April 10, 2018

A Bright and Shiny Sears Crescent

The Sears Crescent is the number one Sears house in Illinois by far. You can find one or more of these homes in almost every community. A Colonial Bungalow with a formal, double-columned front porch, the Crescent still appeals to today's buyers.

Today we feature a Sears Crescent in Lake Forest. It's concealed by trees on the outside, but is sunny and bright on the inside.

122 Wildwood Rd., Lake Forest. This Crescent had a gambrel roof added in 2000 when the upstairs was expanded. 


Sears Crescent.


Original trellis.


This is an authenticated Sears Crescent. The first owners, Alexander and Dolma Glover, took out a mortgage from Sears in 1930 for $6,500. Alexander was an Irish immigrant, and Dolma was born in America to Norwegian immigrants. He worked for the Lake Forest Park District.

Today, a trend in home design is clean, light interiors.  With old houses, that means replacing historic millwork  or painting it white.  Click here to see a Crescent with its millwork in its original state. Photo from Realtor site.

The Crescent came in two floor plans, and this house in Lake Forest is the larger one. Photo from Realtor site.


This is technically the dining room. Photo from Realtor site.


This was originally the front bedroom, now classified as a family room. Photo from Realtor site.


This Crescent now has a European-style country kitchen.  Photo from Realtor site.


That's an original Sears door with its original Sears door hardware. Photo from Realtor site.


This dine-in area off the kitchen was once the back bedroom. Photo from Realtor site.


There were three rooms upstairs originally. In the 1950's, the attic rooms were used as a separate rental. The Glovers and the renters shared the same first-floor bathroom.The upstairs you see here was a total rehab in 2000, and the second story now contains three bedrooms and a master suite.  Photo from Realtor site.


Photo from Realtor site.


Photo from Realtor site.


The Glover family owned the house until 1993. I wonder what they would think of their house today.

March 27, 2018

Vallonias and Crescents and Somers! Oh My!

Sears Roebuck houses often appear in clusters. Sometimes developers would buy several lots on a street and put up multiple kit houses at once for expediency. Sometimes a customer would build a Sears house for his own family and then build an investment property next door. Sometimes companies would build streets of kit houses for their workers.

Des Plaines is a hotbed of Sears homes. Two brothers, Elmer and Oscar Blume, built Sears houses for themselves in the city and also grew their contracting business by building Sears houses for their customers. Elmer said in the 1929 Sears Modern Homes catalog that, at that time, they had constructed more than 104 Sears houses--many of them in Des Plaines.

Elmer Blume, featured in the 1929 Sears Modern Homes catalog. Scan courtesy of Antique Home.

104 houses by 1929. Wonder what their final total was. Scan courtesy of Antique Home.

Here is a small sampling of Sears houses in Des Plaines. I bet the Blume brothers built most, if not all, of these homes.

March 13, 2018

A Montgomery Ward Not-a-Kit House

Like Sears Roebuck, Montgomery Ward sold ready-cut kit houses and also building materials.
  • Kits from Wards consisted of the blueprints for a particular house that was depicted in the catalogs, as well as almost all the materials needed to construct that house (such as pre-cut lumber, paint, shingles, and nails). 
  • Wards also sold building materials separately. You could purchase the lumber, doors, and windows from Wards, but the house did not have to be a Wardway kit house and could be a design from your local architect. 

In 1930, you could buy the Wardway Whitmore kit house for about $65 a month. You could also buy various building materials from Wards and build your own house.  Wards would finance both kit houses and building materials.

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