Friday, June 24, 2022

Sears Ellison In State College Pennsylvania

exterior view of Authenticated Sears Ellison model • 704 W Fairmount Avenue, State College, Pennsylvania, home of Joseph and Genevieve Fosa, built in 1933
Authenticated Sears Ellison model • 704 W Fairmount Avenue, State College, Pennsylvania
black and white drawing of Sears Ellison in 1932 Sears Modern Homes catalog
Sears Ellison in the 1932 Sears Modern Homes catalog

We rarely see examples of the Sears Ellison model, but here is one that we were aware of, in State College, Pennsylvania, where we have found (through various resources), about 28 Sears houses. This Ellison has a plaque near its front door, saying that it was built in 1933 for Genevieve and Joseph Fosa. 

Genevieve was the former Genevieve C Rau. She and Joseph married on September 9, 1920. Genevieve was from Pittsburgh, and Joseph was from Middletown, Connecticut, but was born in Spadafora, Italy, a small coastal town on the Tyrrhenian Sea. He was a teacher of Italian and Spanish at Pennsylvania State College (my heart just did a flip flop of excitement at seeing this... I am a teacher of French and Spanish). 


black and white print newspaper marriage announcement from 1920
Marriage announcement of Genevieve C Rau and Joseph Fosa, From the Saturday, September 11, 1920 edition of the Pittsburgh Daily Post, online page 4 on Newspapers.com, here.

According to the 1950 U.S. Census, Joseph and Genevieve had two daughters living with them, at that time: 28-year-old Elizabeth Joan Camacho, and 19-year-old Joyce Ann Fosa. Elizabeth was a Spanish teacher, also at the University, and had her 2-year-old daughter living with her, as well (Genoteva [sp?] Camacho). 

white image with black hand writing Joseph Fosa's 1942 WWII registration card
Joseph Fosa's 1942 WWII registration card (here, on Ancestry.com)

color image of family names, 1950 U.S. Census listings for the Fosa family

professions of Joseph Fosa and daughter Elizabeth Fosa Camacho, 1950 U.S. Census listings for the Fosa family
1950 U.S. Census listings for the Joseph Fosa family (here, on Ancestry.com)

Joseph's Naturalization papers state that he was, in 1918, a soldier, doing language instruction for the army, and had been born on July 6, 1892, in Spadafora:
white image with black typed words, Naturalization records for Joseph William Fosa
Naturalization records for Joseph William Fosa (here, on Ancestry.com)

Unfortunately, on December 23, at the end of that year of the 1950 U.S. Census, Joseph died, at the age of 58:
color photograph of Joseph William Fosa's grave marker
Source: Find-a-Grave

Genevieve died in 1986, and was living in Bucks County, Pennsylvania at the time (State College is in Centre County), so I don't know when the family finally left their beautiful Sears Ellison on Fairmount Avenue. 
color photo of Genevieve Rau Fosa's grave marker
Source: Find-a-Grave

There is an image of the plaque, in one of the photos in the real estate listing, but it's a bit blurry:
metal plaque outside front door of Authenticated Sears Ellison model • 704 W Fairmount Avenue, State College, Pennsylvania
This is a beautiful plaque. Fortunately, it is accurate, and well researched. That is not always the case for plaques on homes, that declare them to be Sears houses, as they are not always fully researched. We have seen plaques declaring a home to be a Sears home, when it does not match any Sears model, and there is no substantiation for calling the house a Sears house. In fact, we question several of the homes in State College that are thought to be Sears houses (for example, 313 S Burrowes Street is thought to be a Sears Westly, yet it differs greatly in design, from that Sears model).

Inside the Ellison at 704 W Fairmount Avenue
Here is the Sears Ellison in the 1932 Sears Modern Homes catalog:
black and white drawing of Sears Ellison in 1932 Sears Modern Homes catalog

black and white print and floor plan Sears Ellison in 1932 Sears Modern Homes catalog
black and white drawing of first floor plan Sears Ellison in 1932 Sears Modern Homes catalog
Source: 1932 Sears Modern Homes catalog


I'll let you follow the somewhat complicated floor plan, and navigate the lovely addition, as you peruse the online images that I grabbed from this real estate listing. There are 56 images, showing every angle of every room, so I'll post quite a few, but not all.

front door interior showing Sears La Tosca door hardware Authenticated Sears Ellison model • 704 W Fairmount Avenue, State College, Pennsylvania
To begin with, this gorgeous front door appears to be a custom door, just for this house. I don't believe that we have ever seen this door design offered in the catalogs. But, we have seen the door handle hardware that is here, on the front door, and throughout the house. It's Sears LaTosca hardware.

black and white drawing Sears La Tosca door hardware, from the 1930 Sears Building Supplies catalog
Sears La Tosca door hardware, from the 1930 Sears Building Supplies catalog

front exterior view of Authenticated Sears Ellison model • 704 W Fairmount Avenue, State College, Pennsylvania, home of Joseph and Genevieve Fosa, built in 1933

front door and front porch of Authenticated Sears Ellison model • 704 W Fairmount Avenue, State College, Pennsylvania, home of Joseph and Genevieve Fosa, built in 1933
There is the plaque, on the wall by the front door.

