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.

January 25, 2017

An Ongoing Voyage of Discovery

Sears stopped selling houses 75 years ago, yet researchers are still discovering new information about the Modern Homes business.

Reader Terry Janisch recently contacted me through the Sears Homes of Chicagoland Facebook page. Terry was in possession of the papers of Ellwood H. May, the district manager of the Sears Modern Homes Division in Rockford. May had saved literally every piece of correspondence, order forms, blueprints, and sales materials from the Rockford office in the years 1935-1942.

This stash was a 
treasure trove of information about Sears homes.  One important find was the sales materials for four previously unseen Sears models. These models never appeared in a Sears Modern Homes catalog for some reason, but they were actively marketed by the local Modern Homes representatives.

Let me introduce the four "new" homes from Sears. These are quick photos I took of poster-sized sheets. All we know is that these were sold sometime after 1934.

Have you seen any of these houses in your hometown? Please email me!

1. The Weymouth

January 16, 2017

Sears Houses in Cary

Cary has two authenticated Sears houses side-by-side on East Main Street. They also have three authenticated Sears houses where we know the addresses, but they remain unidentified nonetheless. Maybe you can solve this mystery.

The Main Street Sears Houses
Let's see the two Sears houses on Main Street first.

138 E. Main St., Cary.

Sears Concord.

First up is a Sears Concord. I realize the house doesn't precisely match the catalog illustration, but Sears often customized the split level homes of the early 1930's--adding and removing dormers, making the houses extra wide, adding bay windows, moving the fireplaces.

Mayme and Leonard Parker received the mortgage from Sears Roebuck in December 1932. They paid $10,000 for the house. Leonard was a factory manager. They moved out around 1942.
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