September 21, 2021

An Independent Builds a Sears House in Zion City

43346 N. Kenosha Rd., Zion. Photo from Realtor site.

Sears Columbine.

The pergolas are gone, and now the house has only four columns instead of six. Flanking the front door are two triple windows. 

This authenticated Sears Columbine was built in the summer of 1927. It is just steps from the Wisconsin border. Al and Olga Larsen purchased the house (with financing from Sears Roebuck) for $2,700.

In 1927, Zion City (as it was known then), was a religious utopia and planned community. Founded in 1902, the town had (and still has) biblical street names, such as Gilead, Elim, and Hebron. Zion City also had many interesting rules. The "overseer" of the theocracy in 1927, Wilbur Glenn Voliva, was a fan of billboards that broadcast those rules to the townspeople and passers-by.

Voliva instituted many rules in Zion City. I am on board with the "no oysters" mandate.

Overseer Voliva was also a flat-earther, even in an era when planes had travelled around the globe. 

Overseer Voliva and what I think of when I hear the word "overseer".

In 1926, Voliva started selling off land outside the corporate limits of Zion to the west. As the overseer, Voliva pocketed the proceeds himself. The Larsen property on Kenosha Road (then called Route 1) was one of the parcels that were sold to outsiders during that time.

The newcomers who moved onto these properties were part of the Independent faction of Zion, as opposed to the followers, the Zionites, who lived in the city proper. 

Over time, Zion City obtained democratic governance as the Independents gradually outnumbered the Zionites. 

The Larsens lived in the Sears Columbine until November 1942.

The church of the Zionites, now called the Christ Community Church, is still active today.

1 comment:

Seth said...

Wow, interesting! I didn't know there was a community like that here in Illinois. I'd heard of others elsewhere, but did not know any had been founded right here.

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