November 23, 2015

Sears Normandy in Melrose Park

1100 N. 13th Ave., Melrose Park.

Sears Normandy.
Undated photo of the Normandy in Melrose Park. It once had diamond muntin windows. Photo courtesy of  the book Melrose Park by F. Marbella.

The majority of the houses in Melrose Park were constructed in the 1950's, but the village does have its share of kit houses.

November 16, 2015

An Authenticated Sears Oak Park

129 Coolidge, Barrington.
The Sears Oak Park.

 Sears sold the Oak Park model from 1926 to 1933. This Oak Park in Barrington looks very much like the catalog illustration. The house appears to have the original 8- and 10-over-1 windows.  It is missing the sun room and today has aluminum siding rather than wood siding.

"See the beautiful colonial entrance with its sidelights and fan over the door, hood and columns, and the brick porch!" exclaimed the Modern Homes catalog.

The same Colonial entrance, as illustrated in the 1929 Sears building materials catalog.

The side pergola with a wood lattice trellis was an option on many Sears models. You could purchase this option in 1926 for about $80.


There have only been three Sears Oak Park houses definitively identified to date. The difficulty lies in the fact that there are thousands of Dutch Colonial homes that look much like the Oak Park, and one of the only distinguishing features of the Oak Park is the gable roof entry porch. Unfortunately, that same porch was also sold by millwork companies other than Sears so even that can't be used as concrete evidence that a house is truly an Oak Park.

Lucky for us, this Sears Oak Park in Barrington was authenticated via a testimonial letter from the original homeowner.

That's a testimonial from the owner of the Oak Park in Barrington, featured in a 1928 brochure from Sears entitled "Air-Sealed Walls". Scan courtesy of Cindy Catanzaro.

The Oak Park in Barrington was built in 1926. The original owners were Ethel Drover (the letter writer) and her husband, Percy. Percy owned a Chrysler-Plymouth dealership in Barrington called the Drover Motor Company. Not coincidentally, this dealership was located next to the Sears Modern Homes sales office in Barrington.

Daughter Ruth Drover remembered the house in an interview in The Batavia Historian:
"For the first five years of my life, we lived in an apartment above the dealership. Then we needed bigger quarters, and the family decided to build a Sears home at the edge of Barrington -- a house through the mail, so to speak."

The Drovers lived in the house until the 1960's.

November 9, 2015

The Medallion of Power

I am a huge Survivor fan and have been watching the show religiously since the first episode aired in 2000.

In Survivor Nicaragua, producers added a stupid twist called the Medallion of Power which enabled a tribe to receive an advantage at the challenge.
Brenda wears the Medallion of Power in Survivor Nicaragua. Photo courtesy of Survivor Oz.

The Sears Crescent house has its own Medallion of Power. At least that's what I call it.

The Sears Crescent and its Medallion of Power in the 1921 Modern Homes catalog.

The Medallion of Power is blurry in the catalog illustration and hard to see. Today, the vast majority of Crescents no longer have one, so when you see a Crescent with this original architectural detail, it is a real find.

533 Summit, Barrington. This house was built in 1928 for the Blanke family. What do I spy above the front door?


The original plaster Medallion of Power!


The Crescent in Barrington also features the original trellises shown in the catalog illustration and the original storm windows.


4616 Franklin Avenue, Western Springs. The decorative medallion is easy to see on this house. The Crescent was purchased for $2,200 in 1925. Photo courtesy of the Western Springs Historical Society.

1605 Spencer in Wilmette. This Crescent was built in 1925 for a cost of $10,000, according to the building permit. The original owner was the Schlueter family.


419 Purcell, Cincinnati, OH. Photo courtesy of Cindy Catanzaro.


The Sears Crescent was a huge seller for Sears and you may have one in your town. Keep your eyes open for the formal, columned porch and the Medallion of Power!

November 3, 2015

C'mon, Get Happy!

Do you recognize this house?

"Blondie Street", Burbank, CA. Maybe the bus gives it away. Photo courtesy of  C'mon, Get Happy!

The Sears Glen Falls from 1926.

According to The Unofficial Columbia Ranch SiteThe Partridge Family house was built in 1953 and deliberately modeled after the Sears Glen Falls.

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