March 31, 2020

The Montgomery Ward Piermont: A Delightful English Cottage

Beginning in 1929, the Wardway Homes catalog was filled with Tudor Revival houses. One of those models was the Piermont. 

The Piermont from the 1929 Wardway Homes catalog. Scan courtesy of Daily Bungalow.

According to Montgomery Ward: "A delightful balanced effect is given by the sweeping lines of the roof which extends down past the chimney on one side and over a trellised archway on the other side."

Wait... what trellised archway? There is none to be found in the illustration. However, some of the Piermonts had one.

3110 Broadway, Rockford. Obviously you needed a wider lot to accommodate the archway and I think that's why most buyers did not purchase that variant. I love the little wooden gate. Capture from Google Streetview.

An archless Piermont at 418 S Elida, Winnebago. The house has a lot of charm with its diamond muntin window and original shutters. Capture from Google Streetview.  

The Piermont was sold from 1929-1932. There is only one to be found in the immediate Chicago area.

720 Meadow Lane, Libertyville. Photo from Realtor site.

The Piermont was a 1.5-story house that had an efficient floor  plan.

In its catalog text, Wards said that you enter the "friendly" vestibule. "The fireplace--symbol of cheeriness--is truly impressive. Three windows afford excellent ventilation and a pleasing view." Photo from Realtor site.

There are almost certainly more Piermonts hiding in the Chicago area. Is there one in your neighborhood?

March 17, 2020

Girl Power! A Sears No. 180 in Batavia

Really old (1908-1913) Sears houses are rare finds in Chicago and its suburbs. 

Part of the reason is that Sears simply did not sell as many kit houses in that time period, as the Modern Homes business was still getting off the ground. I think another reason is that houses built from 1908-1913 in the older suburbs tended to be located in areas that were part of of suburban downtown redevelopment efforts and were consequently razed.

There's an oldie in Batavia--a Sears No. 180, built in 1912.

331 Blaine, Batavia. Capture from Google Streetview.


The Sears No. 180 is a clipped gable house. The entrance faces the street, unlike some clipped gable houses. The No. 180 was called the Flossmoor in later years.

The layout is that of a traditional foursquare, except for the pantry off the back. It also serves as a hallway to the dining room.

Julia E. Markuson purchased the lot for the house in 1910, and constructed the No. 180 in 1912. As a 24-year-old single woman, she was somehow able to get financing from a local bank. Julia worked as a stenographer at the courthouse.

Julia lived with her parents and unmarried siblings in the new house for decades. Julia died in 1959, and ownership of the house transferred to her younger sister, Grace. Grace was the Kane County Recorder for many years and worked as an administrative officer for the National Bank Examiners in Chicago. 

Grace on the left, mother Augusta in the center, and Julia on the right. This photo was taken in the 1950's. Photo publicly available on

Grace lived in the house until 1993. She died that year.

In 1996, the house was listed for sale as a "gut rehab". Uh oh. The house hasn't come up for sale since 2000 so we do not have any interior photos.

March 3, 2020

An Modernized Sears Strathmore in Hinsdale

The Strathmore was an English cottage that Sears Roebuck sold in the 1930's. One just came up for sale in Hinsdale so let's take a look!

819 S. Lincoln Ave., Hinsdale. That's an original Sears front door. Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

Scan from Antique Home.

The architect of the Strathmore is David S. Betcone.

The Strathmore was a one-story house so the staircase is not original. The medieval castle motif continues through the hallways in the house. Photo from Realtor site.

Those are the three diamond muntin windows from the front of the house. The window seat is on the original plans. Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

This addition replaces the original dining room and a bedroom. Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

This little dining room is new. Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

There was a half bath and a closet where the stairs are now. Photo from Realtor site.

The odd shape of the stairwell is because they did not want the front of the house to be modified. Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

This Strathmore in Hinsdale is authenticated. Former owners found the blueprints, and receipts and letters from Sears Roebuck in the attic.