July 19, 2022

A Sears No. 109 Hidden in a Bridgeview Park

7300 W. 79th St., Bridgeview. 


There is an authenticated Sears Modern Home No. 109 hidden in Wierzba Memorial Park in Bridgeview. The house is owned by the park district and has been landmarked. 

The No. 109 has not changed much since construction. The living room still has the original crystal leaded glass window. The bay window still has the chamfered edge. The back porch has been enclosed. 

Sears Roebuck sold this window style around 1910.


I could not find any interior photos, and currently the park district does not allow visitors inside the house.

The 1913 Sears Modern Homes catalog listed towns where the No. 109 had been built. One of those was Oak Lawn. This house in Bridgeview was likely that house. Sears Roebuck knew that they shipped a No. 109 to the Oak Lawn depot, but not exactly where the house was eventually constructed.

An undated photo of the house. It looks the same today, except for the mature trees. Photo from Village of Bridgeview website.

The standard floor plan for Modern Home No. 109 did not include a bathroom. A reception hall was popular in late 1800's houses, but Sears continued to offer one with the No. 109. According to authors Robert Schweitzer and Michael W.R. Davis, some of the early Sears models (1908-1914) were "holdover(s) from the 19th century". The No. 109 did have some more modern additions, such as closets in every bedroom and a large kitchen with a pantry.

The park district calls the No. 109 the historic "Belke House". August "Gus" Boelke, a German immigrant, and his wife Florentina owned the property in 1910. 

According to the village of Bridgeview, the original farmhouse burned in 1911, and the Boelkes built the Sears No. 109 soon afterwards. This build date would be consistent with the time that Sears sold the No. 109, and the fact that the testimonial was first published in a catalog that was issued in fall 1912.

The Boelke/Belke descendants owned the property after Gus and Florentina died. The park district ultimately purchased the property in the late 1990's. 

Sears later renamed the No. 109 the Avoca.  Besides this house in Bridgeview, you can find the No. 109/Avoca in Woodstock .



Architectural Observer said...

Hopefully Wierzba Memorial Park will restore this house and do something with it; it's highly visible on busy W. 79th Street and appears somewhat neglected. At least the roof appears newish; that's a good sign. The corner brackets on the bay window are a bit fancier than the ones seen on the catalog illustration. I like the floor plan a lot... it has personality!

SearsHouseSeeker said...

Ah, what a cool find!

Sears Homes of Chicagoland said...

I didn't find it! The city had it on their website. :)

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