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Franklin County Update- part 2

This past week, I got an email from Steve Stephens, the Home and Real Estate writer for the Columbus Dispatch.   Steve said he was writing a story about the Sears Houses in and around Columbus.  He stumbled across this little blog while researching, and asked me for a bit of information.

Since they declared bankruptcy, there has been renewed interest in Sears, Roebuck history, and the house kits you could purchase from their mail order catalogs.

I’m sure I talked way too much in our short phone interview, but that’s what happens when I get started on this subject.  I’m talking and I can’t shut up!

Anyways, if you popped in here looking for additional information on Franklin County’s Sears Houses from the Dispatch article, here’s some basic details on the number of models, and where they are located, in the Columbus area.

As of Feb 27, 2019, there were 205 Sears, Roebuck kit homes in Franklin County listed on the “National Database of Sears Houses Across the United States”.   This list was started in January of 2013 with just a few hundred addresses, and has since grown to over 11,000 homes.  The list is the work of a small group of dedicated Sears House researchers, who work together daily, to locate, identify, and promote awareness of this unique part of our Architectural History.

Here’s the breakdown by area for Franklin County

Bexley – 10, 

Blacklick – 1  

Canal Winchester – 5 

Columbus – includes houses in the city limits, and homes in Franklin County with Columbus mailing addresses – 154   (109 are documented! )

Gahanna – 3 

Grandview Heights – 4 

Grove City -3

Groveport – 4

Marble Cliff – 2

Obetz -6

Reynoldsburg -1

Upper Arlington – 3

Westerville – 3

Whitehall – 3

Worthington – 3

The Model list is much longer, as there are many models represented in Franklin County.  I’m not going to list them all here, just a few with notes as to why they are important.

Alhambra – 2 – one is the standard stucco style seen in the Modern Homes catalog, and one is brick and customized – really cool!  I hope to get real  photos of that one, which is documented, very soon.

Sears Alhambra, 1218 Mulford Rd., Grandview Heights OH (Photo by Cindy Catanzaro)

Ashland – 1 – This is currently considered a rare model. Only three have been located to date.  In addition to the one in Bexley, there is one in Washington DC, and one in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  ( GO BUCKS! )

Sears Ashland, 172 N Ardmore Rd, Bexley OH (Photo from Franklin County Auditor)


Berwyn – 6 – of these six houses, 3 were built in 1941, a year after the last Sears Modern Homes catalog was published – those three are documented with a Columbus Dispatch newspaper article dated 20 July 1941

Columbus Dispatch 20 July 1941
Sears Berwyn built in 1941, 176 S Sylvan, Columbus OH (Photo by Cindy Catanzaro)

Colchester – 1 – Tim Treadwell’s house

Tim Treadwell’s house was painted by Columbus artist Harvey Gilliam in the 1960’s
Sears Colchester, 401 Woodland Ave., Columbus OH

https://starr-review.blogspot.com/2012/02/?fbclid=IwAR2qAZo68qXMacedR0qEBsRGI3dVTx2ic_A4bSmP32VAAwbL3m_qtql4AVc

Fullerton – 6 – one has a gable roof instead of the standard hipped roof

Sears Fullerton with a gable roof, 1215 Heyl Ave., Columbus OH – This house is documented with a mortgage record (Photo from Franklin County Auditor)


Hampton – 18 – the number one model in Columbus so far – all but one are documented with mortgage records. That’s a good thing because The Hampton is a pretty common looking house and is hard to identify with just a street survey.

Homart – 1 –  not part of the Sears Modern Home Department that was active from 1908- 1942 – Homart Homes were sold by Sears from 1946 to  1952 and were assembled from factory built wall panels

More info on Homart Homes at this link –

http://www.sears-homes.com/2013/06/a-rare-authenticated-homart-home-in.html

Lewiston – 1 – this Sears home was mortgaged through competitor Montgomery Ward – my research team has found this happened in many instances in 1931 -we are still trying to figure out why

What appears to be a Sears Lewiston, but was mortgaged through Montgomery Ward. 5545 Norton Rd., Grove City OH (Photo from Franklin County Auditor)

Trenton – the only one located so far —anywhere!

Illustration of the Sears Trenton from the 1932 Homes of Today catalog
Sears Trenton at 400 N Lenappe Dr., Columbus OH. ( This image is cropped from the 2017 public photo found on the Franklin County Auditor’s website )

I guess should mention that there are also kit houses from some of Sears, Roebuck competitors in the Columbus area as well, but not near as many as Sears.  Or….we just haven’t found them yet!

Here’s one from Montgomery Ward that I located with a deed record

Wardway Northbrook, 446 Blenheim Rd., Columbus OH (Photo by Cindy Catanzaro)

And a lovely bungalow from The Aladdin Company of Bay City, Michigan

Aladdin Pomona, 54 Webster Park Ave., Columbus OH (Photo by Cindy Catanzaro)

My Franklin County mortgage record research project is on-going, so I am sure I will have lots more houses to share in the near future.

Thanks for following along!

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Running Numbers in Columbus

Since I have been focusing my mortgage record research on Franklin County lately, you  are probably expecting to see a post about the number of houses, which models, where they are, blah. blah, blah,  in the Columbus area.   You know.  The boring blog post.

Running the numbers.

Well………this blog post is about running numbers in Columbus, but it ain’t about what you think it is.

A while back, like in late 2017, a comment from a homeowner right here on this little blog, pointed my nose to a Sears Colchester model in Columbus.  I remember when I looked it up on Google maps thinking that it was really out of place on the street where it was located, as most of the houses surrounding it are stately old brick four squares that look to have been built in the early 1900’s.  Further down the block, on the same side of the street, are some ranch style homes that look like post World War II builds.  But there is was,  a nice little Sears Colchester, built in 1934 or 1935, sitting pretty on its lot.  Huh.  You just never know where a Sears House is going to show up.

