You wouldn’t think today would be a good day to take pictures of a rare model Sears House, since it was snowing and all, but, hey, any day is a good day to take pictures of Sears Houses.
My daughter and I had planned a short day trip to Fairfield, Ohio to pick up a few things at Jungle Jim’s International Market, so of course, I spent a bit of time on Google Maps last night looking at houses nearby.
Fairfield is just north of Cincinnati, the current leader in the race to have the most Sears Houses located, so I was hoping to spot a few and be ready to grab a couple of quick photos.
I did. Spot a few. But we only stopped to get pictures of one. I was pretty sure it was what I thought, but you just never really know until you see them in person. And even that doesn’t always do the trick.
So while I am calling this a Sears No. 188, it is not documented as a home purchased as a kit from the Sears Modern Homes catalog.
The No 188 was only available for a few years, early on, in the Modern Homes catalogs. We currently believe it was offered only from 1911 until 1914.
The Sears No. 188 was a larger version of the No. 167, which later was called the Maytown.
Sears explained the difference between the two models in their 1913 catalog, stating the 188 was wider and longer and had the position of the rooms reversed.
Here’s the No. 167, also from the 1914 catalog.
Besides being larger, I saw two other details to separate the house designs. First, the tower room on the 188 is taller and the roof of the tower also looks higher and therefore, more steeply pitched. Second, the dining room bump out is different. On the 188, it is boxy, while the 167 has a more traditional three window bay.
Here’s the floor plans for comparison.
Now let’s have a look at the house in Hamilton with these differences in mind.
From the left side you can see both the extra space above the windows in the tower room and the boxy dining room bump out. One thing that doesn’t match up is the number of panels that make up the tower roof. The catalog for the 188 seems to show a four piece design, and this house has the six piece design of the 167. I guess that could have been changed at construction, or……it could have had to be replaced when this house had a fire in 1954.
The windows on the right side of the house, and the chimney placement, match the catalog image for the No. 188., both important points in identifying this model.
It’s hard to see since the day was so dreary, but the front porch pillars appear to be original and match the ones shown on the No. 188.
I also checked the Butler Co. Auditor’s website and found that the exterior dimensions of the house are pretty close to the No. 188. I think they must have rounded up the feet on all sides.
The Auditor’s website does show the year of build as 1924, but my research shows that date to be incorrect. This house was first listed in the Hamilton City Directory in 1913, which puts it right in the correct short time period for the No. 188.
Pay no attention to the spelling of the last name of the resident. It was spelled differently in almost every place I found mention of this house with Gustav in residence. I’m hoping the spelling in his obituary is the correct one, but you never know. I guess newspapers haven’t changed that much.
Obit is from The Butler County Democrat 8 Feb 1917. Gustav passed away leaving his wife and seven children. It appears that his wife, Minnie, was sturdy stock, as she manged to keep the house by taking in a few boarders. The 1920 Census shows ten people living in the home.
it appears that Minnie continued to rent out rooms and live in the home until 1932 when she moved to a smaller place.
While this house is now a duplex, it is a testament to the quality of the building materials that were provided by Sears, Roebuck for the construction of their Modern Home plans.
And it is an exciting find for me, as it is the first No. 188 on our Master List of Sears Houses across the United States.
Thanks for following along.