May 29, 2018

A "Stepped-Up-Level House" in La Grange Park

If you're like most people, you probably think that the split-level house was invented in the 1950's.  It definitely started becoming popular around that time.

A typical 1950's split. No. E-605 from the 1955 catalog "Homes of Individuality" by National Plan Service.   Scan from Mid Century Home Style.

Actually, Sears Roebuck introduced what they called "stepped-up-level" houses in their 1933 catalog.  These houses are some of the first examples of split levels built in the United States. And these designs, although progressive for the time, were very big sellers in the Chicago area. 

Researcher Andrew Mutch located one of the Sears split-level houses in La Grange Park.

829 N. Kensington, La Grange Park. Photo from Realtor site.

Sears Concord from the 1940 Modern Homes catalog. Earlier incarnations of the Concord had only one dormer.

A split-level is typically defined as a three-level house. There is the main level that contains the living room and kitchen space. There is a bedroom level a half flight up from the main level. Then there is a recreation room or a garage level a half flight down from the main level. 

The Sears Concord is actually a four-level house. There is a topmost level that houses the master bedroom (the room with the dormers over the living room level).

Each level is a half staircase up or down from the adjacent level.

The entry. That wooden sliding barn door at the top of the half flight of stairs is not original and goes over the bathroom doorway. This is level 1. Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

The master bedroom. This is level 4. Photo from Realtor site.


The front-facing bedroom. This is level 3. Photo from Realtor site.

The Concord was built between 1940 and 1942. The original owners were Harry and Mildred Krummell. Harry was an engineer for the Socony Vacuum Oil Company (later known as Mobil Oil).  Mildred served as President of the La Grange Park Community Park District . The Krummells sold the house around 1964 and retired to Whittier, California. 

Harry Krummell.


Architectural Observer said...

The Concord is a sharp-looking design! Being an ardent historic preservationist, I never paid much attention to split levels until I happened to find myself renovating a 1960's example beginning last year. Doing so has definitely made me appreciate the concept more. Apparently others feel the same way as the split-level concept is being revived in new construction!

SearsHouseSeeker said...

Another beauty.
Sears House Seeker blog

Architectural Observer said...

I think the dormer on the left may have been added to the house as an afterthought. If you look at the photo of the master bedroom you will see a closet door next to the dormer. The upper left corner of the door's casing has an angled notch in it - the only logical explanation for that would be that there was once a sloped ceiling there and that the dormer was added later.

The Concord is a sharp-looking house! I admire these early split levels as they offer a happy combination of traditional design with a more contemporary floor plan. Fun post!

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