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Have I Told You About Winnie?

OK, I will answer my own question. No, I’m sure I haven’t told you about Winnie. I meant to, last year, but I kept getting side tracked with leads on houses, day trips, meet ups with other researchers, and work……..sigh……..

Then I forgot all about it. Telling you, I mean. I haven’t forgotten about Winnie.

Winnie in front of her family’s Sears Aurora in 1937

But this year is a different story. Not many houses to go see. No day trips. No meet ups.

What’s a Sears researcher supposed to do?

How about I try to organize my photo files?

Yikes! Never mind. My files are beyond organizing, I’m afraid. I have hundreds and hundreds of photos of houses I have seen “for real” and even more hundreds of screen shots of houses I located on the internet. There is just no easy way to keep track of them. At least for me.

And when I do try to hunt up something in my photo files, I usually end up finding something I wasn’t looking for.

Like Winnie’s family’s house.

Current photo of a Sears Aurora, 6513 W 3rd St., Trotwood, OH

Long, long, ago…… or so it seems………..I was interviewed for an article about Sears Houses in the Columbus area. That article generated quite a few emails from people around Ohio, and beyond, about their own knowledge of a house that was purchased as a kit from Sears, Roebuck.

The absolute BEST info I got was from Winnie, about a Sears Aurora that her family had ordered and built in Trotwood in 1932. Apparently one of her family members had seen the article and told her about it. She then contacted me via email.

Winnie, apparently, was the keeper of all the original correspondence between Sears, Roebuck and her father, Leslie E Hartzell. She was worried that the documents would be lost forever when she passed from this world, as no one in her family had any interest in them. They no longer lived in Ohio, and had no personal connection with the house.

I assured her the documents were of importance to my research, and the research of others with the same interest, and before long, a package showed up on my front porch. Inside was a snapshot…….no…..that’s not the right word……a HISTORY……of how a home was purchased from Sears, Roebuck.

The documents Winnie sent me appear to be a complete record of how a home was purchased, by mail order, from Sears, Roebuck in 1932. The house was an Aurora model, clearly stated in the Construction Estimate.

The Aurora was offered in two floor plans. Leslie Hartzell chose the “B” plan, which was the larger of the two.

Leslie Hartzell also decided to make some changes to the design of the house at time of ordering, something Sears encouraged, to make it seem like you were, indeed, designing the home yourself. The main floor living area was expanded, and the second floor was then finished as sleeping rooms for the entire family.

The documents Winnie sent me go on and on. A receipt for $300 cash as a deposit. A memo noting that Sears issued a mortgage on the house in the amount of $2328 – $1863 for Sears materials and $465 for the parcel. Receipts for concrete and concrete blocks, items not included in the Sears kit. The sheets listing the specifications for the house are an amazing piece of the “what was included” in a Sears House puzzle. Leslie Hartzell purchased additional items from Sears, like an electrical package, and a Hercules heating system. Reading through all the documents, you almost can see the house taking shape.

The house was finished in May of 1933.

Winnie’s brother, Douglas, on the porch on move in day.

The Hartzell family owned this Sears Aurora until 1999, when Mabel, Leslie’s wife passed away.

The Hartzell family in 1944

So now I am the keeper of this treasure trove of paperwork of a Sears Aurora in Trotwood. Hopefully….someday……there will be a permanent home for documents like these. It’s this girl’s hope and dream that there will be a Museum dedicated to all things Sears House related.

A girl can dream, can’t she?

(Winnie, I hope I got it right.)

Thanks for following along.

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You Deserve a Donut

Hubby and I had a jam packed Summer planned.  Night after night of entertainment at the Springfield Arts Festival, several concerts at the Rose Music Center, Dayton Dragons games, Studebaker Car Club events, Food Truck Rallies, and as always, I was hoping for a few day trips out and about in Ohio hunting down Sears Houses.

Huh.  So much for plans.

We’ve been doing everything we are supposed to be doing to keep us, and everybody around us, safe, but…….we are getting discouraged.

After watching crowds of people milling around on the side street beside our house, going between three places having garage sales (who thought that was a good idea?) we decided to vacate the premises and go for a ride.

But we needed a destination.

We decided to go get a donut.  I know, I know.  You can get donuts anywhere.  What kind of a ride is that?   Well……if you know my husband, any ride can turn into a day long episode of multiple stops.  And that’s pretty much what happened.  But we did it safely.

First stop was my choice.  I decided on doing a drive by a Sears House in Kettering that my research partner Marie had let me know was for sale.

Realtor link to 2011 Heritage Point Dr

I had located the house a few years back from my mortgage record work in Montgomery County, and had a few photos of it, but they were taken on a rainy, gloomy day, and weren’t very good.  The Realtor listing photos showed that the house was currently vacant, so I knew I could get up close for my own pictures and peek in the windows.

The house was an early model Sears Concord.  I wrote about it once before.

A Sears Concord in Kettering (the old style)

S Concord 1918 image

Sears Concord from the 1918 catalog

S Concord 1

Sears Concord, 2011 Heritage Point Dr., Kettering Ohio

The house has an addition on the right side.  The bay window and the diagonal window on the front of the house are very distinctive.

S Concord 1918 details

The house has a stained glass window in the Living Room bay window.  It doesn’t match any that were sold by Sears, but does look original to the home.

No, we didn’t go inside.  This photo is from the Realtor’s listing.

S Concord stained glass window

S Concord 2

S Concord 7

From this side view you can also see the Sears Osborn that is right next door.

After a thorough walk around the house and lots of peeking in whatever windows we could, we headed off to our next stop, which was hubby’s choice.  Nope!  Not to the donut place yet.  It was time for a quick snack lunch before that.  And where do we get quick snack lunches in Ohio?  Skyline!!!

We knew which one was along the way to the donut place……the one in Eaton.

