May 13, 2019

Here is Why Sears Sold Thousands of Homes

Let's be honest. Many of the original Sears homes have been either torn down or neutered beyond recognition. Porches are enclosed, vinyl siding is slapped on, windows are removed, second (and third) stories are added. Some weeks it's difficult for me to find a decent-looking Sears house to feature.

And then I come across a house like the Sears Somerset in Berwyn. It is like manna from heaven for a blogger like myself. 

6948 W. 29th Place, Berwyn. Yes, that's melting snow on the roof. In late April. 


Sears Somerset.


Almost all original exterior details on this Somerset are intact. It's adorable. This is what a Sears house is supposed to look like and this shows you why Sears sold thousands of homes to customers all over the United States.


I think the shutters were added in later years, but that's the original window.


View from the other side. Those pillars with the rectangular inset are original, as are the brackets. This house looks almost identical to what was delivered back in the day.



Sears sold the Somerset until 1925. Carl and Ragnhild Meyer got in before the cutoff and built their Somerset in the Proksa Park neighborhood of Berwyn that year. Carl was a salesman for a roofing company.


Carl Meyer. Public photo on Ancestry.com.


Young Ragnhild Meyer. She was a Norwegian immigrant. Public photo on Ancestry.com.


Later Ragnhild. Public photo on Ancestry.com.


The Meyers sold the Somerset sometime after 1938.



April 30, 2019

The Only Sears Honor in Illinois

I've been doing this for several years, and it's still exciting when I find a Sears model I've never seen before in real life.

Drum roll please!

Here's the only Sears Honor in Illinois, in Riverside to be exact. It's not authenticated, but the floor plan matches the layout to the inch.


100 Kimbark Road, Riverside. Photo from Realtor site.




Sears Honor.


The Sears Honor was sold from 1920-1926. Sears called it a Colonial, and it certainly has an elegant pillared entrance and perfect symmetry. The house also has Tudor features. Although it lacks the traditional half timbering, it does have rolled roof edges, trellises, and flower boxes at ground level (all cottage-like features that unfortunately were removed from the Riverside house). So maybe we can call it a "Colonial-Tudor hybrid".







That gorgeous rolled edge roof is gone today.




The Honor is a large house at 28' x 38'. This house would not fit on standard lots in many older suburbs. The Honor in Riverside has a reversed floor plan.


There were originally window seats underneath the single windows. Photo from Realtor site.


There is a foyer partitioned off the living room, and somebody added a coat closet, which would be on the left side of this photo. Photo from Realtor site.


Nice-sized dining room. Sears recommended you put a china cabinet between the single windows. Photo from Realtor site.


They took out the pantry and the breakfast alcove to make a larger kitchen. That cute little corner window is also a new addition. Photo from Realtor site.




This is the first floor sunroom. Photo from Realtor site.


The house originally had a first floor powder room. Photo from Realtor site.






Photo from Realtor site.


The rear sleeping porch was enclosed at build time, and today it is a master bathroom. Photo from Realtor site.


Photo from Realtor site.


Photo from Realtor site.


This Honor was built in 1922-1923. The original owners were Edward and Sophie Schmidt. Edward was the chief draftsman for the Strom Ball Bearing Mfg. Co. in Chicago.

Edward died in 1932, but Sophie stayed in the house until 1954-ish when she sold to the Becker family.













April 16, 2019

A Neglected Sears House in Harvey

Harvey was once a beautiful, thriving city. Today it has one of the highest crime rates in the state, and its unemployment and poverty rates are among the suburbs' highest. To cap it off, the city is financially insolvent.

Taking a look around Harvey today, you can see glimpses of what it once was.  You'll see mature trees, expansive yards, wide streets, and some large historic houses--some of which have seen better days.  You'll also see abandoned homes, empty lots, trash, and a crumbling infrastructure.

119 E. 155th St., Harvey. Capture from Google Streetview.


87 E 155th St., Harvey. This 1910 house was designed by Tallmadge & Watson. Photo from Realtor site.



15211 Ashland Ave., Harvey. Photo from Realtor site.




Scan from Google Streetview.



Photo from Realtor site.


Built in 1937 and 2,775 square feet, according to the county.  Photo from Realtor site.



15440 Vine Ave., Harvey. This house originally had a tile roof. Capture from Google Streetview.




There are more than one thousand vacant and abandoned properties in Harvey. Photo from Realtor site.




Photo from Realtor site.




262 W. 148th Place, Harvey. Someone loved this little cottage once. Capture from Google Streetview.



Harvey is also a town where many kit houses die. This Sears No. 264P205 bungalow that sits on a lovely block in Harvey recently went under contract... will it be saved?

181 E 150th St., Harvey. Photo from Realtor site.


Sears Modern Home No. 264P205, from the 1916 catalog. Scan from Daily Bungalow.


Another look from Google Streetview. This capture was from early 2018 and the house looks to be in better shape than it is now.







Photo from Realtor site.



That light fixture dates from the early 1970's I bet. Photo from Realtor site.


Dining room. The built-in china buffet is gone. Photo from Realtor site.


One of the bedrooms. Photo from Realtor site.



Don't step in the sinkhole. Photo from Realtor site.



This No. 264P205 was built between 1916-1918. The original owners were Albert and Emma Olson. At the time the house was built, Albert worked as a cement contractor for Ingalls-Shepard Forging Co. in Harvey.  Later he became a prominent real estate agent and developer.

By 1928 the Olsons sold the Sears house and moved to a bigger house on the same block.

There is hope for Harvey. In April of this year, Harvey elected a new mayor, Christopher Clark. Clark said, “I want you to know that the sun rises in the morning. Harvey can make it. No more corruption, no more civic disrespect, no more shakedowns, because it’s time for a new day here in the city of Harvey.”

Fingers crossed. The residents of Harvey deserve better.









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