January 6, 2020

Distinctive Sears Kilbournes in the Suburbs

Sears Roebuck sold the Kilbourne gabled bungalow from 1920 to 1930. It was named after Kilbourne Avenue in Chicago. 

"The Kilbourne bungalow satisfies every family that has built it," Sears proclaimed in the Modern Homes catalog.

For such a popular model, there are only eight in the Chicago area. Let's take a look at some of them.

Park Ridge

430 N. Merrill, Park Ridge. Photo courtesy of Tom Stanton.

Sears Kilbourne.

Photo courtesy of Tom Stanton.

There are two Kilbournes in Park Ridge. The county says this one on Merrill was built in 1926.


510 S. Berkley, Elmhurst.

William E. Bruesch purchased the house in May 1926 for $6,500. He got his financing from Sears.


525 W. St. Charles Road, Lombard. Photo courtesy of Kathy Baum.


409 Wing Park Blvd., Elgin. Photo from Realtor site.

Despite the huge addition, this house is recognizable as a Kilbourne. It is authenticated--the owners have the blueprints and the original loan papers from Sears. 

St. Charles

504 JACKSON Ave, ST. CHARLES, IL 60174
504 Jackson Ave., St. Charles. Photo from Realtor site.

The Kilbourne in St. Charles was built in 1931.

Highland, IN

3138 Ridge Road, Highland, IN. Photo from Realtor site.

December 9, 2019

The Top Five Articles of 2019

Once again the holiday season is approaching and with it, the end of another year. It's time to reveal our top five most popular articles of 2019 and what you, the readers, enjoyed most.

Five Most Viewed Articles

1    A Stately Sears No. 123 in Brookfield -- The No. 123 in Brookfield was one of the first houses that Sears Roebuck sold in the Chicago area. The current owner reports that the interior is in mostly original condition, and the house will be listed for sale soon. 

2    Wave Your Flag for the Sears Betsy Ross -- Sears sold the Betsy Ross for 10 years. At around 700 square feet, the house was simply adorable with pretty accoutrements. 

3    An Early Sears Americus in Glen Ellyn -- This authenticated Sears Americus in Glen Ellyn was built in 1923. The Americus is one of the most distinctive models that Sears Roebuck sold.

4    The Long Running Sears Avondale -- Sears said that the Avondale was "a fine example of a modern bungalow, conveniently arranged, perfectly lighted and ventilated with a great many large windows." The Avondale was a blockbuster seller for Sears Roebuck.

5   The Overlooked Sears Parkridge -- One of the models not included in the guidebook Houses by Mail is the Sears Parkridge. We have several in the Chicago area. 

We invite you to join us in 2020 and see even more Sears homes in Chicagoland. Happy Holidays!

A Sears Hillsboro at 1065 Cobb Blvd., Kankakee.

For the Sears house connection to "A Christmas Story", click here!

November 26, 2019

The Sears Ridgeland That Asbestos Built

905 Woodland Ave., Waukegan. Photo from Realtor site.

Sears Ridgeland from the 1936 Modern Homes catalog.

The Ridgeland is an English cottage that Sears Roebuck sold from 1933-1940.  This one in Waukegan was built 1935-1936.

Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

The back of the Ridgeland has an off-center dormer to accommodate the stairs and a landing. Photo from Realtor site.

The original owners were Francis and Clara Gray. Francis was a foreman for the Johns-Manville Products Corp. in Waukegan and worked there his entire career.

Johns-Manville opened the Waukegan plant in 1928. The company manufactured asbestos products such as roofing, insulation and gaskets. Johns-Manville is notorious for hiding asbestos dangers from its employees and the public.

 As early as 1929, the company was served with writs by 11 asbestos victims. The claims were settled with a secrecy order. 

A physician at Metropolitan Life Insurance company found  that after five to 10 years of exposure, half of asbestos textile workers showed asbestosis on X-rays. After 15 years, 87% suffered from lung disease.  In 1943 Johns-Manville suppressed this report.

Beginning in the 1960's, Johns-Manville faced thousands of individual and class action lawsuits based on asbestos-related injuries.  Johns-Manville filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1982.  The bankruptcy was resolved by the formation of the Manville Trust to pay asbestos tort claimants.  Many claimants died before they were paid.The company and the trust are still in operation today.

In one final "screw you" to the public, Johns-Manville deposited asbestos-containing waste at the Waukegan site from 1928 until the late 1980s. Today the 150 acres are a contaminated Superfund site.

Francis Gray, just a guy trying to provide for his family, died at age 64 in 1966 of a "short illness". Was it asbestosis, lung cancer or malignant mesothelioma?  

The sun sets on the Ridgeland. Photo from Realtor site.