January 14, 2013

Authenticating a Sears Hazelton

It's not often that I can authenticate a house as from Sears. Based on a house's appearance and history, I usually make an educated guess. The authentication process normally requires access to the house, permission to take measurements, or a trip to the Cook County Assessor's office downtown.

On a recent trip to Norwood Park, I spotted what I thought might be a Sears Hazelton.

5822 N. West Circle, Chicago. Photo courtesy of George Kelly.


















Sears Hazelton


The houses have many similarities, but there also are notable differences. The door is on the far right of the house, and the Hazelton has a center entry. The three windows on the left wall are absent (although the house does have that unique bay window with the windows on the sides of it).

Front door in the wrong location. Nice leaded glass! Photo courtesy of George Kelly.









 

I ruled out the house as a Hazelton and continued on.

A few weeks later a man named George Kelly posted on Facebook that he thought he might own a Sears house. And his house was... the purported Hazelton in Norwood Park.

Kelly and others on Facebook pieced together various pieces of evidence needed to authenticate the house as being a Sears Hazelton (although it was heavily customized, with a different interior layout). Sears Homes goddess Rebecca Hunter believes that you need at least five pieces of evidence to authenticate a catalog house. We have five.

1. The house was built in summer of 1916. This corresponds to a year when the Sears Hazelton was sold.

2. The architect of the house was Ernest Braucher. Braucher was a notable architect of Chicago bungalows, and he also designed some plans for Sears homes, such as the Sears Avalon.

3. The house's exterior dimensions precisely match those of the Sears Hazelton.

4. The millwork on the front porch matches balusters sold in the 1915 Sears Millwork catalog.

The porch millwork. Photo courtesy of George Kelly.

Catalog scan courtesy of Rachel Shoemaker.

5. Kelly found a shipping label on a piece of lumber.

The shipping label. The return address is 925 Homan Avenue in Chicago, which was the Sears, Roebuck and Co. headquarters.  Photo courtesy of George Kelly.
 




The original owners of the Hazelton in 1916 were Soren E. Nielsen and his wife Katrina. As you can see in the shipping label above, the building materials were shipped from Sears to him, and he was to be notified at his home at 2824 W. Diversey when they arrived at the Norwood Park train station. Soren worked as a grocer.

In 1918, Katrina at age 61 became ill and they moved out of the house (possibly back to the house on Diversey which they still owned).  Soren rented the house to optician Patrick Joyce and his family, and they had moved in by September 1918. Katrina died in November of that year.

From 1918 to 1920, the Hazelton was rented to the Joyces. In 1921, Soren sold the house on West Circle Ave. to Bertram Anderson and his new bride, Agnes. The Joyces moved to Wilmette.


Bertram Anderson. Photo courtesy of Carrie Anderson.


Agnes Anderson. Photo courtesy of Carrie Anderson.

Bertram and Agnes had been married for just over a year. They referred to the Hazelton as the "honeymoon cottage", according to their granddaughter, Carrie Anderson. Bertram's father, William B. Anderson, owned a nearby onion farm, and Agnes's family lived on land where Resurrection Medical Center is today. So it's likely they bought the house to be close to the family homesteads.


Bertram Anderson outside the Hazelton. Photo courtesy of Carrie Anderson.

Sadly, the honeymoon ended in 1926 when Bertram died of an illness. Agnes was pregnant with twins at the time. In November 1926 she sold the Hazelton to Walter Wolf, a florist.

Walter defaulted on his mortgage in 1935 and more renters moved in. The house changed owners twice in the next 20 years.

George Kelly's parents purchased the house in 1963 and it has stayed in the family ever since.
Photo from the early 1970's courtesy of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.


The front parlor. Photo courtesy of George Kelly.
 




The dining room with the unique bay window. Photo courtesy of George Kelly.
 
The city of Chicago has identified this Hazelton as "historically significant in the context of the surrounding community". Only 9,600 houses have this designation in the city of Chicago.









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