After carry out hot dogs and fries, (enjoyed in the safety of our vehicle), we headed off again, but stopped so I could take a quick look at another kit house that I knew about, but hadn’t gotten pictures of yet.

This house wasn’t purchased from Sears, but from one of their competitors, Harris Bros.  This was very popular model for Harris Bros., as I have spotted them in several other places in Ohio. Thackery, Urbana, and London all have one.

1517 image-1915

Here’s the one just outside of Eaton.

HB 1517 3

Harris Bros No. 1517, 2096 US 127 North, Eaton, Ohio

Now……off to the donut place.

But……..shortly after we turned off St Rt 127, what to my wandering eye should appear?  It could be a Shadow Lawn model from The Aladdin Co of Bay City, Michigan.  And it’s not even Christmas!

A Shadowlawn 1920 image

A Shadow 4

Possible Aladdin Shadow Lawn, 547 SR 726, Eaton, Ohio

NOW…….we are ready for donuts.  Off to Today’s Harvest in New Paris.

Today’s Harvest donut info

you deserve a donut

We were good and only got 6.  Their Salted Caramel flavor is our current favorite.

We headed home with happier hearts than when we left.  It was a good day out and about in beautiful Ohio.

Thanks for following along and stay well.

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The Sears Houses in Garden Acres (Springfield)

Hey there, my few and faithful followers.  What a year this is turning out to be, huh?  I know you all have a story to tell about how your lives have been affected by the events that have occurred in 2020.  I do, too, but one thing I didn’t expect to happen was that my interest in this crazy hobby of mine would pretty much disappear during the worst of the pandemic.  I guess I got UNcomfortably numb.  I spent very little time on my usual Sears House internet searching in March, April, and May.   It wasn’t until June, on days when the sun was shining here in Ohio, that I  finally got the urge to get out and about and look for houses.  But………nah………I guess I’m not ready for that yet.

Fortunately, about that same time, I stumbled on some mortgage records for a County in Western Pennsylvania, and have been spending my evenings working through those.  It’s not the perfect thing for me, because I really LOVE to go out and see the houses “for real” if I can, but the project has renewed my interest in getting back to work on finding more houses here in Ohio.

Another thing that I’ve been thinking about the last couple of weeks, is that something I love about Springfield, Ohio is how we promote our wonderful architecture and history every Summer with a series of walking and bike tours.  I have been putting together tours for that series for several? years now, and expected to be guiding one this year, after taking last Summer off.  Yeah…….well…….that isn’t happening either.  No Summer Series for 2020.

So after thinking about it for a couple of days, I decided to use this blog to share some information that you would usually hear about Sears Houses and Springfield history on one of my tours.

I’m going to start with Garden Acres, a tour I researched, wrote, and guided back in 2012.  We repeated the tour in 2014 and 2017, and probably would have this year as well. This will definitely be the short version of the tour.  It takes about 75 minutes for a group to walk it while I talk, and talk, and talk……………

First, a bit of history about Garden Acres.

The plat for Garden Acres No 1 was recorded on Aug 26, 1925, for the James-Bauer Realty Co.

The James- Bauer Realty Co. started out as a partnership between two local men, J Warren James and Walter B Bauer in 1914, then was incorporated in 1916.  James-Bauer was the developer of other neighborhoods in Springfield – Glen Terrace in 1917, Beautiful Broadmoor in 1922, then Garden Acres, and Sunnyland in 1929.

James- Bauer brought in a landscape architect from Cleveland, Louis Brandt,  to assist with the planning for Beautiful Broadmoor and Garden Acres.

Garden Acres was the first suburb on the east side of Springfield, being 3 miles outside the city limits on The National Road.

DSCN1811 (2)

National Road monument outside the old Garden Acres Fire Station

The plat was designed to feel like a city neighborhood with small lots, paved streets, electric lights and a private water system.  The plat contained 133 lots.  There was to be a 100 foot wide park along the front of the neighborhood to buffer it from The National Road, and a Community Center and another park at the rear.  One street was planned as a boulevard for added interest.

Garden Acres No 1 plat map

According to newspaper notices and early advertisements, 1/3 of the lots were to be sold at “Pre-Development” prices.

Garden Acres- A Revelation

1925 advertisement for lots in Garden Acres

Lot sales continued in 1926 as the utilities and roads were completed, and by April of 1927, The James- Bauer Realty Co. was ready for Garden Acres to “grow”.

How did they get the neighborhood started?  They “seeded” it with nine house kits purchased from Sears- Roebuck.  All nine houses were mortgaged through Sears using their liberal financing plan, and the documents are on file at the Clark County Recorders Office.

The first house we stop at on the walking tour is a Sears Clyde.   At this time, I go into a lot of details about what a Sears House actually is, how the sales end of things work, what you got with the kit and what you didn’t get, and talk a bit about the architectural features of the house.  Since this is the short version, you aren’t getting all that.  I will follow the short version for the rest of the houses as well.  If you want more information on a particular house, leave a comment, or send me a message.

3 - 1927 Clyde

S Clyde 31 Birch Rd L CCat Springfield OH

Sears Clyde, 31 Birch Rd., Springfield OH

This Sears Clyde was mortgaged in the amount of $4100 in June of 1927.  It is the larger of the two floor plans offered by Sears in 1927.  The house was mortgaged to James S Reed.  He was a carpenter by trade, and never lived in the house.  That means he either built it for re-sale, or he worked in the building end of things for the James-Bauer Realty Co.  I’m still trying to track down some additional information on him.

Down the street a bit is a Gladstone model.

4 - 1927 Gladstone pg 48

Sears Gladstone 219 Birch Spfld OH

Sears Gladstone, 219 Birch Rd., Springfield OH. This house was rehabbed recently and has a new owner. It looks so much better than the last time I saw it.

