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Hello Summit County

It’s always fun to discover that an Ohio County has digitized old records and added them to their Recorder’s website. That’s what happened a couple weeks ago.

As my research group’s total number of Sears houses in the United States approached the 14,000 mark in late November, I was super interested in finding enough houses to get us over that goal by the end of 2021.

Then…….a couple members of my group decided to move some houses off the main list to a separate tab. The majority of those houses were homes built as part of the Home Club plan, which Sears got up and running after 1940.

Here’s some info on those houses.

http://kithousehunters.blogspot.com/p/sears-home-club.html

The result of moving the Home Club Plan houses left us in no position to get to 14,000 homes on the main list by the end of the year, and I was pretty bummed. In fact, I quit looking for a couple of weeks. Then I got over it, and went back to doing what I do. Look for old records on line. And I found them in Summit County.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, Summit County is home to Akron, which we know has loads of Sears Houses. Sears sold multiple houses to more than one company in Akron, and used street views of them in catalogs throughout the 1920’s.

Here’s some info on one street full.

http://midwestsearshouses.blogspot.com/2018/05/a-street-of-sears-houses-in-akron.html

The records available are mortgage index books, by Mortgagor.

The Mortgagor is the person who got the mortgage, not the lender, so in order to find the houses mortgaged through Sears, you have to go through all the books, page by page, looking for the names of the two Sears Trustees who signed off on the paperwork in Ohio. Those two were Walker O Lewis and E Harrison Powell.

The books are indexed alphabetically, in groups of years, so there are lots of books.

Fortunately, the way the years are arranged is beneficial to our research. Sears started offering mortgages about 1912, and ended financing programs about 1933, so the 1915-1923 and 1924-1934 groupings are just about perfect.

A Winter project! And since it’s a big one, my research partner, Marie, is working the books, too. I started at the beginning of the alphabet, and Marie started at the end. We keep up to date on where we are through a shared document on Google Drive. Sounds like work, eh? But to us crazy Sears House researchers, it’s just fun, fun, fun.

And what’s even more fun is that we are finding loads of mortgages and loads of houses. Not all mortgage records will lead to a Sears House though. Remember, we’re talking over 100 years ago, in an industrial city in the Midwest. Lots of houses are gone. Some demolished due to blight, some to road expansions (damn those Interstates), some have been remuddled beyond recognition. But we are adding houses just about every day now, and our main list went over the 14,000 mark this week. Only a couple weeks late, so not too bad!

I will be doing a few blog posts over the next few weeks, to show off some our finds, and when we are finished, I will put together some numbers to share, just for historical purposes.

The first mortgage I found ended up being on a parcel that is now part of a large hospital. Gone.

The second one I found led me to a Sears Rockford, a model that was only offered for a few years, 1926- 1930. The Rockford had a brick facade.

The Rockford in Akron was built reversed from the catalog illustration, an option Sears offered on most of their models at no extra charge.

Sears Rockford (reversed) Akron Ohio – photo grab from Google Maps

This side shows the window arrangement we can see in the catalog illustration.

Sears Rockford (reversed) in Akron, Ohio. Photo grab from Google Maps.

The house carried a $5400 mortgage through Sears dated 7/2/1929. It’s in the Beverly Park Allotment.

One of Marie’s early fun finds was a Custom designed home built through the Sears Home Construction Division, which was started about 1929. Sears would help you find local contractors and assist with the planning and design if you needed that. Or you could bring your own plans, and they would subcontract the house for you. And you could get your mortgage on their regular terms.

This house was featured in an advertisement for Sears Home Construction in their 1933 catalog.

Here she is!

Sears Custom Home in Silver Lake, Ohio. Screen grab from Google Maps.

The house in Silver Lake was financed for $7000 through Sears on 4/14/1932.

That’s all for now. I’ve got houses to find!

Thanks for following along.

cyn.catanzaro@gmail.com

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Why are there so many Sears Houses in Cincinnati?

Recently I was asked how many Sears Houses there are in Cincinnati. I certainly didn’t have an answer to that question off the top of my head, because there are LOADS of them. So I spent a couple of days doing some maintenance on our “National Database of Sears Homes in the United States”. I do that a couple times a year to keep on top of it. I made sure all the Ohio entries had a County listed, and in Hamilton County, I also make sure there is a neighborhood attached. Since Cincinnati is so large and has so many Sears Houses, it’s pretty much the only way I can print off a list of a smaller area when I am heading there for a day trip.

After updating that I was pretty comfortable answering the question about the number of houses there. The Cincinnati area has the most Sears Homes located to date of anywhere in the United States. Nowhere else even comes close. So……that brings up another question.

Why?

It’s a simple answer, one that has been known for a really long time, way before I started tracking down these houses.

Norwood Sash and Door.

Since I love old newspapers, and I love Sears Houses, I thought now would be a good time to share some of the things myself, and others on my research team, have learned about the Sears, Roebuck / Norwood Sash and Door connection using articles and ads found in the Cincinnati Enquirer.

The Cincinnati Enquirer – 1 March 1914

In 1914, Sears, Roebuck and Company started a millwork plant in Norwood, Ohio. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the Cincinnati area, Norwood is an enclave, meaning it is a city that is completely surrounded by another city. In this case, Cincinnati.

On line resources say Sears bought the factory, originally The Standard Mills Company, in 1912, but the 1914 notice in the Cincinnati Enquirer appears to be when it “officially” became the millwork plant for the Sears Modern Home department. I say this because just three weeks later, Sears was advertising houses in the Enquirer that were also offered in their mail order catalog.