I added the house to “The List”, and shared the info with my little research group.

Time passes.

Shortly before this past Christmas, the same homeowner commented on Andrew’s blog, Kit House Hunters, and he then shared that info again with our little group, not realizing the house was already on the list.  When I looked it up, as I always do when a house in Ohio comes to our attention, I recognized the street immediately due to that odd mix of architecture.

Between 2017, when the homeowner contacted me, and 2018, when the homeowner contacted Andrew, I got access to the Columbus Dispatch newspaper archives, and decided to do a search for the address to see if I could find anything about why the house was built in that particular location.

Well…..that was a long shot, I know…….but what I DID find were some really cool things  about the history of that particular house.

Here’s a photo of it from the Franklin County Auditor’s website.

Sears Colchester 401 Woodland Columbus OH (owner contact)

Sears Colchester, 401 Woodland Ave., Columbus OH

The first “hit” on my search by the address was dated 16 March 1935.  The first owners, and probably the folks who purchased and built the house kit, were mentioned in the “Births” section of the newspaper.  A son!

401 Woodland info 16 March 1935

Timothy D and Shirley D Treadwell are listed as the property owners on the Historical Parcel Sheet found on the Franklin County Auditor’s website, so I know I have the right people.  The Treadwells bought the lot in Aug of 1934 and the house was complete and assessed for taxes in Dec of 1935.

401 Woodland Hist Parcel Sheet

A couple months after his son was born, our Mr Treadwell had a little trouble with the police.

401 Woodland info 2 May 1935

Columbus Evening Dispatch 2 May 1935

See.  I TOLD you this blog post was not going to be about what you thought it was!

In 1936, our Mr Tim Treadwell again made the newspaper about his “number” house.

401 Woodland 22 Aug 1936

Columbus Dispatch 22 Aug 1936

Busted again in 1937!

401 Woodland 3 Aug 1937

Columbus Dispatch 3 Aug 1937

And then…..the little wife is wanting a divorce.  But why, Naomi?  He makes a LOT of money!

Well…he has been “consorting with other women”.  Oh, Tim!  Say it isn’t so!

401 Woodland 21 Oct 1937

Columbus Dispatch 21 Oct 1937

I guess she needs some of that money to maintain her lifestyle! And buy clothes.

401 Woodland 22 Oct 1937

Columbus Dispatch 22 Oct 1937

She got what she wanted.

Tim Treadwel 10 Nov 1937

Columbus Dispatch 10 Nov 1937

Well, then…….never mind!

401 Woodland 25 Feb 1938

Columbus Dispatch 25 Feb 1938

I guess our Mr Tim was pretty certain his business was legit, because…..Merry Christmas!

Tim Treadwell Merry Christmas 25 Dec 1938 highlighted

Columbus Dispatch 25 Dec 1938

Merry Christmas 1938

And a Happy New Year!

Tim Treadwell Happy New Year 1 Jan 1939

Columbus Dispatch 1 Jan 1939

Happy New Year 1939

Business as usual for a while, I guess, then…….the divorce thing….again

401 Woodland 5 April 1941

Columbus Dispatch 5 April 1941

This doesn’t look good.  14 indicted in Numbers Racket

401 Woodland 16 Aug 1941

Columbus Dispatch 16 Aug 1941

Oh yeah.  He’s in that group all right.

Columbus Dispatch 16 Aug 1941 pg 2

While waiting on what comes next…..he gets married again!

And look!  He claims he a farmer!

401 Woodland 7 Nov 1941

Columbus Dispatch 7 Nov 1941.

Guess she knew what she was getting!

Inked401 Woodland 11 Nov 1941_LI

Columbus dispatch 11 Nov 1941

And then, history repeats itself.  A son!

401 Woodland 22 April 1942

Columbus Dispatch 22 April 1942

Arrested 25 times!  Oh Tim.

401 Woodland 5 Feb 1944

Columbus Dispatch 5 Feb 1944

It’s a raid!  And not the Pokemon’ type.  Ha Ha.

401 Woodland 18 May 1944

Columbus Dispatch 18 May 1944

He brought a “bag full of money” to city prison.

18 May 1944 cropped

Now Tim is not feeling well!

401 Woodland 1 July 1944

Columbus Dispatch 1 July 1944

He got a little more time in jail this time.

401 Woodland 9 Sept 1944

Columbus Dispatch 9 Sept 1944

After articles mentioning 30 days in jail, twice, in 1945, something kinda big happened.

401 Woodland 3 Oct 1946

3 Oct 1946 part 1

3 Oct 1946 part 2.png

3 Oct 1946 part 3

This story is still making the news a few days later……..the reporters must have loved this guy!

9 Oct 1946 headline

9 Oct 1946 part 1

9 Oct 1946 part 2

Uncle Packy is another farmer.

9 Oct 1946 part 3

9 Oct 1946 part 4

Guess they must have got him on something, because he ended up in in court over the whole deal.  No comment from Tim……..smart.  And no jail time either!

401 Woodland 27 Dec 1946 part 1

Columbus Dispatch 27 Dec 1946

 

401 Woodland 27 Dec 1946 part 2

 

 

All is quiet, until 1952, when our man Tim made the newspaper twice. Once for this!

401 Woodland 9 May 1952

Columbus Dispatch 9 May 1952

Wouldn’t you have loved to see that Sears Colchester with 1,000 tulips blooming in the yard?  I know I would!

4152013carpetofpetals

Cropped from a photo on the Magnolia Preparatory Academy website

And then for this….back in business!  But with a new location.

401 Woodland 20 May 1952

Columbus Dispatch 20 May 1952

Well…. now he has a bit of trouble with the IRS……..

20 Oct 1954 part 1

20 Oct 1954 part 2

1280px-1952_DeSoto_Deluxe Wikipedia image.jpg

 

A few years later…….more trouble with the Feds…….you would think he would know better by now.  Buy the stamp!

