October 18, 2016

And Then There Were Two

I suspect that Hinsdale, like most Western suburbs, had dozens of kit houses built in the 1920's and 1930's. Today, I know of two still standing. 

There were three, but a Montgomery Ward house was demolished in 2015.

610 N. Grant, Hinsdale. Up until 2015, the lot contained a Kenwood model from Montgomery Ward. Photo from Realtor site.

610 N. Grant today. Photo from Realtor site.
One of the remaining two kit houses was listed for sale this month. It is a well-kept Dutch Colonial from Harris Brothers. Unfortunately, any house in Hinsdale is a teardown candidate, and the odds of survival for this one are not good.

18 S. Elm, Hinsdale. Photo from Realtor site.

Harris Brothers No. 2012. The sun room was optional.

Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

Check out the original door hardware. Photo from Realtor site.

The same door hardware from the Harris Brothers building materials catalog. It was the "Ardmore" design.

The architect of the Harris No. 2012 was Benedict J. Bruns.

I believe this No. 2012 was built around 1924 by the Tyndall family. John Tyndall, the son, worked as a driver for the Harris Brothers branch in Berwyn.

October 3, 2016

A Real-Life Barbie Ski Cabin

There were several other kit house companies besides Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward. One company that I have never discussed on this website is the Lewis Manufacturing Company of Bay City, Michigan. 

Blurry ad for Lewis-built homes in the Chicago Tribune, September 1914.

Lewis sold houses in the Chicago area. The reason I have never written about any of them is because I couldn't identify a Lewis model if it hit me over the head. 

Except one. One of my favorite models of all time. The Lewis Alpine.

September 20, 2016

Sears Homes Enjoying Commercial Success

Because old Sears homes were often built on the central streets in suburban downtowns, many of them have been demolished outright for new development or have been converted to commercial use. Let's take a look at some of the Sears houses in the Chicago suburbs that have "gone commercial".


334 W. Main, Barrington. Photo courtesy of Wende Dau.

Sears Martha Washington.

This authenticated Sears Martha Washington model is currently used as bridal shopThe bedrooms are used as fitting rooms. The business owners claim have a sales receipt from 1926 for $3,700. That's interesting because Harry and Vida Hammond took out a mortgage from Sears for $6500 to build this property in April 1927. Hmm.

September 6, 2016

Fun with Mortgages and Deeds

Sears, Montgomery Ward, and other kit house manufacturers offered financing to home buyers. If you go through county mortgage records and land deeds you can find the names of the trustees of the various companies and the legal descriptions of the houses that they financed. VoilĂ , a quick and efficient way to locate kit houses.

A few Chicago-area communities have conducted comprehensive searches of county records, including Oswego and Aurora. These searches do not reveal all kit houses in a given community, because some buyers got financing from local banks and some buyers paid cash. But it's a great place to start!

Mortgage records also provide authentication for a kit house, that is, incontrovertible proof that a house is a genuine kit house.

This summer, I went through the Lake County records and learned that Lake Forest has a nice collection of kit houses that are still standing. Let's take a look at one from Montgomery Ward.


161 Washington Circle, Lake Forest.

Montgomery Ward Maywood. Scan courtesy of Antique Home Style.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...