This Sears Gladstone was mortgaged in the amount of $3950 in Oct of 1927.  I have been inside this house and did see some of the markings that Sears used on their framing lumber to identify the pieces.

The house was mortgaged by Harold Goodrich, who was the sales manager for The James-Bauer Realty Co.  Goodrich never lived in the house.

Harold Goodrich was born in Kent, Ohio, and moved to Springfield around 1920.  He became a real estate agent and spent the next 50 or so years involved in real estate in the community.  We know he worked for James-Bauer in 1927 because he was often quoted in newspaper articles about the opening and development progress of Garden Acres.

8 lots notice

Harold Goodrich quoted in a newspaper tidbit in 1927

Next stop is a Sear Somers.

6 - 1927 Somers pg 78

Sears Somers 313 Birch Rd Spfld OH

Sears Somers, 313 Birch Rd., Springfield Ohio

This Sears Somers was mortgaged in the amount of $3550 in Sept of 1927.  This house was mortgaged by the first residents, Harvey and Nellie Gibson.  Harvey was listed as a Pressman for a publishing company in the 1930 Census, so we can assume he worked for Crowell-Collier.

I’ve been inside this house as well, and while we didn’t find any stenciled lumber, we did find numerous train mailing labels while looking at the underside of the flooring from the basement.  The labels would have been attached to the bundles of lumber when it was shipped from the Sears lumber yard.  The buyer of record on the mailing labels was Harvey L Gibson, 1614 Morgan St., Springfield.

The other six Sears Houses in Garden Acres are a block over, so at this point, we backtrack to Redwood Boulevard where I talk a little bit about Louis Brandt, the landscape architect who assisted with the design of the neighborhood.

Then we go around the corner to see a Sears Walton.

8 - 1927 Walton pg 52

Sears Walton 236 Larchmont Spfld OH

Sears Walton, 236 Larchmont Rd., Springfield Ohio

This Sears Walton was built reversed from the catalog illustration, an option Sears offered on most of their designs.  The house was mortgaged in the amount of $5400 making it the most expensive of the nine models built in Garden Acres.  The names on the mortgage were John and Gertrude Myrtle Herzog.  There is no evidence they ever lived in the house.  John was listed in the 1920 Census as an electrician, so this could be another case of the mortgage being written to an employee of James-Bauer Realty, but I can’t confirm that at this time.

The owner of this home has found stenciled lumber and mailing labels on the back of trim boards.

Then we turn around for two Sears Hampton models, side by side.

7 - 1927 Hampton pg 90

Sears Hampton 305 Larchmont Spfld OH

Sears Hampton, 305 Larchmont Rd., Springfield Ohio

Sears Hampton 241 Larchmont Spfld OH

Sears Hampton, 241 Larchmont Rd., Springfield Ohio

The Hampton model was popular in Springfield, as I located two others, also from mortgage records.

The house at 241 Larchmont Rd was mortgaged on July 9, 1927 for $3500 to Grover C Miller, who was a carpenter and there is no evidence he ever lived in the house. Probably another employee of James-Bauer.

The house at 305 Larchmont was mortgaged 10 days later in the amount of $3900 to Rueben and Susan Burchnell.  There is no evidence they ever lived in the house, either.  Rueben was a fireman and lived at various locations in Springfield between 1927 and 1940.   Another mystery couple like the Herzogs.

Down the block a bit is a Sears Starlight.

10 -1927 Starlight pg 24

Sears Starlight-207 Larchmont-2

Sears Starlight, 207 Larchmont Rd., Springfield Ohio. This one was tricky to get a picture of due to the large evergreen tree in the front yard.

This Sears Starlight was mortgaged in the amount of $3600 to Walter B Bauer, one of the partners in the James-Bauer Realty Co., and he never lived in the house.

Walter B Bauer was quite an entrepreneur. He was a Springfield native, and a graduate of Springfield High.  He put himself through business school, and worked various odd jobs before getting a patent on a vacuum cleaner that he designed.  He moved to Elyria after contracting with a company there to produce the vacuum, then enrolled in real estate classes at Western Reserve University.  When he returned to Springfield he went into partnership with J Warren James in the real estate business.

Next stop is a Sears Cornell.

11 - 1927 Cornell pg 37

Sears Cornell 121 Larchmont Spfld OH

Sears Cornell, 121 Larchmont Rd., Springfield Ohio

This Sears Cornell was mortgaged in the amount of $3600 in April of 1927 to Elvin and Ruth Hess.  Elvin was a service manager at Robbins & Myers, but his wife Ruth also worked.  She was the secretary for the James-Bauer Realty Co.  Elvin and Ruth never lived in the house.

This house, we know, was built as a model home by the James-Bauer Realty Co as it was advertised in the newspaper.

S Cornell Ad 121 Larchmont Rd CCat Springfield OH

The last stop on the walking tour is a Sears Hamilton.  The Hamilton model is an expanded version of the Sears Starlight.

12 - 1927 Hamilton pg 64

Sears Hamilton-33 Larchmont-3

A very blue Sears Hamilton at 33 Larchmont Rd., Springfield Ohio

This Sears Hamilton was also built reversed from the catalog offering.  This house was mortgaged for $4400, also to Harold S Goodrich, the sales manager for James-Bauer.

We may never know why the James-Bauer Realty Co chose Sears kit houses to get the neighborhood started, and we don’t know why they did the financing the way the did.  Sears required you own your lot free and clear in order to get a mortgage through them, and while the lots were owned by James-Bauer, maybe they had a mortgage of their own through a local bank.

We do know that Garden Acres was not a successful venture for James- Bauer.  In the 1930 Census, there were only 8 residents listed for the plat, so that means most of these house were vacant. Sears eventually foreclosed on 6 of the 9 houses between Dec of 1929 and July of 1932.

A few houses were constructed in Garden Acres in the late 1930’s and a couple in 1941, but it wasn’t until after WWII that the neighborhood development was completed by a different developer.

