that Mr. Ohlson had been born in Sweden, and arrived in the U.S. in 1907. Mrs. Ohlson was born in New York, though the 1910 census puts her living with her family right here on Chapman Street (though at a different address). Though I didn't find any newspaper mention of a death, I noted that there was a new Mrs. Ohlson in the 1940 census: Lydia Ohlson, who was a few years younger than Frank (Anna had been a year older than he). 

As it turns out, Anna died in 1932:
grave marker of Anna Pauline Ohlson, former Anna Pauline Swanson, Fairview Cemetary, New Britain, Connecticut
Source: FindAGrave website.

Here is the page from Rebecca Hunter's book, with the mention of Frank Ohlson's house:

You can buy this interesting little book, here. I enjoy using it for  researching with and  historic newspaper resources, but it also has some good background on kit houses.
I was able to find a real estate listing for the Ohlson house on Chapman, so here are a few more views, followed by a Bing maps view with nice, orange autumn leaves:
Sears Crescent
The grey and white is so pretty. And, we see the standard triple front windows that came on the Crescent: one wide window, flanked by two slim windows.

Sears Crescent glass-enclosed front porch
The Crescent doesn't normally have an enclosed porch. This one is nicely done, I think. You can see a Sears Craftsman style 8-pane front door inside there, too.

Sears Crescent larger floor plan living room dining room staircase
The larger floor plan has the staircase to upstairs in the center of the house, whereas the smaller model has the staircase right on the side of the living room. 

Sears Crescent larger floor plan central staircase
Nice wood floors and wood staircase, with a good, chunky Sears Craftsman-style staircase newel. The door to the right of the staircase is a closet.

Sears Crescent larger floor plan living room dining room staircase
The arrow indicates that hall closet you see the door for, next to the central staircase.
Sears Crescent larger floor plan upstairs
Clearly, the Ohlsons chose to upgrade to a finished half story above the first floor, adding two more bedrooms.

Sears Crescent larger floor plan dining room
This is the triple window in the back of the dining room.

Sears Crescent 247 Chapman Street New Britain Connecticut
I love New England in the fall. Orange leaves! This is the shorter side of the house.
More On The Crescent
You can read more on the Crescent model, in other blog posts of mine:
  • The many (many!) "lookalike" models to the Sears Crescent, are shown at the end of this blog post
  • A lookalike model found in the lovely town of Vergennes, Vermont, is discussed here
  • Lara Solonickne showcases a wonderful little Crescent in this post of her blog, Sears Homes of Chicagoland
  • A lovely, smaller-floor plan Crescent in Keego Harbor, Michigan, is shown in this blog post by Andrew Mutch, on his Kit House Hunters blog.
  • The late Laraine Shape showed a few Crescents in the Mariemont section of Cincinnati, in a post on her blog Sears Houses in Cincinnati, which was faithfully re-created by Cindy Catanzaro, after Laraine's death.
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