August 29, 2023

A Sears Summer House in Wauconda

156 Slocum Lake Road, Wauconda. Photo from Realtor site.

The Sears Oak Park. The house in Wauconda has a single bay window in the kitchen rather than double windows, but is otherwise a close match to the illustration.

Sears sold the Oak Park model from 1926 to 1933. Many Dutch Colonials were built in the 1920's, and many of them resemble the Oak Park. One way to distinguish the Sears house from the others is the entrance.

"See the beautiful colonial entrance with its sidelights and fan over the door, hood and columns, and the brick porch!" exclaimed the Modern Homes catalog.

The same Colonial entrance, as illustrated in the 1929 Sears building materials catalog.

The Oak Park had two floor plans from which customers could choose. The house in Wauconda follows this one.

Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

Back in the day, none of the houses on Slocum Lake Road were numbered, even as recently as in the 1950 census. Luckily, local newspapers provided valuable information (but in reverse chronological order).

I searched "Slocum Lake Road" and found this snippet from August 1928. What drew my attention is the mention of a "beautiful home" on the street.  Let's check out this family in more detail. 

A few weeks earlier in early August 1928, this piece ran in the local paper. Mr. Yaxley died, and the writer opined: "It is hoped the family will remain here in their beautiful new home." New home? The Sears Oak Park was sold beginning in 1926. I think we might be onto something...

In August 1927, there is a mention of L.C. Yaxley buying lots in Wauconda (this would be Mrs. Leona C. Yaxley). Those lots correspond to the property on Slocum Lake Road. The Yaxleys are the original owners of the Oak Park.

The house was likely built in fall 1927 and the Yaxleys moved in around April 1928. The Yaxleys kept their full-time residence on Jackson Boulevard in Chicago, but also used the Wauconda lake house.

Mr. Ernest Yaxley was an  electrical and mechanical engineer, as well as an inventor. He founded the Yaxley Manufacturing Company in 1916, and was active in the management of the company until he passed away in 1928. The Yaxley Manufacturing Company developed equipment for electrical communication, including telephones and radio.

July 25, 2023

The Fun is Over for Two Kit Houses in Lake Zurich

Once upon a time in Lake Zurich, there were two lovely kit houses sitting side-by-side, fronting the picturesque lake.  The lake houses were built in the 1920's, and for decades families enjoyed the scenic views, boating, and summer fireworks.

The idyllic days are over. One of the houses was summarily razed in 2021, and the other one is in danger of being torn down as well.

The two houses on Old Rand Road. 2020 photo from Realtor site.

The Sears Rembrandt

474 N. Old Rand Road, Lake Zurich. Photo from Realtor site.

The Sears Rembrandt from the 1926 Modern Homes catalog.

The Rembrandt is an "unusually well arranged Dutch Colonial house", according to the Sears catalog copy. The one in Lake Zurich was built in 1928, and over 90 years, only two families owned the house.

The Rembrandt had a family room addition that was not visible from the street. The property backed up to the Lake Zurich Golf Course. The property line extends into the lake. Photo from Realtor site.

Leroy and Josephine Loomis turned to Sears Roebuck to get financing to purchase the house. Leroy was a sales manager for a sand and gravel company, while Josephine was a teacher. They moved out around 1940, and the Wesner family owned the house until 2021.

Josephine Loomis. Public photo from

Leroy Loomis. Public photo from

Josephine (left) and her two children (pedestals) in front of the Rembrandt. Public photo from 

The Rembrandt was torn down in May 2021.

The new house sits on the same footprint. Capture from Google Streetview.

The Lewis Alpine

504 N. Old Rand Road, Lake Zurich. Photo from Realtor site.

The Alpine from the Lewis Manufacturing Company of Bay City, Michigan.

The Alpine was sold as a teardown in 2023. According to the real estate listing: "One the remaining original lake cottages southwest facing on Lake Zurich over one acre in total. This cottage has been owned by the same family for decades used as their weekend lake home, where they had many family get togethers and made tons of memories."

Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

This home has its own private pier on Lake Zurich. Photo from Realtor site.

Will the Alpine be spared from destruction? Stay tuned.

June 27, 2023

A Sears Crescent Pre- and Post-Flip

The Sears Crescent is the number one Sears house in Illinois by far. You can find one or more of these homes in almost every community. 

A Crescent in Barrington was recently purchased and flipped. Let's see the before and after.

Before the Flip

135 N. Hager, Barrington. Photo from Realtor site.

Before the house was sold, a number of changes had already been made to the exterior. The original porch columns were replaced, the house was clad in vinyl siding, and the original wooden porch was replaced with Trex boards.

The Crescent is a five-room house. There are open stairs leading to the attic.

The front door and the sidelights are replacements, but the original newel post from Sears remains.

The original moldings from Sears are on display in the dining room.

One original set of kitchen cabinets remain.

The Crescent has a sunny first-floor bedroom. 

Even before the flip, the attic was finished as an additional third bedroom. 

The Crescent was sold as-is because of "the need for waterproofing in the unfinished basement," according to the real estate listing.  As a result, the buyers got the home for a low price, and the house was ready to be flipped and resold. 

After the Flip

The changes were not too dramatic from the outside. The front door was painted and both sets of triple windows were replaced.

The Crescent came in two floor plans. The smaller version has a door on the side of the house.

After the flip, the house was transformed with a white and gray palette.

The wall between the dining room and kitchen was removed. Additionally one window in the kitchen was removed, as well as the original cabinet (sniff!).

The basement was waterproofed and finished,

This Crescent is an authenticated Sears house. George M. Wagner got his financing for $4,300 from Sears Roebuck in 1926. 

George was 70 when he bought the house, and I don't believe he ever lived in it. Even at that age, he continued to operate a meat market on Cook Street with his two sons. George was a butcher in Chicago during the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, and he opened the meat market in Barrington in 1896.