March 29, 2016

The Spanish Craze that Swept the Country

Spanish Revival architecture was most popular between 1915 and 1931. The Spanish craze swept the country and you can find examples of these residences in every state. A 1928 advertisement from the California Stucco Company characterized this building trend: "Over the whole country Spanish architecture has cast its spell."

The kit house companies joined the fray and added a few models with Spanish flavor. Spanish Revival homes typically had expensive design elements such as terra-cotta, tile roofs, towers, and quatrefoil windows. Obviously, the kit house companies wanted to keep costs low and could not include such detailing. So the Spanish kit house models were not nearly as ornate, but had some simple Spanish touches such as stucco exteriors, long windows, rustic wooden doors, air vent holes, and arched entryways.

With one exception (the Sears Alhambra), you don't find these models "out in the wild" very often. The Spanish styling may have been too exotic and nontraditional for most homeowners.

The most Spanish of the Sears models was the San Jose. It was sold for only three years.

Sears San Jose, from the 1928 Modern Homes catalog.

2324 W. 120th Place, Blue Island. This house was built around 1928-1929. Photo courtesy of David Wilson


The San Jose was a stucco cottage in the Spanish Colonial Revival style. The front tower over the entrance mimics a bell tower. The archway leads to a side entrance. 

Only seven San Joses have been located nationwide. Was the styling too extreme for most buyers? I can see where the tower could be an issue for people--additional cost for a design element with no added living space.

The Sears Del Rey was a more popular model. It was sold from 1920-1927.

Sears Del Rey from the 1920 Modern Homes catalog. That flagpole is distracting!

670 Oak, Elgin. This is an authentic Del Rey, and it was built in 1926. Photo from Realtor site. 

The Del Rey bungalow had two options for the front fa├žade. The roof line on the left side could be raised higher than the one shown in the catalog illustration. Most buyers, like the one in Elgin, chose that look.

Many Spanish style houses were one story like the Del Rey and featured a low profile.

The biggest Spanish seller for Sears was the Sears Alhambra.

The Sears Alhambra in color! from the 1921 Modem Homes catalog.

2037 Chestnut, Wilmette. This is an authenticated Sears Alhambra--marked lumber was found inside the house and Sears instructions for Goodwall plaster. Photo from Realtor site.

Alhambras can be found in many communities in the Chicago area. The Spanish missions provided the inspiration for this house. It features scalloped parapets on the main roof and the front porch. The outside is stucco.

Also in the Mission Style, the Sears Monterey was the same house as the Alhambra, but with different exterior detailing and a reversed floor plan. It was offered one year only--1924. As a result, there aren't many around.

Sears Monterey from the 1924 Modern Homes catalog. 

14-35 161st St., New York, NY. This house is one of three Sears Montereys on the national database. Sears did sell a matching garage for both the Monterey and the Alhambra. Capture from Google Streetview.

Montgomery Ward
Wardway sold a model called the Barcelona, from "Sunny Spain". 

Wardway Barcelona, from the 1930 catalog.

1014 Wheeler, Woodstock.  This is an authenticated Wardway Barcelona built in 1930--Montgomery Ward held the mortgage. Photo from Realtor site.

Wards also sold a similar model called the Sonora that didn't have the open vestibule.

In 1926, Aladdin released a catalog of all Spanish houses. 

There were a few houses from this catalog built outside Miami, and these were destroyed by Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Two of the Spanish Aladdin models can be found today in Goulds, Florida.

Gordon-Van Tine 
Gordon-Van Tine sold the Santa Rosa (also called the Valencia) for about a decade. I don't know of any in the Chicago area.

Gordon-Van Tine Santa Rosa from 1929.


111 N. Harrison, Waupaca, WI. The owners believe this Santa Rosa is from Sears Roebuck.

Gordon-Van Tine also sold a model with Spanish stylings called the Lynwood. The Lynwood had several different exteriors to choose from--the Spanish style was one of them. 

The Gordon-Van Tine Lynwood with exterior "F" from the 1935 catalog.  Cute house... too bad I don't know of any that were built.


SearsHouseSeeker said...

Very interesting post! I love seeing all of these models together.
Your house photos are great, too-- I especially love that Del Ray in Elgin.
Glad my '24 catalog came in handy for you :)

Cindy Catanzaro said...

Thanks for posting these all together. Great reference tool. Love that San Jose and I've seen that Del Rey in person. I didn't get a photo though. The Sears Mobile was driving too fast.

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