I’ll bet you all think I haven’t been hunting down Sears Houses for a while, since I haven’t done a post since the end of April. Yeah, well, if you thought that, you were wrong!
I’ve just been so busy with family, friends, and a large work project, that I haven’t sat down at my computer long enough to put something together for this little blog.
I’ve worked in visits to so many places around my area in the last several weeks that even I have forgotten where all I’ve been! And, I’ve seen all kinds of Sears Houses, and I’ve loved them all.
I do have a great story I want to tell though, about a house I saw when I went to Bexley, Ohio a couple weeks ago. I sort of invited myself over there to meet up with a gal from their Historic Preservation group. She contacted me through this little blog and was very interested in the Sears Houses that had been identified there. Their group wanted more detailed information, so the houses could be included in their preservation plan.
After meeting up at a local coffee shop, we hopped in her car with the list of addresses, my copy of “Houses by Mail”, and a mission to see some great houses.
Our first stop was only a few blocks away from our meeting place, so within minutes we were having a close up look at what was as yet an undocumented Sears Hathaway model.
The probable Hathaway in Bexley had a bit of a difference in the way the front porch was attached to the main body of the house, from what is shown in the catalog. If you can see it in the illustration above, the porch is off set to the left of the actual house.
Here’s the first floor diagram, showing how that was designed.
Also note that above the floor plan illustration, it states that The Hathaway can be built on a lot that is 36 feet wide. The house itself is only 24 feet wide, but that extended porch adds some symmetry to the kitchen extension on the right and gives the illusion of a larger home.
But what if you had a fairly narrow city lot? Those were common in platted neighborhoods in cities in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Could you have asked Sears to move that porch over a bit so this particular house would fit on this 41 foot wide lot, and still have room for a driveway?
Of course you could! Sears was happy to make those kind of changes to their house kits at time of ordering.
Is that what happened here, as this house doesn’t have that off set front porch?
I hopped out for a closer look and to get photos, and YAY!, the owner sees us and comes out to see what’s up.
After explaining what we were about, and telling her she might have a house purchased from Sears, Roebuck, we get a WONDERFUL! invite to see the inside.
It didn’t take me long to spot the tell tale plinth blocks along the stairway to know this was probably a real deal Sears House. Plinth blocks were a common feature of house kits. They were used in place of the more complicated angled joints where mill work came together when the house was constructed. The idea was that an unskilled person could more easily put the house together. Remember, it was a kit.
Next, I asked the owner if there was any original door hardware. Yes, indeed, all the doors and hardware were original, and they matched one of the designs offered in the Sears catalogs.
Stratford design, as shown in the Sears Modern Home catalogs, and included with many house kits sold by Sears in the 1920’s.
Well, now I’m sure this a Sears Hathaway, but it never hurts to ask…………got any exposed framing lumber in the basement? We could look for stenciled lumber.
Found that, too!
Sears marked their lumber with a letter followed by three numbers. We found the markings on the back of basement stair risers. I turned the photo sideways so we could more easily see the numbers. The letter is either faded or concealed by the stair stringer.
It’s always great to come across an owner who is interested in the history of their house, and this owner was thrilled to get the information we provided.
Here’s another picture of the house from the angle seen in the Sears catalog.
If you are a Sears House researcher, you might notice that the house next door with the brick front looks like “something”, and you would be right! That something is a Sears Mayfield, and it was the second stop on our list of houses to visit.
I had originally identified this house as a Sears Berwyn, totally forgetting that Sears changed the name of The Berwyn to Mayfield about 1933.
This Mayfield model is special as it was built in 1941, a year after the last Sears Modern Home catalog was published. I located this house from an article I found in the Columbus Dispatch, mentioning a number of Sears homes that were under construction, dated 20 July, 1941. I love old newspapers!
I thoroughly enjoyed the few hours I spent getting a tour of the Sears Homes in Bexley, and getting to chat with a few of its residents. I’m hoping to go back soon, for some additional house hunting.
I’ve already shown you the Sears Tarryton model in Bexley in an earlier blog post, and I will feature a few more of their homes in a later post.
Thanks for following along.