August 26, 2014

The Sears Ivanhoe

The Sears Ivanhoe, sold from 1911 to 1918, was a big, expensive house "designed by one of Chicago's leading architects", according to the catalog. 

Sears did not sell the Ivanhoe with lumber pre-cut at the factory. They often did this for the more elaborate homes in an effort to keep the prices down. 

The Sears Ivanhoe Model No. 264P230, which had a shed dormer and side porches.

The Ivanhoe came with multiple exteriors, but the same interior floor plans. Some Ivanhoes had two-story sun porches on the side. Some had a simple shed dormer above the front door. Some had a full front porch; some had a partial front porch.

The Sears Ivanhoe Model No. 264P200. The house had no side porch, but a full-width front porch.


440 S. Kenilworth, Elmhurst. Photo courtesy of Realtor site.

The Elmhurst Ivanhoe has both side and full front porches.  You can see interior photos in the real estate listing.

The county says the Ivanhoe was built in 1915. The original owners were Francis Oscar Stevens and his wife, Esther. Francis was a buyer and manager for the carpet and rug division of Marshall Field & Company. By 1922 the Stevens had sold the house.

Francis Oscar Stevens in January 1916.

Downers Grove

744 Maple, Downers Grove, Illinois. Photo courtesy of Sue Smith.


The authenticated Ivanhoe in Downers Grove has a side porch (enclosed) and a partial front porch. The exterior is stucco and brick.

The house was built in 1915 by Frederick B. Towsley, and the current homeowners have the original Sears construction documents and receipts, which show that Frederick paid $2,756 for the house. Supposedly the blueprints still exist for this house, but I have yet to learn who the architect was.

Frederick was co-owner of the Owen & Towsley Co., a manufacturer of neckwear in Chicago.

Fred and May Towsley in 1920. That animal around your neck is just divine, Mrs. Towsley.

Fred died in 1957 and his wife died in 1974. The Towsley family owned the house until 1990.

Oak Park and Glencoe?
The 1918 Modern Homes catalog included a blurb about where Ivanhoes were built.

At some point there were Sears Ivanhoes in Oak Park and Glencoe. I have not found these houses but maybe you can!


Laraine Shape said...

Great article, Lara. I'd love to find one of these here in Cincinnati. What a beautiful home!

Anonymous said...

When you calculate from inflation calculators, even if the house was $5K, that's $73K in today's dollars. $73K doesn't buy you a studio apartment, let alone a beautiful 3 story house. So even in the roaring 20s bubble, we still pay more. Thanks Boomers.

Unknown said...

I own an Ivanhoe in Clinton, NY. It was built in 1914-15 by the newly retired head of Buildings and Grounds at Hamilton College. It is a beautiful home and extremely well built. I have the original drawings with his notes on the drawings.

Anonymous said...

i currenty own the Elmhurst IL Ivanhoe. i have been looking for pictures of the orginal house around the time it was built. Would love advice as to how i may locate some

Sears Homes of Chicagoland said...

The local historic society is your best bet.

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