I do have a personal connection to Garden Acres, besides my love of these Sears Houses.  In 1951, the Springfield Township Trustees approved the building of a Fire Station along the National Road to protect this area and the houses I have come to love.

Thanks, Grandpa!!!

plaque on Spfld Twp storage building

Thanks to you all for following along and I hope to do a few more blog posts about other walking tours I have researched.

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A Day Trip to Newark

As I sit here checking on a couple comments left on this little blog, I realize that I haven’t written a post in almost three months!  You all probably think I haven’t found any new Sears Houses recently.

Not so!

I did take a little break from research over the Holidays,  but since then I have located  houses here and there, all from my desktop PC in my warm home office.  Hey!  It’s Winter in Ohio.  And while we are having a mild Winter in my part of the State, the lack of sun, and daylight, makes driving around not that much fun.

But recently we did have a day when the sun was shining, so hubby, Frank, and I hopped into the car and took a ride.

We decided to head to Newark, a place we’ve been meaning to visit, but hadn’t gotten around to yet.  Mostly because we wanted to see the Louis Sullivan designed Home Building Association Bank.

Home Building Association Bank

But you know what happens when I go someplace new!  I always try to make a little time to look for Sears Houses.   We already had a couple houses in Newark on our Master List, and I wanted to drive by those as well.

We got kind of a late start, so we didn’t get to Newark until just before lunchtime.  We headed downtown first, as that is where the bank building was located.  And since The Licking County Recorder’s Office was there as well,  I could to do a quick check for mortgage records.  That is one of the ways serious researchers locate homes purchased as kits through Sears, Roebuck.

As happens often, the employee at the desk wasn’t sure if they had mortgage index books available for the 1920’s and 1930’s, as that isn’t a thing normal people ask for.  But as also happens often, some random person who does Title searches for a living, heard our conversation and showed us where they were.

I didn’t find a lot of mortgages, 10 total, but from those I was able to track down a couple more Sears Houses, and document two that we already knew about.

After a quick lunch, we headed out for a drive around town so I could get a few photos.

Here’s one we already knew about, from an owner, I think, but is now documented with a mortgage record.

Sears Maplewood 426 Cedarcrest Ave Newark OH left (EHP)

Sears Maplewood, 426 Cedarcrest Ave., Newark OH

Sears Maplewood image 1931

 

By the way, that decorative iron piece on the chimney is not an “S” for Sears.  It was a common design feature used at the time, and is found on many homes NOT from Sears.

Here’s the house straight on from the front.  The Maplewood house design was also pretty common, and as there were many homes built around the same time that looked like it, that were not from Sears, it is good to have photos of a documented one for comparison.  The slope of the “catslide” and where it stops and starts along the main body of the house are details we review when checking houses we spot on street surveys.

Sears Maplewood 426 Cedarcrest Ave Newark OH (EHP)

Sears Maplewood, 426 Cedarcrest Ave., Newark OH

 

Here’s the other house we already had on our list in Newark.  I didn’t find a mortgage record for this one, so we still don’t consider it documented.  Additional information from the owner, or an inside inspection would be needed for that.

Sears Avalon 248 Goosepond Rd Newark OH

Sears Avalon, 248 Goosepond Rd., Newark OH

 

Avalon image 1921

The house has had some exterior updates, which removed some of the architectural details, but it looks like the porch rail is original.

Sears Avalon 248 Goosepond Rd Newark OH L

Sears Avalon, 248 Goosepond Rd.,Newark OH

 

Another house that was already on our list, but is now documented with a mortgage record is this one, that I spotted and took photos of way back in 2013.  It’s in Utica, not Newark.  Remember, the mortgages are recorded by county, not city.

 

Sears Barrington 234 N Main St Utica OH L (WOL)

Sears Barrington, 234 N Main St., Utica OH

Sears Barrington 234 N Main St Utica OH R1 (WOL)

Sears Barrington, 124 N Main St., Utica OH

Sears Barrington 1928 image

My funny story about The Barrington in Utica is that my photos of it were in my “lost houses” folder on my PC for quite a while.   I wasn’t very good at labeling my photos when I first started this crazy hobby, and when this one turned up a couple years ago while I was trying to organize them, I had no idea where is was!  I think I figured it out last year.   Now we know it’s the real deal.

One of the houses I located from the mortgage records is in the village of Jacksontown and one is in the village of Johnsontown.   We also know of a possible house in Granville, so Sears Houses were being built all over Licking County.   I’ll bet a thorough in person street survey will turn up more.

Licking County map

Licking County map

 

Oh yeah.  That bank building we wanted to see is undergoing serious restoration so we couldn’t see much.

IMG_0048

Hopefully I will get back to Newark before I look like the ladies in this sculpture downtown.

IMG_0044

Thanks for following along.

 

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A Sears Franklin in Deer Park

Hello there little blog of mine.  I know.  I’ve missed you, too.

Seems like ever since the time changed and darkness has taken over my part of Ohio, I haven’t had the time or energy to go out and about and hunt for Sears Houses.  And now it’s the Holiday Season, which means even less time to do all that needs to be done.

But, there is always that Google car waiting patiently, to take me off on a virtual tour of neighborhoods around the state, and it doesn’t mind if it is dark outside!

A couple of weeks ago, my little research team had a quick discussion about how we had, maybe, exhausted all the on line resources currently available, that would help us track down Sears Houses.  That discussion came up because our smallish Facebook Group had gotten pretty quiet.

So I put on my thinking cap, which is also pretty small, and thought about what could give us a boost.  I spent a bit of time spot checking some of the mortgage records for the Cincinnati area that we weren’t able to attach to a Sears House, but that didn’t go so well.  Had we found all the Sears Houses in Cincinnati?  Nahhhhhh, as Donna Bakke would have said.  Donna had a great eye for Sears Houses, and always said they were “everywhere” in Cincinnati.  She passed on to a better life than this one before telling us where all of them were!

