April 15, 2014

"You Are Most Welcome at the Little 'White House'"

1618 North Rand Road, Arlington Heights.

The Sears Old Town. Scan is from Houses by Mail.







Here's a super-rare Sears house thousands of people drive by every day. It's located on Rand Road, in the middle of a commercial area. Somehow this Sears Old Town managed to survive and it is currently housing Jordan & Associates, an accounting firm.

The Sears Old Town is very similar in style to the Sears Homestead. There is a Sears Homestead in Mount Prospect, and seeing that house in person helped me identify the Old Town. 

The Sears Old Town was offered one year only--1933. That year, Sears sold less than 500 houses in the U.S.  There are no photos of an Old Town model on the internet--could this be the only one ever built?

We know that the house was built in 1933 or perhaps 1934. I don't have information on the original owners since houses on Rand Road were not numbered until after 1940.

In August 1969, Rasmussen's Gifts took over the house. The "gift butik" specialized in Scandinavian gifts (owner S.P. Rasmussen was a Danish immigrant). The slogan for the gift shop was "You Are Most Welcome at the Little 'White House'".

A 1972 ad for Rasmussen's Gifts from the Chicago Tribune.


In May 1979 the owners retired and listed the house for sale. In early 1980, it was purchased by the current owners and continued to be used for commercial purposes.





April 8, 2014

A Testimonial for a Harris Home

Harris Brothers of Chicago was a manufacturer of kit houses from 1908 until 1931. They didn't use testimonials in their advertising very often. In their 1928 Harris Homes catalog, they featured a letter from Owen Rietveld, who happened to live in Harvey.

Testimonial from the 1928 Harris Homes catalog. Model No. 1018 came in two floor plans--A and B.


287 E. 148th Street, Harvey. Photo courtesy of Cook County Assessor.




The Wilmette from the 1928 Building Materials Catalog (also known as No. 1018).


Harris Brothers sold the Wilmette (also known as No. 1018) for many years. The 1920 Building Materials catalog described the house in this way:
"Here is a charming California bungalow with all the conveniences you could wish for. There is nothing lacking in exterior elegance or interior comfort and room arrangement. The broad, spacious porch, covered by the main house roof with its strong supporting brackets and the divided-light window in the gable place this building in a class far beyond the ordinary type." 
The house came delivered with cedar shingles or bevel siding. Sometime after construction it was stuccoed over.

Cook County says the build year is 1923, I suspect it might be as early as 1921. The house was not there in 1920 since Owen was living at home with his parents, according to the census. Owen, a truck driver, lived in the Wilmette with his wife, Pearl, and son, Owen Junior.

The Rietvelds owned the house until the 1960's.




April 1, 2014

Even More Sears Homes in Barrington

In the Barrington area, my "partner in crime" is Wende Dau, who is the proud owner of a lovely Sears Sheridan. Wende kindly saves me gas money by snapping photos of the many Sears homes in her area. Here are just a few she took recently.

131 N. Raymond, Barrington. This Sears Cornell was built in 1925 for the Gallagher family. Photo courtesy of Wende Dau.







Sears Cornell from the 1925 Modern Homes catalog.




221 Coolidge, Barrington. Photo courtesy of Wende Dau.



Sears Sheridan from the 1928 Modern Homes catalog.





239 W. Russell, Barrington. Photo courtesy of Wende Dau.



Sears Van Dorn from the 1928 Modern Homes catalog.




624 Bryant, Barrington. This is a rare two-flat from Sears that has been converted to a single-family home. This structure was moved to this location and was not built here originally. Photo courtesy of Wende Dau.



The Sears Garfield, from the 1928 Modern Homes catalog. The door on the far right led to the second floor apartment.



334 W. Main, Barrington. This Sears Martha Washington model is currently used as bridal shop. The business owners have a sales receipt from 1926 for $3,700. The bedrooms are used as fitting rooms. Photo courtesy of Wende Dau.




The Sears Martha Washington.




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