Saturday, November 28, 2020

Sears Wayne In South Plainfield, New Jersey

 

Sears Wayne model
Sears Wayne • 2234 Murray Avenue, South Plainfield, New Jersey

sepia toned 1928 catalog image of Sears Wayne model
Sears Wayne in the 1928 Sears Modern Homes catalog
Here's a great example of a Sears bungalow that we don't show that often: the Sears Wayne model. The Wayne was first offered in 1925, replacing its almost-a-twin (at least from the outside), the Delmar, which was only offered in 1924 (researcher Andrew Mutch did an informative blog post about the differences, here). We find the Wayne in the catalogs through 1931.  I found this Wayne just through a real estate listing, a few years ago. I'm always hoping to find Sears houses in Middlesex County, New Jersey, because I've done research in the historic mortgage archives there... but, the searching is slow-going, because there is only access to the mortgage books listed by buyer... whereas we usually look through the books that are alphabetized by the mortgage lender. That helps narrow the search, because we can just look under the names of the Sears trustees. Having to look through the buyer books, means turning every single page of the dozen or so books, from this densely populated county, through about 15 years, just hoping to find a listing of William C. Reed or Edwards D. Ford. So far, in one outing, helped out by my sister, we got through the books for the last names starting with E, I think --ha! Lots more visits will be required. So... we don't know if this house had a mortgage through Sears (as many Sears houses of this era, did), but we are confident that it is a Sears house, because we found a few indicators: Sears Stratford model door handle hardware; a plinth block on the staircase, connecting two sizes of baseboards, which is not a usual use for a plinth block (they are more normally found at the base of door trim), but which Sears seems to have offered as a solution for the difficult carpentry task of connecting baseboards at different angles; and the floor plan follows along perfectly. Here... I'll show you:

Sears Wayne kit house
We always look closely at the layout of all doors and windows... good match, here.

Here's the first-floor layout that we're looking for. Notice the staircase off to the side... that is one glaring difference between the 1924 Delmar and the 1925-31 Wayne... the location of the staircase. We're not sure of the build date of this Wayne, because Trulia says 1924, and Zillow says 1940... and it can't be either of those, since this floor plan was not offered in 1924, and the Wayne was no longer available, in 1940. Probably, one of those build years comes from the Middlesex County assessor's office, but, as I've mentioned many times before, those build-year records for houses, in many county assessor's offices, are usually off by some, or many, years. This house was probably built some time in the 1920s, because the Stratford design door handle hardware it has, is not shown in the 1930 building supplies catalog.

first floor layout Sears Wayne 1928 Sears building supplies catalog
Floor plan of the Sears Wayne model

Here's the living room, looking down from the staircase, toward the two small windows of the left-side wall of the house. The front door, front window, and entry into the dining room, are just where we expect them:
Sears Wayne living room
Sears Wayne: living room

Here's that front door, in the 1929 Sears Building Supplies catalog:
Sears entry door options, 1929 Sears Building Supplies catalog


This house had a small addition put on to the back, and, probably at that time, the kitchen was re-configured a bit. It looks, from the style of the cabinets, to have been done probably in the 1960s. Here's the normal rear view of a Wayne--this one is in Eastlake, Ohio. As you can see, there is a big dormer on the rear roof, as well. The rear window of the dining room, has been changed into a set of sliding glass doors, to access the back deck that was added on:
Sears Wayne Eastlake Ohio
That smaller window indicates that there is a bathroom there.

And, here is our South Plainfield Wayne, from the rear:

Sears Wayne with addition

...and, from the front, where you can see that addition:
Sears Wayne side view with addition


And, while we're at it, this photo shows this side's windows, against the floor plan:
Sears Wayne against catalog layout
Side view of windows on the South Plainfield, New Jersey Sears Wayne, on Murray Avenue

You can see, from the window and door trim in this added-on area of the house, that it was added on -- the rest of the house has wide, craftsman, back band trim, as you see in the 1930 catalog, here:
1930 catalog image Sears back band craftsman trim
1930 Sears Honor Bilt Building Materials catalog, here, on Archive.org
The dining room has the original, Craftsman trim on the windows, but, on the original back wall of the dining room, we see an entry door added on, and it has a much skinnier, different style trim, which is what you see in the addition, and in the re-done kitchen:
Sears Wayne dining room

The kitchen, then, does not follow the floor plan correctly, because it was re-organized. The area indicated here, in yellow, was all changed up, changing the access to the basement staircase and side entry door, and opening up access to the living room, so you can now see the front window, and the staircase, from the kitchen, whereas we normally can't see that from the kitchen. The blue arrow points to the all-important furnace vent chimney, which we also see on the floor plan, indicated in blue.  I say, "all important", because it's one thing that you will almost never see changed, on a house... unless a major re-haul of the entire layout has been done... and this is something that I am frequently reminded of by my research buddies (I'm lookin' at you, Karen ;) ).  This helps us when we find a possible match for a Sears house, but it has some discrepancies. To rule it out as just a "lookalike", the placement of the vent chimney is something we look at.