entry hall and living room of Authenticated Sears Ellison model • 704 W Fairmount Avenue, State College, Pennsylvania, home of Joseph and Genevieve Fosa, built in 1933

living room of Authenticated Sears Ellison model • 704 W Fairmount Avenue, State College, Pennsylvania, home of Joseph and Genevieve Fosa, built in 1933
The fireplace is in a different spot, on this Ellison, than the wall where it is shown, on the floor plan.

living room of Authenticated Sears Ellison model • 704 W Fairmount Avenue, State College, Pennsylvania, home of Joseph and Genevieve Fosa, built in 1933
The standard floor plan for the Ellison actually shows the fireplace to be on that back wall, behind where the blue love seat is.

dining room of Authenticated Sears Ellison model • 704 W Fairmount Avenue, State College, Pennsylvania, home of Joseph and Genevieve Fosa, built in 1933

dining room of Authenticated Sears Ellison model • 704 W Fairmount Avenue, State College, Pennsylvania, home of Joseph and Genevieve Fosa, built in 1933

kitchen interior room of Authenticated Sears Ellison model • 704 W Fairmount Avenue, State College, Pennsylvania, home of Joseph and Genevieve Fosa, built in 1933
The kitchen has been really tastefully modernized, in my opinion.

kitchen interior room of Authenticated Sears Ellison model • 704 W Fairmount Avenue, State College, Pennsylvania, home of Joseph and Genevieve Fosa, built in 1933

kitchen interior room of Authenticated Sears Ellison model • 704 W Fairmount Avenue, State College, Pennsylvania, home of Joseph and Genevieve Fosa, built in 1933

kitchen interior room of Authenticated Sears Ellison model • 704 W Fairmount Avenue, State College, Pennsylvania, home of Joseph and Genevieve Fosa, built in 1933

kitchen interior room of Authenticated Sears Ellison model • 704 W Fairmount Avenue, State College, Pennsylvania, home of Joseph and Genevieve Fosa, built in 1933
That's another example of La Tosca door handle hardware, and a Sears door

Sears had a number of styles of interior doors, available in a few different wood options.
For doors (and other trim pieces) that would be painted, a soft wood like Fir, would be the wood that was shipped, intended to be painted. (Source)

kitchen interior room of Authenticated Sears Ellison model • 704 W Fairmount Avenue, State College, Pennsylvania, home of Joseph and Genevieve Fosa, built in 1933

living room and kitchen interior room of Authenticated Sears Ellison model • 704 W Fairmount Avenue, State College, Pennsylvania, home of Joseph and Genevieve Fosa, built in 1933

bedroom interior room of Authenticated Sears Ellison model • 704 W Fairmount Avenue, State College, Pennsylvania, home of Joseph and Genevieve Fosa, built in 1933

pale green bedroom interior room of Authenticated Sears Ellison model • 704 W Fairmount Avenue, State College, Pennsylvania, home of Joseph and Genevieve Fosa, built in 1933

bedroom interior room of Authenticated Sears Ellison model • 704 W Fairmount Avenue, State College, Pennsylvania, home of Joseph and Genevieve Fosa, built in 1933

bathroom interior room of Authenticated Sears Ellison model • 704 W Fairmount Avenue, State College, Pennsylvania, home of Joseph and Genevieve Fosa, built in 1933
More Sears La Tosca hardware on the hall bath.
(There is a very large, new bath, for the master bedroom, as well.)


black and white drawing of second floor plan Sears Ellison in 1932 Sears Modern Homes catalog
Source: 1932 Sears Modern Homes catalog


upstairs hallway interior room of Authenticated Sears Ellison model • 704 W Fairmount Avenue, State College, Pennsylvania, home of Joseph and Genevieve Fosa, built in 1933

window nook interior room of Authenticated Sears Ellison model • 704 W Fairmount Avenue, State College, Pennsylvania, home of Joseph and Genevieve Fosa, built in 1933
More La Tosca hardware, and another original Sears door.

new bathroom interior room of Authenticated Sears Ellison model • 704 W Fairmount Avenue, State College, Pennsylvania, home of Joseph and Genevieve Fosa, built in 1933
Here is the huge, added bathroom.. though, that is an original door, with La Tosca hardware.

yellow and white bedroom interior room of Authenticated Sears Ellison model • 704 W Fairmount Avenue, State College, Pennsylvania, home of Joseph and Genevieve Fosa, built in 1933

bathroom interior room of Authenticated Sears Ellison model • 704 W Fairmount Avenue, State College, Pennsylvania, home of Joseph and Genevieve Fosa, built in 1933
Another original bathroom, judging by the size

interior room of Authenticated Sears Ellison model • 704 W Fairmount Avenue, State College, Pennsylvania, home of Joseph and Genevieve Fosa, built in 1933
The inside of the front door, again.