401 Woodland 27 Oct 1960

Columbus Dispatch 27 Oct 1960

Now that the Feds are involved, the fines and sentences are much harsher.

19 Nov 1960 part 1

Columbus Dispatch 19 Nov 1960

19 Nov 1960 part 2.png

And with a five year probation in place, I think our man might have to lay low.

Unfortunately, Tim never made it to the end of his probation period.  He passed away in 1964, still living in the Sears Colchester he built in 1934.  This is the first mention of him owning a restaurant that I have seen!  Maybe that’s what he did after he “retired”.

401 Woodland 22 Sept 1964 obit

Columbus Dispatch 22 Sept 1964

It sure looks like Tim Treadwell had an interesting life.  I’ve got to admit I had a great time following his story, after finding out he owned a Sears Colchester in Columbus.  I was hesitant, at first, to put this blog post together, because I think he still has family in the Columbus area, but since all this information is readily available to anybody with a Columbus Library card, I decided to go ahead with it.  These are just the facts, as reported during his lifetime.  I haven’t added anything except a small bit of commentary about the news items.

Well…….I guess I have to add this…..

401 Woodland Ave Columbus OH with tulips

Thanks for following along!

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Lots of Progress in Franklin County

My last blog post was about the start of my research into the Franklin County, Ohio mortgage records.

I am very happy to report to you that are interested, that so far, I have checked out 178 individual mortgage records, and of those, was able to document 122 Sears, Roebuck kit homes built in Franklin County between 1925 and 1930.

Some of the houses were previously identified from on line Deed Records, or street surveys, or newspaper research, or owners contacting somebody in our group…….you know……all the other ways we find these houses, but many of them were new to “The List”.  That’s the document my research group started back in 2013, to help us keep track of what we, and other researchers, have located to date.

It’s a good thing we did that, as it has given us a focus, and a bit of a competition, to see what States and Cities have the most  “Sears Houses”.

So far…….Ohio is in the lead, with about 2340 homes out of the slightly over 11,000 homes on the list.

Yay Ohio!

Anyways, here’s a few of the new to the list houses, that are great matches to the original catalog listings, and have been well cared for over the years.  All these photos are from the Franklin County Auditor’s website.  I haven’t gotten over to get my own photos yet, as January has been brutal, weather wise, here in my area.  When the grass starts to grow and the Spring flowers start to bloom, I hope to make several trips to see these houses from the sidewalk.

Sears Albion 141 E Beaumont Columbus OH (WOL)

Sears Albion, 141 E Beaumont, Columbus OH

Albion image 1925

Sears Ashland 172 N Ardmore Rd Bexley OH (WOL)

Sears Ashland, 172 N Ardmore Rd, Bexley OH

Sears Ashland image 1928.png

Sears Barrington 359 Fallis Rd Columbus OH (WOL)

Sears Barrington, 359 Fallis Rd, Columbus OH

1928 image

Sears Cedars 175 Wetmore Rd Columbus OH (EHP)

Sears Cedars, 175 Wetmore Rd, Columbus OH

Cedars coloring page

This image is from a newspaper ad. I edited it to make it a coloring page.

303 N Cassingham Bexley OH

Sears Tarryton, 303 N Cassingham, Bexley OH.

Columbus Evening Dispatch 29 May 1928

Newspaper ad from the Columbus Evening Dispatch 29 May 1928. This Tarryton model was also mortgaged through Sears, Roebuck, making it double documented!

Sears Vallonia 686 McNaughten Rd Columbus OH (WOL)

Sears Vallonia with loads of original details! 686 McNaughten Rd., Columbus OH

1930 image

I have lots more work to do in Franklin County as there are more mortgage records to be found.  I hope to get back to their Recorder’s Office soon for additional research.

Thanks for following along!

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Franklin County Update

Last Summer (2018) I spent quite a bit of time tracking down the houses that were financed through Sears, Roebuck in Montgomery County (Dayton and vicinity).  After pretty much calling that project complete, I started thinking about where to focus my research efforts next.

I already knew where it needed to be.  Franklin County.  Columbus and vicinity.

Andrew, Judith and I had already completed the research for the deed records in that County, as their deeds have been scanned and are available on their Recorder’s website back to 1920.   We found quite a few, so we knew there had to be plenty of additional work to do in the County.

I’ve been avoiding going to their Recorder’s Office, because it’s downtown, and on the 18th floor of their Government Building.  I’m not great with big cities, and I sure don’t like going up in tall buildings, but I really wanted to get this project going.

So on the day after Christmas, my wonderful man Frank took me to Columbus to see what was what.

After figuring out where the building was, finding a place to park, figuring out what entrance door to use for the Recorder’s Office, going through the Security checkpoint, and finding the right elevator to get to the 18th floor, we finally arrived.

Whew………that’s why I love my man.

As I was hoping, the Recorder’s Office was pretty quiet.  Since Christmas was on a Tuesday, I had correctly assumed a lot of regular business wouldn’t be happening, since folks tend to take vacation that week.

We started at their Customer Service counter, where a very helpful employee pointed me towards the research room where all the old Record Books were located.   Tracking down Sears Houses through the old mortgage record index books is a pretty complicated process, but if the County has index books by the Mortgagee, which is the lender, it can move along pretty quickly.

Unfortunately, Franklin County only has the index books by Mortgagor, the borrower, for the years I needed, so it looked like this was going to be a long tedious process.

Enter Eric.  After a few questions, he understood what I was attempting to do, and headed off to check their database to see if they might have the Index Books I needed in storage somewhere.

I started the tedious process of paging through one of the Mortgagor Index books looking for entries that would lead to Sears Houses.  For no reason at all, I started with the “W” book and found one almost immediately.  Yay!  On I go.

