August 20, 2014

Come Join Me in September!

I'm going to be teaching a fun two-day class at College of DuPage this fall. Naturally, it's about the Sears Homes of Chicagoland!

September 29 at 10 a.m. is the classroom portion, which provides an overview of the history of Sears ready-cut houses and information on design characteristics that are used to identify these houses. You will see a wide variety of houses that came from mail-order catalogs--Sears Roebuck, Montgomery Ward, Harris Homes, and others. A special focus will be on mail-order houses found in Glen Ellyn, Wheaton, and Lombard.

October 6 at 10 a two-mile walking tour in Glen Ellyn. (Rain date is October 13.)

The class size is limited so please sign up early. To register, go to, select Continuing Education Classes, then search for the course code HUMNT-0001-500. You may also call (630) 942-2208, email, or visit the College of DuPage offices on campus in Glen Ellyn.

August 19, 2014

A Tiny Cottage Purchased from the Gordon-Van Tine Catalog

340 Prospect Ave., Glen Ellyn. Photo courtesy of Realtor site.

No. 588 from Gordon-Van Tine.

The former owners believed this tiny bungalow is from Sears Roebuck. It is a kit house; however, it is from Gordon-Van Tine. The No. 588 was a small two-bedroom house, about 900 square feet. (Gordon-Van Tine produced an identical house for Montgomery Ward called the Claremont.)

The former homeowners put their front patio to use as additional living space. Photo courtesy of Realtor site.

Photo courtesy of Realtor site.

The homeowners knocked down the wall separating the dining room from the kitchen. Photo courtesy of Realtor site.

The house was completed in early 1924. The original owners were Fred Meyers, his wife, Ruth, and their newborn Charlotte. Fred was a salesman for a box company in Chicago. By 1930 the Meyers had moved to Indiana.

August 11, 2014

Two Rare Depression Era Sears Homes in Northwest Chicago

I was early for an appointment and took a leisurely stroll through Edison Park. To my surprise (and delight), I stumbled across two very rare Sears homes on the same block. I assume these were built by the same contractor. 

7239 W. Coyle, Chicago.

Sears Homestead.

7319 W. Coyle, Chicago.

Sears Old Town. Scan is from Houses by Mail.

As you might guess, Sears did not sell many homes in the heart of the Depression. Sears offered the Homestead beginning in 1933, and only a few have been located nationwide. The Old Town was sold one year only-- in 1933-- and the only Old Towns that have been discovered (by me) are this one in Edison Park and another in Arlington Heights.

I suspect both of these houses were built in 1933. 

The original owner of the Homestead was George Leniak, a divorced father, and his daughter, Lesley. George was a printer for R.R. Donnelley and Sons. George owned the house until at least 1965, when he retired and moved to Wisconsin.

The original owners of the Old Town were William Mally, his wife, Mabel, and their two kids. William was an accountant. By 1942 they had sold the house to the Doctor family.

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