I have been researching and locating homes purchased through the Sears, Roebuck & Co. Modern Homes catalogs for a while now. Along the way I meet people who say they know exactly where one of these houses had been built. That was how I started to look for a Sears House in St. Paris last year. “Right by the Funeral Home on Springfield St.”, she said. So up I go to St Paris.
I can recognize a lot of the more common Sears models by sight, so I drove up and down Springfield St. A couple of times. Nothing. I parked, got out, and walked the block where the Funeral Home is located. I checked out the houses on the side streets. I talked to a couple of home owners. I took pictures of six or seven houses. Nothing clicked. I went home, uploaded my pictures, then looked through my Houses by Mail Field Guide. That book is the main source used for identifying houses from Sears Roebuck. Nope. Nothing. No Sears House for me that day.
A couple of months later, I was going through some research materials from a trip I made to The Clarke Historical Library in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. The Clarke Library holds an extensive collection of records from The Aladdin Co. of Bay City, Michigan. Aladdin also sold house kits through mail order catalogs, like Sears.
In my opinion, every serious researcher of Kit Homes should make at least one trip to The Clarke. I’ve been there twice.
While I was there, I took a lot of photographs of actual sales records for houses that were shipped to parts of Ohio near me. Here’s what a sales order from the Aladdin Co looks like.
The house model is listed as “Style” On this sales record, it’s The Rochester.
Here’s The Rochester from the 1917 Aladdin Homes catalog. Quite a bit of price difference between 1917 and 1919 when the Domigans ordered their house.
So now I have a 1919 sales record, a name and place, Mrs. J.H. Domigan of St. Paris, and a catalog image of the Aladdin Rochester.
My next step is to go to Ancestry.com and search for the Domigan family in Champaign Co, Ohio in the 1920 Census.
Yep, there they are! On Springfield St.
Guess where on Springfield St the house is located? Of course. It’s right next door to the funeral home.
So while I was looking all over for a Sears House, an Aladdin House was right in front of me, and I didn’t recognize it.
Here’s a few of the details of this lovely home.
So I learned something important that day. When people say “Sears House” they don’t always mean a house from Sears, Roebuck. “Sears House” has become a common term for any house whose plans and building materials were purchased as a kit through a mail order catalog. I knew that before this, but usually am so excited to hear about a new “Sears House” that I forget to put that knowledge to use.
And by the way, there is a Sears House in St. Paris. From Sears Roebuck.
This Sears Lewiston is not documented like the Aladdin Rochester above, but all the details seem right.
If you know of any other “Sears Houses” in St. Paris, please let me know.