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. Only a few Sears Ivanhoes have been identified nationwide.

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. 

In the early years, the Ivanhoe came with two exteriors, but the same interior floor plans. Model No. 264P230 had a two-story porch off the side and a simple shed dormer over the front door.

The Sears Ivanhoe Model No. 264P230 .

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

The Sears Ivanhoe Model No. 264P200.
Apparently, Sears also offered a hybrid house that was never pictured in the catalogs. This version of the Ivanhoe had the side porch (often enclosed and used as living space today) and the full front porch.

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

The Elmhurst Ivanhoe is the hybrid version of the Ivanhoe with both side and front porches. It is currently for sale for over $1M.

Photo courtesy of Realtor site.

Photo courtesy of Realtor site.

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 is  a hybrid house, with the 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.

Ann Arbor, Michigan
1028 Martin Place, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Photo courtesy of Andrew Mutch.

This is a "true" Ivanhoe Model No. 264P230 in Ann Arbor, with the side porch only. This house was built about 1915.

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.

Sears Homes of Chicagoland said...

Unknown, if you have an information about who might be the architect of the Ivanhoe from your blueprints, please email me at

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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