The Cincinnati Enquirer – 22 March 1914

Sears was proud of their new millwork plant, and invited the public to come see what they had to offer. Like free catalogs of house plans and building materials.

The Cincinnati Enquirer – 2 June 1914

While the rest of the United States had to get their building materials from Sears by mail order and wait for shipment by rail, in the Cincinnati area you could order direct from the factory and get prompt delivery.

The Cincinnati Enquirer – 28 Feb 1915

Of course if you wanted your catalog in the mail, you go ahead and send in this coupon……or……you could just call them.

The Cincinnati Enquirer – 5 March 1916

At this point, ads only mentioned Norwood Sash and Door, and not Sears, Roebuck, even though the catalog shown was published by Sears.

The factory was expanded twice in the next several years, once in 1918, and again in 1920.

In 1921, a display area was opened downtown, with a model kitchen, and other assorted products. Housing was in demand!

The Cincinnati Enquirer – 17 Apr 1921

Later in 1921 was this ad for the Rodessa model. It was offered at a great price, and you could buy it on an easy payment plan. This was a very popular model in the Cincinnati area. To date, over 50 of them have been spotted all over town. In the small print, there is also mention of a Norwood Sash and Door office in Dayton, but again, no mention of Sears, Roebuck. We do know that at this point, you could get a mortgage directly through Norwood Sash and Door, something that only happened in a select part of Ohio. We are also pretty confident that Norwood Sash and Door allowed local home buyers and builders to open in house credit accounts, as we have numerous Sears Kit Houses in Cincinnati documented with a recorded Mechanics Lien. Those would have been in situations where you had a balance due but didn’t pay your bill.

The Cincinnati Enquirer – 16 Oct 1921

In 1924, Norwood Sash and Door enlarged their showroom downtown. Business was booming!

The Cincinnati Enquirer – 24 Feb 1924

Wouldn’t it be great if some of those miniature models showed up somewhere!

It was all about the houses, folks.

The Cincinnati Enquirer – 7 Sept 1924

Later in 1924, some of the ads were showing Sears, Roebuck again instead of Norwood Sash and Door. The reasons for this back and forth is not clear.

The Cincinnati Enquirer – 14 Sept 1924

The very same ad above was published a couple weeks later, with Norwood Sash and Door as the company.

In 1925, two important things happened. One was that the construction of the Sears Aurora model on Grand Vista Ave. was started for the head of Norwood Sash and Door, J J Mc Hugh, who had been transferred to Cincinnati from Sears corporate headquarters in Chicago. As far as we know, it is the only Aurora model ever built.

The Cincinnati Enquirer – 19 July 1925

The other important thing was that Sears, Roebuck would move their display office from the second floor of the Carew Tower to a first floor storefront on West Fourth St. Still downtown, but much better access for walk in foot traffic.

The Cincinnati Enquirer – 15 Nov 1925

Heavy advertising continued throughout 1926. One thing I notice is that the prices in the ads in the Cincinnati Enquirer appear to be a bit less than what was in the regular Sears Modern Homes catalog that was mailed to customers across the United States.

This next ad does specifically mention that this Kilbourne is offered at a “wholesale, direct from the factory” price.

The Cincinnati Enquirer – 14 Nov 1926

This ad from 1928 shows actual homes built in the Cincinnati area. I think we have located all the homes shown in the ad.

The Cincinnati Enquirer – 26 Feb 1928

In 1929, several Sears Homes were completed and open to the public for inspection.

The Cincinnati Enquirer – 14 April 1929
The Cincinnati Enquirer – 16 June 1929

Before 1929, customers would order the plans and building materials from Sears, then hire a contractor to build their home, or if they had skills, build it themselves. In 1929, Sears, Roebuck started their Home Construction Division, and would now take on the contracting of the house for you.

The Cincinnati Enquirer – 5 May 1929

This new Home Construction Division resulted in Sears hosting Open Houses of homes they had built in various cities across the Midwest in 1930. One of them was in Cincinnati.

The Cincinnati Enquirer – 25 May 1930

Also in 1930, Sears, Roebuck was kind enough to give us some idea of how many houses had actually been built in the Cincinnati area.

OVER 3,000!

My research team has discussed this number on several occasions, and what we have decided is that we don’t really know what Sears considered “Cincinnati”. Just like today, it could have been a pretty good size sales region that included points north, like Hamilton, Middletown, and Dayton, and south, over the river in Kentucky. If that was the case, that number is much more believable.

After the big Open House sales push across the Midwest, which was surely planned in late fall of 1929, things began to go bad for the home building business, due to the stock market crash, and resulting bank problems.

It’s unclear exactly when, but sometime in 1930 or early 1931, Sears would close their display storefront downtown and move the Cincinnati Modern Home Office back to the Norwood Sash and Door factory, where it all started in 1914. Ads also got much smaller, and simpler.

The Cincinnati Enquirer – 10 May 1931

Sales and advertising still continued, even during the lean building years.

The Cincinnati Enquirer – 10 July 1932
The Cincinnati Enquirer – 15 May 1932

1933 brought the completion of two high end Sears Homes, a Jefferson model, and a Lexington model, both of which were featured in the newspaper.

By 1935, J J McHugh had been transferred back to Chicago and Sears took ownership of the unique home built for him during his years at Norwood Sash and Door. When Sears sold the house it made the newspaper.

The Cincinnati Enquirer – 17 Nov 1935

All is quiet in the newspaper until 1938 when a few small ads show up.

The Cincinnati Enquirer – 11 Sept 1938

Marketing to renters. There were probably lots of them after the stock market crash.


