A while back I was doing some research on Beatrice Lask, who identified over 500 Sears Houses in Cincinnati, and came across an article published in the Cincinnati Enquirer dated January 30, 1993.
The cover photo for the article was the (now documented) Sears Aurora in Pleasant Ridge, but the next house pictured was the one that caught my eye.
What was it???
So, off to Google Maps I went, to see if I could spot the house. Surely it wouldn’t be too hard, since it was on Main St. in Batavia, which is a fairly small village. I did find it pretty quickly, and what a great Sears House it turned out to be.
A spacious home with lovely interior details, The Ivanhoe was promoted as being a “Leading Architect’s Design”. Here’s the floor plan and details.
Only a handful of Sears Ivanhoe models have been located across the United States to date; one in Florida, four in Illinois, one in Michigan, one in New York, one in West Virginia, and this one, right here in Ohio!
So earlier this week, on a bright and sunny day, my husband Frank decided we needed to go for a ride, and let me choose our destination.
I picked Batavia to check out Ohio’s very own Sears Ivanhoe!
According to the newspaper article I found, the home was built in 1920, and was still in the original owner’s family as of 1993.
The Ivanhoe was offered in the Sears Modern Home catalogs between 1912 and 1918, but we do know of other instances of Sears selling a house kit for a design that was no longer shown in the catalog. Hopefully the family would have a pretty good idea of the year of build, but I did find the original owner, James Ashburn, listed on “Main St.”, with no house number, in the 1920 Census, which was conducted on the 8th and 9th of January, 1920 in Batavia. That might mean the house was completed prior to 1920, or that the original owner lived in a different house on Main St at the time.
The newspaper also had a photo of the fireplace with the Rookwood tile.
Hey! We haven’t even gotten to the good part of the story yet, so I hope you’re still with me. The good news is that this home now belongs to the Clermont County Convention & Visitors Bureau. That means we got to go INSIDE!
Many thanks to Mark Calitri, Executive Director of the Bureau, for letting me take photos of a lot of the original interior details of the house, like the fireplace with the Rookwood tile, with the triple door bookcases on each side. This makes me feel like a newspaper photographer! (Just kidding.)
Here’s what the 1918 Modern Home catalog had to say about the first floor of The Ivanhoe.
Some of these details match up to the house in Batavia, but not all. That is not unusual, considering that this model was “not Cut or Fitted”, meaning that the lumber would have been hand sawed on site, and not machine cut at a Sears Lumber Mill. Many of the “not Cut or Fitted” house kits had changes made at time of construction, to suit the buyers preferences.
Here are some of the interior details on the first floor.
The stairway looks like this diagram, shown in the 1918 catalog, explaining how the Sears stairways were assembled from the pieces in the kit.
Now let’s look at the second floor details.
You’ll have to take my word for it that the second floor layout of rooms matches the catalog floor plan. I didn’t take photos of the bedrooms because they are all offices now. The bedrooms still had the “mirror doors” mentioned in the catalog.
I did, however, get a few photos of some of the details on the second floor, like the clothes chute door.
The catalog also mentions that The Ivanhoe has a floored attic and that the stairway to the third floor is “open”. Here is that stairway from the second floor hallway going up to the attic.
The doors on the second floor were all original, but some have been painted. This one was not.
And the house still has the original bathtub!
Sorry I went a little crazy with bathtub pictures, but it was stinkin’ cool.
I was sad to have to leave this wonderful Sears House, but we needed to move along. When we got outside, I walked all the way around and got photos from all sides. That is nice because many times we’re not sure what the back of the models actually look like. My mentor, Rebecca Hunter, recommends getting photos of the rear of the house whenever possible.
Here’s some exterior photos.
Thanks again to Mark for his time, interest, and assistance in finding a great place to have lunch in Batavia. We walked a block or so to the Village Diner for great food and service, and passed a couple of Clermont County’s unique government buildings along the way.
Made it to the Diner!
What should I have? How about a BLT and fries?
Frank had a chicken wrap. It was huge! He was happy.
A quick walk back to our car netted me a few more photos and then we headed home.
As always, I hope you enjoyed this blog post, and thanks for following along.
Happy New Year!