July 29, 2014

Strange Marked Lumber in a Sears Somerset

Sears Somerset in Darlington, South Carolina.

Sears Somerset from the 1920 catalog.

A closer look at the bump out.

This is an authenticated Sears Somerset in Darlington, South Carolina. The homeowner, Sallie, sent me these photos. The house was built in 1920.

When Sallie was having work done in the house, the contractor noticed marked lumber in the attic. Typically, Sears would stamp the lumber with a single letter followed by a three-digit number ("A388"). The stamped codes corresponded to the building plans and helped the builders determine what piece went where. But Sallie does not have those codes on the wood in her house.

The lumber from Sallie's Somerset.

It's difficult to make out what was stamped on this lumber. I see the word "Sears" and "U.S. Gov't". I've never seen lumber from Sears marked like this.

Any history buffs want to take a guess what these markings are?

My knowledge of World War I is admittedly limited. I do know that there was a great demand for timber in military operations. The U.S. military used lumber from France and the U.S. to build plank roads, docks, etc. Is it possible that a Sears mill was supplying lumber to the U.S. government during the Great War and this batch of lumber never made it abroad? 

Please comment... I would like to hear your thoughts.

July 22, 2014

A Backwards Gordon-Van Tine in Waukegan

1301 W. Yorkhouse Road, Waukegan. Photo courtesy of Diego Rael.

Gordon-Van Tine No. 529 from the 1926 catalog.

We don't have the best photo of this Gordon-Van Tine No. 529 because the front of the house is now the back of the house!

Yorkhouse Road was originally called Holdridge Road, and there were train tracks right next to this house (where the Robert McClory Bike Trail is today). The North Shore electric line is now gone--closed in 1963. There was a dangerous S-curve just past the crossing over the tracks (Holdridge Crossing) and there were dozens of fatal accidents there. Ultimately Holdridge Road was straightened and renamed. As part of that process, the back of the Gordon-Van Tine house now faced the road and the homeowners added a "front" door and made the back of the house the front!

A closer view of the original front door and original latticework. Photo courtesy of Diego Rael.

A closeup of the front door of the No. 529. A perfect match!

The "front" of the house today. The room in the bump out is the kitchen. Photo courtesy of Diego Rael.

This is an authenticated Gordon-Van Tine No. 529. The model was sold from about 1918 until 1927. (Gordon Van-Tine sold another model called the No. 622 that was essentially the same house but slightly larger.)

There is marked lumber in the house that authenticates it as coming from Gordon-Van Tine.

Shipping information on one of the outside boards. The board is stamped with "Gordon-Van Tine Co., Davenport Iowa." The customer was Chas. E. Holdridge, and the train station where the materials were to be delivered was Beach, Ill. The Beach station handled freight, and it was just north of Holdridge Crossing.   Photo courtesy of Diego Rael. 

Another piece of stamped lumber that indicated "BEACH". Photo courtesy of Diego Rael.
Lake County has this house as being built in 1925. I can't nail down the construction date--it was between 1920 and 1928.

The house stands today on what was the Holdridge Farm. According to the Waukegan Historical Society, Ira W. Holdridge came to Waukegan Township in 1844 and settled on this land. Charles Holdridge (the customer name on the lumber) was Ira's grandson. The Holdridges owned the house until at least 1959.

The entry hallway with its gorgeous woodwork. Photo courtesy of Realtor site.

Living room. Photo courtesy of Realtor site.

The kitchen with some of the original cabinetry. The current homeowner is stripping the blue paint. Photo courtesy of Realtor site.

The phone on the wall was possibly original to the house and was taken by the former homeowners. There's just a hole and a bunch of wires in the wall now. Photo courtesy of Realtor site.

The linen closet. Photo courtesy of Realtor site.

Thanks to the Waukegan Historical Society for the materials on the Holdridges that they sent me.

July 15, 2014

The Montgomery Ward Westmont "Ranks High in Public Favor"

The Westmont model from Montgomery Ward "ranks high in public favor", according to the 1931 Wardway Homes catalog. 

"People used to believe that a home of modest cost must be square as a box and just as uninteresting. But clever modern architects are telling an entirely different story and PROVING IT! For instance, here is the Westmont--picturesque, charming, quaint as an English cottage, modern as a New York apartment, and the price--well it is almost unbelievably low."

(I love the enthusiasm of the Wards copywriter,but he/she really needed an editor.)

Terry Spenks attended a presentation on Sears homes I gave recently, and sent me these photos she took of two neighboring Westmonts in Peoria. 

418 W. Lawndale, Peoria. Photo courtesy of Terry Spenks.

The Westmont model from Montgomery Ward.

502 W. Lawndale, Peoria. This Westmont is a reversed floor plan. Photo courtesy of Terry Spenks.

I found some Realtor photos of the house at 502 W. Lawndale.

The original door of the house at 502 W. Lawndale. According to the catalog, this is an "interesting plank door with [a] small diamond-paned window and iron strap hinges". Photo courtesy of Realtor site.

There were many arched openings in the Westmont. Here is the small window by the stairs. Photo courtesy of Realtor site.

Floor plan of the Westmont.

The broom closet off the kitchen. Photo courtesy of Realtor site.

This house has stuccoed interior walls. The floor plan exactly matches the Westmont. Photo courtesy of Realtor site.

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