February 3, 2015

Let's Travel Back Through Time to See Some Sears Starlights

The Sears Starlight was sold for 21 years (1911-1932). The Starlight in 1911 was a small bungalow with no bathroom. Over the 21 years, the interior and exterior changed, but the nameplate remained the same. 

In 1933 the Starlight was renamed the Plymouth, and the same house under that name was sold for another five years.

Let's travel back and take a look at the Starlight over the years.

Back to the 1910's...
Sears houses did not have names in those days, but rather model numbers. In the 1914 catalog, the Starlight was the 264P217. Catchy!

Sears Starlight from 1914. No bathroom!

Sears says that over 100 houses have been sold. I guess they sold over 100 outhouses as well. Around 1916 Sears began offering an alternate floor plan that contained a bathroom.

The 1916 catalog shows the two floor plans of the Starlight.

Starlights from the 1910's are tough to identify because of their generic styling. Additionally, it's unlikely that many have survived in the Chicago area because five-room bungalows are often torn down in high-priced neighborhoods.

On to the 1920's...
The Starlight from the 1920 Modern Homes catalog. 

By 1920 Sears had sold over 200 Starlights nationwide. By 1928 that number leaped to 1,300.

Around 1915 Sears began offering a clipped gable dormer on the Starlight that had three funky windows. This became the standard style shown in the catalog around 1920 (and it was by far the best selling). There are many Starlights of this style in the Chicago area that were built in the 1920's.


36 S. Lincoln, Westmont. Built 1922. Photo courtesy of Realtor site.


Photo courtesy of Realtor site.


380 Hamilton. Elgin. This is an authenticated Starlight (stamped lumber in the basement) built in 1927.

On to the 1930's...
The Starlight got a revamp in 1930. The dormer was changed once again; pillars were changed. Beginning in 1933, the Starlight was called the Plymouth.

Sears Starlight from 1932.

Sears Plymouth from 1935. Same house as the Starlight, just a new name. Scan courtesy of Antique Home.

148 E. Main, Cary. This is an authenticated Sears Plymouth built in 1933.

Back to Today...
The Sears Starlight was a big seller for Sears for decades. The 1920's version is also one of the easiest Sears houses to recognize, and you probably have one in your town. In its catalogs, Sears summed up the reasons for the Starlight's popularity:
"The Starlight bungalow is one of our most popular designs. It is dignified and substantial in every detail. Architects and builders say the Starlight has as good an arrangement, considering its size, as it is possible to have. It has the proper number of rooms for the average family....Here in the Starlight you can enjoy comfort in every room, and on a warm day the shady porch bids you welcome for rest, as there is room for hammock, swing, and other porch furniture."


Anonymous said...

Thanks again for a very interesting post! The addition of the bathroom in 1916 was a good idea! The photos help to bring the floor plan to life. Appreciate the research you do!

SearsHouseSeeker said...

Everything I've wanted to know about the Starlight and the Plymouth :) Except... where to find one around here :)

Bruce McClinton said...

I've found a Starlight in Woodstock, VA which is likely a 1916 or 1917 model. It's largely original condition except that the full-width integrated front porch has been enclosed and supplemented by a half-width porch with a shallower roof starting a few inches from the front edge. Anyone seen anything like this? The catalogs advertised custom services including, perhaps modifications. Any idea if they would have made a change like this? The flooring in the front rooms didn't show an obvious break in pattern, so I wonder if it was done at the factory.

Thank you.

Sears Homes of Chicagoland said...

Bruce, those early Starlights normally require authentication. There were so many houses in that style that were built across America, definitive proof is necessary--such as a mortgage from Sears Roebuck.

David said...

I grew up in a Starlight, with a bathroom fortunately! My parents still live there, although the house has changed some over the years. I created a quick page with some photos: https://www.brasskeysoftware.com/etc/starlight/

Sears Homes of Chicagoland said...

Hi, David! If you email me the address, I can put the house in the database.

ACosta said...

I live in a Starlite home built in 1932. I bought the house in Feb 2005. I live in Cheviot, OH. It is in Green Township part of the Westside of Cincinnati, OH.
I was sent information from a realtor several years back explaining how lucky I am to own this style of home. I have the paperwork on the house and the information to prove it is a Starlite bungalow sears and Roebuck Home Kit. If there is any more information about this style of home I would like to learn more about it. Please feel free to contact me.

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