The Cincinnati Enquirer – 16 April 1939

A model home was built across the river in 1939, proving that the Sears Cincinnati area spread across the state line.

The Cincinnati Enquirer – 27 Aug 1939

In 1940, there is a not so subtle shift away from home building as Norwood Sash and Door looks to get some orders from the Department of Defense. The last Sears Modern Homes catalog would be published in 1940, though sales from it continued in a few areas for a couple more years.

The Cincinnati Enquirer – 25 Sept 1940

1941 brought labor union troubles to the factory but in 1942, Norwood Sash and Door got that big Government contract it had been hoping for. This shift pretty much ended the Sears Modern Homes building department.

The Cincinnati Enquirer – 7 March 1942

Thanks to those of you who are still here reading what must be my longest post ever, but once I got started I wanted to see it through to the end of the Sears, Roebuck / Norwood Sash and Door connection.

What’s left now is the answer to that question from the beginning……how many Sears Houses are there in Cincinnati? LOADS!

I’ll tell you in my next post.

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Another Aladdin Home in Alpha

Long ago, back in 2016, I did a blog post in here about several Aladdin and Sears Homes in Alpha.

I went back and reread it just now, and honestly, it was painful to read. I was still learning about how to use this website, and I think I must have used all my energies on figuring out how to add photos, and text, and links,……and not on using sentences that were easy to read Or maybe I was just trying to educate people about these houses on a simple level. I was actually thinking, for just a moment, about going back and rewriting the whole thing, but that moment passed quickly.

Anyways, now I just let the words flow, and if you can follow along……..OK. If not, well, remember, this is just a personal little blog, not some big ole’ deal to teach you everything you need to know about kit houses. There are other websites for that.

I originally thought that Alpha was a village in Greene County, but Wikipedia claims it is a actually a neighborhood in Beavercreek. On the Auditor’s website, most of the houses have Alpha addresses, as they do have a post office, but the houses are in Beavercreek city limits. Very confusing.

What I do know for sure is that it is a very old area, considering what is surrounding it, and it does have some nice kit homes.

And now I have identified another one, from The Aladdin Co., of Bay City, Michigan.

I have been driving past this particular house, pretty often, for the past couple of years, ever since my daughter and her family moved to Beavercreek. Every time we go past it, I would say to myself……that house is “something”. That is Sears House Hunter speech for…….I KNOW I have seen that in a catalog…….somewhere…….and I had better hunt for it when I get home.

Yeah, well, I never remembered to hunt for it. Then a couple weeks back, I had my hubby pull off the main drag, Dayton-Xenia Rd., so I could take a few photos of it.

Then I forgot about it again.

Then last week, hubby and I went to Zanesville for a couple reasons. Yes, Sears House research was one of them. More on that later. After that trip, I had some notes, and some mortgage research to do, which always requires doing some “Google driving” around neighborhoods. That resulted in me spotting what I thought was an Aladdin Sunshine model on a street in Zanesville and that resulted in me getting out my Aladdin Homes catalogs and doing a quick look through.

HA!

There was that house in Alpha! I knew it! I had seen it in a kit house catalog.

Aladdin Homes – The Cape Cod – 1922 catalog

And the house in Alpha is a perfect match, with an enclosed side porch.

Aladdin Cape Cod, 2275 Whitey Marshall Dr., Beavercreek Ohio

Now that I have seen this house in person, and had a good look at the catalog image and details, maybe I will be able to spot more of them around Ohio. One thing to note is the double window arrangement on all four sides. The front has doubles on each side of the front door, but split apart a bit, and there is a small double in the dormer. The right side has a single window at the front part of the house, but a double behind. The left side has doors to the side porch, with two sets of double windows behind that.

Here’s the details and the floor plan illustration which show that

Aladdin Cape Cod details and floor plan from the 1922 catalog

There is another double window along the back wall, but on a normal street survey, you wouldn’t be able to spot that.

My photo of the right side confirms the house matches the catalog there.

While I couldn’t get a picture of the left side that shows the double windows, due to the enclosed porch, I did find a photo in an old real estate listing that confirms it matches there as well.

Photo from real estate site

I did wonder a bit about the street name where the house is located, Whitey Marshall, and figured that wasn’t the original name. I was right there, as I found a nice article about that in the 4 Feb 1972 edition of the Dayton Daily News.

4 Feb 1972 – Dayton Daily News

I find it very cool that this is the only house on Whitey Marshall Dr., it’s my first Aladdin Cape Cod model, Whitey Marshall sold Studebaker cars, and we own a Studebaker car!

What a world.

If you are in Beavercreek, traveling down Dayton-Xenia Rd. by Rotary Park, make sure to take a quick glance at the Aladdin Cape Cod.

Google thinks the house is in Dayton! It’s not.

Thanks for following along.

,

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Ten Aladdin Homes in Kenton

There is no reason for me to tell you my story in order, is there? This could be like one of those confusing movies where they jump around in time and you have trouble keeping up. Then it all comes together in the end.

Well…….ha! Who knows when my story will end. And every one of these little blog posts is like a chapter in my Sears House Hunting story book.

Today I am fast forwarding through time by not telling you, my dear readers, about the wonderful Aladdin Home I got a full interior tour of in New Paris, a lovely Sears Lewiston I spotted in Minster, and several Sears Homes I photographed in Columbus, Indiana, all in the last month or two. I will skip back to those later.

