September 29, 2020

The Sears Milford: An Unassuming Cape Cod

Sears rolled out several Cape Cod models in its Modern Homes catalogs beginning  in 1931. One of these was the Milford.

Sears Milford @ Sears Homes of Chicagoland

The Milford came in two floor plans.

Sears Milford @ Sears Homes of Chicagoland

One plan was two-and-a-half feet wider than the other.  (The architect of the Milford was Alexander H. Bacci.)

Cape Cod style homes are all over the place, and most were built from about 1930 until after WWII. How do you know if your Cape Cod or one in your neighborhood is a Sears Milford?

There are a few identifying exterior features of the Milford.

1. The front door has a dentil shelf above the door with four panes (although the catalog illustration shows more than four). The door frame goes almost up to the roofline. There are no sidelights around the door.

2. The four front windows are aligned with the top of the door.

3. The two dormers are set somewhat low, maybe a foot-and-a-half off the roofline.

4. The chimney is off-center in the middle of the roof for the larger plan with the interior fireplace (shown in the catalog illustration). For the smaller floor plan, the chimney will be on the side of the house.

Sears Milford @ Sears Homes of Chicagoland
Another view of the larger floor plan.

How about the interior identifying features?

1. The Milfords have a fireplace that came standard. The larger floor plan will have a fireplace on the inner wall of the living room. The smaller floor plan will have a fireplace on the outer wall.

2. The house has a center staircase. The larger plan will have a coat closet adjacent to the stairs.

3. In the larger plan, the kitchen will have a teeny breakfast nook on the outer wall.

4. Upstairs, in the larger plan, one of the bedrooms will have a chimney breast.

With these criteria in mind, let's check out some Milfords in the Chicago area!


Sears Milford @ Sears Homes of Chicagoland
1333 Ridge Rd., Wilmette. Built 1936. Discovered by Judith Chabot. Photo from Realtor site.

The Milford door. Four panes in the shelf above the door and dentil molding above that. Photo from Realtor site.


Sears Milford @ Sears Homes of Chicagoland
3918 N. Lincoln, Westmont. Meets all our external criteria. The chimney is on the outer wall so it must be the smaller floor plan. Photo from Realtor site.


Sears Milford @ Sears Homes of Chicagoland
915 N 9th St., DeKalb. Photo from Realtor site.

This Milford, built in 1937, is authenticated. A former owner reports that there is marked lumber in the house.

This house is the larger floor plan with the breakfast nook on the side of the house. The door leads to a pantry. Photo from Realtor site.

Chicago Heights

Sears Milford @ Sears Homes of Chicagoland
1223 Sunnyside, Chicago Heights. This Milford is picture perfect! Photo from Realtor site.

The wider floor plan can accommodate a coat closet next to the center stairs. That's an original Sears door with original La Tosca door hardware. Photo from Realtor site.

The living room has the expected interior fireplace. Photo from Realtor site.


Photo from Realtor site.


Does this look familiar? It looks identical to the Milford in DeKalb. You need a tiny table to fit in that nook. Photo from Realtor site.


A bedroom showing the front dormer. Photo from Realtor site.

Let me know if you spot any Milfords in your town!


SearsHouseSeeker said...

Oh, gee, I forgot that I had found that one in Wilmette! It was from a mention of the Blume Brothers contractors, about their building a Cape Cod on that street, in a 1936 Chicago Tribune article. Here's that one with a Sears mortgage, in the St. Louis area.

Architectural Observer said...

The Milford is an unusually thoughtful Cape Cod design; most others are so pared down that they barely resemble the historic originals. The four-paned transom over the door is an especially nice feature which adds to the Colonial-era character of the house immensely. Like many houses of the era, the rooms are a bit snug, but the plan looks very practical and livable. I'll be keeping my eyes open for this one!

Mike said...

Could this be a Sears Milford variant? Built in 1934. It's similar to a combination of the two styles in this post. Looks like the previous owners expanded the kitchen into the nook, tore out the pantry and added a back door in it's place. Also the floorplans are flipped.

Sears Homes of Chicagoland said...

Mike I don't think it is one mostly based on the exterior. The windows are not as crammed together on the Milford. The dormers on the Milford are positioned lower. The framing around the front door does not match the Milford.

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