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.

May 28, 2019

A Sears Puritan "Dollhouse" in Elgin

The Sears Puritan is a charming little Dutch Colonial with a 24' x 24' footprint.  I think it looks like a dollhouse.
The Sears Puritan from the 1922 Modern Homes catalog. You could optionally add a sunroom off one side. The benches by the front door were included in the standard price. 

Someone else thought the Puritan would make a great dollhouse as well. Frank Moroz made this reproduction in 1/2" scale for the Nutshell News magazine.

Benches and sunroom included! Scan from http://www.greenleafdollhouses.com.

Nice landscaping! Scan from http://www.greenleafdollhouses.com.

Here's a great example of a Puritan still standing in Elgin.

671 Oak, Elgin. Photo from Realtor site.

An older photo of the house with its original shutters. Photo from Elgin Bungalows.


The Puritan features a gambrel roof with a full-width dormer. There is a curved entry pediment with decorative brackets. 

Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

There is an addition off the back of the house. Photo from Realtor site.


Photo from Realtor site.


Photo from Realtor site.


A dollhouse in the dollhouse! Photo from Realtor site.


Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

Arwin and Lydia Rahn purchased the house in March 1927 for $6,200. Arwin worked as a lineman for the telephone company.  The Rahns sold the house around 1943.

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