Today’s chapter actually is a bit of time travel in itself. Early on in my house hunting hobby, I was only interested in locating houses in my hometown of Springfield. I was in the process of putting together a walking tour of Sears Houses for our local Preservation Alliance, and heard from other sources that the Clarke Historical Library in Mt Pleasant, Michigan had all the sales records from the Aladdin Company, which was based in Bay City. The Aladdin Company sold loads of houses as kits through mail order catalogs, just like Sears.

Hmmm……I thought, back then. Maybe I could find some Aladdin Homes through those records. So off I went, with my daughter along for assistance, to the Clarke.

We spent hours over two days going through records in search of homes connected to Springfield. And we found some. We didn’t get through all the records in the time we had, but it was definitely worth the trip.

A couple years later, I made a second trip to the Clarke for additional research, and that is where this chapter in today’s story starts.

August of 2012.

On that second trip I was already expanding my efforts to locate kit homes outside the Springfield area, so when I came across a sales record for just about anywhere near me in Ohio, I got a copy. I never did get around to locating all the homes from that trip, about 100 sales records in all, but every once in a while I will go back through them, and hunt for one or two.

Well, today, I found ten of them! Almost.

Here’s the details.

In May of 1920, The Foundation Co., of New York City, purchased ten Aladdin Homes and had them shipped to The Champion Engineering Co. in Kenton, Ohio. It is unclear what the connection is between these two companies, but, hey, that’s not my area of interest.

What I do know, from information I got today from two exceptional ladies at The Hardin County Historical Museum in Kenton, is that The Champion Iron Fence Co. was a big employer in the area back in its heyday. They manufactured those fancy iron fences you see around old Victorian style homes, iron stairs, flower vases, weather vanes, chairs……..lots of stuff.

Here’s a link to one of their catalogs.

https://archive.org/details/illustratedsuppl00cham/mode/2up

In 1918, The Champion Fence Co. was bought out by the Champion Engineering Co, which made cranes.

And in 1920, the Champion Engineering Company bought those ten Aladdin Homes I mentioned above.

Before I start telling you all about the Aladdin models, I really must show you the Hardin County Historical Museum. You gotta go there. It is stunning inside and out.

Hardin County Historical Museum, 223 N Main St., Kenton OH

Now for those Aladdin Homes.

It was a pretty common thing in the early 1900’s for large manufacturers to build homes for their employees, especially if there was a housing shortage in the area. Newspaper articles on file at the Historical Museum do state that the Champion Co. built homes for their employees.

Next I made a trip to the Recorder’s Office to find deed records associated with The Champion Engineering Co. The gals at the Museum had already told me where the houses probably were, but I wanted to get documentation. They were right! The Champion Engineering Co had their own plat where the houses were built. There is only one street name for the entire little neighborhood – Champion Ct.

The company purchased, in order of the sales records –

2 Venus, 1 Plymouth, 2 Stanhopes, 2 Maples, 1 Florence, and 2 Yales.

I have copies of the sale records for all ten homes, but I am only going to post one, as an example.

Copy of Aladdin Co sales record. Original is located at The Clarke Historical Library in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.
Aladdin Yale from the 1918 catalog
Aladdin Yale at 31 Champion Ct., Kenton Ohio

The second Aladdin Yale is located at 52 Champion Ct.

We drove right past one of the Aladdin Venus models……twice…….as we circled the block………and I didn’t recognize it. I spotted it when I got home and was Google driving around the block….again.

Aladdin Venus from the 1918 catalog
Aladdin Venus with a later addition to the left side. 42 Champion Ct., Kenton, Ohio – this is a Google Maps image

The right side of the house is a perfect match to the window arrangement shown in the floor plan illustration.

Aladdin Venus with a later addition to the left side. 42 Champion Ct., Kenton, Ohio – this is a Google Maps image

The other Venus model is located at 1 Champion Ct., but it wasn’t very photogenic.

Aladdin Stanhope from the 1918 catalog
Aladdin Stanhope, 39 Champion Ct., Kenton, Ohio
Aladdin Stanhope, 20 Champion Ct., Kenton, Ohio
Aladdin Maples from the 1918 catalog
Aladdin Maples, 21 Champion Ct., Kenton, Ohio

The other Aladdin Maples is located at 32 Champion Ct. The porch has been enclosed and there is quite a bit of tall landscaping in front so I didn’t take a photo.

Aladdin Florence from the 1918 catalog
Aladdin Florence, 35 Champion Ct., Kenton, Ohio
Aladdin Plymouth from the 1918 catalog

I didn’t actually spot The Plymouth model. It may be there, remodeled too much to recognize, but I’m certain it was there on Champion Ct. at one time. So even though I called this chapter “Ten Aladdin Homes in Kenton”, there really are only nine for sure.

But hey……nine out of ten ain’t bad.

Special thanks to Sheena, Director at The Hardin County Historical Museum, for her time and knowledge on my stop there today. And to Brenda, the Hardin County Recorder, for assisting me with the deed records and plat maps I needed to locate the Aladdin Homes.

Thanks for following along!

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Some “Sears Houses” in Lima

Summer is over. And as I look back on my own little blog here, I see that I never posted about any of the Sears Houses I saw over the Summer. Yes, I did the mini meet up in early June with Marie and Nigel. But hey! That was still Spring.

Now, so much time has passed since then, that even I don’t remember what I saw. So……..I guess I need to go back through my photo files to refresh my memory. That in itself is a bit of a challenge, since I got a new PC mid-Summer and my old one refused to recognize zip drives or USB connector cables. That meant I needed to be creative in finding ways to move my files, and that was time consuming and frustrating.

