|Sears model No. 118, 1221 Pine St, Columbia, South Carolina, in the Waverly Historic District
A little while ago, researcher Andrew Mutch (Kit House Hunters) ran across a "sold" listing for a very old example of a Sears model No. 118 (later known as the Clyde, for a short time, though that name was transferred to a little bungalow, in 1920... here is the little Clyde in the 1921 catalog online). What he soon discovered, thanks to this article put out by the National Park Service, is that this home played a significant role in the black community of Columbia, South Carolina, and was listed for several years in The Negro Motorist Green Book. It is located in the Waverly Historic District.
|From the National Park Service article about Ruth's Beauty Parlor
If you're not aware of what the Green Book was, read this informative Wikipedia article, or this National Park Service article, which both explain that Victor Hugo Green, a 1930s NYC mailman, recognized the need for a guidebook of sorts for African Americans traveling by car in the United States, that would list for them, safe havens for lodging, dining, car repair... and even beauty parlor services, which was what Ruth's Beauty Parlor offered, here, in this house in Columbia, South Carolina. The New York Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture has put together a fantastic resource of digitized versions of 21 issues of the Green Book, and you can read about them, and access the digitized versions, here. Additionally, the New York Public Library system has Navigating the Green Book, a page with links to interactive maps extracted from the data in the NYPL Green Book holdings. You'll find that a Google search shows that there are a good number of resources out there for information on the history of the Green Book in America.
|Cover of The Green Book, 1940 edition, accessed here, where you can see the entire contents, page by page.
I randomly chose the 1940 edition, from the Schomburg collection's digital copies, and found that the services available for Columbia, South Carolina, were found on page 42 of that year's book.
|The Green Book, 1940 edition, page 42, showing listings for Columbia, South Carolina
|Here's a close up of the listing for Ruth's Beauty Parlor, at 1221 Pine St, Columbia, South Carolina
You may recall that, in 2018, a major motion picture was made, entitled Green Book, which was probably most of white America's first introduction to any of this part of America's history. It looks like the movie received mixed reviews -- some folks felt it was insensitive, portraying yet another example of the "white savior" mentality, in which African Americans are, thank heavens, saved by "good" white Americans... with the danger being that this kind of "feel good" movie is maybe only "feel good" for white folks, and that it insensitively suggests that all of the racial tensions and racial injustices in our country, are a thing of the past. Others ( I guess maybe other white folks?) see it as a movie where it's obvious that the white fellow is a boor, whom we are pleased to see be "schooled" by the intelligence, grace, and talents of the main character, a gifted African American musician. It is based on the real life experiences of musician Donald Shirley, and night-club bouncer Tony Vallelonga. With all of that in mind, you can judge for yourself, if you haven't seen it... it's here on Amazon Prime. Or, you might be interested to see the documentary, The Green Book: Guide to Freedom, also available through Amazon Prime.
|I've recently watched it, and found this documentary about the value of the listings in the Green Book, to the African Americans of our country, to be very interesting. It is available here, on Amazon Prime
Who owned the Sears No 118 on Pine Street?
The informative National Park Service article about Ruth's Beauty Shop, explains that Nathaniel Hamilton Collins, a successful tailor, "first owned and oversaw construction of the building" of this home, and that it was later the location of his daughter, Ruth Collins Perry's, successful beauty parlor business. Both Ruth Collins and her sister, Etienne Collins, the article explains, were involved in careers as designers and seamstresses in the clothing and fashion industry:
|Another section from the article put out by the National Park Service, about this home's history
The Waverly Historic District is described on this website about Historic Columbia (South Carolina), as an area of Columbia that grew to be a "self-contained, self-sustaining black community with a broad socio-economic demographic":
|Be sure to click on the LEARN MORE box on this page about Historic Columbia South Carolina, to see 28 other locations of historic significance to the African American community in the Waverly Historic District.
