|Part of a Sears Modern Homes ad in the Philadelphia Inquirer, 1926|
Who Are We and What Is This List?
|Chuck Holtzen has joined up with Lara to do research in Illinois, and has been helpful in adding a number of authenticated houses to our list.|
|Cindy did a great blog post about an old Sears No. 171 that she visited, near Sidney, Ohio|
|This fantastic blog post by Cindy, Have I Told You About Winnie?, includes an amazing set of documents and family history about the 1932 purchase of a Sears Aurora model, by the Hartzell family, of Trotwood, Ohio|
|A Sears Gateshead model that Andrew included in this blog post about Poets' Corner.|
|A 1924 Sears Avalon model, at 346 Locust Rd, Glenside, Pennsylvania, found by Karen DeJeet, which I was later able to authenticate through mortgage records for Montgomery County, PA. We have about 40 Glenside Sears homes on our national database.|
Along the way, we were joined by Nigel R. Tate, who was a teenager when he began his searching, but he has an incredible memory and an eye for catching Sears houses. Here's a rare find, a Sears Torrington, in the Berks County PA suburb of Wyomissing, that he found, and that Andrew Mutch later authenticated through a deed record tied to Sears.
|Here's Nigel's blog post about this Sears Torrington model, in Berks County, Pennsylvania|
Early on, we were joined by Sarah Mullane, who lives in North Tonawanda, New York. Sarah is especially interested in searching the kit homes of Western New York State, and has found us some beautiful Sears houses, but she is especially revered by all of us for her extensive knowledge of kits from the Ray H. Bennett kit homes company, which was based out of North Tonawanda.
|A beautiful Sears Sherburne model that Sarah Mullane included in this blog post of hers, on her blog, Catalog Homes of Western New York.|
Ohio resident Marie Vore reached out to us one day, on our Sears Modern Homes Facebook page, with a question about a possible Sears house that she had run across in a real estate listing. We soon realized that she had a keen eye for Sears houses (and a keen love for them, as her great-grandfather had built a Sears Martha Washington in Oakwood, Ohio), and she joined our research group.
|Marie's great-grandfather, Freeman Pretzinger, built this Sears Martha Washington model|
|Marie gives the perfect explanation of our Sears House hunt, in this, her first blog post, on her blog, Sears Houses In The Midwest.|
One of the early Sears House researchers that our group still relies on for her expertise in the D.C. housing market, is D.C. realtor Catarina Bannier (Bannier & Sandalow). Washington D.C. and its nearby suburbs have an unusually rich cache of kit houses stashed away in some of the leafy, well-tended neighborhoods where 1920s houses still shine. Catarina is quite well informed about Sears houses in the D.C. area, but also has researched the origins of many of the Lewis Homes kit homes in the area.
|Sears Winona with characteristic 5-piece eave brackets, which we usually only see on Sears houses.|
This house is located in Arlington, Virginia, and was identified by D.C. realtor Catarina Bannier.
You can see it, and other blog posts about kit houses, here, on Catarina's early blog.
Rebecca L. Hunter and Beatrice Lask
Where To Find Online Catalogs?
Our research would not be possible, without online resources for Sears Modern Homes catalogs, and the catalogs for other kit-house companies, such as Gordon-Van Tine, Wardway, Aladdin, Sterling, Lewis, and Bennett. Most of us have a small collection of physical catalogs, or PDF catalogs, but we rely heavily on resources provided, especially, by our friend at AntiqueHome.org, and Daily Bungalow. Through those two resources, we can see not only kit-house catalogs, but also lumber-yard plan books, which offered house plans to those who were building their homes, in the 19-teens through 1930s, in the traditional method, of hiring a contractor, and buying the building resources locally.
At one point, I realized that I needed to organize a list of online catalog resources, so I put together this blog post, which has links to catalogs not only from Daily Bungalow and AntiqueHome, but to the many catalogs uploaded on another key resource, Archive.org (have you donated lately?).
The best guidebook to the basic history of the Sears Modern Homes program, is the book, Houses By Mail, put out by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and written by Katherine Cole Stevenson and H. Ward Jandl.
|Here's a link to it, on Amazon.|
But, What Really Is A Sears House?
Finally, if you really want to understand the basics of what a Sears Modern Homes kit house is, and what it is not, you might find this blog post of mine to be helpful and informative. I now live in St. Louis, Missouri, and am sometimes asked if there are any Sears houses here. So, I put together a list, but I decided to provide some clarifying background information in that blog post, too-- it's especially intended to help those who might hear the term Craftsman, and think it means Sears House, or who see a 1920s bungalow and wonder if that means that the street is lined with Sears houses, or who find marked lumber in their house, but can't seem to find a match to a Sears model. Those kinds of topics are cleared up, in this blog post:
|Click here, to learn the full story!|
So, Can We See Some Philly Suburbs Sears Houses?