Hmmmmm……..Frank……..how about taking a book?   He looked at me like I was nuts, but agreed.  Yep.  He found two pretty quickly.  He’s the man!

We kept on for a little while, but since I had only put eight quarters in the parking meter two blocks away, our time was limited.  This was just supposed to be a quick trip to get a feel for what I needed to do next, but it turned out we found 22 mortgages in the short time we were there.

I checked in with Eric on our way out, to find he had spent some time looking through his resources, but hadn’t come up with anything to add to what we already knew was available.

After I got home, I pulled up the Excel spreadsheet I started when I did the on-line deed records, and adjusted it a bit so I could add the actual mortgage info as I found it.

Hmmmmm……..now that I can see and analyze my data, I notice that many of the actual mortgages were recorded in a single mortgage book – Volume 756.  How odd.  Unless……like Montgomery County……the Sears mortgages had their very own book.

So the next morning, I sent an email to the Franklin County Recorder’s Office to inquire if Mortgage Book 756 was available for research.  It didn’t take them long to get back to me, but the answer was no……and yes……The mortgage book itself wasn’t available, but they did have it on Microfilm.

And then…..the best news ever…….awesome employee Eric offered to digitize the volume and I could bring in a flash drive and get the file.  WOW!!!!  I certainly never expected that kind of service from a large County Office.  Kudos to Franklin County and their staff.

So on the Friday morning after Christmas, wonderful man Frank took me back to Columbus to get the file.

Said file contains mortgage record information on approximately 160 homes purchased as kits from Sears, Roebuck, in the years between 1926 and 1930.  There will be more research to do after I get through this group, as Sears offered financing prior to, and after, the years this mortgage book was used.

I know……a long story…….and some of you just want to see pretty pictures of what I’ve found.  But this story is so important.  Our research group has come so far, with locating and documenting these homes, in the hopes of raising awareness, and hopefully, preserving some homes that might be lost to blight or re-development.

It’s what we do.  Not for us.  For the houses.  And the homeowners.

sears ashland 172 n ardmore rd bexley oh (wol)

Sears Ashland, 172 N Ardmore Rd., Bexley Ohio. (Photo from Franklin County Auditor website)

The Sears Ashland shown above is documented with a mortgage record on file at the Franklin County Recorder’s Office.  The Ashland was only offered in the Sears Modern Home catalogs for two years, 1927 and 1928, so is considered a rare model.  This is only the third Ashland listed on our Master List of Sears Houses Across the United States.

sears ashland image 1928

Thanks for following along, and I will be posting about Columbus and vicinity as my project progresses.

 

 

 

 

 

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A day trip to the West side of Cincinnati

You’ve heard the old saying…….”You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all”.

Not so with Sears Houses.  With over 350 models offered over the 32 years that Sears, Roebuck sold houses as kits through their mail order catalog, there’s pretty much no way a researcher can say they’ve seen them all.  Heck, with 99 of those models still not located anywhere, there is still plenty of opportunity to keep finding them.

But recently, my research buddy, Marie, and I made a day trip to the west side of Cincinnati.  We’ve been talking about doing that route for a while, but the first time it came up, we had a bunch of rain, and the west side was flooded.  Yikes. Then the second time, it was Halloween and we were afraid we wouldn’t get back in time for the evening Trick or Treat thing.  But the third time, off we went!

One of the reasons we wanted to do the West side was because a fair number of models I hadn’t seen “for real” were located in Sayler Park.  But along the way, we decided to take a quick ride through part of Westwood, a neighborhood in Cincinnati, which has train loads of Sears Houses!  62 to date are listed on our Master List of Sears Houses across the United States.

Most of the Sears Houses in Westwood are what we researchers call “common” models.  Not that they aren’t important to our research, but they are mostly models that we find regularly in cities, towns, and villages all over our area.

But there is one house that has been looked at, checked over, and discussed by researchers for several years.  One of the reasons we weren’t sure about it is that it isn’t easily viewed on Google Maps or in Auditor Photos because of the street trees and nicely landscaped lot.  But now that I’ve seen it for real, I am 99.99% sure it is a Sears No. 2069, which is the same floor plan as the Sears Hollywood, but has different exterior features.

S Hollywood 1922 catalog

Sears Hollywood as shown in the 1922 catalog.  The No. 2069 is illustrated in the lower right hand corner.

 

The house in Westwood was built reversed from the catalog offering, which was a common change at time of ordering your house kit.

 

S Hollywood 3054 Lischer L Cincinnati OH

Sears No. 2069, 3054 Lischer Ave., Cincinnati (Westwood neighborhood)

S Hollywood 3054 Lischer R Cincinnati OHS Hollywood 3054 Lischer Cincinnati OH

After  a bit of driving around Westwood and snapping photos of other Sears Houses on our path, we headed on towards Sayler Park.  And what a treat!  I had wanted to go to Sayler Park years ago with my friend Laraine Shape, but for some reason or other we never got around to it.  Marie and I had a great time checking out the Sears Houses we already knew about, and, like always when we visit Cincinnati, we spotted a few more.

Here’s some photos of the models I had never seen before “for real”.

S Tarryton 6828 Parkland Ave L Cincinnati OH

Sears Tarryton, 6828 Parkland Ave., Cincinnati Ohio (Sayler Park) This house is documented with a building permit notice in the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Sears Tarryton image 1928

And just an FYI to other Sears House researchers…….The Tarryton is really narrow across the front in real life.

S Tarryton 6828 Parkland Ave Cincinnati OH

Sears Tarryton, 6828 Parkland Ave., Cincinnati Ohio (Sayler Park) This house is documented with a building permit notice in the Cincinnati Enquirer.

S Carroll 7230 Fernbank Ave R Cincinnati OH 2

Sears Carroll, 7230 Fernbank Ave., Cincinnati OH (Sayler Park). This house was built reversed from the catalog offering. I love the added Solarium!!!