So, more thinking……..

I pulled out Rebecca Hunter’s “Putting Sears Homes on the Map” book, and did a quick skim of Ohio and surrounding states.

Hmmmm….I noticed there were a bunch of addresses for the Sears Argyle model in Anderson, Indiana.  I took a minute to check our “list” and found that they hadn’t been entered yet!  But first, I wanted to “see” them for myself, so I hopped in my Google car and went to Anderson.  Yep, there they were.  At least, most of them.  I added them to the list.  Of course, since I was already there, might as well “drive” around a bit.  Before the night was over, I had located 10 Sears Houses in Anderson that hadn’t already been spotted by another researcher.

After that successful night, I took a quick look at how many houses, total, we had located to date.  On November 11, 2019, we had 11,860.

I then put out a challenge to our team to reach 12,000 houses by the end of the year.  It was less than three houses a day, and I had found ten in one night!  Could we do it?

I found a few more in Anderson, Indiana, then stumbled across some old deed records that led me to several Sears Houses in Albany County, New York.  My team was working through real estate listings, Google driving, following up leads gotten from homeowners, and also spot checking their own files for houses that never made it to the “list”  A few did some walking and driving in their own areas, and before we knew it, we were there!

Where are the Sears Houses – December 2019 Edition

And Ohio still leads the way!

Anyways……what about this Sears Franklin in Deer Park that is the title of this blog post?

While on the hunt to reach our goal, I did eventually go back to my spot checking mortgage records in the Cincinnati area.  One of those records took me to Deer Park, a suburb of Cincinnati.  Deer Park had close to 30 Sears Houses already on the list, so I was already familiar with some of the streets in that small city.  When I did track down the parcel I was looking for, I discovered the house had already been “discovered”.  That happens a LOT in Cincinnati.

Most of the Sears Houses in Deer Park are small models, and most have been well cared for, which is always nice to find.  While I was “there”, I did a Google drive around the block and spotted……what we researchers would call……”something”.  That usually means the house looks familiar, but we can’t quite figure out if it’s a Sears House or not, at first glance.  So we pull out our copy of “Houses by Mail” and check some other on line resources, to see if we can figure it out.

Here’s the Hamilton County Auditor’s photo of the house in Deer Park that I thought was “something”.

Probable Sears Franklin, 3995 Superior Ave., Deer Park, Ohio (Photo from Hamilton County Auditor website)

What I am pretty sure I spotted is the very first Sears Franklin model located to date!

 

The Franklin was one of the tri-level style homes that Sears started offering in the early 1930’s.  The earliest this model was available, we think, was 1934, making it more difficult to locate, since Sears stopped offering mortgages just about the same time. Mortgage records point our noses to lots of Sears Houses we might otherwise miss.

I did what I do…….check the windows and door placement all around……check the chimney placement……check the year of build and dimensions on the County Auditor’s website……

Check…..check…..check.  The house has a dormer which isn’t shown in the catalog, but that could have been added at time of build, or later.  I also noticed that the front door seemed to be a little more to the right than what the catalog image shows.

Then, I noticed that in the floor plan sketch, the door actually is further to the right than what is shown in the catalog image.  We researchers have found that on other models as well.   Sometimes it is because there is more than one floor plan, and sometimes……Sears just didn’t picture the house correctly!

 

The house in Deer Park also has a couple extra windows on the “Foundation” level, but that room was meant to be customized to the owner’s preference.

 

Overall this is a fairly small home.  With only four rooms on the main floor, that lower level would surely be best used as additional living space as opposed to a garage.

Here’s what Sears tells us about the house in the 1936 catalog.

I’m hoping to get to Deer Park soon, so I can see this house “for real”.  In the meantime, I will be Google driving around, maybe in your area, in the hopes of finding “something”.

Thanks for following along.

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A Sears No. 171 in Sidney

The little Facebook page I started several years ago to promote Sears Modern Homes has grown slowly and steadily over time.  Since my research buddy, Judith, took over the Admin duties a while back, it has grown faster and more steadily than when I was managing it!  Thanks to Judith for keeping it going strong.

Thankfully, whenever the page gets an inquiry about a possible Sears House here in Ohio, Judith is quick to let me know.

That’s what happened earlier this month.

After finding a mailing label from Sears, Roebuck on the back of a trim board in his house, the owner, Hank,  got to work doing some research about what that might mean.  It didn’t take him long to figure out that his whole house might have been purchased from Sears!

Hank was pretty sure he had figured out the model from on line resources, but a few things were off.  He contacted the Facebook page to share his findings and was looking for confirmation.  He and Judith exchanged information for a while, and guess what?

He was right!

Here’s his photo of the mailing label that got the whole thing started.

shipping label

Mailing label found on the back of a trim board of a Sears No. 171 near Sidney, Ohio.  (This is not my photo.  Please don’t use it without permission.)

Judith put me in touch with Hank, and shortly after, I was able to go see the house in person.  The house has some great original details, and…….a great story to tell.

The house is what I call an “old style” farmhouse.  You know the kind.  It’s a traditional gabled ell design, and here in Ohio, they are everywhere in our rural areas.  They are so common, in fact, that I never really look at them twice on street surveys.  It is only when something brings a particular property to my attention, that I spend time reviewing it for Sears details.

Here’s the house in Sidney.  We have determined that the house is a model No. 171, which was later known as The Rossville. ( In a few catalogs, Sears expanded the number to what is shown in the images below, the No. 264P171.)

Sears No 171 5997 Cecil Rd Sidney OH

Sears No 171 near Sidney OH

 

Sears No 171 image 1914

As for original details…… the house has this window…..which Hank and Judith had already figured out.  It’s the Bayview Cottage Window.