Sears Wayne remodeled and reorganized kitchen
You can tell that the kitchen window and the door ways we see here, are not original, because they have that skinnier trim. 

Sears Wayne re-organized kitchen


Second Floor, Sears Wayne
Upstairs, the floor plan looks like this:
Sears Wayne upstairs catalog floor plan image 1928
Sears Wayne, second-floor layout

Here's the staircase, with its closet door at the top, and plinth block as it joins the landing:
Sears Wayne staircase with plinth block

Here's the plinth block, and you can see how it's connecting two different sizes of base board trim:
Sears Wayne upper hallway top of staircase plinth block


And this photo shows how all of the expected doors in this upper hallway, are in the correct spots:
Sears Wayne upstairs hallway
Second-floor layout of the Sears Wayne -- the floor plan image isn't shown with the same orientation of the hall photo, but I've numbered the pertinent spots. #1 is the side window at the top of the stairs.

This photo of the closet corner of the big, front bedroom, shows the double doors of the closet, with Sears Stratford design door handle hardware:

Sears Wayne bedroom Stratford hardware on door

Sears Stratford hardware 1929 catalog
Sears Stratford design door handle hardware, in the 1929 Sears building supplies catalog.

As you can see in the write up for the Wayne, in the 1928 catalog, Stratford door hardware is mentioned as coming standard with this model:
Sears Wayne 1928 catalog write up
Sears Wayne in the 1928 Sears Modern Homes catalog


Bungalows came in all kinds of designs and sizes and styles, by every possible housing company, in the 1920s. It was a hugely popular style, in general. Two things that help us spot a Sears Wayne, are the distinctive lines of the front porch roof, and the chunky style of the outer columns on the porch. It's also unusual to find no porch railings, and no concrete or brick piers in the front... the columns just go from the ground to porch roof... two slim columns in the center, and two chunky columns, on the outer edges:
Sears Wayne front porch

Sears Wayne chunky front porch columns


Most bungalow porch roofs follow down from the peak of the roof, in one straight, or slightly bent line, like these two Sears models, the Lakecrest, and the Vallonia:
Sears bungalow roof lines compared
The Lakecrest, as shown by Daily Bungalow, in the 1932 catalog, and a Sears Vallonia in Springdale, Ohio, as shown in this blog post of Sears Houses In Ohio, by Cindy Catanzaro.

The Wayne, however, has a pretty steep pitch to the main roof, and the porch roof is set in with a triangular section on each side of the porch roof:

Sears Wayne porch roof

You can see that pronounced angle well, on the Sears Wayne in Eastlake, Ohio:

Sears Wayne Eastlake Ohio, porch roof highlighted
Sears Wayne, Google maps Streetview, Eastlake, Ohio

This is a great example of the Sears Wayne, and just one of the many Sears houses that I'm sure are dotting the landscape of Middlesex County, New Jersey. If you'd like to see the rest of the photos of the house, here is the Zillow.com listing, from 2017. Let's finish with the full-on front view of this very nice house:
Sears Wayne front view

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Harris N° 117 In Rising Sun, Indiana

Harris Brothers kit house model No 117 319 S High Street, Rising Sun, Indiana
Probable Harris Brothers kit house model N° 117 • 319 S High Street, Rising Sun, Indiana


Harris Brothers model N° 117 1914/1915
Harris N° 117
 1914/15 catalog on Daily Bungalow
Harris Brothers was a competing kit company, in business during the same era that Sears and the other kit companies operated. This model N° 117 was available in their 1913 catalog, when they were still in business under the name, Chicago House Wrecking Company, and it was still in the catalog in 1914/15, when the company began under their new name, Harris Brothers. I haven't seen a Harris catalog for the years 1916 or 1917, but I do know that this model was no longer offered, when the 1918 catalog was issued.

If you read my last blog post, you might be doing a double take, thinking that I'm posting the same house, or another example of that same model... because the Sears N° 126 had very similar lines... same kind of roof style, porch in the front, inset front access, and the big, obvious similarity: the chamfered corners on the front sides of the house. The Sears model has chamfered corners on the back, as well, but the Harris model does not. Here are the two, side by side... it doesn't take long, looking at them, to realize that there are window differences, and that the porch roof is a different style, and that the Harris model has an additional little peak-roof dormer in front (many Sears N° 126 models that we find, have added rooms upstairs, with side dormers, though):
Harris No 117 next to Sears No 126

The floor plans of the two models are not at all the same. On the Sears model, you walk into what is considered a reception hall, and the living room/dining room space takes up the right side of the house, with the bedrooms on the other side, and the kitchen in the center of the back of the house.  But, the Harris model has that space right as you walk in, as the living room, and the kitchen is at the back of the right side of the house, allowing for a front dining room on the right side, and three bedrooms, instead of the two in the Sears N° 126. So... let's just let the similarities and differences speak for themselves, and remember that these are two distinct models, from two different companies, with just a similar feel.
Sears model No 126 floor plan

floor plan Harris Brothers Model No 117
Thanks to our friend at Daily Bungalow/Antique Home, for the catalog images of the Harris 117.

