March 19, 2019

A Pair of Sears No. 121's in Chicago

Researcher Nigel Tate lives in Michigan, but he often surveys the Chicago South Side looking for Sears houses.

On South Eggleston Avenue, Nigel found not one, but two rare Sears No. 121 models. Let's take a look!

No. 121 in West Roseland

11228 S. Eggleston Ave., Chicago. Photo from Realtor site.

The No. 121 may be a "suburban favorite", but Nigel found them in the city of Chicago.

The No. 121 in West Roseland still looks very much like the catalog illustration over 100 years later. The house has a small front porch, a balcony off one of the bedrooms, and a tiny window with a shed dormer. It aso still has the original porch pillars.

The No. 121 is a six-room house.  A corner fireplace came standard, and there was a sliding door between the parlor and the living room (that could also be used as a dining room). There were three bedrooms and two closets. The house could be built on a lot 30 feet wide.

This No. 121 was built in 1914, per the building permit. The original owner was Jacob Henry Le Noble, a Dutch immigrant. Jacob was a letter carrier for the post office. The Le Noble family lived in the house until at least 1942. 

No. 121 in West Pullman
11739 S Eggleston Ave., Chicago. Photo from Realtor site. 

The house in West Pullman has had its porch enclosed, but is still easily recognizable as a No. 121.

It appears the porch was enclosed at build time. Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

This is the living room, with the closed staircase off the rear of the house. The door goes to a pantry. Photo from Realtor site.

This is the parlor. Maybe it's just the photo angle, but this room seems really small to me. It's supposed to be 11' x 14' according to the plans.

This is the front bedroom with the teeny window. It looks like the house was constructed with closets on either side that were not on the original floor plan. Photo from Realtor site.

This No. 121 was built in 1910, per the building permit. (Just a point of note: we've never found a Sears house in the city built before 1910, even though Sears started selling houses in 1908.) 

The original owners were Alois and Lydia Meyer. Alois, an immigrant from Bohemia, worked as a firefighter and later as a cabinet maker for the Pullman Car Company. Alois died in 1931, and Lydia died in 1940. The house was sold to the Boedeker family after Lydia's death.

March 5, 2019

The Long Running Sears Avondale

Sears said that the Avondale was "a fine example of a modern bungalow, conveniently arranged, perfectly lighted and ventilated with a great many large windows." The Avondale was a blockbuster seller for Sears Roebuck. It was offered from 1909 to 1924. 

Sears Avondale. Those darn kids left the croquet set in the front yard again.

The Avondale featured beamed ceilings in the living room and dining room. It had a window seat and a built-in buffet in the dining room as standard.

The Avondale was such a big seller that Sears rolled out a two-story version called the Hawthorne.

The architect of the Avondale is William Arthur Bennett.
There are nice examples of Avondales in Libertyville and Harvard, and there may be one hiding in your town.


102 Park Place, Libertyville. This is a reverse plan from the catalog illustration. Photo from Realtor site.

"The colonial columns and balustrade work are up-to-date features which are being used only in high-priced houses." Photo from Realtor site.

Today, this house is a rental. Photo from Realtor site. 

Photo from Realtor site.

The front bedroom with the bay window. Photo from Realtor site.


605 Dewey St., Harvard. This is a Sears Avondale hidden under the trees. Photo from Realtor site.

View from the dining room to the front of the house. The living room and the dining room are almost the same size. The double doors on the right side lead to the front bedroom and are not part of the original floor plan. Photo from Realtor site.

The front bedroom. Since there are doors that lead directly to the living room, I assume that former owners were using this room as an office or kids playroom. Photo from Realtor site.

View of the full dining room. There's the bay window on the side of the house, where a window seat was originally. The built in china cabinet is on the left side. Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

The bathroom has two windows in this unusual design. Photo from Realtor site.

February 19, 2019

The One and Only Sears Letona in Illinois

Sears Roebuck sold the Letona (a.k.a. No. 192) from 1911 to 1918. Early model Sears houses are uncommon, but the Letona is exceedingly rare. There are four known to exist in the United States, and only one in Illinois--Aurora, to be specific.

604 Concord, Aurora. Photo from Realtor site.

Sears Letona.

The Letona had a decent-sized living room and an open staircase. The pantry was a luxe feature not normally seen in houses of this price range. There were two bedrooms upstairs, each with what appears to be a walk-in closet.

In 1914, Charles H. and Leuanna Stiles paid $1200 for the Letona. Charles was a bricklayer. They lived in the house until 1923.

Former owners report the existence of stamped lumber in the house.

The Letona was built in other cities, but are the houses still standing? The ones in Aurora (obviously!) and Gibsonburg, OH have been located.

The architect of the Letona was likely William Arthur Bennett. He is known to have designed other Sears models of the period. A house very similar to the Letona was shown in the October 1915 issue of The National Builder. (Thanks to Judith Chabot for the information!)


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