Sears and Roebuck House

The Heritage of Sears and Roebuck Houses in American Architecture

Imagine a time when you could order your dream home from a catalog! Well, that’s what Sears and Co. did with the Sears and Roebuck house from 1908 to 1942, delivering over 70,000 across the U.S.

Sears and Roebuck House

These houses were like the cool gadgets of the early 1900s, full of awesome features.

Now, if you’re lucky enough to live in one of these houses, you’re basically in a piece of history with all the cool stuff from a hundred years ago.

Let’s learn how to spot a real Sears house, check out its cool features, and get a quick history lesson about Sears and Roebuck houses.

Sears and Roebuck House

The Sears and Roebuck House, often just called Sears House, is like a time-traveling kit that you can live in.

Imagine ordering a whole house from a catalog, just like you’d order clothes or gadgets online today. That’s what Sears, Roebuck, and Co. did in the early 1900s.

Back in the day, Sears was a big catalog company, kind of like an old-school Amazon. They decided to sell houses, and not just tiny ones, but entire homes.

In 1906, a Sears manager named Frank W. Kushel turned around the company’s struggling building-materials department by suggesting they sell entire houses through mail order.

People could pick a house design they liked from the catalog, and Sears would ship all the parts to their doorstep. The package included everything you needed like walls, floors, even nails and paint.

This wasn’t some small-scale operation either because Sears sold thousands of these homes across the United States.

The houses were pretty diverse in style, from cozy cottages to larger, more sophisticated designs. It was a way for regular folks to get a stylish and affordable home without having to hire an architect or a construction crew.

The Sears and Roebuck House is a fascinating piece of history, showing how people used to bring their dream homes to life by flipping through a catalog.

Today, some of these houses still stand, and you can spot them in various neighborhoods, a living reminder of a unique chapter in American homebuilding history.

Methods of Authenticating a Sears and Roebuck House

Sears and Roebuck House

Sears, the big American shop, once let you order a house straight from their catalog.

People mostly in the East Coast and Midwest bought them, but you can find these cool houses as far south as Florida, as west as California, and even as far north as Alaska and Canada.

People who enjoy learning about history have made a hobby out of spotting Sears kit homes.

These homes are famous for their strong construction, the fact that people could build them themselves, and their popular architectural designs.

However, not all houses labeled as Sears Homes are the real deal. Some may be from different kit homemakers, while others might not be kit homes at all.

So the methods to identify a Sears and Roebuck House are;

1. Mortgage or Deed from Sears

If you find legal documents like a mortgage or deed with Sears mentioned as a trustee, it’s a strong indicator that the house may be a Sears kit home.

Sears often facilitated the financing of their kit homes through trustees.

2. Building Permit

Look for building permits associated with the house. If the permit lists a known Sears architect or mentions Sears Roebuck as the architect, it’s a good sign that the house might be a Sears kit home.

This information is often present in official building records.

3. Blueprints

Original blueprints from Sears Roebuck are a direct confirmation.

Check for these detailed plans, including the model number, to verify if the house matches the design offered by Sears in their kit home catalogs.

4. Shipping Label

Sears used shipping labels on the back of trim pieces or around doors/windows.

Look for labels with mentions of Norwood Sash & Door, Sears, or an address on Homan Avenue in Chicago. If the house matches a Sears model, it adds credibility.

5. Stamped Lumber

Examine the framing lumber for alpha-numeric characters stamped on it. Sears started using this method in 1916.

If you find these stamps and the house aligns with a known Sears model, it strengthens the case for it being a Sears kit home.

6. Sears Paperwork from Kit Purchase

In rare instances, homeowners may possess original paperwork related to the purchase of the kit from Sears.

This could include order forms, receipts, or correspondence with Sears. Such documents offer direct evidence.

7. Newspaper Ads

Sears occasionally used recently-built homes as model homes for public visits. Check local newspaper archives for ads promoting these model homes.

If the house matches the description and is associated with Sears, it’s likely a Sears kit home.

