Have I Told You About Winnie?

OK, I will answer my own question. No, I’m sure I haven’t told you about Winnie. I meant to, last year, but I kept getting side tracked with leads on houses, day trips, meet ups with other researchers, and work……..sigh……..

Then I forgot all about it. Telling you, I mean. I haven’t forgotten about Winnie.

Winnie in front of her family’s Sears Aurora in 1937

But this year is a different story. Not many houses to go see. No day trips. No meet ups.

What’s a Sears researcher supposed to do?

How about I try to organize my photo files?

Yikes! Never mind. My files are beyond organizing, I’m afraid. I have hundreds and hundreds of photos of houses I have seen “for real” and even more hundreds of screen shots of houses I located on the internet. There is just no easy way to keep track of them. At least for me.

And when I do try to hunt up something in my photo files, I usually end up finding something I wasn’t looking for.

Like Winnie’s family’s house.

Current photo of a Sears Aurora, 6513 W 3rd St., Trotwood, OH

Long, long, ago…… or so it seems………..I was interviewed for an article about Sears Houses in the Columbus area. That article generated quite a few emails from people around Ohio, and beyond, about their own knowledge of a house that was purchased as a kit from Sears, Roebuck.

The absolute BEST info I got was from Winnie, about a Sears Aurora that her family had ordered and built in Trotwood in 1932. Apparently one of her family members had seen the article and told her about it. She then contacted me via email.

Winnie, apparently, was the keeper of all the original correspondence between Sears, Roebuck and her father, Leslie E Hartzell. She was worried that the documents would be lost forever when she passed from this world, as no one in her family had any interest in them. They no longer lived in Ohio, and had no personal connection with the house.

I assured her the documents were of importance to my research, and the research of others with the same interest, and before long, a package showed up on my front porch. Inside was a snapshot…….no…..that’s not the right word……a HISTORY……of how a home was purchased from Sears, Roebuck.

The documents Winnie sent me appear to be a complete record of how a home was purchased, by mail order, from Sears, Roebuck in 1932. The house was an Aurora model, clearly stated in the Construction Estimate.

The Aurora was offered in two floor plans. Leslie Hartzell chose the “B” plan, which was the larger of the two.

Leslie Hartzell also decided to make some changes to the design of the house at time of ordering, something Sears encouraged, to make it seem like you were, indeed, designing the home yourself. The main floor living area was expanded, and the second floor was then finished as sleeping rooms for the entire family.

The documents Winnie sent me go on and on. A receipt for $300 cash as a deposit. A memo noting that Sears issued a mortgage on the house in the amount of $2328 – $1863 for Sears materials and $465 for the parcel. Receipts for concrete and concrete blocks, items not included in the Sears kit. The sheets listing the specifications for the house are an amazing piece of the “what was included” in a Sears House puzzle. Leslie Hartzell purchased additional items from Sears, like an electrical package, and a Hercules heating system. Reading through all the documents, you almost can see the house taking shape.

The house was finished in May of 1933.

Winnie’s brother, Douglas, on the porch on move in day.

The Hartzell family owned this Sears Aurora until 1999, when Mabel, Leslie’s wife passed away.

The Hartzell family in 1944

So now I am the keeper of this treasure trove of paperwork of a Sears Aurora in Trotwood. Hopefully….someday……there will be a permanent home for documents like these. It’s this girl’s hope and dream that there will be a Museum dedicated to all things Sears House related.

A girl can dream, can’t she?

(Winnie, I hope I got it right.)

Thanks for following along.

5 comments on “Have I Told You About Winnie?

  1. What a story this archive of documents and photos tells–and what a great job you do of writing it!


  2. I’m so happy the history of this home and it’s beginnings are in your hands. I know you’ll treasure and respect it.


  3. Wow – how amazing. What a find. Thank you for sharing!


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