I first started out on my quest to locate houses purchased from the Sears Modern Homes catalog here in my hometown of Springfield, Ohio in 2010. I already knew I lived in a Sears Jeanette model, discovered by my daughter while she was researching small house plans on the Internet a couple of years earlier. But it wasn’t until January of 2010 that I was asked to do some research and assist with putting together a Walking Tour of Sears Homes for The Springfield Preservation Alliance (now part of The Westcott Center for Architecture & Design).
Really people, I had no idea how to get started doing that, but with the guidance of local Historian Kevin Robert Rose, Architectural Historians Rebecca Hunter (Elgin, Illinois) and Dale Wolicki (Bay City, Michigan), I jumped right in and slowly but surely figured out what I needed to do.
First stop – the County Recorders Office to look for mortgage records, one of the best ways to document a Sears House. Dale Wolicki had already provided a list of the names of Trustees for Sears, Roebuck (and Montgomery Ward), so I knew what I was looking for. Off I went, along with my Co-Researcher for the Walking Tour, Sarah Shivler. We were elated and excited to find a total of 39 mortgage records here in Clark County!
So…..now what? We quickly found out that having a mortgage record is just the first step in a fairly complicated process of actually finding the house. Once you have the mortgage record, you have a legal description of the property but no address, so now you need a plat map for the neighborhood if its in the city, or a County Engineer’s Map if its outside a platted development. Those are harder to find. Once you’ve figured out the actual address, off you go to drive by and stalk the house. Then you have to use Sears Modern Homes catalogs or the Houses by Mail Field Guide to identify the model. Whew. Boy, did I learn a lot that Winter about how to do mortgage research. I’m happy to say I’m pretty good at it now.
Anyway…..back to the Sears Olivia in Springfield! It was one of two Sears Olivia models that I located and identified through those mortgage records.
Here it is!
The Sears Olivia was a tiny house, by today’s standards. The main body of the house is 22 ft wide and 29 feet deep. It has a small extension on the back for storage and the stairway to the basement. Total square footage – 686 square feet.
Here’s the page from the 1925 Sears Modern Home catalog.
The first thing you might notice is that the house pictured is a mirror image of the one in the catalog. Sears offered reverse floor plans on most of their models at no extra charge.
Why am I featuring this little Sears Olivia right now? Because it’s FOR SALE! Who wants to buy a sweet little Sears House in Springfield, Ohio?
Here’s some interior photos from the real estate listing.
This Olivia has had an additional window added along the side wall towards the front of the house. This would totally mess up a Researcher on a street survey, as one of the field notes for this model is only one window in the room, set towards the back on the side wall.
Here’s the other side of the house, which shows that extra window in the Living Room.
From the front view you can see that the door and windows are not centered on the house. This is another good field note for this model. Also notice that the porch roof comes down almost to the outside edge of the bedroom window.
The Realtor was nice enough to take a picture of the back of the house for the listing. That view shows the rear extension nicely.
So that’s one of the two Sears Olivia models I located from mortgage records.
Here’s the other one. It’s right next door! It was ordered and built with the floor plan as shown in the catalog, but was added onto later. It also has the second Living Room window.
Here they are side by side.
The mortgages for these two homes were both recorded on May 22, 1927. The mortgage holders were Albert E Asebrook and William Eichelman. Both mortgages were for $3000. I researched the mortgage holders back in 2010, and determined that the houses were most likely built as rental properties. Neither of the mortgage holders ever lived in the homes.
Here is the link to the Zillow listing for 150 S Fostoria
Thanks for following along.