8. Historic Newspaper Notices

Explore historical newspaper articles about home construction, financing, or design.

Some articles may credit Sears Roebuck as the financier or mention Sears-employed architects. Such mentions provide additional historical context.

9. Testimonials and Built Locations

Testimonial letters from satisfied customers sent to Sears can be valuable. Additionally, towns listed as “built at” locations for specific Sears models in catalogs provide a geographical connection to Sears kit homes.

By combining information from these different sources, you can build a more comprehensive picture and increase the likelihood of confirming whether a house is indeed a genuine Sears kit home.

Are Sears and Roebuck House Still Valuable?

Sears and Roebuck House

Between 1908 and 1940, Sears sold a lot of kit houses, and many are still popular today.

For example, a Craftsman house in Boulder, Colorado, built in 1923 for $1.1 million used materials from a Sears catalog kit that cost $1,797 back then (around $32,000 today).

Sears Modern Homes were houses you could buy from a catalog by Sears, the big American retailer. From 1908 to 1942, Sears sold over 70,000 of these houses in North America.

People like these homes because they were made to last, with good materials and quality craftsmanship, better than many new homes.

They also had some design features that are considered safer and better for the environment.

One popular Sears kit home was the Crafton. It was in the Sears catalog for more than 20 years and stayed popular even during the Great Depression.

The Crafton was a small 600-800 square foot frame home with four different floor plans (A, C, D, or X).

Features of a Sears and Roebuck house

The lovely features of a Sears and Roebuck house are;

1. Central Heating

Sears kit homes were ahead of their time with central heating.

This means there was a system to warm up the entire house from one central point, making it warm and comfortable during colder weather. Imagine having warmth spread evenly throughout your home.

2. Indoor Plumbing

Sears Homes came with indoor plumbing, which was a big deal back then. This means you had a bathroom inside your house with running water and a toilet.

No more trips to an outhouse in the cold, so that made daily life much more convenient.

3. Telephone

Sears’s homes were modern with the inclusion of a telephone. Having a telephone inside your house was a luxury in those times.

It allowed families to communicate easily with others without going outside. Think of it as the old-school version of our smartphones!

4. Electricity

Sears kit homes were wired for electricity. This meant you could have lights, appliances, and all sorts of gadgets powered by electricity. It made life more convenient, especially when the sun went down.

No more relying solely on candles or lanterns for light.

5. Remodeling and Additions

Sears homes, like yours, might have undergone remodeling and additions.

Yours has an added back portion and a backyard pool.

6. User-Friendly Layout

Sears homes typically have a family-friendly layout, with bedrooms on the same floor, a spacious attic and basement, and roomy closets.

Your home also has original glass doorknobs, unique windows, shutters, a solid wood banister, and original doors.

7. Customization

Sears homes were highly customizable.

You may think your home resembles the Castleton model, but it might also have features of the Hillrose.

8. Distinctive Markings

Sears kit homes may have stamped wood in unfinished areas like the attic.

While you haven’t found these markings, they are common indicators.

9. Historical Confirmation

Researching the mortgage document history can confirm if your home is a Sears, Roebuck, and Co. home. Some owners even list their kit houses in the National Registry of Historic Houses.

These homes are large, sturdy, and charming, often made with high-quality virgin wood like pine. Despite being ordered from a catalog in the 1920s, they are built to last.

10. Unique Style

Sears homes have a distinct style. You can identify them by notable exterior features like columns in the front and small windows on the roof’s peak.

Sears and Roebuck houses were like the trendsetters of the past. Imagine ordering a house from a catalog.

They not only offered sturdy and charming homes that still stand today but were also quite fancy for their time.

They have central heating to keep you warm, indoor plumbing so you don’t have to go outside for a bathroom, a telephone inside your house, and electricity for lights and gadgets.

These homes were like the cool tech of the 1920s, making life comfy and modern. So, if you’re living in one, you’ve got a piece of history that’s both timeless and practical.

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