September 26, 2023

A Sears No. 121 in Roseland

Sears Roebuck offered the No. 121 house in the first Modern Homes catalog in 1908. They sold it for a decade, so it was a strong seller. In 1918, Sears renamed the house the Altona.

Despite its popularity, only two No. 121's stand in the Chicago area today. One of them is in Roseland, discovered by researcher Nigel Tate.

11228 S. Eggleston Ave., Chicago. Photo from Realtor site.

The Sears No. 121. The house is notable for its large hipped dormer and small shed dormer. The No. 121 was geared for a "family of moderate means", according to Sears.

The No. 121 in West Roseland still looks very much like the catalog illustration over 100 years later. The house has a small front porch, a balcony off one of the bedrooms, and a tiny window with a shed dormer. It still has the porch pillars in their original configuration, and the original porch railing on the left side. Even the chimney appears to be original.

The No. 121 is a six-room house.  The first floor has a parlor, dining room, and kitchen. The second floor has three bedrooms and two closets. 

The building permit was issued in August 1914, and the house cost $2,300. The original owner was Jacob Henry Le Noble, an immigrant from the Netherlands. (Interestingly, many other Dutch people lived on the same block.) Jacob was a letter carrier for the post office. 

James Severa, Jacob and Nettie's grandson, reports that Jacob and his brother John assembled the house after horse-drawn wagons delivered the materials to the site.  Fortunately, John was a carpenter!

Jacob married his wife Nettie in 1917 and they started their family.

Nettie (right) standing on the porch of the house in 1919 with her infant daughter, Eleanor, and her mother Nellie Stegenga VerHaar. Photo courtesy of James Severa.

By 1925-26, the Le Nobles had screened in the front porch. There appears to be a stained glass window that is not there today. From left to right, John Le Noble, Lucille Le Noble, Eleanor Le Noble, and unknown friend. Photo courtesy of James and Deb Severa.

The Le Noble's living room in the 1920's. Photo courtesy of James and Deb Severa.

The Le Noble's dining room in the 1920's. Photo courtesy of Deb Severa.

Nettie (left) and her daughter Lucille playing a board game in the early 1940's. According to James, the bookcase is filled with Book of Knowledge volumes that were similar to encyclopedias but contained wide-ranging articles about history and science. Photo courtesy of James Severa.

Jacob died in 1971, and Nettie, in her 70's, moved out shortly afterwards. James notes that the house served "roughly 55 years as family headquarters".

Deb Severa, Jacob and Nettie's granddaughter, wrote that: "That house... is almost like another member of the family when we get together to share family stories."

Thanks to James and Deb for contributing the photos and letting us share their family memories!


Architectural Observer said...

Both the house and its history are fascinating. The family clearly loved their home and took great pride in it. Describing the house as being like another family member is powerful! The early photos are mesmerizing... great stuff.

Like many houses built at the time when electricity was still something of a luxury for many, this one lacked wall receptacles when built. The lamp seen in the first photo of the living room is plugged into one of the sockets of the ceiling light fixture!

The 1919 photo of the house shows it to have been painted with a dark-colored body and light trim when built (similar to the catalog illustration). By 1925 that color distribution had been reversed and remains that way today. It's easy to see why the No. 121 was so popular; it's still a good-looking house today. Thanks for a close look at this special survivor.

Sears Homes of Chicagoland said...

That is such a cool detail! Sears was selling outlets/wall switches but I guess the Le Nobles wanted to save some money.

Ellie DeYoung said...

As James and Deb's cousins who have supplied photos for this project, we DeYoung children have such fond memories of that house, too. Since the DeYoungs lived in Detroit, we did not spend as much time in the house as our Severa and LeNoble cousins did.

But here are some memories from the 1950s/early 60s when the DeYoungs visited our grandparents - and cousins - visited Grandma and Grandpa LeNoble at 11228 Eggleston Ave..

Some of these memories are about the house itself; most are about the people who dwelled within.

Living Room: Seeing the picture of the living room, I was taken back in time to a memory of Grandpa (Jacob) LeNoble smoking a cigar (White Owl?) and blowing smoke rings for us kids to try to poke our finger through before the smoke away.

Dining Room: The dining room had a little nook between the kitchen and living room that held the telephone, a party line as I first remember. (The first two digits were PU for Pullman).

Kitchen: No photo of the kitchen, but I had a vision of that tall white cabinet in the kitchen (but the back porch door) that held the small blue Shirley Temple pitcher that had belonged to our mother (Eleanor) as a child. Now I see Grandma (Nettie) sitting at the kitchen table, always seated with both legs swung to the left so she could get up quickly to take care of everyone's needs. I can see the long kitchen sink and then the small bathroom that I think was an add-on when I was still quite young.

Upstairs: Up the stairs was a landing that had a figural lamp on the landing post. We don't know what happened to it over time, but we cousins have discussed it and wish we knew where it is. In the main bathroom hung Grandpa's razor-sharpening strop. (Rumor had it that he could use it on one of the children or grandchildren, but I can't believe he ever would.) To flush the toilet, you had to stand tall as it was a long pole and then a flush handle on the right had side. Three bedrooms upstairs. We DeYoung kids often were settled into the bedroom on the back right. I remember that there was a window seat that one of us (depending on age and size) would sleep on, and from there, we could hear trains passing in the distance throughout the night.

A house "memory" from our mother/auntie: See those pillars on the front porch? Second oldest child John got his head stuck between the pillars, and Jacob and Nettie had a tough time getting his head unstuck. Now isn't that just the kind of memory an older child would have? (Which reminds me that the porch screening was put in later.)

We are so thankful that the 11228 Eggleston Ave house is still there.We are so thankful, and we hope it will remain intact for many more years. Thank you for your archival efforts.

Sears Homes of Chicagoland said...

Those are such special memories, Ellie, thanks for sharing! If you have any photos you'd like to include, I can add them!

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