November 16, 2021

Shining a Spotlight on the Sears Sunlight

The Sears Sunlight was a popular low-priced bungalow. It was 24 feet wide, and had five rooms (not including the bathroom). 

The Sears Sunlight from the 1928 Modern Homes catalog.


The Sunlight is tough to identify just based on a visual inspection. Many bungalows of the time have the same jerkinhead roof and are of a similar size. One differentiator of the Sunlight was an enclosed staircase on the rear left side, but today many Sunlights have been expanded and that rear entry is gone.

The front and rear gables came with wood shingles, which Sears recommended that customers paint them a different color than the rest of the siding.

Let's take a look at three Sears Sunlights in the Western suburbs.

Elgin

203 S. Aldine, Elgin. Capture from Google Streetview.


This Sunlight in Elgin is almost an identical match to the catalog illustration. The windows are newer, and it's not clear if the wall around the front porch is original or whether railings were once there. The wood shingles are still on the front gable, although they blend in with the siding.

Undated photo of the house without porch railings but with the original windows. Photo from Elgin Bungalows.


This 1928 house has stamped lumber in the house, authenticating it as a genuine Sears Sunlight. The original owner was Albert Ott.

North Aurora

4 N. Adams, North Aurora. Capture from Google Streetview.


Like this house in North Aurora, most Sunlights have their porches enclosed today. When the horizontal attic window is replaced with a vertical window (as often happens), it throws off the perspective and makes the Sunlight harder to identify.

This Sunlight was built in 1928 by E.H. Prueter and wife, and they got their financing from Sears Roebuck.

Lombard

235 W. Harrison, Lombard. Photo from Realtor site.


This Sunlight in Lombard has a reverse floor plan (Sears would offer that for free for most models). 

Photo from Realtor site.

 

Photo from Realtor site.



Photo from Realtor site.



Photo from Realtor site.



The second bedroom serves as an office. Photo from Realtor site.


I bet the whole bathroom was pink at one point. Photo from Realtor site.


 




November 2, 2021

The Only Sears Winthrop in Illinois

848 Charles, Aurora. Photo from Realtor site.

 

Sears Winthrop from the 1928 Modern Homes catalog. The Winthrop front entry is easily recognizable with its six beams and keystone detail. Sears used this same entry on other models as well.



A closer look at the original thin beams and batten shutters. Sears recommended that the siding be white and the shutters green. Photo from Realtor site.
 

Sears Roebuck sold the Winthrop model from 1928-1931. This authenticated Winthrop in Aurora was built in 1929. It is the only Winthrop in Illinois at the time of this writing.

The 1928 catalog had an odd, rambling description of the Winthrop model:

The Winthrop home presents a modernized edition of early American architecture, when simplicity and perfect balance featured that period. Examples of this really fine type are found in many sections originally settled by our ancestors. Yet, in spite of the changing times, this style of architecture is still considered one of the best. A visit to some of the better suburban communities of our largest cities reveal the fact that handsome profits are made, when houses of this style are on the market.


The floor plan of the Sears Winthrop. The living room in the Aurora house has been made smaller and a wall was put in to split it in half. 
 


There used to be an interior fireplace on the wall next to the dining room arch. The beams on the ceiling are not original. Photo from Realtor site.
 


Photo from Realtor site.
 

There's the chimney from the fireplace. It works as a brick accent wall today. Photo from Realtor site.
 

A closet door still has the original Narcissus door hardware from Sears. Photo from Realtor site.
 




The Winthrop came with two upstairs bedrooms as delivered, and each had its own dormer window. Photo from Realtor site.



Robert and Viola Blackwood took out a mortgage for $4,000 from Sears Roebuck in June 1929. Robert was the owner of the Blackwood Motor Service trucking company.




October 19, 2021

Paranormal Activity in a Sears Westly

30120 Hennepin, Garden City, MI. Capture from Google Streetview.


Sears Westly.

Lester Buckner and family built this Sears Westly in Garden City, MI about 1930.

An old photo shows the original Westly wooden porch pillars on the house.


The house was featured on Paranormal Survivor season 1, episode 7.


In 1957, Lester's daughter, Patricia, moved into the Westly with her family. Patricia's daughter, Judy, was about five at the time of the move. Judy grew up in the house.

Around 1994, Judy and her children moved in with Patricia, and this is where the story begins. "It's a fabulous house," said Judy on the show. "But many skeletons live in that house."

Judy, as interviewed in Paranormal Survivor.

Judy and her family began observing unexplainable things happening in the house. The stereo would turn on for no reason. Dishes would rattle in the kitchen cabinets. The cabinet doors would fly open if Judy had just closed them. 

As time went on, the strange events occurred more frequently. 

Judy's son slept in the basement, and one night, Judy was walking down the basement steps so that she could say goodnight. On the way down, she turned around and there was a "dark image" behind her. She screamed and covered her face and it was gone.


Another night, Judy was sleeping in her bed when she heard rustling and felt somebody crawling up the bed. She initially thought it was a pet, but she felt around and nothing was there. Yet she could still feel the weight of the being.

Nobody believed her stories. Too bad this was in the days before security cameras.

Judy hired a paranormal investigator, in hopes of finding out what was going on. The investigator managed to capture a series of EVPs (electronic voice phenomena).

It was a man's voice that said "Call Beth."

Judy knew immediately who Beth was. Beth was her late brother Mike's former wife.

Mike and Beth were married in 1968, just before he left for Vietnam. Beth said that when he returned he was a different person. They divorced, and Mike died in April 1972.

Mike and Beth, as shown on Paranormal Survivor.

Investigators believe that the hauntings may have started when Judy moved into the house because Mike felt that he could better reach Judy and she could convey his message.

Beth, as interviewed on Paranormal Survivor.


Judy found Beth on Facebook, and told her about the message. Soon after, Beth went with Judy and the investigator to the house. Beth always felt guilty for not staying with Mike and felt that she violated her wedding vows by divorcing.

That night, Beth felt cold breezes as she walked through the house and a sense of "energy" in the room. Through her headphones, she heard Mike saying: "Beth, I love you." As Mike made contact, Beth felt a jolt of electricity go through her body.

Beth realized that Mike was not angry, and now she "could let go of the guilt she was carrying around". Today, Beth is finally at peace.

The Buckner descendants sold the house in 2018.