Though we have literally hundreds of Sears Gladstones
and Sears Langstons
on our national database of Sears houses in the U.S., we have only some Gladstones
with the B
floor plan-- the new option beginning in 1930. And, until this Pittsburgh Gladstone-B went up for sale
, I don't think that we had really seen the interior of a home with that B floorplan. So, this is a real treat! And, it will help us identify other homes that we suspect may be Gladstones
... especially when they have had their front porch enclosed, like this one.
The current owners got in touch with us on our Sears Modern Homes FaceBook page
, after seeing a great 2017 newspaper article
by Stephanie Ritenbaugh, in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. It featured our friend and fellow researcher, Karen DeJeet, who lives in a Sears Hamilton
in Pittsburgh. Lots of people commented on the newspaper's FaceBook listing of the article, and I, in my role as admin of the Sears Modern Homes FB page, had been commenting back and forth with the folks who were telling us about Sears houses that they knew.
Daniel Luttner then contacted us on our FB page, to tell us about his house. They had learned, from neighbors, about the history of the original owners offloading the building supplies for the kit, after having picked up their shipments at the train depot, and hauling them back to their lot on Homer Avenue. Because the front porch had, since then, been half enclosed, Daniel and his wife had had some trouble figuring out for certain what model their house might be. And, of course, there's always the possibility that a suspected kit house is from a different company... but, in our discussions, Daniel Luttner and I came to realize that their house was a reverse-floorplan Gladstone
with the plan B layout.
One of the key details that helped us know for sure that this was a Sears kit, was the discovery that the door handle hardware on all of the interior doors, is the Sears La Tosca
door handle... we've never seen that door hardware offered by any other company.
|Sears La Tosca in the Luttners' Gladstone-B at 126 Homer Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania|
When we find La Tosca
in a house, we know that the building supplies were from Sears... and, if the house itself also matches the look and layout of one of the houses in the Sears Modern Homes catalogs (which is usually the case), then we know that the house was a kit from Sears. Ideally, we'd like to also find blueprints, or a record of a mortgage through Sears, or stamped lumber showing that the house was a kit, but we usually don't find those things, and we don't have that with the Luttners' Gladstone
. Still, we're confident it is a Sears kit house!
Finding Marked Lumber In A Sears Kit House
One of the most likely spots to find marked lumber, is on exposed joists visible in the basement, but this house has a nicely finished basement
, so the lumber is no longer exposed (and, even when the lumber is not covered over, sometimes the markings have simply faded over time). Sometimes, during renovations, folks find marks on the back of staircases, or on the ends of wood pieces long hidden by plaster or plasterboard walls. In this 2017 blog post
of mine, about a Sears Winona
in Affton, Missouri, I discussed how and why Sears marked the lumber in their kits, and showed where I found just two marked pieces in that house... very faded. Here's one of the photos I showed, followed by two nice, dark stamps found in a Sears Hamilton
in Novi, Michigan (that home, owned by researchers Andrew and Wendy Mutch, was the subject of this great little NBC Nightly News segment
|Here's Andrew holding a piece of marked lumber that he and Wendy discovered, during bathroom renovations in their Novi, Michigan Sears Hamilton. (From this interview with Kevin Tibbles, on NBC Nightly News ).|
|Thanks to having been enclosed behind walls for many, many decades, these end-of-board markings from Sears were still nicely visible (again, from Andrew and Wendy's house-- learn more about Andrew's research here, on his blog, Kit House Hunters .)|
The Layout Of The Gladstone-B
Getting back to the Luttners' Gladstone
in Pittsburgh, let's first look at the floorplans for this model.
Here's what the 1932 Sears Modern Homes catalog shows-- I've indicated the Plan-B floorplan:
What's interesting, though, is that, when this new floorplan was introduced, in the 1930 catalog, Sears referred to it as the B
floorplan, in the text of the catalog page for this model. However, when labeling the floorplan images, they mistakenly labeled the new B
floorplan as the A
|Oops! Sears mis-labeled the images in the 1930 catalog.|
I wonder if this was corrected in other 1930 catalogs (Sears usually had a few different versions of their Modern Homes catalog each year... released in different months, and sometimes edited differently for different areas of the country).
