September 25, 2018

Soak Up Some Starlight

The Sears Starlight was a wildly popular, cozy bungalow. In its Modern Homes catalogs, Sears Roebuck described the Starlight as "a little home of which...any family can justly be proud." These days, unfortunately, it's difficult to find a Starlight that hasn't had:
  • its front porch enclosed.
  • a massive addition stuck on the rear or top of the house.
  • been demolished entirely.

There is a Sears Starlight in Westmont currently used as a rental that is largely original. Let's take a look at this rarity.

36 S. Lincoln, Westmont.

Sears Starlight. Sears sold hundreds of these models nationwide. 

Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

This Starlight in Westmont, built about 1922, maintains its original charm.

There is also a Sears Starlight in Lombard that is completely unrecognizable. 

527 E. Washington, Lombard. This Starlight is changed beyond recognition, although at least the owners tried to make the house look like it was built in 1927. Screen capture from Google Streetview.

Sears Starlight. 

The same house looked like this in 1989. Look a little more familiar?

Yup, it is an authenticated Sears Starlight. The owners found a shipping label, the original Sears blueprints, and marked lumber in the house. Scan courtesy of the Lombard Historical Society.

The original owner of this Starlight in Lombard was Joseph A. Anderson, and the house was built around 1927.

September 11, 2018

A Inviting California Bungalow

437 S. Ardmore, Villa Park. Photo from Realtor site.

Harris No. 1000.

Based in Chicago, Harris Brothers sold building materials and kit houses. The Harris Brothers model No. 1000 was likely their best selling house. 

According to the Harris Homes catalog: "Many types of the California bungalow are not practical in climates where the winters are severe. In developing this design our architects have exercised utmost care to combine the fascinating features of a true California bungalow with a convenient, comfortable interior properly constructed for any locality."  Most communities in the Chicago area have at least one No. 1000 bungalow; some towns have several. 

This No. 1000 in Villa Park has been changed very little in 93 years, so we can see the flow of the original floor plan. It still has just five rooms.

The No. 1000 is easily identified by its curved veranda. Photo from Realtor site.

The house in Villa Park has a reversed floor plan. There is a traditional front door that leads into the living room and French doors that lead into the dining room.

Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

The pantry on the original floor plan has been eliminated in favor of a larger kitchen. Photo from Realtor site.

The larger bedroom. Photo from Realtor site.

The smaller back bedroom. Photo from Realtor site.

August 28, 2018

A Sears Bellewood in St. Charles... or Not?

1210 S. 4th St. Charles. Photo from Realtor site.

This house in St. Charles is an English cottage--a style that was very popular in the early 1930's. The official list of Sears houses in St. Charles has this residence listed as a Sears Bellewood. But is it one?

The extra width on the right side of the door is because the house in St. Charles has a closet there. Was this a customization to the Bellewood plans? It might have been. Sears did not have a problem modifying the standard plans to accommodate minor changes such as this. That is a replacement front door.

Sears sold the Bellewood for only a short time--1930 to 1932. The county has a 1938 build date attributed to this house. County dates are often incorrect, so there's not much we can take away from that.

Sears house aficionado Mark Wissing has been inside the purported Bellewood and says there is no evidence to support that it is, in fact, a Sears Bellewood. He has searched the house for marked lumber and could not find any.

I believe the original owners were George and Helen Irk. George worked as a truck driver. The Irks lived in the house until at least 1950.

Bellewood or not, the house is so cute inside.

The plaster arch leads to the vestibule. Per the standard Sears house plans, there is not a fireplace in this location. It may have been added after the initial construction. Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

The stairs are where a closet once was. Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

A back bedroom is now a TV/gaming room. Photo from Realtor site.

So where does that leave us? The best possible way to authenticate whether a house is from Sears is to head to the county and pull the land records. If the Irks financed through Sears Roebuck, there will be a paper trail to support that. According to Mark, the current homeowner will be conducting that research soon.

TO be continued....

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