May 28, 2024

A Brilliant Sears Sunlight in Elgin

626 Orange, Elgin. Photo from

The Sears Sunlight from the 1928 Modern Homes catalog.

The Sears Sunlight was a popular low-priced bungalow. It was 24 feet wide, and had five rooms. 

Most Sunlights have their porches enclosed today. Undated photo from

The original front door from Sears is on the left. Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

One differentiator of the Sunlight was an enclosed staircase on the rear. Photo from Realtor site.

I don't believe this is an original Sears garage, but it's a nice replica. Photo from Realtor site.

The original owners were Michum and Jennie Musikich. Michum, a Serbian immigrant, worked as a watchmaker for the Elgin National Watch Company. They lived in the house their entire lives--Michum died in 1967, and Jennie died in 1976. The Musikich family owned the Sunlight until 1996.

April 30, 2024

An 1882 House from a Pattern Book

2314 W. 111th Place, Chicago. Photo by Burnhamandroot - Own work, Public Domain

Design 35 from Palliser's American Cottage Homes (1878).

This Stick Style house in Morgan Park was built in 1882. The design was from an architectural pattern book, which was a hardcover book of home designs and floor plans. 

The house was based on a design published in Palliser's American Cottage Homes. The book cost $1.

George and Charles Palliser of Bridgeport, CT started the first mail-order architectural practice. 

1908 photo of the house. Today, the house has lost its chimneys and the railings with diamond-shaped cutouts. Photo from the Chicago Historical Society prints and photographs reproduction.

More elevations of Design 35.

The Pallisers estimated that the cost to build the house would be approximately $2,800.

The original owner of the house was Johan Alexis Edgren, a Baptist minister. He helped found the Baptist Theological Seminary at Morgan Park.

According to the Landmarks Designation Report, Edgren purchased the lot in 1882. Although the Pallisers book estimated the house would cost $2,800, "the Edgrens borrowed $1,500 from the seminary, indicating either the house was cheaper to build or that they used some of their own savings."

By 1894, Edgren and his wife had moved to California.

The house is the only known design from the Pallisers that was built in Chicago. It was landmarked by the city of Chicago in 2000.

March 25, 2024

An Authenticated Sears Willard in Zion

1904 Elim, Zion. Zion was once a religious utopia with biblical street names. Elim, according to the Hebrew Bible, was one of the places where the Israelites camped following their Exodus from Egypt. Photo from Realtor site.

Sears Willard. 

The Sears Willard was a one-and-a-half story English plan designed by architect David S. Betcone. This Willard in Zion is authenticated.

The original Sears door with ornamental wrought iron hinges. It is the same one pictured in the catalog illustration. Photo from Realtor site.

The Willard featured a corner fireplace and triple windows that provide a lot of sunlight. The living room was generously sized at 14' 5" by 17' 5". Photo from Realtor site.

There is a rear staircase. Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

Closeup of the lower cabinets and sink. Those are original Sears hinges and hardware. 

Photo from Realtor site.

The front bedroom. Photo from Realtor site.

The Willard had a second story dormer in the back and a projection on the first floor. The projection was intended to accommodate the refrigerator and some cabinetry.  Today, it serves the same purpose. Photo from Realtor site.

I don't know whether the overhang over the rear door is original, but it looks to be. Photo from Realtor site.

There are many Willard lookalikes in the Chicago suburbs. Many of the knock-offs do not have the triple window on the side of the house. Photo from Realtor site.

The original owners, Arthur and Grace Yarroll, got their mortgage from Sears Roebuck in April 1929 for $4,500. 

Arthur worked as a supervisor at Fieldcrest Mills in Zion, a factory which made lace. He also served one four-year term as the Benton Township assessor. That election made national news.

The election for assessor was a tie, and then the tiebreaker was a tie!

By 1936, the Yarrolls had moved out of the Willard and it was listed for rent.