I didn’t do a lot of daytrips, like I had hoped to, but Marie and I did take a day in July and go to Lima. We started out at the Allen County Recorder’s Office. Finding mortgage records that connect a house to Sears, Roebuck is a great way to get started in a new area, and we always try to do that first. Unfortunately, the records in Allen County were not indexed in way that would make it easy to research quickly, so we didn’t spend a lot of time there. That being said, the staff there went over and above our expectations to explain how their records were kept, helped us find the books we needed, and were readily available to answer our questions.

I had been to Lima before, years ago, and we already had some houses on “the list” from various sources, so that gave us a good starting point for doing a drive around older neighborhoods.

We started out having a look at two homes that had been identified previously by Dale Wolicki, who co-authored the Wardway Field Guide. Researchers use that book for aiding in the identification of homes purchased from Montgomery Ward, a competitor of Sears, Roebuck in the mail order home business. You can get your very own copy of the book right now on Ebay.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/203586562212?hash=item2f66b468a4:g:dU0AAOSwATZgNdYL

The first house we stopped at was purchased from The Aladdin Co of Bay City, Michigan, another competitor of Sears. All the sales records from the Aladdin Company are in the archives at the Clarke Historical Library in Michigan, so if you think you have a house from Aladdin, you might be able to get copies of the original sales order from them. It’s tricky, but I have the one from this very house.

Aladdin Villa, 445 S Woodlawn Ave., Lima Ohio
Sales record of the Aladdin Villa at 445 S Woodlawn Ave., Lima Ohio. Sales record is courtesy of The Clarke Historical Library and cannot be used without permission.

Around the corner was another house identified by Dale long ago, this one a Sears Arlington. It’s definitely not original, but is still recognizable.

Sears Arlington, 1334 State St., Lima Ohio

Next we headed over to the plat “Oakland Park Place” to have a look at a Sears Roanoke model that another member of our research team, Sarah, had spotted while Google driving the area.

Sarah is our expert on Bennett Homes, yet another kit house company, but one that was based in North Tonawanda, NY. Sarah lives in New York, and has tracked down loads of houses around her. She found some newspaper articles about Bennett Homes that had been built in Lima, and stumbled across the Sears Roanoke while looking for those. Lucky us!

What was even luckier was that the house was vacant the day Marie and I were there……so that means……

I can get a little bit CLOSER!

Sears Roanoke, 1569 W High St., Lima Ohio

The owners were working on the house, but were not on site when we stopped by. You can see that the area around the front door hadn’t been painted yet. I love the navy blue on this model. It really brings out all the architectural details of the house with the trim painted white.

Here’s that close up!

This Roanoke also has a two story addition on the back, which must be original because it has the same signature five piece eave brackets as the rest of the house.

Sears sold kits for garages as well. I imagine this is one. The owners put a fresh coat of paint on it, too, but I’m not exactly sure why. It doesn’t look like it is long for this world.

Next we headed over to check out one those Bennett Homes I mentioned earlier, that Sarah had found through a newspaper article.

LeRoy Justus, a Lima Real Estate man, represented Bennett Home sales in the area and was kind enough to give us a clue where a couple of them had been built.

The Lima News Sun – 31 Aug 1930

The one Marie and I went to see first was the Norfolk model.

The Norfolk was Bennett Homes answer to a popular home design that was offered by almost all the mail order kit home companies, and several of the plan book home companies as well.

Bennett Homes – The Norfolk – 1534 Allentown Rd., Lima Ohio

This house was built reversed from the catalog illustration. You could request that at the time you placed your order. Usually there was no additional charge for that. What’s nice in this instance is that we have a clear view of the window arrangement on the side facing the parking lot for this property, and you can see it matches the catalog exactly.

Bennett Homes – The Norfolk – 1534 Allentown Rd., Lima Ohio

Yes, the house has a parking lot. If you notice it also has a new roof, new windows, a new front door, new vinyl siding, and new siding on the front that looks like shingles. That’s because…….

……the house is a business office now.

What was nice to see is that even though the home has been nicely updated, they chose to keep the original front porch details. I love that!!!

And yes, we did go inside and talked to the gal in the office. She didn’t know about it being a kit, but we left some information about it.

Onward we go! Now that I am looking back at my photos, we really did see a lot of “Sears Houses” in just a few hours. Gotta love Ohio!

Another Bennett House that Sarah located from the Leroy Justus newspaper article.

Bennett Homes – The Chelsea, 101 S Dale Dr., Lima Ohio

You might have noticed that all the houses above had interesting model names attached. The kit house companies did that for marketing purposes, and I am so glad because they are much easier to remember than model numbers. At least for me. But…..prior to 1916, Sears Roebuck did use numbers exclusively to identify their home designs. And Lima has one of those early numbered models as well, a No 124.

This is a very cool house, in my opinion, and I am fortunate to have been able to see several of them “for real”. This one, one in Cincinnati, one in Medina, and one in Saco, Maine. Yes, I look for Sears Houses when I am on vacation.

Right next to the No. 124, mostly hidden by landscaping, is another early Sears model, a No. 162, which later was named the Elmwood.

Yes, it’s back there. Trust me. I saw it with my own two eyes from the sidewalk.

That’s not all the houses we saw, but I can’t go on forever………can I?

I’m glad Marie and I got to have a day out during these crazy times, doing what we love.

Thanks to you all for following along on my journeys.

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A mini Meet up (visiting old finds with new friends)

Before the Pandemic, I would go out and about and hunt up Sears Houses. Then….. I would share my day with you all here in this little blog.

Yeah……..in the before times…….

