April 16, 2019

A Neglected Sears House in Harvey

Harvey was once a beautiful, thriving city. Today it has one of the highest crime rates in the state, and its unemployment and poverty rates are among the suburbs' highest. To cap it off, the city is financially insolvent.

Taking a look around Harvey today, you can see glimpses of what it once was.  You'll see mature trees, expansive yards, wide streets, and some large historic houses--some of which have seen better days.  You'll also see abandoned homes, empty lots, trash, and a crumbling infrastructure.

119 E. 155th St., Harvey. Capture from Google Streetview.

87 E 155th St., Harvey. This 1910 house was designed by Tallmadge & Watson. Photo from Realtor site.

15211 Ashland Ave., Harvey. Photo from Realtor site.

Scan from Google Streetview.

Photo from Realtor site.

Built in 1937 and 2,775 square feet, according to the county.  Photo from Realtor site.

15440 Vine Ave., Harvey. This house originally had a tile roof. Capture from Google Streetview.

There are more than one thousand vacant and abandoned properties in Harvey. Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

262 W. 148th Place, Harvey. Someone loved this little cottage once. Capture from Google Streetview.

Harvey is also a town where many kit houses die. This Sears No. 264P205 bungalow that sits on a lovely block in Harvey recently went under contract... will it be saved?

181 E 150th St., Harvey. Photo from Realtor site.

Sears Modern Home No. 264P205, from the 1916 catalog. Scan from Daily Bungalow.

Another look from Google Streetview. This capture was from early 2018 and the house looks to be in better shape than it is now.

Photo from Realtor site.

That light fixture dates from the early 1970's I bet. Photo from Realtor site.

Dining room. The built-in china buffet is gone. Photo from Realtor site.

One of the bedrooms. Photo from Realtor site.

Don't step in the sinkhole. Photo from Realtor site.

This No. 264P205 was built between 1916-1918. The original owners were Albert and Emma Olson. At the time the house was built, Albert worked as a cement contractor for Ingalls-Shepard Forging Co. in Harvey.  Later he became a prominent real estate agent and developer.

By 1928 the Olsons sold the Sears house and moved to a bigger house on the same block.

There is hope for Harvey. In April of this year, Harvey elected a new mayor, Christopher Clark. Clark said, “I want you to know that the sun rises in the morning. Harvey can make it. No more corruption, no more civic disrespect, no more shakedowns, because it’s time for a new day here in the city of Harvey.”

Fingers crossed. The residents of Harvey deserve better.

April 2, 2019

Sears Barrington in La Grange

The Sears Barrington was a popular Modern Tudor. You can find them in many Chicago suburbs, including La Grange.

620 S Ashland Ave., La Grange. Photo courtesy of Carey Curtin-Romanelli.

Sears Barrington. Yours for $45 to $55 per month, financed through Sears Roebuck.

Same house; another color. Photo from Realtor site.


The house has a large addition off the back that is not visible from the street. Photo from Realtor site.


The living room and front door vestibule. The opening on the left is to the stairs. Photo from Realtor site.

The opening on the far right originally was a solid wall. Photo from Realtor site.

This brickwork can be found in many Sears houses today. Scan of the Sears Building Materials catalog from Andrew Mutch.

Photo from Realtor site. 

Photo from Realtor site. 

I believe this is the front bedroom. The photographer is standing in the front dormer area. Photo from Realtor site. 

The Barrington was built in 1930-1931.  I believe the original owners were Norbert and Gertrude Engst, who moved from Cicero. Norbert was a shop foreman for Western Electric Company.

March 19, 2019

A Pair of Sears No. 121's in Chicago

Researcher Nigel Tate lives in Michigan, but he often surveys the Chicago South Side looking for Sears houses.

On South Eggleston Avenue, Nigel found not one, but two rare Sears No. 121 models. Let's take a look!

No. 121 in West Roseland

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

The No. 121 may be a "suburban favorite", but Nigel found them in the city of Chicago.

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 aso still has the original porch pillars.

The No. 121 is a six-room house.  A corner fireplace came standard, and there was a sliding door between the parlor and the living room (that could also be used as a dining room). There were three bedrooms and two closets. The house could be built on a lot 30 feet wide.

This No. 121 was built in 1914, per the building permit. The original owner was Jacob Henry Le Noble, a Dutch immigrant. Jacob was a letter carrier for the post office. The Le Noble family lived in the house until at least 1942. 

No. 121 in West Pullman
11739 S Eggleston Ave., Chicago. Photo from Realtor site. 

The house in West Pullman has had its porch enclosed, but is still easily recognizable as a No. 121.

It appears the porch was enclosed at build time. Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

This is the living room, with the closed staircase off the rear of the house. The door goes to a pantry. Photo from Realtor site.

This is the parlor. Maybe it's just the photo angle, but this room seems really small to me. It's supposed to be 11' x 14' according to the plans.

This is the front bedroom with the teeny window. It looks like the house was constructed with closets on either side that were not on the original floor plan. Photo from Realtor site.

This No. 121 was built in 1910, per the building permit. (Just a point of note: we've never found a Sears house in the city built before 1910, even though Sears started selling houses in 1908.) 

The original owners were Alois and Lydia Meyer. Alois, an immigrant from Bohemia, worked as a firefighter and later as a cabinet maker for the Pullman Car Company. Alois died in 1931, and Lydia died in 1940. The house was sold to the Boedeker family after Lydia's death.

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