The Sears Carroll shown above is not documented with finance records, but I have heard through the Sears House grapevine that the current owner has stated it is a house kit from Sears, Roebuck, and they should know!

Sears Carroll image 1931 catalog

 

The next house we saw is a little sad.  The landscaping hides the front view, and it needs some TLC, but it is a good example of the model, as it retains its distinctive front entry.

S Melrose 604 Rockaway Ave Cincinnati OH

Sears Melrose at 604 Rockaway Ave. in Cincinnati OH (Sayler Park). This house is documented as it was financed through Sears, Roebuck in 1930.

 

S Melrose 604 Rockaway Ave R Cincinnati OH

Sears Melrose at 604 Rockaway Ave. in Cincinnati OH (Sayler Park).

Sears Melrose image 1930

And a Parkridge!  Without a pear tree.   Just kidding.

The Parkridge model was not in the Houses by Mail Field guide for some unknown reason, so researchers have to look it up in on line catalogs instead.

 

S Parkridge 6823 Jersey Ave R Cincinnati OH (WOL)

Sears Parkridge, 6823 Jersey Ave., Cincinnati Ohio (Sayler Park). This house is documented as the house kit was financed through Sears, Roebuck in 1930.

Sears Parkridge 1930 image

Sears Parkridge image as seen in the 1930 catalog. (The Parkridge is one of the few models that was not included in the Houses by Mail Field Guide.)

 

After we had checked off all the houses on our list that we wanted to see in Sayler Park, we headed back north through the Village of Harrison, where we got photos of a lovely Sears Winona.  The owner had just finished painting the exterior.  I mean…….really just finished.  He was loading up his equipment and tools in his truck when we pulled up.  It sparkled!

S Winona 702 E Broadway Harrison OH

Sears Winona, 702 E Broadway, Harrison, Ohio

85 The Winona

We spotted a few more Sears Houses on our way home through Hamilton, and a couple of possibles.

All in all, it was a great day tracking down these houses I love.  And it’s so much better when you have somebody to share the joy with.  Like Marie.

Thanks for following along.

 

 

 

 

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A Sears Americus in Dayton

You all know I love old newspapers.  I find all kinds of cool stuff when I am doing searches for kit houses in Ohio.  What always amazes me is what shows up today, might not have shown up when I did the very same search a while back.  Or…..sometimes I stumble across something while researching something entirely different.

That’s what happened a few weeks ago.  I was doing some searches on Norwood Sash and Door in the Dayton newspapers, and one thing led to another.  Kinda like Monty Python.

Anyway, here’s the really cool thing I found about a Sears Americus in Dayton.

Dayton_Daily_News_Sun__Mar_7__1926_

Dayton Daily News Sun – March 7, 1926

 

Sears, Roebuck sold grocery items through their mail order catalogs, just like Amazon is doing now on line, and it appears these people put together a nice dinner menu with items sold through the Sears catalog.  Too bad they didn’t tell us what was on the menu!

31899_B011769-00798

And like happens today……the newspaper published the wrong address for the house in the article!  After a big disappointment when I went looking for 2225 Victoria Ave and finding the whole block was now the site of a hospital, I did some more checking in the Montgomery County Abstract records and found the correct address for the house.

S Americus 2125 Victoria Ave Dayton OH (newspaper)

Sears Americus at 2125 Victoria Ave, Dayton, Ohio. (Photo from Montgomery County Auditor’s website)

 

1926 image

The Americus on Victoria Ave in Dayton has an addition on the back, and a partially enclosed front porch, but it’s the house mentioned in the newspaper.  The Abstract Record shows D C Peterson as the owner.

2125 Victoria Ave Dayton OH earlier abstract

 

Further research on D C Peterson showed that he is connected to another Sears House in Dayton.  In 1937, he and another person were victims of a pickpocket and the incident made the newspaper.  His address was listed as 2317 Emerson Ave.

Dayton_Daily_News_Mon__Feb_22__1937_

My mortgage record research for Montgomery County documented the duplex house at 2315-2317 Emerson Ave. as a Sears Bedford.  That house has a larger dormer than what is shown in the Modern Homes catalogs, just like the one located recently in Richmond, Indiana.

2315 Emerson Ave L Dayton OH (WOL)

Sears Bedford at 2315-2317 Emerson Ave., Dayton, Ohio

1928 image

from the 1928 catalog

I will continue to research old newspapers as more and more are getting digitized all the time.  And I’m hoping to find more cool stuff about Sears Houses in Ohio.

Thanks for following along.

 

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A Sears Bedford in Richmond, Indiana

My last blog post (yikes, almost 2 months ago) was about a few Sears Houses I located in Richmond, Indiana from newspaper research.  I promised an update when I got back there to do actual mortgage research, which happened on October 8.

Columbus Day

My research partner here in Ohio, Marie, had Columbus Day off work, so we decided to go out Sears House hunting.  Our original intention was to go someplace in the Cincinnati area, but that morning, in the Springfield (my hometown and the location of my place of abode) News- Sun, I read an article stating that the city of Columbus, Ohio had decided to maintain normal business operations and not take a Holiday

Well…….that prompted me to have a look around and see if any other local areas were not planning on taking the Holiday, so Marie and I could do some mortgage record research instead of just driving around aimlessly looking for houses.  Which is fun, too!  But not really the best way to find Sears Houses.

Guess which County was open for business?

Wayne County, Indiana.

Yeah…….Richmond

So, off we went.  I had also determined that Preble County, Ohio was not taking Columbus Day off, so we stopped there on the way from Dayton to Richmond.  A very helpful employee there in Eaton directed us to the basement of their Government building to see if they had mortgage indexes for the correct time period on Microfilm.

They did, but they were tedious to research, so another helpful employee disappeared to the storage area and came back with the REAL BOOKS!  I love it when that happens.