Since I didn’t go out and about much during the pandemic, I kind of forgot ( OK ignored ) my blog! Occasionally I would get a notification from WordPress that somebody had left me a comment, and occasionally I would get an email from somebody directly about a Sears House. And sometimes…….I would respond. And sometimes I wouldn’t.

I never completely stopped hunting for Sears Houses, but I did it at home from my aging PC, which doesn’t always co-operate with this website. (Or maybe, it’s just aging me that isn’t getting along with this website. )

But now that life is getting back to normal, at least here in Ohio, I had the opportunity to go out and about over Memorial Day weekend. Nigel, one of my research group members from Michigan, was going to be in the area, so we put together a mini meet up with Marie, another research group member from Ohio, for a few hour tour of Dayton.

With list in hand, we headed to the north side of Dayton to see if there were any lost Sears Houses from the tornados that slammed that area two years ago, also over Memorial Day weekend. We spotted most of the ones we had identified previously, so it appears that what we had read about Sears quality and construction was true. They survived.

Marie knows her area well, so we let her pick our path, and we drove past loads of our other finds in Dayton. We did see some neighborhoods that had really deteriorated over the last couple of years, though, but not from the tornados. One Sears Cornell on Huron Ave was in especially bad condition, and surely will be demolished this year. I hate it when we have to take houses off “the list”, when we have worked so hard to get to where we are today ( 13, 543 total across the U.S. )

Others need some TLC, like this Sears Bedford model on Emerson Ave. Somehow I kinda doubt the landlord is planning repairs anytime soon, since it looked exactly like this the last time I saw it. Every Bedford model I have seen has a larger dormer than what is shown in the catalog illustration

Some houses in the same area hadn’t changed at all, like this Alpine model from Lewis Homes, a competitor of Sears.

As usual when a group of us go out, we spot some new houses to check out. I’m still working through our short list, but one is surely a Sears Vinita. This was an exciting find, as it is only the second Vinita located by our group. The Vinita was only offered for three years, 1920, 1921 and 1922, and it had some unique features, which, after 100 years, are likely to be gone by now.

What I spotted on our drive about were the distinctive Sears pillars we see on several models. All the rest of the architectural features are long gone.

Nigel was able to snap a photo from his side of the car. We couldn’t stop for real, as the house is located on a four lane divided road. Fortunately, the Montgomery County Auditor, and Google maps, both have good views of the house from all sides.

Here’s Nigel’s drive by shot.

Here’s the side view from Google maps

Another cool little find was a Sears garage. Attached garages like we have today were very uncommon during the years Sears sold houses, even though there were a couple of models that offered them. Sears would sell you a garage to be built detached from your house, also as a kit. And while this one doesn’t actually match up to any of the garages offered by Sears, with the clipped gable, we know the materials must have come from Sears due to the distinctive eave brackets. Another tip off is that is in the alley behind a documented Sears House. 🙂

We also did a drive through Oakwood, to see the three fabulous Sears models there, but they are featured elsewhere in my blog ( I think ).

My photos weren’t great this time out. That goes back to my aging PC, and my lack of tech skills, because my PC refuses to upload photos from my little Nikon point and shoot camera anymore. Too bad, because that little camera takes great pictures. I’ll try to get that worked out before my next trip out and about, which I hope is soon!

Thanks to you all for following along, stay safe, and I hope to be more active here in the future.

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6 New Houses in Butler County

Occasionally when I find a “new” Sears House in the Cincinnati area, and share the information with my little research group on Facebook, Andrew will jokingly comment “I think they are still building them down there”.

Ha! I think he might be right!

It seems like no matter how many times somebody goes through old records, real estate listings, or Google drives around, we always “find” a new Sears House somewhere in Cincinnati.

But today isn’t about Cincinnati. It’s about the area just north of it, which also has loads of Sears Houses.

I researched the mortgage records in Butler County several years ago, and that led to locating many houses all over that County, a few of which I have shared in this little blog.

That led to me getting an email from a reader, Nathaniel, who said he lives next door to one of the Sears Osborn models in Hamilton, Ohio. Since the Osborn is distinctive, and he admires it every day, he was able to spot two additional ones nearby, and was kind enough to send me the addresses.

And they were both ones we didn’t already know about! I love it when that happens.

And they both look to have most of the original details, based on their Auditor photos and Google images.

Here’s the catalog illustration of The Osborn.

and the floor plan.

Here’s the two Nathaniel let me know about.

Sears Osborn at 5701 Hankins Rd. in Liberty Township, Ohio. Photo from Butler County Auditor website
Sears Osborn at 359 Symmes Rd., Fairfield, Ohio. Photo from Butler County Auditor website.

Of course, now that I know about these two, that’s my cue to have a “Google” drive around and see what else might be nearby.

Yep. Sears Houses. “New” ones.

Just down the road from The Osborn on Symmes is a Kilbourne model.

Sears Kilbourne at 968 Symmes Rd., Fairfield Ohio. Photo from Butler County Auditor website.

A short Google drive away in neighboring Hamilton, I spotted this house. Since it is painted all white, it was hard to spot the distinctive diamond shape decorative detail above the porch, but it’s there. What made me notice it first, were the chunky stucco porch pillars and the straight brackets that were part of this design.

Sears Wellington, 610 Hayes Ave., Hamilton, Ohio. Photo from Butler County Auditor website. Built reversed from the catalog image.

Down the street from The Wellington is a Sears Conway model. And I think it was just built!

Sears Conway, 874 Hayes Ave., Hamilton, Ohio. Photo from Butler County Auditor website.

