September 22, 2015

The Sears Whitehall--Not Your Everyday Kit House

The Whitehall is an American Foursquare that was sold by Sears for over a decade. Sadly, there are only a few Whitehalls left in the Chicago area.  

Lake Forest
Researcher Cindy Catanzaro recently was in the Chicago area, and we did a super-fast tour of Lake Forest, on a hunt for Sears houses. Our big discovery was a Sears Whitehall.

1203 Griffith Road, Lake Forest.

Sears Whitehall from the 1922 Modern Homes catalog.

You might think the Whitehall would be easily recognized by its two-story bay window. However, the Whitehall is a model that is often re-muddled over time, with residents enclosing the front porch and removing the bay windows on the lower floor. 

Based on the catalog illustration, I thought the Whitehall wold be a big, imposing house. It's not. It's only 22 feet wide and not particularly tall either.

The county says the Whitehall in Lake Forest was built in 1914, which is in the realm of possibility.  The house is a local landmark in Lake Forest.

Downers Grove

4706 Highland, Downers Grove.

The Downers Grove Whitehall is a rarity--it has the front porch intact!


Robb Hyde said...

This is one of my next local conquests. All the two-story foursquare variations. So far, I've only been able to absorb one style at a time. Currently trying to master 'swoopy roof' houses (I can get technical here, right?). Do you think that what you said about this house applies to a lot of others: that they are a bit smaller than you think they are from catalog and ad pictures?

Sears Homes of Chicagoland said...

Hi, Robb! That's a really good question.

The Whitehall was really smaller than I thought. Obviously the floor plan shows it only has three rooms per floor and it's only 22'x22', but I think the bay windows in the illustration fooled my eye and made me think it would be taller.

Another example of this is the Puritan. It is a tall house in real life and that always surprises me. In the illustration it looks like it would be squattier.

I think it just shows how your eye can be fooled by some of the catalog illustrations and the fact the houses are often shown out of context. I wonder if homebuyers were disappointed when they built their Whitehalls and found out they looked more imposing in the catalog! I guess that's why Sears encouraged people to go see the houses built in their area before they purchased.

SearsHouseSeeker said...

Lara, I thought the same thing when I finally saw a few Whitehalls in person this summer, when we visited Carlinville. I love this model! I, too, though, expected a taller, bigger house. This one is a beauty!

Cindy Catanzaro said...

Great photo of the Whitehall in Lake Forest. I've got a picture that looks just like it.

There are quite a few Sears models I've seen that are smaller than what I expected. I learned to identify so many more models just by driving by ones that other researchers located.

Unknown said...

I live in a Whitehall that was built from plans from a neighbor’s kit home. People always think it’s a huge house but I think it’s because it sits up high in the foundation. The ceilings are nice and high though, on both floors.

Unknown said...

my parents house was/is a whitehall. The first of many remodels was to add a washroom on the back where the stoop is shown. Then turn the pantry into a bathroom. Next came close in the porch and then whole addition on the back. It was a lot smaller than it looked.

Unknown said...

Hello! I also live in a Whitehall
, in Philadelphia,that was built from plans from a neighbor's kit. Everyone says "you live in that HUGE house?! I tell them it's much smaller that it appears, because the foundation is so high. Its also almost 2' thick
The owner who built mine in 1923 took the lower bay window and moved it to the side in the same room. It makes for a much bigger porch and gives us a beautiful sunny living room. We added a 16' x 22' addition with a kitchen, dining area, powder room and TV room. It's one large space, except for the powder room. There are hundreds of Sears houses all over rhus Northeast part of the city.

Heather Fowler said...

Hi all! I'm listing the one pictured above in Lake Forest (1203 Griffith Rd). It will be hitting the market in a week or so. So full of charm and in the best location of Lake Forest. You can walk to to the beach, downtown, the high school, it's fabulous! -Heather Fowler/Berkshire Hathaway Lake Forest

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