The bad news is that we only found two mortgages financed through Sears, Roebuck in all of Preble County.  The first mortgage record was for a lot right there in Eaton, so the first helpful employee pulled out the Plat Maps and helped us locate the parcel listed on the mortgage record.  Marie and I then headed out to do a drive by and see what we could see.

We saw it all right.

A vacant lot.

Sigh……….so after that disappointment, we headed for Richmond.  The other mortgage record in Preble County wasn’t along our path, so that one would have to wait.

Once we got to Richmond, we had a very nice surprise!  When I was there in August, they didn’t have Mortgage Record Index books available for the time period we needed, so I was expecting a lengthy search, mortgage book by mortgage book, hoping to spot some Sears, Roebuck finance documents.

Apparently, since the last time I was there, the missing Mortgage Index Books were put back in the Research Room, and we were on our way!  Hooray!  ( I hope my earlier request had something to do with that, but who really knows for sure?)

It only took us about an hour or so, to do the record research, take notes, take Smart Phone photos of the Plat Maps we needed, and head out to the parcels that had Sears, Roebuck mortgages.

Wayne County, Indiana, hasn’t been Google mapped in most areas, so “drive bys” from home are pretty much impossible, making it even more important to see as many locations as we could in the time we had left in our day.

What we determined is that most of the mortgages for Sears Houses in the Richmond city limits, were for non-descript worker class houses, that hadn’t been very well maintained through the years.  We noted addresses and models on our drive bys, but didn’t feel the need to take pictures.

Except for one.

When we pulled up to a large bungalow on a corner lot that Marie had found a mortgage record for, she stared at the house, and said “This can’t be right”.  She looked again at her notes from the mortgage record, then at the Plat Map photo we had, and still thought we had something wrong.  THIS house didn’t match anything we had seen in the Sears Modern Homes catalogs.

While Marie continued to review her notes on the parcel description, I pulled out my copy of Houses by Mail, and starting reviewing the bungalow style models.

When I got to the page for the Sears Bedford, a light bulb turned on in my somewhat dim brain.  And then…….I knew…….

“Look here, Marie.  Check this one out.”   The house we were staring at had a much larger dormer that what was shown in the catalog, but I remembered I had located a similar one in Cincinnati a while back.  And……another of my research partners, Lara, had one in Illinois……somewhere.

Apparently, The Bedford shown in the catalog was not the way many of them were built.  And as a consequence, researchers may be overlooking a bunch of them!

Gotta love those mortgage records for pointing our noses towards Sears Houses we might have missed on a street survey.

The Bedford does have a couple of features to look for though, like the sets of four windows in the Living Room and the dormer, a Dining Room bump out, and large roof brackets (if they are still in place).

 

1928 image

from the 1928 catalog

Sears Bedford 901 W Main St Richmond IN (WOL mortgage)

Sears Bedford, 901 W Main St., Richmond, Indiana. Documented with a mortgage record

 

Sears Bedford 901 W Main St R2 Richmond IN (WOL mortgage)

Sears Bedford, 901 W Main St., Richmond, Indiana. Documented with a mortgage record

 

Sears Bedford 901 W Main St L Richmond IN (WOL mortgage)

Sears Bedford, 901 W Main St., Richmond, Indiana. Documented with a mortgage record

This Sears Bedford also has an extension on the back of the house that looks original, changing the back roof line.  We’re not sure what is up with that small dormer on the back, either.

Sears Bedford 901 W Main St rear Richmond IN (WOL mortgage)

Sears Bedford, 901 W Main St., Richmond, Indiana. Documented with a mortgage record

1928 floor plan

1928 catalog details

The base price of The Bedford in the 1926 catalog was $2,396.  The mortgage for this house, recorded in August of 1926, was $6200.  That is quite a difference, even if you add on the things not included in the standard kit, so it is possible this house was customized so much at build time that it was no longer an “Already Cut” model.  That would have greatly increased the cost of build.  Some things like that we may never know.

In any case, this was a great find for our day out and about in Richmond.

One more thing!  After I got home, I reviewed the information for the parcel in Eaton, Ohio that resulted in that vacant lot, and determined that the helpful employee in their Recorder’s Office had used the wrong Plat Map.  Seems the Sears House is still there after all.  And it’s only a couple of blocks from the Recorder’s Office.  Too bad we missed it.  Looks like a nice one!  I’ll have to get real photos next time I go that way.

201 S Beech St Eaton OH (WOL)

Grainy Google maps screenshot of a Sears Crescent at 201 S Beech St. in Eaton, Ohio. Documented with a mortgage record.

 

We came up with a couple dozen mortgage records for Sears Houses spread across Wayne County, Indiana that day.  Some we are still tracking down, and some we have addresses for, but no images yet, due to the lack of Google maps for most of the County.  We’ll have to go back……..someday…….

Thanks for following along.

 

4 Comments

Richmond is almost in Ohio…..

I’ve been ignoring this little blog of mine about Sears Houses in Ohio.  Well…….maybe not ignoring it……but I definitely haven’t had much time to share here.  Summer has been crazy busy for me, and I’m behind on work projects, but early in August I did get to Richmond, Indiana with a couple of friends for a girl’s day out.  Since I have great friends, and they know how much I love this Sears House thing, and…..August is my birthday month…..I got to pick a few of our activities for the day.  Well…….you know what that means!

Sears House Hunting.

I already had a couple of addresses to check out, from newspaper archive research, so those were first.  Then, we stopped by the Wayne County, Indiana government building to have a quick look at their mortgage records.  Not all counties have these old record books available in their public research room, but Wayne County does, so we spent a little bit of time flipping through a couple of volumes.

