March 21, 2017

Buying a Sears House in 1935

In the summer of 1935, Albert and Lila Schmidt were a young married couple in their 20's. Their son, Duane, had just turned one. The Schmidts were renting an apartment in DeKalb, but wanted a house of their own in which to raise their boy. Albert had a stable job as a driver of an oil truck and they felt the time was right to make the leap into home ownership.

Early in the summer, the Schmidts were visited by Ellwood H. May, the district manager of the Sears Modern Homes Division in Rockford. DeKalb was in May's sales territory, and he was there often meeting with prospective customers and knocking on doors.

After meeting with May, the Schmidts studied the Sears Modern Homes catalog to learn more about the available models and the process of working with Sears to build a new house.

The 1935 Modern Homes catalog that the Schmidts read through. Scan courtesy of Antique Home.

March 7, 2017

Sears No. 124 in Crystal Lake

40 Pomeroy, Crystal Lake.

Sears model No. 124.

Closer view that shows the decorative stone veneer on the foundation. The foundation is actually concrete block. Sears specified that you could use any material for the foundations.

This house in Crystal Lake is a Sears Roebuck model No 124. In the early days Sears didn't have names for its houses--just model numbers. 

The local historic society has plaqued this No. 124, and the owners purportedly have documentation that authenticates the house. I'll take their word for it.

February 21, 2017

A Clandestine Sears Newark

Even in towns that have conducted architectural surveys, some Sears houses remain hidden or are consistently overlooked.

Sometimes there might be one aged Sears farmhouse hiding in a neighborhood of 1950's ranches where no one thought to look before. Sometimes a Sears house has undergone such changes over 100 years that it is unrecognizable. Sometimes there is a Sears house at the end of a little-known cul-de-sac where no one has checked before. Sometimes there is a Sears house on a busy four-lane highway that no one has noticed because everyone speeds by at 50 miles per hour.

Sometimes there is a Sears house hidden behind a wooden fence and so many trees that no one could see the structure clearly enough to make the identification. Everyone in Highland Park missed this little gem, but I discovered it through mortgage records. Even from the front sidewalk, the house is difficult to see.

No wonder this one was missed!

February 7, 2017

The Waltons

No, not those Waltons. We're going to feature a few Sears Waltons in the Chicago area.

The Sears Walton is a Craftsman bungalow. It has six rooms and about 1200 square feet. It's recognized by its wraparound porch, the bump-out in the dining room, and the double windows in the front covered by a shed roof. Sometimes you'll see a Walton with the original railings that have the rectangular pattern.

The Walton has three bedrooms and is a very sunny house due to its large windows.

Sears Walton. Yes, there is a shed roof over the double window on the right side.

Sears sold the Walton during the years 1920-1930. You can find Waltons in Chicago and its suburbs, and also in northwest Indiana. Let's take a closer look at two examples.
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