When I chatted with Kevin Riordan, I also sent him a list of several nice Sears houses that he could consider photographing for his article in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Knowing the limitations of a newspaper article, I know that he will only be able to show one or two house photos, so I thought that I would highlight a few that we have found, through our research. I considered putting a full chart here, but, honestly, we have found hundreds through searching the suburban PA counties outside of Philadelphia. Cindy's research in Delaware County, coupled with my research in Montgomery County, netted at least 200 hundred authenticated houses, but that research was preceded by many hours of searching the streets of Willow Grove, Glenside, and other suburbs, by Karen, Nigel, Sarah, Marie, and Andrew. So, I'll just post a nice selection here. Enjoy!
|Sears Elsmore, authenticated by Cindy Catanzaro, at 38 E Turnbull Avenue, Havertown, PA|
|Sears Gladstone model, built in 1926, original owner: Benjamin Harvey. This house, at 621 Crescent Avenue, Glenside, PA, was found by Karen, and I later authenticated it through mortgage research.|
|Sears Walton, 516 Grant Avenue, Willow Grove, PA, located by Andrew.|
Learn more about this model, here.
|Sears Hathaway at 210 Dallas Rd, Willow Grove, PA (there are quite a few Sears houses on this road), located by Karen.|
|Andrew found us this beautiful Sears Crescent, at 1509 Ashton Rd, Havertown, PA.|
Cindy was able to authenticate it through mortgage research. It was ordered from Sears in 1927, by Edward W. March. (Learn more about the Crescent and its many lookalikes from other companies, here, and about its three different floorplans, here.)
|This is a really nice example of a Sears Argyle, at 1421 Lawndale Avenue, Havertown, PA. Andrew first found this for us, and Cindy authenticated it-- it was bought by Norman B. Rauch, in 1928.|
(This photo is from a real estate listing, where you can also see more of the interior.)
|Sears Martha Washington, 213 Hastings Avenue, Havertown, PA, located by Cindy, through mortgage research. This house was ordered in 1923, by Robert Orr.|
|A glorious Sears Honor, 1 Claremont Blvd, Havertown, PA. Cindy authenticated this house through mortgage research. The original owner, who ordered the house in 1923, was Joseph H. Mendenhall.|
|I located this Sears Princeville at 1223 Egypt Rd, Upper Providence, PA (or Phoenixville?).|
|Sears Ardara, in Rockledge, PA, that I found through mortgage research. You can read the interesting story behind it, in this blog post of mine.|
|Sears Columbine, 6332 Arlingham Rd, Flourtown, PA. Andrew first found this house, and I later authenticated it, attaching it to a 1926 mortgage for William Crites. I found a second Columbine on Wissahickon Avenue in Flourtown. I show more about this model, in this blog post.|
|Sears Vallonia, 56 Weiss Avenue, Flourtown, PA. Andrew first located this house, and I later tied it to a mortgage through Sears. It was ordered in 1923 by Forrest and Laura Jayne. You can see real estate photos of this house, here, where there is also a catalog image.|
|Sears Belmont (brick version of the Sears Lynnhaven), 2151 Pleasant Avenue, Glenside, PA.|
I located and authenticated this through mortgage research. It was ordered in 1932 by James & Ella Smith. You can learn more about this model in this blog post of mine.
|Sears Conway, 640 Edge Hill Rd, Glenside, PA. This house was originally located by Karen, but I was able to tie it to a mortgage through Sears. It was ordered in 1927 by William & Josephine Reichert. |
This home is currently for sale: real estate listing.
|Sears Elmwood, 2725 Laurel Lane, Glenside, PA. Karen originally located this house, and I connected it to a mortgage with Sears. It was ordered in 1921 by Olay & Edith Sands. You can learn more about this model, in this blog post of mine.|
|Sears Wilmore, 911 River Rd, Upper Black Eddy, PA, Bucks County. Lara located this one through a real estate listing. We haven't authenticated this house, but it does have the Sears trademark curlicue decorative iron strapping on the front door. Read more about this model in this blog post by Lara, which showcases one in Lombard, Illinois.|
|Sears No. 167 (Maytown), 11 Locust St, West Chester, PA|
|Sears Americus, 419 Beechwood Ave, Collingdale, PA. This house was located and authenticated by Cindy. It was ordered in 1925 by Walter C. Timm.|
|Sears Avondale, 172 Charles St, King of Prussia, PA. I located and authenticated this house through mortgage research. It was ordered in 1923 by John & Clementina Davies. This is an interesting model, that needs to be seen from several sides, so visit it on Google streetview, here.|
|Sears Kilbourne, 101 E 3rd St, Essington, PA. This house was located and authenticated by Cindy, tying it to a 1925 mortgage with Sears. It was ordered by Charles L. Devroude.|
|Sears Alhambra, 1517 Ashton Rd, Havertown, PA. This house was originally found by Andrew, and then authenticated through mortgage records, by Cindy. It was ordered in 1928 by Marie & William Horvay. You can learn more about this model, in this blog post about an Alhambra in Hopewell, New Jersey.|
|Sears Westly, 123 Holme Ave, Elkins Park, PA. This house was authenticated through a deed tied to Sears.|
And, in New Jersey:
|Sears Osborn, 818 Ohio Avenue, Absecon, New Jersey|
This photo comes from a 2017 real estate listing, where you can see gorgeous interior shots of this Osborn, which still retains many of the original details of the house. The Osborn was shown with a color page, in the 1918 catalog, which you can see here.