Oh yeah.  There is plenty of research to do there.  In just the first index book I checked, I spotted a Norwood Sash and Door Mechanics Lien and a Walker O Lewis mortgage.  Both of those records will most likely lead to Sears Houses, but I didn’t take notes that day.  I will need to schedule time to go back and do a thorough review.  One of my friends grabbed a deed index book, and was able to find a record that did, indeed, lead to a Sears House.

So…..since Richmond is almost in Ohio (check the map) I think it is perfectly OK to show off a couple of my finds.

First, the Sears Home Construction Special Exhibit house.

In 1930, in many areas of the Midwest, Sears constructed and opened to the public, a house that was “Completely Planned and Built” by Sears, Roebuck and Company.  In the Dayton, Ohio area, it was The Lewiston or The Colchester model, very similar home designs.  Sears advertised these model homes extensively in the newspapers where they were built, and that is how I found the one in Richmond.  I am thinking Richmond was probably part of the Dayton, Ohio sales territory, since they are so close together geographically.  Dayton had a Sears Modern Home sales office.  Richmond did not.

Here’s the ad I found in the Richmond Palladium-Item.

Palladium_Item_Sat__May_3__1930_ (1)

Richmond Palladium-Item- May 3, 1930

 

Check out the 3 car garage!    A three car garage in 1930 was a really big deal!

Another small notice gives us a little insight into how Sears handled construction of these Special Exhibit houses.

Palladium_Item_Sat__May_3__1930_ (2)

 

Here’s the house today.

Sears Lewiston 5180 W US 40 Centerville IN (Special Exhibit)

Sears Lewiston – Special Exhibit House – 5180 W US 40, Centerville Indiana

It still has the 3 car garage.

Sears Lewiston - Special Exhibit House garage - 5180 W US 40, Centerville Indiana

That was a fun find, but even more fun was finding another Sears Lewiston less than a mile down the road!  It’s not documented, but it sure looks like one to me.

Sears Lewiston 1110 E Main St L Centerville IN

Sears Lewiston, 1110 E Main St., Centerville Indiana

 

image 1930

The third house I am sharing in this post was also located from my newspaper research.  I spotted a notice, also in the Richmond Palladium-Item, showing a property transfer to E. Harrison Powell, who was a Trustee for Sears, Roebuck.  We see his name on mortgages, and deed records associated with foreclosure cases, from 1929 to about 1934.  This was probably a house that Sears had to foreclose on due to non-payment of a mortgage issued by Sears.

InkedPalladium_Item_Sat__Nov_12__1932__LI

Richmond Palladium-Item, Nov 12, 1932

 

Using the lot number and the plat on the notice I figured out the actual address, which was a little complicated due to the street names changing.  After doing a drive by,  I was able to identify the house as a Crafton model.  The Crafton was a simple rectangular home design that was very common in the 1920’s and 1930’s, so I would never have spotted this particular house without some type of documentation record.

And what a setting for this sweet little Sears house!

Sears Crafton 523 SW 16th St Richmond IN

Sears Crafton, 523 SW 16th St, Richmond Indiana

Sears Crafton 523 SW 16th St L Richmond INSears Crafton 523 SW 16th St R Richmond IN

 

.1931 catalog

The Sears Crafton was offered with more than one floor plan.  I’m calling this one a Plan 3318-C, due to the window arrangements on both sides.

That’s all for this time, as I am still super busy, but hopefully will get caught up on work projects soon.   I will share more of my Richmond, Indiana finds when I get back there to do mortgage research.

Thanks for following along.

2 Comments

A Sears Cornell and a Sears Fullerton in Oxford

I love finding Sears Houses through mortgage records.

A couple of years back, I made a trip to the Butler County Records Center for that very purpose, and ended up with a bunch of new finds.  Several of the houses I identified were in Oxford, Ohio, which is home to Miami University.

Ever since then, I have been telling myself I needed to go to Oxford and check out what I had located, but until today, that didn’t happen.

It was a nice day for a drive, so my husband Frank and I headed out for a day trip.  My brain has been in overload lately with work projects (we re-hab houses), and a volunteer project , so it was good to get away for a bit.

Since my head hasn’t been in the Sears House game for a couple of weeks, and we did this on short notice, I went pretty unprepared.  I did take along a few addresses of houses I had located, and was hoping to find a few new ones along our path.

While I did spot a couple of houses to check out when I got home, we really only ended up getting a close look at two Sears Houses that were on my list.  Oh well.  I’ll get the rest another time.

We took a walk down Walnut St. to get photos of the two houses and as happens sometimes here in Ohio, I discovered I was not the first researcher to locate one of the homes.

The first house we came to is a Sears Cornell.

Sears Cornell 7 W Walnut L Oxford OH

Sears Cornell at 7 W Walnut St., Oxford, OH. This house is documented with a mortgage record.

 

Sears Cornell 7 W Walnut R Oxford OH

Sears Cornell at 7 W Walnut St., Oxford, OH. This house is documented with a mortgage record

 

image 1925

The second house on our path is a Sears Fullerton.

Sears Fullerton 225 W Walnut Oxford OH

Sears Fullerton at 225 W Walnut St., Oxford, OH. Documented as a house from Sears, Roebuck with a mortgage record.

 

image 1926

The Fullerton model is the one that had previously been identified.  That happens a lot here in Ohio, as houses from Sears, Roebuck are well known.

Sears Fullerton 225 W Walnut Oxford OH plaque

Thanks to the homeowners for the wonderful Preservation effort, and to the City of Oxford for recognizing that Sears Houses are, indeed,  part of our Architectural History.

Now…..if we could just get the rest of Ohio to do that……

Thanks for following along!

2 Comments

A Sears Trenton in Columbus

In my last couple of blog posts, I shared information about my mortgage research project in Montgomery County (Dayton and vicinity).  It took months of work and hours of my free time, and I loved doing it, but I have called it pretty much complete.

So……what’s next?