It's fortunate whenever we can get a view of the back of one of our Sears models.

All of this creamy white part is an addition.

interior room of Authenticated Sears Ellison model • 704 W Fairmount Avenue, State College, Pennsylvania, home of Joseph and Genevieve Fosa, built in 1933
This is the interior of that lovely sun room addition.

Thanks to the granddaughter of the original builder of the Fosa's Ellison, we have a photo from when the Ellison was first completed, in 1933:
sepia toned photo of Authenticated Sears Ellison model • 704 W Fairmount Avenue, State College, Pennsylvania, just after construction by William A Rothwell, 1933
William A. Rothwell was the original builder of the State College Sears houses.
Thanks so much to his granddaughters, Marguerite Quinn and Amy Rothwell Worster, and Amy's father, Bill Rothwell II, for sharing this photo. Bill Rothwell II remembers living in State College when his father was building these houses!
More Sears Houses In State College, Pennsylvania
Much of our information on the locations of the Sears houses in State College, Pennsylvania, comes from this online document. The document also points out that there were kits from other companies, such as this example of an Aladdin Homes Plaza, at 441 W Fairmount Avenue,  and this example of a Gordon-Van Tine No 536, at 501 W Fairmount Ave (at the corner of S Barnard Street, facing that street). 

Additionally, there is another example of a Sears Ellison, here, at 444 W Fairmount Avenue (images are available in this real estate listing... gorgeous house):
front exterior view of Sears Ellison, here, at 444 W Fairmount Avenue State College PA

front entry area exterior view at front porch Sears Ellison, here, at 444 W Fairmount Avenue State College PA

inside front entry area Sears Ellison, here, at 444 W Fairmount Avenue State College PA
This is a standard option front door from Sears, and what we would normally expect to see on the Sears Ellison.

black and white drawing of Sears Gothic or Tudor design front door, 1930 Sears Building Supplies catalog
Here is that door, available in the 1930 building supplies catalog.
The iron strapping was optional, and the glass insert style had a few options available.

color photo of living room Sears Ellison, here, at 444 W Fairmount Avenue State College PA


color photo of living room and fireplace wall Sears Ellison, here, at 444 W Fairmount Avenue State College PA
This Sears Ellison has the fireplace in the location where it is shown on the catalog floor plan.

For a long time, there was not very good coverage of the neighborhoods of State College, PA, on Google Streetview, but Andrew Mutch (Kit House Hunters) did quite a bit of more scouting around the streets, once Streetview coverage was improved. Up to this point, here is the list of Sears houses that we have, on our National Database of Sears Houses, for State College, Pennsylvania:

Alhambra118 S Barnard StState CollegePA
Attleboro747 Holmes StState CollegePA
Belmont (Brick Lynnhaven)532 E Foster AveState CollegePA
Brookwood602 E Foster AveState CollegePA
Claremont714 N Allen StState CollegePA
Clifton219 E Irvin AveState CollegePA
Clifton443 E Fairmount AveState CollegePA
Clyde734 McKee StState CollegePA
Colchester526 E Foster AveState CollegePA
Colchester750 Holmes StState CollegePA
Colebrook219 Adams AveState CollegePA
Custom433 Mitchell AveState CollegePA
Ellison444 W Fairmount AveState CollegePA
Ellison704 W Fairmount AveState CollegePA
Fullerton200 S Corl StState CollegePA
Gainsboro500 E Fairmount AveState CollegePA
Gordon510 E FairmountState CollegePA
Hammond216 High StState CollegePA
Hillsboro447 E Fairmount AveState CollegePA
Lynnhaven363 Ridge AveState CollegePA
Lynnhaven505 E Prospect AveState CollegePA
Maplewood713 S Allen StState CollegePA
Mitchell241 Hillcrest AveState CollegePA
New Haven432 W Fairmount AveState CollegePA
Stratford437 E Fairmount AveState CollegePA
Vallonia151 Hartswick AveState CollegePA
Westly137 Hartswick AveState CollegePA
Wilmore511 E Hamilton AveState CollegePA
Wilmore608 E Foster AveState CollegePA

If you happen to have authenticating information about any of these houses, we would love to see it. Although there is some good information from the online article I cited above, we really need to see primary sources to label these houses as authenticated. I understand that there is an album of sorts, from the original builder of many of these homes, and we would love to see that, if anyone knows the woman who has that (we saw her comment on a blog about Craftsman homes). There is mention of a custom Sears house at 500 E Hamilton Avenue, for example, but we can't see the house very well from Google Streetview, so a photo of that, and anything documenting it definitely as a Sears houses, would be greatly appreciated. (UPDATE: We are in touch with the granddaughters of the builder!)

Please feel free to reach out at SearsHouses@gmail.com, if you have information for us!

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
For more information on who we are, and what we do, visit our website: SearsHouses.com

 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comment will appear after it has been previewed and approved by the blog author. Thanks for your interest!