Could it be? The No. 123….. in Sharonville?

Way back in the beginning……the beginning of my crazy hunt for houses purchased as kits from Sears Roebuck, I found a tidbit in one of the early Modern Homes catalog about there being a Sears model No. 123 being built in my hometown of Springfield (Ohio).

The No. 123 is a pretty distinctive design, and as far as Dutch Colonial style homes go, it’s pretty large.

Here’s the catalog image from the 1914 catalog.

You would think it would be pretty easy to spot on a street survey, but actually there a lot of plan book designs that are similar, so you have to really stop and take a close look at a house to be sure it has all the correct details. I know this, because I drove around Springfield for a couple of years, and reviewed a LOT of large Dutch Colonial homes around town, before I finally stumbled across the real deal one on an errand in a part of town I rarely went to.

It was a perfect match!

Sears No. 123 in Springfield, Ohio

Here’s the floor plan sketch that was shown in the 1914 catalog, that lists the other cities where this model had already been built.

For those of you that don’t know, Sharonville is in the northern part of Hamilton County, which is the heart of Sears Houses in Ohio. You know…..Cincinnati. And Sharonville is really not a large area geographically, so it should have been no problem to drive around and spot this house.



Over the past 15 years (yeah, I’ve been at it about that long now), myself and a couple other avid Sears House Hunters have driven around Sharonville, for real and virtually, with no luck. We had pretty much given up hope, figuring it had been torn down somewhere along the way.

Then a couple years ago, right before the whole COVID thing started, I got an inquiry from a homeowner about a house in Sharonville. The owner had found a mailing label from Sears, Roebuck on a trim board on the inside of an upstairs bedroom closet and started doing some research about it. We emailed back and forth a bit, and I got an invite to tour the home and see what was what.

Well, the house was one I was aware of, because it was one of those large Dutch Colonial style homes that I had looked at, more than once, to see if it matched the No. 123, but it didn’t. And since there was an identical house almost directly across the street from it, I assumed it was a local design or from a plan book of the time.

Here’s the mailing label. It’s a little hard to make out the details, but it states it is an order of S R & Co., shipping to Sharonville OH. The address on the left confirms it a Sears mailing label as 925 Homan Ave., was their address of record at the time.

My planned visit didn’t happen in March of 2020. We all remember the stay at home orders that came out right about that time, but I reconnected with the owner recently, and a few weeks ago I finally got to check out an amazing, lovingly cared for home.

Probable No. 123 that Sears said was built in Sharonville, Ohio.

OK, so there are a lot of differences from the No. 123 as it was shown in the catalog. Lots. But, there are a lot of things that are right, too. Here’s what I think might have happened.

The original owner, who was going to build a house, bought the plans from Sears.

Send them $1.00 and you are going to get the plans. If you then buy millwork, you get the $1.00 credited towards your order.

Now that the home buyer/builder has the plans, he figures out that the house ( No. 123 ) is too big for the lot he owns. Remember, this is a BIG house. While the 27 foot width was OK, the 41 foot depth was a problem.

I couldn’t find an occupation for the original owner in census records, but he did develop a small portion of Sharonville, so he must have had access to local builders. What could they do to make the house work.

Here’s what I could see from my complete interior inspection of the house.

See if this makes sense to you. It does to me, but I’m no architect.

In the Reception Hall, the front closet was omitted. That area is open to the room with a window at the base of the stairs and a window seat in the corner. There is no closet under the stairs as that is where the stairs to the basement are located.

In the Living Room the fireplace was moved to the outside wall. There are double pocket doors where the fireplace is shown in the catalog sketch.

The first floor bedroom probably was a bedroom originally, based on the fact that the original floors in that space were pine. Oak was used in the Living Room. That first floor bedroom is now the Dining Room. The flooring has been replaced in both the Living Room and current Dining Room due to bad things happening to them over the years.

The Dining Room from the original floor plan is the kitchen. There is no side bay window in the kitchen and the basement stairs are accessed from that room.

The entire back portion of the house, about 14 feet, that would have been the kitchen, pantry, back entry and rear stairs, were omitted. This would have severely changed the roof line of the house, which would account for there not being the bay window, the overhanging extension, and dormer on the right side of the exterior of the house.

On the second floor, the room arrangement is pretty much correct, with, again, the back bedroom and rear stairs portion of the house omitted. The bedroom and bathroom on the left side are swapped, and the wall between them moved forward. This may have been needed for stability due to the roof line change.

I know all that seems crazy, but if you had the plans and a local architect and builder to assist, I think it could be done. The house in question was started in 1912, and at that point in the sales of Sears Modern Homes, you were just getting lengths of lumber for the framing, not the pre-cut sections that were provided just a few years later. The year of build also works for this to be one mentioned in the Sears catalogs, as the first year it was listed was 1913.

So what else do we know was purchased from Sears, Roebuck besides the trim boards in the upstairs closet?

The stairway. It’s the exact same one as the one in the No. 123 here in Springfield.

Stairway in the Sears No. 123 in Springfield, Ohio
Stairway in the modified Sears No. 123 in Sharonville. Note that the one in Springfield has a different newel (starting) post. Those were options when you purchased the stairway assembly.

Here is close up of the scroll work on the stairway stringer. Both houses have this design.

The house also has amazing original doors and woodwork, and some built in cabinets, but it’s hard to say for sure they were purchased from Sears, since the designs were common for the time period. I am just assuming they were since there was a Sears label on one of the trim boards.

Our other solid connection to Sears building materials comes from the house across the street that is the same design. From a recent real estate listing, I determined it has the same layout of rooms, the same stairway, and a stained glass window that matches one of the many lovely styles in the Sears catalog.

photo from real estate listing

We may never know the whole story of what happened to the No. 123 model that Sears said was built in Sharonville, but I’m going with THIS IS IT! How would Sears ever know that the buyer didn’t actually build the No. 123 if he bought the plans, then building materials. And if this is actually what happened, there may be other houses out there that we’ve been looking for, that were never built according to the plans.

My research group will continue to look though, because that’s what we do!

Some day, maybe soon, I will tell you a story about Anderson, Indiana. It will be a long story, too.

Thanks for following along!

2 comments on “Could it be? The No. 123….. in Sharonville?

  1. That’s a lot of detective work, but it makes sense! Beautiful pictures!


  2. You’re research and information is amazing!


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