November 12, 2019

The Real Deal in Highwood

I receive emails every day from people who insist their house is from Sears Roebuck but are unable to match the it to any of the kits sold in the Modern Homes catalogs.

If a house does not strongly resemble any of the known Sears models, I always tell people we need tangible proof that the house is from Sears or... it is not a Sears kit.  Tangible proof is incontrovertible evidence of the house's origin. Here is what is not considered tangible proof:
  • your neighbor telling you the house is from Sears
  • a previous owner telling you the house is from Sears
  • your house has the same general floor plan as a Sears model
  • you just think it must be a kit house because it was built in the 1920's

Here are some things that constitute tangible proof:

With all this in mind, let's examine a little cottage in Highwood, shall we?

220 Everts Place, Highwood. Capture from Google Streetview.

Larry Pasquesi sent me an email and said his father built this Sears house in Highwood. The dormers and the addition on the left side are not original, but, even so, the house does not match any of the Sears kit models. The closest match I could find was the Sears Aurora.

Sears Aurora from 1933.

Capture from Google Streetview.

The width looks about right. The side windows do not match the Aurora's layout. The front door is off center. The shape of the front vestibule does not match. The basement windows are not in the right places.

We have many problems here.

I asked Larry for tangible proof. Without it, we could not determine whether this house was a Sears kit and I could not add it to the national database of Sears homes.

Fortunately, Larry has the original blueprints!

Proof! Photo courtesy of Larry Pasquesi.

Elsewhere on the blueprints is the job number. 13352-A This corresponds to the model number of the Aurora. The house in Highwood is a customized version.  Photo courtesy of Larry Pasquesi.

13352-A floor plan is on the left. 

Larry also provided some photos of the house a few years after it was constructed.

Face brick was an option on the Sears houses. The chimney led to the boiler in the basement. Photo courtesy of Larry Pasquesi.

The Aurora in Highwood retains its original front door, railings and flagstone path even today. Photo courtesy of Larry Pasquesi.

As a child, Carl Pasquesi came to the United States from Pievepelago, Italy.  He built the customized Aurora in Highwood around 1933-1934. Luckily for Carl, his father worked as a carpenter. With a new house ready, Carl returned to Italy to find a bride in 1936. He returned with new wife Ida.

In 1947, Carl started the Pasquesi Electric Company, which is still in operation today run by a Pasquesi descendant.

The Aurora is still owned by the Pasquesi family.


Larry found the original order form. This type of documentation can also authenticate a Sears house.


Carl ordered the Aurora #13352 Modern Home with several changes including "add 2 feet to width of house", "oak floors throughout", and "omit siding and paint material therefore".

Carl paid cash, which is why we do not see a Sears Roebuck mortgage in the county records. The total was $1950 to be paid in November 1933.

1 comment:

Architectural Observer said...

Wow... I never would have pegged this house as a Sears product! The alterations made to it were quite transformative! Someone went to a lot of effort to raise the roofline of the vestibule to match the eaves of the rest of the house. They did a great job in matching the brick; no one would be the wiser if not for your informative post. The vintage photos are wonderful; thanks!

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