July 9, 2019

The Sears Alden--an Omnipresent Garrison Colonial

The Garrison Colonial was a wildly popular style in the United States from about 1925 to 1955. You will recognize this house--it's omnipresent.

A Garrison Colonial in Riverside.

There a couple distinguishing characteristics of the Garrison design. It has a cantilevered second floor, and this overhang creates additional living space on the upper floors. There are decorative wooden pendants beneath the overhang, often in teardrop shapes. The upper level is often wood siding and the lower level is often brick or stone.

Sears sold several Garrison style colonials in the 1930's. Unfortunately, the simpler Sears designs are impossible to identify by appearance only since they look like so many other non-Sears houses.

Take the Sears Alden, sold from 1933 to 1935. 

The Sears Alden has all the classic features of a Garrison Colonial. It included stone on the front of the lower level with brick on the remaining three sides. Many people believe they own Aldens, but they need solid authentication to prove they are from Sears Roebuck.


Researchers have identified three Aldens to date--two of which are in the Chicago area. 
All three Aldens have been authenticated. 

Let's take a look at our Aldens.

Glen Ellyn

212 N. Park Boulevard, Glen Ellyn.  Obviously the dormers and the porch overhang are not original. Blurry photo from Realtor site.


Researcher Chuck Holtzen uncovered the Sears mortgage issued to Lawrence F. Triggs in July 1932.  Lawrence took out a loan for $9,000 to build the Alden. (You'll notice the price in the catalog for the Alden was $2,418. This gives you an idea of the true price to build a fully outfitted Sears house.)

Lawrence was a copywriter for an ad agency. By 1940, he and his family had moved to Westchester  NY.


Those are the original pendants.

Photo from Realtor site.


Photo from Realtor site.


Photo from Realtor site.


Many Sears houses in the 1930's had that door. Photo from Realtor site.


2108 Harrison, Evanston.

Researcher Rebecca Hunter authenticated this Sears Alden. The house was built in 1932 for A.P. Bradley, and the cost was $10,000 (about what the Alden in Glen Ellyn cost all inclusive). 

The builders of this Alden were the Blume Bros--contractors from Des Plaines who built dozens of Sears houses around the area. I suspect that Sears listed the Blume Bros as one of their recommended contractors.

June 18, 2019

An Early Sears Americus in Glen Ellyn

188 N. Park Blvd., Glen Ellyn.

Sears Americus.

This authenticated Sears Americus in Glen Ellyn was built in 1923. The Americus is one of the most distinctive models that Sears Roebuck sold, and it's usually easy to identify "in the wild".

A solarium has been added to the left side of the house. The house has the original pillar supports and eaves brackets.  The Americus as delivered had a decorative railing on the front porch, so this railing is likely not original.

The original owners were Joseph O. and Marie Fortin. In September 1923, Marie got a mortgage from Sears, Roebuck for $5,000 to build the Americus. 

Joseph worked as the Superintendent of Water and Sewers for Glen Ellyn. Marie died in 1939, and Joseph continued to live in the house with his new wife Alberta until they finally moved in 1951.

The current homeowners, who purchased the Americus in 1967, found original Sears blueprints in the house addressed to Marie Fortin.

Photo from Smithsonian Magazine, November 1985. The standard Sears blueprints were probably dated 1921, but the house in Glen Ellyn wasn't built until late 1923.

June 11, 2019

A Sears Dover That Was Stamped by its Owner’s Personality

1815 Elmwood Dr., Highland Park. Photo from Realtor site.

Sears Dover.


Sears included this snippet in its description of the Dover: 
"There is a certain warmth and 'hominess' about a wooden house—a readiness to receive the stamp of its owner’s personality and an ability to adapt itself to its environment."
This Sears Dover in Highland Park has definitely been "stamped" by its owners. A giant addition has been constructed behind the original house. The original square footage of the Dover was about 1300 square feet and the addition is over 1700 square feet. The good news is that the owners hired a skilled architect and you cannot see the addition from the front of the house.

You would never guess there was a 1700 square foot addition back there. Photo from Realtor site.

With that addition, almost every room on the first floor of the original house was repurposed.

Here is the original Dover floor plan as shown in the Sears Modern Homes catalog. Remember that the house in Highland Park has a reversed floor plan.

This is the living room, as shown on the original floor plan. The front door is to the right of the fireplace. Photo from Realtor site.

Here's the dining room, which is the first floor bedroom on the original floor plan. Obviously the floor plan has been opened up and the closets removed. You can see the kitchen and family room, which are part of the new addition. Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

The room currently used as a library was the original dining room. Photo from Realtor site.

The home office was originally the kitchen. Photo from Realtor site.

Even with the giant addition, there's still room on the lot for a pool. Photo from Realtor site.

The Dover was constructed around 1928-1929. Swedish immigrants David and Ellen Carlson were the original owners. David was a firefighter.

Undated photo of Ellen.

David and Ellen's daughter, Dorothy, married a man named Ernest A. Belmont. In 1950, when Ellen died, Ernest and Dorothy became the owners of the house. Ernest was a banker. The Belmonts moved to Champaign around 1956.

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