Summer is here! And that means day trips! Not always to look for Sears Houses, but that seems to happen along the way wherever I go. And that’s what happened this week. I had a great girl’s day out with a couple of good friends. The idea was to go antiquing in Richmond, Indiana.
If you are from Ohio, you know Richmond is practically in Ohio. In fact, I think their Corporation lines run right along the Ohio/Indiana State Line for a few miles just south of I-70.
We had already checked out the info on line for Antique Shops in the Richmond area. There’s a bunch. When we got off the Interstate we headed directly to the Old National Road Visitor Center to pick up some additional information on things to do in Richmond. And that’s how we got a little off track.
Richmond has some great self guided tour brochures, themed, and we quickly honed in one that wasn’t about antiques. What’s better for us than antiques? Um……..chocolate. The Visitor Center will set you up with their Chocolate Trail Passport. You stop at the places listed on the Passport and you get FREE SAMPLES! Heavenly.
So after loading up on maps and travel brochures, we headed out on the National Road to see what we could see. First stop. Square Donuts to get our free Chocolate Donut. Heavenly.
It’s nice to not have to stick to any kind of itinerary, and just pull over to see the sights. And that’s what we did when we spotted the Richmond Rose Garden.
They had a whole bed of one of my favorite roses, Cherry Parfait.
After the Rose Garden, we headed downtown and stopped at the second place listed on the Chocolate Tour, Olympian Candies. Got a free sample! Heavenly.
Then, since all three of us are kind of old house nuts, we drove around a bit and checked out some of the older neighborhoods close to downtown. Richmond has wonderful old homes and great architecture, but many houses need a lot of TLC.
One thing we had planned to do, was stop by and see a friend of one of my friends, and that’s when the day got really off track. Seems friend of a friend had recently purchased one of those older homes that needed a lot of TLC, so we got the tour of that, and then, as said friend of a friend is also heavily involved in Architectural Preservation in Richmond, he took us on a Walking Tour of Downtown and a driving tour of some the residential Historic Districts in Richmond.
And that’s when I spotted what could be a Sears Modern Home No.123.
When Sears started out selling house plans and building materials in their Modern Homes Catalog in 1908, all the models were given a number to identify them. (Later on, they started using names instead of numbers.) According to Houses by Mail, the No. 123 was offered beginning in 1911, and even though the field guide says the last year was 1913, we now know it was also in the 1914 catalog. (Image above is from the 1914.)
Sears advertised the No. 123 as “an attractive two-story house of frame construction with gambrel roof, with return cornices”.
The No. 123 was a big house. Check out the floor plan which includes a Reception Hall, Living Room, Dining Room, Kitchen, five bedrooms (four up and one down) a front and back stairway, a pantry, and one teeny tiny bathroom.
A few of the architectural details to look for on this home are the projecting entry in front of the full width front porch, one small gable dormer in front of the large gambrel roof dormer on the side and bump out bay window just beneath that large side dormer. These details, along with the those large cornice returns, give the house a different look from many other early Dutch Colonial homes.
Here’s photos of the house I spotted in Richmond that has many, but not all, of those details I mentioned above.
The front of the house features those deep return cornices shown in the catalog illustration, along with the second floor triple window, not all one size, also like the catalog. The front porch, and the projecting entry have both been enclosed.
In this little bit closer view of the front, you can just barely see that the actual front entry door to the house is on the right side, inside the enclosed porch. That also matches the No. 123 floor plan.
The sides of the house are where it gets a little tricky. This home has the small single window dormer, but the larger dormer behind it is a gable roof, not the wide gambrel that is shown in the Sears catalog for the No. 123. The house does have the bump out bay below. Also, that short triple window towards the front would suggest a fully open Reception Hall, and the No. 123 had a small vestibule and a coat closet. Maybe those were removed when the front porch was enclosed. Why have a small vestibule inside your newer larger vestibule?
The left side window arrangement is also not a perfect match to the catalog, but would still work with the floor plan.
The early Sears kit homes were not Pre-Cut and Fitted like most of the later models, so slight changes to the floor plan could be made at the time of construction if you were skilled in engineering, or had a local architect make some adjustments to the design.
Researchers are pretty certain that Sears purchased the rights to use popular house plans of the time in their Modern Homes Catalogs, so it is certainly possible that this is the pattern book home design that the No. 123 is based on, and not the actual Sears offering.
I’m hoping it is one, so, could it be? A 123?
We did finally make it to an Antique Mall, late in the day, after a wonderful lunch at Little Sheba’s and free chocolate ice cream next door at Ullery’s Homemade Ice Cream.
We’l be going back soon, as there is lots more to see and do in Richmond.
Thanks for following along and if you know of a pattern book home design that matches the Sears No. 123, I would appreciate you contacting me or leaving a comment.
One last thing. In the catalog floor plan shown earlier, you might have noticed that Sears mentioned two cities in Ohio where the model had been built. One was Springfield and the other was Sharonville. I’m still looking for the one in Sharonville, but here’s the one in Springfield.