Monroe, Ohio is a small city just off I-75 between Dayton and Cincinnati.
Up until this year, I knew pretty much nothing about Monroe. All I ever saw of it was what was on “The Exit”. You know the one. Big Buttery Jesus…….Traders World……Premium Outlet Mall……..
Then, this past Spring, I was asked to give a Presentation at a General Meeting of the Monroe Historical Society. It’s been a while since I have given a “stand still” type of talk, as usually I am guiding folks around neighborhoods here in Springfield on Walking Tours.
But as I had decided to take this year off from the Walking Tour schedule, the timing was perfect for me to freshen up my Power Point Presentation.
So off to Monroe I went, in the Spring, to have a drive around and check out the one house they already knew was a “Sears House”
Or was it?
Here’s the deal. “Sears House” has become a generic name used to describe any house purchased as a kit from a mail order catalog. And since there were other companies that sold houses besides Sears, sometimes a “Sears House” isn’t from Sears, Roebuck.
Some researchers get annoyed about it when a house from another company is referred to as a “Sears House”, but it doesn’t bother me a bit. I am glad, and thankful, to have the information, and….it helps my research skills to track down models from some of the other companies.
So I’m pretty sure, and so is the family that has owned it for years, that their house is a “Sears House” from Lewis Mfg Co.
According to the family that attended my talk, there are a few things that don’t match up to either of the two floor plans that were offered for this model. For one thing, the house has access to the attic area via a stairway that is not shown in the catalog. Adding that stairway might have accounted for the few other small things that are different, like closet locations. I am hopeful the owners may be able to find some documentation that will determine if the house is, indeed, from Lewis Homes. We don’t have many Lewis models in our part of Ohio, so I was thrilled to see one in such good repair.
A couple houses down the street is this house, which matches up to a design offered by Montgomery Ward.
The house has had vertical siding added, making the identification a little tricky, but what caught my eye is the other side of the house.
See that little bumped out area? That’s the bathroom! The Wardway Monteroy shows that in the catalog illustration of the floor plan.
Around the corner from these two possible kit houses on Macready Ave., are two more houses that match a design offered by Montgomery Ward.
The front of the house shows the detail to look for to get started identifying this one, with the front door flanked by half windows.
The house on Ohio Ave is reversed from the catalog offering. That was a common change at order time.
The second house on Ohio Ave is right next door. It’s the same model, but not as photogenic. You’ll just have to take my word for it.
So….are there any “real” Sears Houses in Monroe?
I have to admit, I would have driven right past this house and not recognized it. In fact……I did…..several times. In my defense, it has been altered a bit. The front porch has been enlarged and the dormer removed. I am getting better at spotting one of the tri-level models that Sears offered, The Concord, but this is the Homecrest design. The first one I have ever seen!
Anyways……I didn’t spot it. And probably never would have. So thanks to Reed, for contacting me, offering to give me a tour of Monroe, and showing me the pages of his copy of the original blueprints for the home his family built in 1939.
I found a photo of the house taken before the porch was changed on the Butler County Auditor’s website.
The house still has the original door on the connector from the house to the garage.
Reed says the doorbell is original, too, on this door. He remembers ringing it repeatedly as a child. “TURN CRANK”
I loved having the opportunity to scout out Monroe, and had a wonderful evening sharing my finds, and hearing from their residents about their houses.
I also got some new information about a house in Middletown that has been on my radar for a while. I will share that in my next post.
Thanks for following along.