September 20, 2016

Sears Homes Enjoying Commercial Success

Because old Sears homes were often built on the central streets in suburban downtowns, many of them have been demolished outright for new development or have been converted to commercial use. Let's take a look at some of the Sears houses in the Chicago suburbs that have "gone commercial".

Barrington

334 W. Main, Barrington. Photo courtesy of Wende Dau.











Sears Martha Washington.

This authenticated Sears Martha Washington model is currently used as bridal shopThe bedrooms are used as fitting rooms. The business owners claim have a sales receipt from 1926 for $3,700. That's interesting because Harry and Vida Hammond took out a mortgage from Sears for $6500 to build this property in April 1927. Hmm.

September 6, 2016

Fun with Mortgages and Deeds

Sears, Montgomery Ward, and other kit house manufacturers offered financing to home buyers. If you go through county mortgage records and land deeds you can find the names of the trustees of the various companies and the legal descriptions of the houses that they financed. VoilĂ , a quick and efficient way to locate kit houses.

A few Chicago-area communities have conducted comprehensive searches of county records, including Oswego and Aurora. These searches do not reveal all kit houses in a given community, because some buyers got financing from local banks and some buyers paid cash. But it's a great place to start!

Mortgage records also provide authentication for a kit house, that is, incontrovertible proof that a house is a genuine kit house.


This summer, I went through the Lake County records and learned that Lake Forest has a nice collection of kit houses that are still standing. Let's take a look at one from Montgomery Ward.

 

161 Washington Circle, Lake Forest.




Montgomery Ward Maywood. Scan courtesy of Antique Home Style.

August 23, 2016

A Tale of Three Additions

How many times have you seen a beautiful old house ruined by an unsightly addition? It takes a lot of planning--and restraint--to design and build an addition that integrates seamlessly with the original house.

Let's examine three kit houses in Glen Ellyn that have additions and see how they were designed.

Sears Vallonia

408 Phillips, Glen Ellyn.




Sears Vallonia.


There's no doubt that this house is a Sears Vallonia. Original porch pillars, railings, exposed rafter tails.

But what's that at the top?

August 9, 2016

Sears Ardara in Elmhurst

266 N. Clinton, Elmhurst







Sears Ardara.





The Sears Ardara was a Colonial Bungalow with an "artistic" porch and trellises. First sold in 1919, the Ardara actually offered an attached garage as an option--I believe this was the earliest Sears model to do so.
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