Hello there little blog of mine. I know. I’ve missed you, too.
Seems like ever since the time changed and darkness has taken over my part of Ohio, I haven’t had the time or energy to go out and about and hunt for Sears Houses. And now it’s the Holiday Season, which means even less time to do all that needs to be done.
But, there is always that Google car waiting patiently, to take me off on a virtual tour of neighborhoods around the state, and it doesn’t mind if it is dark outside!
A couple of weeks ago, my little research team had a quick discussion about how we had, maybe, exhausted all the on line resources currently available, that would help us track down Sears Houses. That discussion came up because our smallish Facebook Group had gotten pretty quiet.
So I put on my thinking cap, which is also pretty small, and thought about what could give us a boost. I spent a bit of time spot checking some of the mortgage records for the Cincinnati area that we weren’t able to attach to a Sears House, but that didn’t go so well. Had we found all the Sears Houses in Cincinnati? Nahhhhhh, as Donna Bakke would have said. Donna had a great eye for Sears Houses, and always said they were “everywhere” in Cincinnati. She passed on to a better life than this one before telling us where all of them were!
So, more thinking……..
I pulled out Rebecca Hunter’s “Putting Sears Homes on the Map” book, and did a quick skim of Ohio and surrounding states.
Hmmmm….I noticed there were a bunch of addresses for the Sears Argyle model in Anderson, Indiana. I took a minute to check our “list” and found that they hadn’t been entered yet! But first, I wanted to “see” them for myself, so I hopped in my Google car and went to Anderson. Yep, there they were. At least, most of them. I added them to the list. Of course, since I was already there, might as well “drive” around a bit. Before the night was over, I had located 10 Sears Houses in Anderson that hadn’t already been spotted by another researcher.
After that successful night, I took a quick look at how many houses, total, we had located to date. On November 11, 2019, we had 11,860.
I then put out a challenge to our team to reach 12,000 houses by the end of the year. It was less than three houses a day, and I had found ten in one night! Could we do it?
I found a few more in Anderson, Indiana, then stumbled across some old deed records that led me to several Sears Houses in Albany County, New York. My team was working through real estate listings, Google driving, following up leads gotten from homeowners, and also spot checking their own files for houses that never made it to the “list” A few did some walking and driving in their own areas, and before we knew it, we were there!
And Ohio still leads the way!
Anyways……what about this Sears Franklin in Deer Park that is the title of this blog post?
While on the hunt to reach our goal, I did eventually go back to my spot checking mortgage records in the Cincinnati area. One of those records took me to Deer Park, a suburb of Cincinnati. Deer Park had close to 30 Sears Houses already on the list, so I was already familiar with some of the streets in that small city. When I did track down the parcel I was looking for, I discovered the house had already been “discovered”. That happens a LOT in Cincinnati.
Most of the Sears Houses in Deer Park are small models, and most have been well cared for, which is always nice to find. While I was “there”, I did a Google drive around the block and spotted……what we researchers would call……”something”. That usually means the house looks familiar, but we can’t quite figure out if it’s a Sears House or not, at first glance. So we pull out our copy of “Houses by Mail” and check some other on line resources, to see if we can figure it out.
Here’s the Hamilton County Auditor’s photo of the house in Deer Park that I thought was “something”.
What I am pretty sure I spotted is the very first Sears Franklin model located to date!
The Franklin was one of the tri-level style homes that Sears started offering in the early 1930’s. The earliest this model was available, we think, was 1934, making it more difficult to locate, since Sears stopped offering mortgages just about the same time. Mortgage records point our noses to lots of Sears Houses we might otherwise miss.
I did what I do…….check the windows and door placement all around……check the chimney placement……check the year of build and dimensions on the County Auditor’s website……
Check…..check…..check. The house has a dormer which isn’t shown in the catalog, but that could have been added at time of build, or later. I also noticed that the front door seemed to be a little more to the right than what the catalog image shows.
Then, I noticed that in the floor plan sketch, the door actually is further to the right than what is shown in the catalog image. We researchers have found that on other models as well. Sometimes it is because there is more than one floor plan, and sometimes……Sears just didn’t picture the house correctly!
The house in Deer Park also has a couple extra windows on the “Foundation” level, but that room was meant to be customized to the owner’s preference.
Overall this is a fairly small home. With only four rooms on the main floor, that lower level would surely be best used as additional living space as opposed to a garage.
Here’s what Sears tells us about the house in the 1936 catalog.
I’m hoping to get to Deer Park soon, so I can see this house “for real”. In the meantime, I will be Google driving around, maybe in your area, in the hopes of finding “something”.
Thanks for following along.