January 13, 2012

What's a Sears Home Anyway? (in a nutshell)

From 1915 to 1942, Sears, Roebuck and Co. sold about 65,000 ready-to-build kit homes through mail order. Over the years, there were 370 different house designs to choose from in their Modern Homes catalogs — some houses could be purchased for as low as $20 per month over 15 years.  This price included the blueprints and most materials including the pre-cut lumber, paint, shingles, and nails.

Sears typically sent all the components to the customer by train, but they also shipped homes by barge and truck. Some buyers built the homes by themselves, and others paid contractors to do it.

Sears kit homes can be found all over the United States.  The states with the most Sears homes are Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.  No one knows exactly where all the 65,000 homes were built since Sears destroyed their sales records in the early 1970's during the move to the Sears Tower. Most are still undiscovered. The largest known group of Sears homes in Illinois is in Elgin (more than 210).

Even today, the charming Sears models are very popular with homebuyers. The homes were built with top quality components —many featured cypress wood siding, cedar shingles, and oak and maple floors.  Often they were built with extra care because the people constructing the houses were building them for their own families.

There is a veritable treasure trove of Sears homes still waiting to be discovered. 



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