Sears No 171 Bayview window 5997 Cecil Rd Sidney OH

Bayview Cottage window in a Sears No 171 near Sidney Ohio

It was a little bit challenging, but with help from Trina, Hank’s lovely lady, I was able to get a photo that showed some of the details of the window.

Bayview Cottage Window top sash

Close up of the top sash in the Bayview Cottage Window

Bayview Cottage Window 1912

Bayview Cottage Window from an early Sears Building Materials catalog

The Bayview window is one of two things that made Hank and Judith sure the house was an early Sears model.  The second thing was the door hardware.  If you follow this little blog, you’ve probably seen photo after photo after photo of the common Sears door hardware, the Stratford design.

Yeah…..well…..this house doesn’t have that kind!

Mayfair design hardware 1915 Gen Merch catalog

Sears No 171 Mayfair hardware 5997 Cecil Rd Sidney OH

Mayfair hardware on a Sears No. 171 near Sidney, Ohio

After getting photos of those two distinctive things about this particular house, we got down to the business of reviewing the floor plan, window arrangement, and a few other details.

Hank already knew a lot about his home’s history, but one of the things he wasn’t sure about is the actual year of build.  The Auditor information says the house was built in 1940.  Well……we know that’s not correct….but in this instance there is a reason that this is wrong on the Tax Card.

The place where the house is now…..isn’t where the house was built!

I know!  Crazy!

Hank is sure, from local sources, and his own research, that the house was moved to its current location from another area close by that was owned by the same family as the one that built it.  Apparently, the place where it sits now was the location of a log cabin that burned down somewhere along the way, and the family moved the Sears House there.  It partially sits on the original stone foundation that supported the log cabin previously.

I TOLD you the house had a great story.

Knowing that the house had been moved to its current location gave us some insight into why some things aren’t quite right.  Mainly, the location of the stairs to the basement aren’t where they are shown in the floor plan for the No 171.

Sears No 171 floor plan 1914

Well…….if you picked up a house and moved it, you aren’t going to be taking the stairs to the basement with you!  Especially in this situation, where the house is being put on an existing foundation.  New stairs would have to be be built, and in this instance, they changed that location to better serve the family.  Like….they are inside the house now, instead of outside!

The basement stairs are now beneath the stairs to the second floor, and you enter from the kitchen, where the floor plan shows a closet.  Except for the door being narrow, that is a great place to access the basement.  In the original details, it clearly states that the stairs for the No. 171 were outside the footprint of the house.

Sears No 171 details 1914

 

And that door…..that used to be to the closet……they kept it.  Another original feature of the house.

Sears No 171 5997 Cecil Rd Sidney OH interior door

Interior door on a Sears No. 171 near Sidney Ohio

All the doors in the house are original, as well as most of the trim boards.

Here’s the inside of the door leading from the kitchen to the outside.

Sears No 171 5997 Cecil Rd sidney exterior door

Exterior door on a Sears No. 171 near Sidney Ohio

Metropole Exterior Door 1912

We were able to match up the exterior door design to one also shown in the early Sears Building  Materials catalog.   The house doesn’t have a fancy pane of glass as is shown in the catalog. Maybe it did at one time.  The door does have the little ledges on the part that faces the outside.

While I am sure other companies besides Sears sold doors with this design – one top panel, a large pane of glass, and three panels below, we also found that Sears used the combination of the Metropole door, the five panel interior door, the Bayview Window, and the Mayfair hardware on another early gabled ell design, the No. 115, in 1908, the very first year for Sears Modern Home catalogs!

Pg 8 and 9 - 1908

Thanks to Andrew Mutch for supplying copy of these pages from the 1908 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Materials for 705 dollar house - 1908

After seeing these details advertised together, maybe we are getting closer to putting a year of build on Hank’s house.

Factoring in the mailing label, we know it can’t be as early as 1908.  The mailing label states that the materials were shipped directly from Norwood, Ohio.  Sears, Roebuck purchased what would be called Norwood Sash and Door in 1912, and the first catalog year that mentioned shipments were made from “Southern Ohio” was 1913.

I did suggest to Hank that maybe only the first floor of the house was completed at time of build.  In the floor plan, there is a bedroom on the first floor, which is now used as the Dining room.  If that was the case, maybe the original owners bought additional materials in 1913, or later, to complete the second floor.

Hank is doing additional research at the County Offices and the Library to try to get a closer year of build.

Here’s a few more pictures of original details.

Sears No 171 5997 Cecil Rd Sidney OH newel post

Newel post and balusters on the Sears No. 171 near Sidney Ohio

Stair newel posts

Sears No 171 5997 Cecil Rd Sidney OH Mayfair hardware 2

Another shot of the Mayfair Hardware

Sears No 171 5997 Cecil Rd Sidney OH doorbell

The doorbell

 

What a great history.  And a great house.  And a great owner.

My thanks to Judith for connecting me with the owner, and of course, my thanks to Hank (and his lovely lady Trina) for sharing the home with me.  And you.

Thanks for following along!

 

 

4 Comments

Happy Fall!

I love the Fall of the year.  It’s without  a doubt my favorite season.  If you know me personally, you might know that orange is my favorite color, so maybe that’s one of the reasons why Fall appeals to me.

Apparently, my love of Fall must prompt me to get out and about hunting up Sears Houses, because as I was going through my photo files (which aren’t very well organized), I discovered I have a lot of pictures of Sears Houses that are decorated for Fall or Halloween, or have lovely Fall colors in the landscaping.

Now that it has finally cooled off here in Ohio and feels more like Fall, I decided this would be a good time to share some of my photos.   I will post the models, the addresses, and when I took the photo in the captions.

