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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.