The 1918 catalog refers to "The Harris Way", which was the name of their pre-cut system (providing the framing lumber pre-measured and pre-cut, needing no on-site cutting to be done), but no mention is made of that in the 1914/15 catalog, so I assume that they--like Sears at that time -- were not yet offering pre-cut framing lumber. Sears began to offer that in 1916, and so Harris must have started at some time between 1915 and 1918.  That means that this house in Rising Sun, Indiana, would have been shipped with standard-length lumber, still needing to be measured and cut on site, as was the traditional construction method. What they advertised as being the benefit of buying from them, was the concept of having all material come from one source, all shipped together in train-car loads, ready for you or your construction crew to get to work. We now refer to this as buying a house as a kit, but, interestingly, none of the companies used that term. Some of us are more comfortable referring only to pre-measured/pre-cut lumber houses as kits, but there is no set determination of what the definition of this is... since the companies themselves did not use the term. To me, the term kit can be applied because of the fact that the buyer was getting a full shipment of everything needed to construct the house, even if measuring and cutting was still part of the construction.

Chicago House Wrecking Co 1913 catalog cover
Cover of the 1913 Chicago House Wrecking Co catalog

Harris Brothers kit house catalog cover 1914
Cover of the 1914/15 Harris Brothers Co catalog

I ran across this house as a real estate listing, and snagged the interior photos to put together a blog post to document this beautiful model. I showed another example of this model in 2015, in this blog post about an example of the Harris N° 117 that I ran across while out on a ride in the countryside in Massachusetts, during a visit to see family there, but I hadn't seen the interior of one of these. So, here we go... in no particular order, images of the exterior and interior spaces of a probable model N° 117 from Harris Brothers Co, that has had its attic space re-purposed into a spacious bedroom area:

Harris Brothers kit house model No 117 319 S High Street, Rising Sun, Indiana

Harris Brothers kit house model No 117 319 S High Street, Rising Sun, Indiana

Harris Brothers kit house model No 117 319 S High Street, Rising Sun, Indiana

Harris Brothers kit house model No 117 319 S High Street, Rising Sun, Indiana

Harris Brothers kit house model No 117 319 S High Street, Rising Sun, Indiana

Harris Brothers kit house model No 117 319 S High Street, Rising Sun, Indiana

Harris Brothers kit house model No 117 319 S High Street, Rising Sun, Indiana

Harris Brothers kit house model No 117 319 S High Street, Rising Sun, Indiana

Harris Brothers kit house model No 117 319 S High Street, Rising Sun, Indiana

Harris Brothers kit house model No 117 319 S High Street, Rising Sun, Indiana

Harris Brothers kit house model No 117 319 S High Street, Rising Sun, Indiana

Harris Brothers kit house model No 117 319 S High Street, Rising Sun, Indiana

Harris Brothers kit house model No 117 319 S High Street, Rising Sun, Indiana

Harris Brothers kit house model No 117 319 S High Street, Rising Sun, Indiana

Harris Brothers kit house model No 117 319 S High Street, Rising Sun, Indiana

Harris Brothers kit house model No 117 319 S High Street, Rising Sun, Indiana

Harris Brothers kit house model No 117 319 S High Street, Rising Sun, Indiana

Harris Brothers kit house model No 117 319 S High Street, Rising Sun, Indiana

Harris Brothers kit house model No 117 319 S High Street, Rising Sun, Indiana

Harris Brothers kit house model No 117 319 S High Street, Rising Sun, Indiana

Harris Brothers kit house model No 117 319 S High Street, Rising Sun, Indiana

Harris Brothers kit house model No 117 319 S High Street, Rising Sun, Indiana

Harris Brothers kit house model No 117 319 S High Street, Rising Sun, Indiana

Harris Brothers kit house model No 117 319 S High Street, Rising Sun, Indiana

Harris Brothers kit house model No 117 319 S High Street, Rising Sun, Indiana

Harris Brothers kit house model No 117 319 S High Street, Rising Sun, Indiana


I have no information to document this house as a Harris Brothers model N° 117, but it seems to fit the bill, and I think someone is going to be a very fortunate buyer. Maybe they will run across this blog post (as happens sometimes, when I post about a house that has been for sale), and learn something special about their beautiful new home, at 319 S High Street, Rising Sun, Indiana.