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Harris Bros No 1000, 2126 Heritage Point Dr., Kettering Ohio. Photo taken Nov 6, 2015

Harris Bros No 1000 image 1923

How about this house being a perfect match to the catalog?  Just add a skelelton……

S Alhambra 221 North Shore R South Bend IN

Sears Alhambra, 221 W North Shore Dr., South Bend, IN. Photo taken Nov 1, 2016

Sears Alhambra image 1918

This Sears Kilbourne in Cincinnati was built reversed from the catalog offering.  No problem at time of ordering and no extra charge!

S Kilbourne 601 Rushton Rd CCat Cincinnati OH

Sears Kilbourne, 601 Rushton Rd., Cincinnati Ohio – photo taken Oct 5, 2014

Sears Kilbourne image 1920.jpg

OK so the next one isn’t decorated for Fall, but it’s ORANGE!

S Puritan 412 S 23rd St L Richmond IN

Sears Puritan, 412 S 23rd St., Richmond IN. Photo taken Nov 18, 2018

Puritan image 1925

Nice original details on the front of this Sears Oakdale in Newtown, Ohio.

S Oakdale 6810 Main St R CCat Cincinnati OH

Sears Oakdale, 6810 Main St, Newtown Ohio.   Photo taken Sept 29, 2014

Sears Oakdale image 1925

I got up close to this Sears Attleboro last year when the owners opened their home to the public for a Holiday Craft Sale.   There was a  bit of snow that day, which added a nice touch to the Fall leaves.  Lots of trees on this property, which makes it hard to see from the road.

Sears Attleboro 2904 Dayton Xenia Rd Beavercreek OH

Sears Attleboro, 2904 Dayton Xenia Rd., Beavercreek Ohio. Photo take Nov 16, 2018. 

Sears Attleboro imge on cover 1936 catalog

The Sears Attleboro was featured on the cover of the 1936 and 1938 Modern Homes catalogs.

One of the more unique Sears models, The Carroll.  Also built reversed from the catalog offering.

S Carroll 7230 Fernbank Ave Cincinnati OH 2

Sears Carroll, 7230 Fernbank Ave., Cincinnati Ohio. Photo taken Nov 12, 2018

Sears Carroll image 1931 catalog

You always hear that lot of Sears Houses were built close to the railroad tracks.  Well…….if that wasn’t the case, I guess you could try to bring the railroad tracks close to the house!

S Wilmore 6719 Home City Ave Cincinnati OH

Sears Wilmore (also called The Jewel), 6719 Home City Ave., Cincinnati Ohio. Photo taken Nov 12, 2018

Sears Wilmore image 1936 catalog

Just down the street from the Wilmore is this very well kept Sears Rochelle.

S Rochelle 6818 Home City Ave Cincinnati OH

Sears Rochelle, 6818 Home City Ave., Cincinnati Ohio.  Photo taken Nov 12, 2018

Sears Rochelle image 1930

I could go on and on…….but it’s a nice Fall day in Ohio.  Maybe I should get out there and take some new photos.

Thanks for following along.

4 Comments

A Sears Osborn in Middletown

I can’t believe it has been over three weeks since my last blog post!  I always intend to do  a post once a week….. then I get busy with real life.

Sometimes I forget I even have a blog!  Then I check my backlog of emails and see that people have left comments, which I haven’t reviewed, and remember…….

Yeah…….I could do better with that.

Anyways, I promised that my next post would be about a house in Middletown that I have had on my “Sears House” radar for quite a while.  I took photos of it a couple of years back, but I wasn’t sold on it since it had a roof line difference from what was offered in the Sears Modern Homes catalogs.

Except for the fact that the house has “clipped” gables and the side porch has been enclosed, it’s a pretty close match to the Sears Osborn.

201 Monroe St Middletown OH (7)

Sears Osborn, 201 Monroe St., Middletown Ohio

osborn-image-1925

Sears House researchers are always a little bit skeptical, maybe too skeptical, about houses that aren’t a “spot on” match to the catalog offering.  Nobody knows better than we do that many, many Sears Houses were either changed a bit at time of ordering, or modified at time of construction.  This has been proven over and over again through our mortgage record and newspaper research.

So why are we still skeptical about houses that don’t match up?  Because just as many times, we find out they AREN’T Sears Houses.

Sigh…….

But now I have it from a descendant of the original owner that this is a Sears House. And I am in no position to argue with that!

Now for the FUN part of this blog post.  Said descendant of the original owner (thanks Cam) sent me vintage photos of the house!

I LOVE that.  And I think you will, too.

69384926_421490221903749_5621728525330415616_n

John Petrocy family Sears Osborn, 201 Monroe St., Middletown Ohio

According to Cam, the granddaughter of the original  owner, John Petrocy was a concrete contractor, and built the house himself.

69232551_484748115691660_1817978868061962240_n

201 Monroe St Middletown OH (8).jpg

Another thing that looks “off” on this house, comparing it to the catalog illustration, is the width of the front door, and the size of the front windows.  I am wondering if maybe those things were changed to save on the cost of the house.  While the Sears Osborn was offered as an “already cut and fitted” model, maybe John Petrocy ordered just the plans and building materials, and cut the lumber himself to save some money.  We may never know…….

69177765_649773935531856_6825091818078601216_n

201 Monroe St Middletown OH (9).jpg

People, it gives me the chills to see that I took photos of this house ( a couple years ago) from the exact same angles as the vintage photos Cam sent me.

Cam also sent me a photo of her Grandfather standing on the front porch.

Petrocy Osbrn ghost

Using the photo above, and my own photo of the house……….well……..maybe I should have saved this post for Halloween.  😉

Petrocy Osborn ghost

It’s even cooler in black and white.

Petrocy Osborn ghost BW

These photos are a treasure, that’s for sure.   It’s not everyday I get old photos of Sears Houses, but I have gotten a bunch this year!

Check back occasionally, as I plan on featuring others in future posts.

Thanks for following along.

6 Comments

A few “Sears Houses” in Monroe

Monroe, Ohio is a small city just off I-75 between Dayton and Cincinnati.