The significance of the beauty parlor industry to the black community, and, so, the significance of Ruth's Beauty Parlor, here in this Sears Modern Home No. 118 in the Waverly Historic District, is further described on the National Park Service web page:
|Final text section from the National Park Service article
At least one resource gives 1910 as the build year of this Sears No. 118 home, and that may be right... because, already in the 1910 U.S. Census, Nathaniel Hamilton Collins is listed as living on this street... but with no house number given... so, either an earlier home was on the lot, already owned by Nathaniel Collins, or this Sears No. 118 was built in time for the family to be living there when the census taker came around. In the 1909 city directory, however, there is a woman named Mattie Coleman listed as the resident of 1221 Pine... Avenue ... not Street. But, the 1911 city directory, and the 1920 U. S. Census, put Nathaniel Collins and his family, at this address:
|1910 U. S. Census for Columbia, South Carolina, listing the Collins family on this street
|The 1911 Columbia, South Carolina City Directory, listing the Collins family at 1221 Pine Avenue
|The 1920 U. S. Census listing the Collins family at 1221 Pine Street, Columbia, South Carolina
Sears Modern Home No. 118 in the catalogs
This house was first marketed as the No. 118, from the very first catalog in 1908, through 1917, and then, for one year, as The Clyde. It was not offered as an "Already cut" house until 1918, the only year that it was marketed as The Clyde... but, interestingly, I've seen two different issues of the 1918 catalog (clearly marked 1918 on the cover page), and one has the Clyde as "Already cut and fitted", and one has the Clyde as "Not cut and fitted". My 1919 catalog does not have the Clyde in it at all, and the 1920 catalog no longer has this house in it... it offers a small bungalow, new to the catalog offerings, now with the name, Clyde. So, that means that Sears went through all of the trouble of measuring and tooling up to produce a pre-cut kit for this very large house, only for one year.
|Here is the No. 118, in the 1911 Sears Modern Homes catalog, here
|Floor plans of the No. 118, in the 1911 Sears Modern Homes catalog, here
|The write up about the No. 118, in the 1911 Sears Modern Homes catalog, here
|Full catalog page of the No. 118, in the 1911 Sears Modern Homes catalog, here
|Interestingly, the Clyde is in this edition of the 1918 Sears Modern Homes catalog, as "Already Cut" and fitted... and about $300 more than the "not cut or fitted" listing in the other 1918 catalog. The catalog clearly says 1918 on the front... and so does my other version, that only has the Clyde as "not cut or fitted"
Let's look inside this Sears Modern Home No. 118
Thanks to the real estate listing that Andrew ran across, we have quite a few photos of the inside of 1221 Pine Street. Andrew looked over the layout of the rooms, as well as he could follow them from the real estate listing, and found that it was pretty faithful to the floor plans shown in the catalogs. He noted a few changes, in red. We also noticed pocket doors in at least one location... which is something we had wondered about, along the way over the past few years: Did Sears houses have pocket doors? Well... yes, in fact, they did... at least in the era of the "Not cut and fitted" (not pre-cut) houses, anyway. We see them in this house, and we see them indicated on the floor plan of the No. 118.
|Here are the pocket doors, indicated on the floor plan for the No. 118.
Here are a few small changes that Andrew noted, marked in red:
|In red, some changes to the floor plan, that Andrew noticed, for the first floor of this house.
|In red, some changes to the floor plan, that Andrew noticed, for the second floor of this house.
And, finally, a number of photos from the real estate listing in January, 2023:
|Sears Modern Home No. 118, at 1221 Pine Street, Columbia, South Carolina, Waverly Historic District
|Staircase newel, spindles, and brackets, as shown in the 1910 Sears Building Supplies catalog.
|Stair brackets shown in the 1910 Sears Building Supplies catalog
|Pocket doors between the parlor and the entry hallway
|I believe this is the mantel we see in the Pine Street No. 118... minus the scroll work design, and with a different iron insert.
|A beautiful bronze plaque for this historic Sears house, in this historic African American neighborhood
I've written, previously, about a couple of other examples of the Sears No. 118:
- You can see lots of interior photos in this blog post about a No 118 in Mexico, Missouri
- There's a beautiful example in Almond, New York, that you can read about, here
- Additionally, if you're interested in seeing some examples of the small bungalow model that took over the name, Sears Clyde, Cindy Catanzaro has a blogpost showing 10 of them in the Dayton, Ohio area, on her Sears Houses In Ohio blog.
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