Back in 2015, I did an extensive blog post
about the Sears Langston
vs the Sears Gladstone
. The Langston
was the original name of this model, when it was introduced in 1916. In 1925, the name was changed to Gladstone
, and in 1930, the Gladstone
was offered with the optional B
floorplan. The model was modified again in the late years of the Sears Modern Homes era, with a re-working of the look, in the 1938 catalog. Here's a quick synopsis, but the blog post explains more and shows images:
|You can read all about this model in this 2015 blog post of mine, that begins with the presentation of a testimonial Sears Langston I tracked down in McKeesport, Pennsylvania.|
At 1026 Homer Avenue, has the reverse floorplan from what is shown in the catalog. This was something that Sears advertised that they were happy to do for their customers, and we see this quite often, for all models.
|Reversed floorplan for the Gladstone-B Sears model|
Let's start by looking at the entry vestibule and staircase location on this floorplan. Take a look at the floorplan above... this is the area in the front of the house, over to the right. The floorplan shows that there is a window at the base of the stairs, on the side, and that that there is a closet at that first landing of the staircase. And, you can just see the vestibule, to the right, in the photo below:
|In a bit, I'll show you this Sears staircase newel, and these spindles from Sears, and the interior door from Sears.|
|There's the La Tosca door hardware, on both the closet door, and the entry door. Here's our entry vestibule, which is not present on the earlier, Plan-A floorplan. I'll show you this entry door, too -- it's from the Sears catalog, of course!|
|The floorplan shows how the living room is off to the side of the little hallway that you walk into, from the entry vestibule.|
In the Homer Avenue house, the original front porch was enclosed. Normally, in this large entry to the now-enclosed front porch area that we see here, to the right of the TV, you would have seen a bank of three big windows, on the plan-B layout.
Here's one of the only other Gladstone-B
examples that we have on our national database list. This house in White Plains, New York, shows what the original porch looks like for this model, with those Gladstone
-era porch columns (they were different in the Langston era
), and we can see the set of three windows:
|This Gladstone-B model, on Doyer Avenue in White Plains, New York, was located by Andrew Mutch.|
It has a teeny little triangular vent added to the roof. The Gladstone wasn't shown in the catalogs with a dormer, but many of them have a full dormer, like the house on Homer Avenue. This White Plains Gladstone-B also has an additional upstairs side window, not shown on the catalog image, nor on the Homer Avenue house in Pittsburgh.
|Here's the Gladstone-B, shown in the 1932 catalog -- no dormer. The B floorplan also has an additional side entry, which the original floorplan did not have. |
The original Gladstone-A / Langston
floorplan does not have that additional side entry. Here's that side of the house on an authenticated 1925 Gladstone-A that I located through mortgage records:
|This Gladstone-A has a reverse floorplan, but we see the side, here, where the side entry is located on the B floorplan.|
This house is in Hatboro, Pennsylvania.
On the original layout (floorplan-A), the staircase is accessed from a wall in the back of the living room, with a closet next to it, as you see in these examples:
|This Gladstone-A image shows how the dining room comes off of the living room, in the original, A-plan layout.|
This authenticated Gladstone was located through mortgage records, by Andrew Mutch, and is located in Croton-On-Hudson, New York state.
|Even with a very modernized facelift, we can see that this looks like another example of an original A-plan layout Gladstone. However, the lack of closet next to the staircase, tells us that we can date this house to the earliest floorplan of this model, the earliest years of the Langston (which had no closet here). This house is located in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, and was located by Andrew Mutch. It has non-standard porch columns, so they don't match either the Gladstone or the Langston.|
As you can see with the original layout of the Langston
, the front porch shows not a triple bank of windows, but a single window, and then a pair of windows. Here is how that looks, as seen on the Gladstone-A
in Croton-On-Hudson, NY:
Let's look at the rest of the real estate listing's beautiful photos for our Gladstone-B
model on Homer Avenue:
|The kitchen cabinets and counters are not original, but that's no-doubt a good thin. This is a beautiful, well-equipped kitchen, with far more counter space and storage than would have been found in the original Sears kitchen.|
From The Catalogs
|This is a great view of how the hallway of the B floorplan leads straight from the the entry vestibule back to the kitchen.|
I always love to be able to show where the various elements of our houses are shown in the original catalogs--either the Sears Modern Homes Honor Bilt
catalogs, showing mostly the models, or in the Sears Building Supplies
catalogs. Here are a few aspects of the Homer Avenue Gladstone
, as shown in the catalogs. These catalog images are all from my own 1930 Sears Building supplies catalog, but should all be visible in this online 1930 Building Supplies
catalog (a different version than I have), or in others that I have links for here on this page of my blog
|Sears La Tosca door handle hardware|
|One of the more attractive Sears entry doors, available in different sizes, thicknesses, and from different woods.|
|The Sears "regular two-panel design" interior door, which buyers could also opt for in the "Inverted" version (upside down)|
You can click on the image, or pull out, to see these catalog images in larger format.
|Here's one of the Craftsman style stair newels offered by Sears.|
|Yup, those are Sears staircase balusters!|
|Sears offered several options of Craftsman-style door and window trim. |
The Homer Avenue house has what was called "Back Band Trim" .
I have thoroughly enjoyed learning more about the layout of the Gladstone
plan-B model. What a great house this is, in fantastic condition. I know that the Luttners have enjoyed it, and now it's time for a new family to settle in. I hope they'll be as excited as we are about the piece of Americana that they are buying, and will respect and love the history of this home.