Up until this year, I knew pretty much nothing about Monroe.  All I ever saw of it was what was on “The Exit”.  You know the one.  Big Buttery Jesus…….Traders World……Premium Outlet Mall……..

Then, this past Spring, I was asked to give a Presentation at a General Meeting of the Monroe Historical Society.  It’s been a while since I have given a “stand still” type of talk, as usually I am guiding folks around neighborhoods here in Springfield on Walking Tours.

But as I had decided to take this year off from the Walking Tour schedule, the timing was perfect for me to freshen up my Power Point Presentation.

So off to Monroe I went, in the Spring, to have a drive around and check out the one house they already knew was a “Sears House”

Or was it?

Lewis San Fernando 110 Macready Monroe OH

Possible Lewis San Fernando, 110 Macready Ave., Monroe OH

Here’s the deal.  “Sears House” has become a generic name used to describe any house purchased as a kit from a mail order catalog.  And since there were other companies that sold houses besides Sears, sometimes a “Sears House” isn’t from Sears, Roebuck.

Some researchers get annoyed about it when a house from another company is referred to as a “Sears House”, but it doesn’t bother me a bit.  I am glad, and thankful, to have the information, and….it helps my research skills to track down models from some of the other companies.

So I’m pretty sure, and so is the family that has owned it for years, that their house is a “Sears House” from Lewis Mfg Co.

San Fernando image

The San Fernando from Lewis Homes – 1924 catalog

According to the family that attended my talk, there are a few things that don’t match up to either of the two floor plans that were offered for this model.  For one thing, the house has access to the attic area via a stairway that is not shown in the catalog.  Adding that stairway might have accounted for the few other small things that are different, like closet locations.  I am hopeful the owners may be able to find some documentation that will determine if the house is, indeed, from Lewis Homes.  We don’t have many Lewis models in our part of Ohio, so I was thrilled to see one in such good repair.

A couple houses down the street is this house, which matches up to a design offered by Montgomery Ward.

WW Monteroy (GVT Gilmore) 142 Macready Monroe OH right

Possible Wardway Monteroy, 142 Macready Ave., Monroe OH

WW Monteroy 1924 image

The house has had vertical siding added, making the identification a little tricky, but what caught my eye is the other side of the house.

WW Monteroy (GVT Gilmore) 142 Macready Monroe OH left

See that little bumped out area?  That’s the bathroom!  The Wardway Monteroy shows that in the catalog illustration of the floor plan.

WW Monteroy 1924 details

Around the corner from these two possible kit houses on Macready Ave., are two more houses that match a design offered by Montgomery Ward.

WW Florence 61 Ohio Ave Monroe OH right (2)

Possible Wardway Florence, 61 Ohio Ave., Monroe OH

The front of the house shows the detail to look for to get started identifying this one, with the front door flanked by half windows.

WW Florence 61 Ohio Ave Monroe OH

WW Florence image 1924

The house on Ohio Ave is reversed from the catalog offering.  That was a common change at order time.

The second house on Ohio Ave is right next door.  It’s the same model, but not as photogenic.  You’ll just have to take my word for it.

So….are there any “real”  Sears Houses in Monroe?

YES!!!

Sears Homecrest 629 Lebanon St Monroe OH

Sears Homecrest, 629 Lebanon St., Monroe OH

 

I have to admit, I would have driven right past this house and not recognized it.  In fact……I did…..several times.  In my defense, it has been altered a bit.  The front porch has been enlarged and the dormer removed.  I am getting better at spotting one of the tri-level models that Sears offered, The Concord, but this is the Homecrest design.  The first one I have ever seen!

Anyways……I didn’t spot it.  And probably never would have.  So thanks to Reed, for contacting me, offering to give me a tour of Monroe, and showing me the pages of his copy of the original blueprints for the home his family built in 1939.

IMG_6944

Homecrest catalog 1938

I found a photo of the house taken before the porch was changed on the Butler County Auditor’s website.

Sears Homecrest 629 Lebanon St Monroe auditor 2005

The house still has the original door on the connector from the house to the garage.

IMG_6960

Reed says the doorbell is original, too, on this door.  He remembers ringing it repeatedly as a child.    “TURN CRANK”

IMG_6961

I loved having the opportunity to scout out Monroe, and had a wonderful evening sharing my finds, and hearing from their residents about their houses.

I also got some new information about a house in Middletown that has been on my radar for a while.  I will share that in my next post.

Thanks for following along.

1 Comment

A Shout Out to Monroe

It’s been a crazy busy, Sears House Hunting year for me so far.  Probably the best one yet.

It’s hard to believe that I was feeling a little burned out with this hobby a couple of years back, and thinking about finding something new to occupy my time.  Then……I remembered how much I love these houses, and realized that I probably just needed to find some new and different ways to be involved in the “big picture” part of this deal, which is to track down houses, and find more ways to promote awareness.

And I’ve done that this year by working harder at finding on line records, and then this Summer, making quite a few trips to new areas here in Ohio, with the focus on getting mortgage records.

Mortgage records lead to Sears Houses.  And sometimes, those Sears Houses lead to more Sears Houses……in the same neighborhoods, villages, and towns.  And while doing that, I’ve been blessed to see other great homes and buildings along the way.   And meet some really nice people.

Some of those really nice people showed up for a Presentation I was asked to give last week at a General Meeting of the Monroe Historical Society.

IMG_7073

 

The room was full, and the folks were so very interested in hearing me talk…. and talk….. and talk….. about Sears Houses.

And during and after, several people shared their own stories about Sears Houses.  Some had grown up in one, or lived in one at some point, or was living in one now!  Those stories make the whole thing come alive.  Houses from Sears, Roebuck, are part of our architectural history, but when you hear stories about the families that built or lived in one,  it becomes my own personal history.

So thanks, Monroe.  For asking me.  I had a blast!