Really, I wouldn’t have spotted this one, except that on Google street view, and the Auditor site, there was an older version of the house.

Older Auditor photo of a Sears Conway at 874 Hayes Ave., Hamilton, Ohio

And last, but certainly not least……..

I couldn’t hardly believe my eyes. Good thing the house is on a corner lot so I could see all the way around it.

A Sears Ashmore!!!!

Sears Ashmore at 833 Minor Ave., Hamilton, Ohio. Photo from Butler County Auditor website.

I would call The Ashmore a “complicated” design. It has all kinds of bump outs and porches. That’s why it was so important to be able to see both sides and even the back!

Google was a big help for that.

First, the catalog image.

And the floor plan.

Notice the two bump outs on the right side. The first one is a window seat in the Living Room, and the second one, with four windows, is the bathroom and two closets.

You can see the four windows in the second bump out better in the Google street view image.

Sears Ashmore at 833 Minor Ave., Hamilton, Ohio

Both the left side porch and the back porch of this house have been enclosed. You can see the bedroom that bump outs at the rear on Google, too.

Sears Ashmore at 833 Minor Ave., Hamilton, Ohio

These are the six “new” houses located today in Butler County. You can bet I will be spending a few cold Wintery evenings this week Google driving around this area. Bet I’ll find more.

Thanks for following along.

6 Comments

An Aladdin Plaza close to South Charleston

I never seem to have my “real” camera with me when I need it. I mean, you would think I would know better by now, since I live in Ohio, and kit houses are pretty much everywhere, that there is a chance I will spot one anytime I go anywhere nearby.

Not that my “real” camera is anything fancy. It’s just a compact Nikon Coolpix that I have had for at least five years. But it is easy to use, fits in my purse, and takes pretty darn good pictures.

But today I didn’t have it with me when Frank (my husband) and I took a ride out to South Charleston to do a drive by of a house that is coming up for Sheriff Sale in January.

A few of you know that Frank and I rehab houses for a living. We’ve been doing that for, I don’t know, it seems like forever, but I guess it’s only been about 12 years.

Houses that need to be rehabbed are hard to come by right now, due to the pandemic. The no eviction rules stopped the courts from processing foreclosures, so Sheriff Sales around my area were suspended. Not that we have ever bought a house with somebody living in it! We avoid those. I wouldn’t have the heart to force somebody from their home, foreclosure or not. The houses we purchase have usually been vacant for years, and need more work than the average home buyer can handle. But…….those are long stories. Well…..about 35 of them!

Anyways. Today we did that drive by I mentioned in nearby South Charleston. It’s a sweet little village on the east side of my County (Clark), and they have some amazing historical homes there. We have looked at other houses there but always talk ourselves out of them because it’s a bit of a commute, and a long way from the nearest Home Depot. Since there isn’t much to choose from right now…….well……I don’t know. It’s still not in our target area. We’ll see.

But this story is about what happened on the way home!

You guessed it! I spotted a kit house. Right here in my home County! That is always exciting.

We were just heading making a big loop, and took St Rt 42 south out of the village. We intended to turn right on Selma Pk to get back to Springfield, when all at once, right in front of us, were two HUGE pieces of farm equipment. Crawling along. Frank did what he always does, in his attempt to keep moving. He turned right at the next opportunity, instead of following those HUGE whatever they were. I’m not a farm girl.

So now, we are in new territory. Hard to believe we’ve never been down that road before, but eastern Clark County is full of large farms, and not much else, and we just don’t go that way very often.

Well……..Frank’s hope of keeping us moving along, and getting home before the Bengal’s game started didn’t work out for him.

Because of this house!!!

Aladdin Plaza, 5377 South Charleston-Clifton Rd., South Charleston Ohio

Now I have to tell you, I did make some adjustments to the photo. Besides cropping, I had to lighten the whole thing and intensify the color. Today is dreary, and as the house sits back off the road a bit, I didn’t want to go tramping up into their yard. My cell phone just didn’t do a good job with photos for me today.

But believe me, this house is stunning. I will try to go back one day when the sun is out and get some “real” pictures.

In the meantime, these will have to do.

Aladdin Plaza, 5377 South Charleston-Clifton Rd., South Charleston Ohio

If you’ve been following along, you already know that there were other companies besides Sears, Roebuck that sold houses as kits through mail order catalogs. The Aladdin Company of Bay City, Michigan was one of them, and this house matches the catalog illustration perfectly. Like many other kit homes, this one was built reversed from the catalog offering. That was a common change at time of ordering.

The Aladdin Plaza from the 1917 catalog

I guess we will need to take more rides in the Eastern part of the County and see what else I might be missing.

Thanks for following along.

6 Comments

An Aladdin Winthrop in Covington

I was feeling as blue as the sky today.  And with the weather forecast for next week saying Ohio might be getting our first dose of Winter snow, we decided to go for a ride while the sun was shining.

I haven’t done a lot of Sears House hunting this year.  So many things to worry about when you go out and about, especially someplace new.  I was hoping to focus myself with on line research recently, but even that has been difficult for me.

But when our Thanksgiving meal was over (only three of us), and the dishes done, I decided to spend some time at the computer and try to get back on track with this hobby that has carried me through other tough times.

I don’t want to say I have exhausted all my resources for local houses, but as time goes on, it does get more difficult to find new leads. When that happens, my go to tools are Rebecca Hunter’s book “Putting Sears Homes On The Map”, and my team’s shared spreadsheet of Aladdin Homes sales records.

Aladdin Homes sold houses as kits through mail order catalogs, just like Sears, and they had some unique plans to choose from.