|Sears Avalon, 229 Creek Rd, Delran, NJ, Burlington County.|
|Sears Americus • Testimonial house of Charles F. Kurtz • 418 Woodlawn Ave, Collingswood, NJ, Camden County. I located this house through a testimonial letter sent in to Sears by the original owner. You can read all about it, in this blog post of mine (showing the house before this nice makeover!). The house was also for sale in 2016, so you can see (old) interior photos, here, in this real estate listing. Ironically, my blog post is the reason that the current owners of this house knew that their house was a Sears house, as they mentioned in this online article from the 08108 area -- It's cute that they referred to my heavily-researched and documented blog post as being written by "just a guy who likes Sears kit homes" :) . I'm a woman, by the way. Ha!|
|Sears Maywood, 262 Creek Rd, Delran, NJ, Burlington County. I located this house through mortgage research. It was ordered in 1928 by Edith & Horace Caldwell.|
|Sears Barrington, 319 Windsor Avenue, Haddonfield, NJ. You can read all about this model, and its many lookalikes by other companies, in this blog post of mine.|
|Sears Berwyn, 1505 Sycamore St, Haddon Heights, NJ|
Inside Philadelphia Proper
|Sears Kilbourne, 1300 Brighton St, Philadelphia, PA (Oxford Circle), located by Marie.|
|Sears Cornell model, 631 Summit Ave, Philadelphia, PA (Roxborough). Andrew located this one. |
The Cornell is extremely popular in the Pittsburgh area, and a common find for us. This blog post of mine discusses the differences between the Cornell, and its earlier version, the Haven.
|Sears Vallonia (another hugely popular model), at 4526 Convent Lane, Philadelphia, PA (Torresdale).|
Lara located this one through a real estate listing (which you can access here, with some great photos).
|Sears Woodland, 509 Solly Avenue, Philadelphia, PA, found by Lara through this real estate listing, which has wonderful photos.|
|Sears Westly with enclosed sleeping porch, 1405 Disston St, Philadelphia, PA|
|Sears Westly with enclosed front porch, sporting the Sears 5-piece brackets, |
1404 Disston St Philadelphia PA
|Sears Hamilton at 1232-1234 Disston St (now a 2-family home, I guess?), found by Marie.|
Here's a real estate listing, which shows a fireplace with the classic brick pattern we often see on brick fireplace surrounds in the Hamilton.
|Similar to the styling of the Hamilton, is the Sears Starlight. This model has been around since the very early days of the Sears Modern Homes catalogs, and has gone through a few design changes over the years, which you can read about in this blog post by Lara. Marie located this one, at 7201 Montour St, in the Oxford Circle neighborhood.|
|See that curled element at the hinge edge? That is unique to Sears. The iron strapping itself can be strait or curved, but the curlicue is always there, if it's iron strapping from Sears.|
|1227 Disston St, Oxford Circle neighborhood of Philadelphia|
|Rare find: Sears Bandon, at 800 Crestview Rd, in the Upper Roxborough neighborhood of Philadelphia, PA. Here's my blog post about it.|
Where Are The Rest Of The Sears Houses In The U.S.?
- Aurora, Illinois: 117
- Carlinville, Illinois: 149 in the Standard Addition, bought by Standard Oil, in 1918 (the highest number in one contiguous neighborhood, in the U.S., though not the highest number in one town)
- Cincinnati, Ohio and surrounding communities in southern Ohio and Northern, Kentucky: over 700 just in Cincinnati proper-- Ohio is the state with the largest number of located Sears houses in the U.S., with 2,888 as of today.
- Downers Grove, Illinois: 67 -- Another comparatively small town, with an unusually-high concentration of Sears houses.
- Elgin, Illinois: 213. Elgin is the town with the highest percentage of Sears houses. Other large cities, like Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, have higher numbers, but Elgin is a relatively small town. See Rebecca L. Hunter's research project, here.
- State of Illinois: Across the state, we've found over 2,400 Sears houses, putting Illinois second to Ohio in number of Sears houses located in the state.
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh is a large city, but we have found many Sears homes there, with 540 found in Pittsburgh proper, but at least 1,000 found, if you consider the surrounding areas as well. More information, in this blog post of mine.
- Pennsylvania is the third- highest-ranking state with almost 2,000 Sears homes located there, to date.
- Rockford, Illinois: 166
- Massapequa Park, New York: Several dozen --Andrew Mutch has located many Sears houses built here in the 1920s and 1930s, with the largest number being on Grand Boulevard. (read more here)
- Prince George's County, MD & Montgomery County, MD: Over 225. For a small state, Maryland has hundreds of Sears houses, most located in these two counties, and most documented through historic mortgage research, by Andrew Mutch.
- Washington, D.C.: over 300, and numerous additional kit houses from other companies such as Lewis Homes, Gordon-Van Tine, Aladdin, and Montgomery Ward. More details here.
- Arlington County, Virginia: 162 Sears houses still standing, including those in the city of Alexandria. More details here.
- Yonkers, NY: 111 (120 if you count kit houses from other companies). More details here.