October 21, 2014

The Sears Lexington, "a Style That Will be Popular for All Time"

627 Euclid, Glen Ellyn.

Sears Lexington from the 1923 Modern Homes catalog.

A closer look at the side of the house. The Lexington has massive cornice returns, a door to the balcony with a window crammed next to it, and two lil' windows astride the chimney.

The Lexington, a Colonial Revival, was one of Sears's highest priced models. Sears always placed it towards the front of its Modern Homes catalogs. "The Lexington was designed by an architect whose specialty is houses of the true colonial type. This is his masterpiece in a style that will be popular for all time."

Well Sears got that last bit right. This 93-year-old Lexington in Glen Ellyn was recently for sale and was under contract in a matter of days.

The Lexington was designated a landmark by Glen Ellyn's Historic Sites Commission in 1994. This means no substantive changes can be made to the building's front fa├žade. Photo courtesy of Katie Marxhausen.

The Lexington is a center-entry Colonial. Oak floors were standard in Sears houses. Photo courtesy of Katie Marxhausen.

That is a salvaged fireplace mantel and not original to the house. Photo courtesy of Katie Marxhausen.

Photo courtesy of Katie Marxhausen.

Photo courtesy of Katie Marxhausen.

One of the unique things about the Lexington is that it has a first floor bathroom that is three steps down from the main level. Photo courtesy of Katie Marxhausen.

 A lot of light in the Lexington! Photo courtesy of Katie Marxhausen.

 The door leads out to the balcony. Photo courtesy of Katie Marxhausen.

The Lexington was purchased from Sears in 1921 and completed in 1922. The owner lived in it for only one year before it was listed for sale.

Ad from the Oak Park Oak Leaves, March 1923.

The house was then purchased by an older widow, Annie L. Burke. She lived there with her daughter and son-in-law until about 1930. After that the house was rented for several years. 

In 1991 Bruce and Joan Johns purchased the house. A year later, a friend of Joan's brought over a library book, Houses by Mail, A Guide to Houses from Sears Roebuck and Company. Her friend had wanted to find her house in the book, but instead Joan found hers. Joan was startled to discover her house had been purchased out of a Sears, Roebuck catalog. Her house matched the Sears Lexington down to the room measurements.

A few months later, the Johns found a Sears shipping label inside the house.

Using the book, Joan began to compile the first list of Sears houses in Glen Ellyn. In 1994 she created the (now defunct) Sears Home Association, which was a national group of 150 homeowners.

Photo of Joan from the Daily Herald.

Another photo from the Daily Herald. As the caption states, there are three sets of stairs off the landing in the Lexington. This is another unique feature that makes the Lexington easy to identify.

The Lost Sears House Next Door
The builder of the Lexington likely was the builder of a Sears Osborn model next door. Today the Osborn has been demolished and replaced with a McMansion.

The Lexington is on the left and the Osborn on the right. Check out those stone pillars!
The Sears Osborne from the catalog.

Undated photo of the Osborn before demolition. 


Sharid57 said...

What a great blog post! I love being able to take "private tours" by well done photography of well maintained kit homes. It gives me a sense that there still are vintage-home-conscious people who don't walk in the first day and start ripping things out without any thoughts to maintaining what's already there, before remuddling the place beyond all recognition!
I'm also sorry to see the passing of another kit home in preference for the well- and widely-known, but generally unattractive McMansions. It's a real shame to see it never found a family to care for it, instead of turning it into what we see in its last picture. RIP little Osborne....��

Sears Homes of Chicagoland said...

Thanks, Shari! That Lexington is gorgeous inside, isn't it?

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