January 20, 2015

The Most Expensive Sears Homes

One misconception about Sears houses is that they are little shacks. Sears did sell some of those teeny tiny models (most have not survived today), but they also sold very expensive kit houses and custom designed homes.

Today I'd like to feature the five most expensive Sears kit houses. I tried to account for inflation in these rankings, because Sears sold houses for many years (1908-1942). Additionally, these are single family homes; many of the two-flats or multi-family homes from Sears cost substantially more.

One other complication is that some of the houses came with lumber pre-cut to the correct sizes; others came with uncut lumber (which was less expensive and artificially kept the price down since labor costs would be higher). It's hard to compare pricing when you're not comparing apples to apples.

1. The Carlton

The Sears Carlton was offered one year only--1918. The house was designed by architect John Van Bergen. A Carlton has never been identified "in the wild", so perhaps it was just too expensive for 1918 home buyers.

January 13, 2015

The Last Man Standing

The Aladdin Company pioneered the mail-order home concept way back in 1906.

Brothers Otto and William Sovereign came up with the idea of a build-it-yourself house kit after seeing the success of the "knocked down" boat business. Manufacturers of knocked down boats would cut lumber, build a wooden boat, and then knock down or take the boat apart and ship the components as a kit to customers.

The Sovereigns started advertising "knocked down dwelling houses" in boating magazines. These house kits included pre-cut lumber, paint, plaster, shingles, etc.

January 6, 2015

Did Sears Kit Homes Come in Brick?

In this post I will debunk another myth about Sears homes.

Did Sears Kit Homes Come in Brick?
  • "My house is brick so it cannot be from a catalog."
  • "I've seen many Sears kit houses over the years and it seems to me they were all of frame construction."
Sears Roebuck did offer their houses in brick. These were not solid brick homes, but brick veneer homes (Sears often used the term "face brick"). 

December 9, 2014

The Top 10 Articles of 2014

As the year comes to a close, let's reveal our top 10 most popular articles of 2014 and what you, the readers, flocked to.

Most Viewed Articles

1    A New Sears Avalon in Wisconsin

7    Even More Sears Homes in Barrington

8    A Backwards Gordon-Van Tine in Waukegan

9    Jimmy Carter's Boyhood Home

Interestingly, most of the articles you enjoyed reading were not the ones that I particularly enjoyed researching. My personal top 10 for 2014 are, in no particular order...

The Best Articles of 2014, According to Lara

1    A Testimonial House in Irving Park and a Family Victimized by the "Black Widow"

7    It's Two, Two, Two Houses in One

8    The Beauty of Verona (the House, That Is)

9    Strange Marked Lumber in a Sears Somerset

We invite you to join us in 2015 and see what other Sears homes are hiding out there. Happy Holidays!

An authenticated Sears Berwyn, built in 1931 at 194 Lake Street, Lake Saranac, NY. Photo courtesy of M. Wanner.

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

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