I don’t even remember why I decided on the Aladdin records the other night.   I’m sure it was some Monty Python scenario of events, but after a couple of dead ends, I was able to locate an Aladdin Winthrop.

The Winthrop is a classic Craftsman bungalow styled home.   The low roof lines, earthy tones, and stone details shown in the colorized catalog illustration are the trademarks of the design.

So today we headed for Covington (Ohio, not Kentucky), so I could see the house “for real”.

ORIGINAL!!!!  ORIGINAL!!!!  ORIGINAL!!!

It could use a bit of paint on the trim, but other than that, the house is well cared for.  It has the cedar shingles shown in the catalog, and brick details instead of stone.  The stack of wood on the front porch says come on in and sit by the fire.

The purchaser on the 1919 sales record for this Aladdin Winthrop was Hugh Reynolds.   It doesn’t appear that Hugh ever actually lived in this house, according to the various sources on Ancestry.com .  Hugh was a postal clerk for the Railroad, so maybe his name is just on the sales record as a person of contact for the various paperwork that would have gone back and forth.   We may never know that for sure.

But I do know the house is right there in Covington.  I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

The house was built reversed from the catalog illustration, a common change at time of ordering.

Aladdin Winthrop, 210 E Broadway St., Covington, Ohio

Aladdin Winthrop, 210 E Broadway St., Covington, Ohio

Aladdin Winthrop, 210 E Broadway St., Covington, Ohio

 

 

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A Quick Trip to Greendale, Indiana

This past week, I took myself on a little day trip to Dearborn County, Indiana. It wasn’t all that much fun, actually, since I went by myself, and I hate driving on the Interstate.

It was my first trip out to do some mortgage record research since the start of this COVID thing. I called ahead, to make sure I could access the records, and would be able to spend a bit of time in the Recorder’s research area without getting in the way of people who were there to do “real” work.

I was assured by Joyce Oles, (the actual Recorder!), to come ahead, and she would be available to help me get started.

Well, that was an understatement. When I got there, Joyce had already brought some of the mortgage index books I needed out their storage area, and continued to assist me in locating additional volumes. Eventually, she allowed me access to their basement storage room to review the actual mortgage record books I needed to complete my research.

I won’t say I was disappointed with the small number of mortgages I found, but…….well……maybe I will say it.

Since Dearborn County, Indiana is just across the state line from Ohio, near Cincinnati, where Sears Homes are plentiful, I was hoping for more than the eight parcels I located, where the mortgages indicated that building materials had been purchased from Sears, Roebuck.

Myself and a couple others from my research team had already located twelve probable Sears Houses in Dearborn County, so I figured the mortgages I found would just document homes we already knew about.

But actually only two of the mortgage records connected to an address we already had, so I was able to locate, and document, an additional six homes purchased through Sears, Roebuck.

None of my identifying research was completed until after I got home, but I did take myself on a quick drive through the city of Greendale while I was there to have a look at a few of the houses already on our list.

Greendale has some nice ones.

Probable Gordon Van Tine model, The Diana, 110 Oakey Ave., Greendale, Indiana

When I first saw the house above, I thought it was most likely a Sears Barrington. This design was available as a kit from other mail order catalog companies, though, and after I got home and reviewed it closely, I realized it was NOT from Sears. It is a better match to The Diana model from the Gordon Van Tine Company. It’s not unusual to find houses from different kit house companies in the same neighborhoods. The house was built reversed from the catalog offering, an option Sears, and the other companies, offered on most of their models.

I will post both catalog images below. The detail that makes it appear to be from Gordon Van Tine is the centered front door with the decorative trim board above it. The Sears model had an off set front door and a little window in what was the coat closet in the vestibule.

A couple doors down is a lovely example of a Sears Hillsboro.

Probable Sears Hillsboro, 160 Oakey Ave., Greendale, Indiana

The brick with stone details look great with the blue roof!

The Hillsboro was similar in exterior design to the Sears Strathmore, but the floor plans were very different. If I see a house like this from the front, I will check the side view and look for an exterior door close to the front of the house. The Strathmore had a side door also, but it was further back.

Probable Sears Hillsboro, 160 Oakey Ave., Greendale, Indiana

The little window on the side closest to the front is a half bath, followed by a window in a small hallway to the kitchen, then the side door, which is partially hidden by the trash bin, then the double window is the kitchen. The second side door you see goes into the garage.

I didn’t find a mortgage for this one, but it appears to be a perfect match to the catalog.

Just around the corner from the two houses on Oakey Ave., are two more homes that we had already located, a Sears Lewiston and a Sears Mitchell.

The Lewiston was a bit hard to photograph due to the landscaping, but I got good pictures of the super nice Mitchell. It has an added side porch, which gives it a different feel than other houses of that design I have seen.

I did find a mortgage record for the Mitchell, so it is now documented.

Sears Mitchell, 569 Ludlow St., Greendale Indiana

Here’s a view that shows the nice side porch. It appears to be original.

Sears Mitchell, 569 Ludlow St., Greendale Indiana

This Sears Mitchell was for sale a while back, and the Realtor photos are still available on a couple of internet websites. The listing agent was kind enough to take a photo of the original front door that shows off the distinctive Sears straps we see on many models.

Realtor picture – thanks!

My thanks to Joyce, the Dearborn County Recorder, and her staff, for their assistance during my visit. I plan on a return trip to that area to get photos of some of the other houses I located with the mortgage records, in Aurora, another small city in Dearborn County.

And as always……thanks to you all for following along.