August 11, 2015

A Quick Tour of Kit Homes in Highland Park

Last month Lisa Temkin, a Historic Preservation Commissioner in Highland Park, was kind enough to give me a quick tour of the catalog kit houses in her town. Lisa herself lives in a John Van Bergen house, and she has a wealth of knowledge about many residences in Highland Park.

Here are some of the highlights of our tour.

1683 Deerfield Road, Highland Park. It was tough to get a shot of this house! Let's just say there was some trespassing involved.

The Mount Vernon from Montgomery Ward.

A leafless shot of the same house.

This house was misidentified as a Sears Crescent on an architectural survey. I believe it is actually a Mount Vernon model from Montgomery Ward (or a Cabot model from Gordon-Van Tine--the same model sold by two different companies).

This Colonial Revival house was built in 1928 by James B. McCraren and his new bride Frances. He got a mortgage from a local bank for $3500. The house stayed in the McCraren family until the mid-1990's.

501 Burton Avenue, Highland Park.


This is an authenticated Sears Columbine. "Sears Roebuck" is listed as the architect on the building permit. 

The Columbine was built in 1927 for Dominic Rizzolo, an Italian immigrant. In the 1940 census, Dominic lived in the house with twelve other people, including 5 grandchildren.

In a 2003 article in the Highland Park News, Dominic's son, Dominec, talked about the house's construction.
Back in the old days, north of Glencoe, [Dominec Rizzolo] recalled last week, there were about 75 homes in Highland Park. In the Ravinia area, the streets were dirt, the sidewalks were cement, and there was a railroad siding near the Ravinia station.
Rizzolo remembers that one day, stacked inside a boxcar on that siding, was all the lumber needed to build his parents' home. His parents had purchased the house from Sears, Roebuck & Co.'s catalogue.
"The lumber was delivered (to the lot) by horse and wagon," Rizzolo said. "The house (parts were) all numbered. It was like a jigsaw puzzle. There must be a half-dozen of (the Sears houses) here in Highland Park."
Rizzolo helped put the jigsaw puzzle together that would become his parents' home. These days he thinks that was where his interest in carpentry got started. He was 17 years old and for the remainder of his life, except for a brief detour as a bricklayer, he would build homes.

The Rizzolos moved out of the Sears house by 1948.

560 Ravinia Road, Highland Park.

Sears Maplewood,

This is an authenticated Sears Maplewood on Ravinia Road. The Tudor Revival is intact but is dwarfed by an unattractive addition. The original owner, James Sutherland, took out a mortgage from Sears for $5700 in September 1930.

Interior of the Maplewood. Photo courtesy of Realtor site.

778 Pleasant, Highland Park.


Sears Maplewood.

In contrast, this is a darling Sears Maplewood a little ways away on Pleasant Avenue that was built in 1930 for Charles H. Mobbs. Charles was the janitor at the public school. This is an authenticated Sears Maplewood--"Sears Roebuck" was listed as the architect on the building permit. Charles got a mortgage for $5,000 from Sears.

The charming little Maplewood still has the original wood windows and batten shutters. 


SearsHouseSeeker said...

Another interesting post! Loved, especially, seeing the Columbine, and the interior of the Maplewood.

Anonymous said...

I just bought the "unattractive addition" house. I cant tear down the addition but I thought maybe a different color and some window boxes might help. Any suggestions?

Sears Homes of Chicagoland said...

Congratulations! I agree that your Maplewood needs a "cute", bright color. I think flower boxes would be a nice, unifying feature... maybe shutters too? Enjoy your cottage in the woods! I would love to see more photos. :)

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