I’ve been trying to decide where to focus my efforts next.  There are several Ohio Counties within easy driving distance that are likely to have houses financed through Sears, Roebuck, but where should I start?

While I will probably make the short trips to Madison County and Fayette County soon, my next BIG project needs to be Franklin County.  You know…….Columbus.  NOT my favorite place to go.  First, the Recorder’s Office is on the 18th floor of a downtown government building, and I’m a small town girl.  Big cities are just not my thing.

I know there will be plenty of mortgage records to research there, as Franklin County has their deed records on line back to 1920, and I spent several months a couple of years ago going through those.  Sears, Roebuck foreclosed on many of their mortgages in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s, which caused Sears to take possession of many of the homes that folks had purchased as kits.  Hence, researchers now have a deed record that corresponds to those foreclosure cases.

Sad.  But…..good for us that are spending time tracking down those very houses.

So wherever there are deed records, there have to be mortgage records, too.  Probably many many more, since of course, not every house financed through Sears got re-possessed.

Since Franklin County was one of my first projects dealing with on line records, I didn’t really know how to keep track of what I was doing.  After abandoning my usual way (sticky notes), I went back to the beginning and put together a notebook and a whole file folder full of papers.

Yep.

I don’t do that anymore!  Spreadsheets are the way I go now.  Mainly because I can share those with other researchers, and making changes is way easier.  Also, sharing documents with others will preserve the work I have done, and let others build on it.

So, in preparation of making the big trip to Columbus, I pulled out my notebook and file folder to refresh my memory on what I had already accomplished.  I must have done a good job, because even though it’s been several years, I was easily able to review my work.

I spent a bit of time cross checking to make sure I had all the houses I located previously on the Master List of Sears Houses across the United States ( I didn’t ), and then I came across a couple of parcel descriptions that I was unable to locate the first time through.

Well,  I’ve done a LOT of mortgage research since then, so I decided to make an attempt to locate the houses associated with the missing records.

And, WOW, am I glad I did!  Look what turned up.

A Sears Trenton.

Sears Trenton image 1932

Illustration of the Sears Trenton from the 1932 Homes of Today catalog

 

The reason I didn’t locate this house the first time through was because the plat where it is located had been amended at some point and some lot numbers were changed.  Apparently I was using the original plat map, and not the amended one, which caused me to believe the house associated with the deed record was no longer standing.

This time through, I printed off the actual deed record, which stated it was the amended plat, and gave some streets as points of reference to the location of the parcel.  Using that, I was able to come up with the correct address for the house, which is completely hidden from view on Google Maps.

street view of Sears Trenton

Fortunately, the photographer for the Franklin County Auditor had no qualms about going up the driveway and getting a photo for their website.

Sears Trenton 400 N Lenappe Dr Columbus OH

Sears Trenton at 400 N Lenappe Dr., Columbus OH. ( This image is cropped from the 2017 public photo found on the Franklin County Auditor’s website )

 

What a house!  When I first pulled up the Auditor’s information, I was sure the home had at least one addition, due to the width.

Nope!  That’s all original.  The house is over 57 feet wide!

Sears Trenton first floor plan 1932

Sears Trenton 400 N Lenappe Dr Columbus OH sketch .jpg

Auditor sketch of the Sears Trenton at 400 N Lenappe Dr., Columbus OH

This has to be one of the largest models ever offered by Sears, Roebuck.

Sears Trenton second floor plan 1932

According to Houses by Mail, the primary Field Guide for Sears House researchers, The Trenton was only offered for two years, 1932 and 1933.  So that brings up some questions for me about the construction date for this home.

According to the Historical Parcel Sheets available on the Franklin County Auditor’s website, the house was complete by Oct of 1929.  That makes no sense!  Unless…..like my research buddy Marie suggested, there was a house already on the lot before the Trenton.  Hmmmmm……..it does look like they listed the home as being brick and frame on the tax card.   I don’t see any signs of a partial brick home in either the actual house, or the house in the catalog illustration. Value of the house in 1929 was listed at $10,630, and there was also a stucco garage at that point.   The 1930 appraisal info show a 10% reduction in value to $9770, then there is a big drop, to $5140, in 1933, the same year the house was transferred to Sears, Roebuck by Quit Claim deed.  Very confusing.

Sears Trenton Parcel sheet

The original owners were in residence at the home according to the 1930 Census, which may confirm the 1929 build date.  David and Ruth Stratton lived there along with their two children, Ruth’s father, and a servant ( note the Maid’s room shown in the first floor plan above ).

We may never know the answer, but this may a situation where the house was custom built for the owner, then Sears got permission to offer the house plans in later years.

I have an edit for my statement above about never knowing for sure about the construction date of the house.  Further research, prompted by some questions by other members of my group, led me to additional information.  And it ain’t pretty.  BUT…..Marie was right.  There was a house on the lot before the Sears Trenton.  Said first house burnt down in 1932, taking the life of the maid who was in charge while the owners were away.  The article below references the original address of the parcel that is shown, then crossed out, on the Historical Parcel Sheet above.

The_Newark_Advocate_Mon__Jul_4__1932_

The newspaper later ran a story stating that the owner was charged with arson.

News_Journal_Sat__Mar_25__1933_

The owner was found guilty and given a sentence of 1-3 years.

This new information now leads us to believe that the Sears Trenton was purchased directly from the 1932 or 1933 catalog, and constructed to replace the first house, with financing obtained through Sears, Roebuck.  When the owner was charged with arson, he most likely defaulted on his loan and they Quit Claimed the house back to Sears to avoid foreclosure.  When I get to Franklin County to research the mortgage records, the date of the original Sears mortgage should confirm these theories.

In any case, we now have a Sears Trenton on our Master List.  The very first one.  And it’s in Ohio.  Gotta love living in the land of Buckeyes……Bearcats…….and Sears Houses.

Thanks for following along.