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A Sears No. 188 in Hamilton

You wouldn’t think today would be a good day to take pictures of a rare model Sears House, since it was snowing and all, but, hey, any day is a good day to take pictures of Sears Houses.

My daughter and I had planned a short day trip to Fairfield, Ohio to pick up a few things at Jungle Jim’s International Market, so of course, I spent a bit of time on Google Maps last night looking at houses nearby.

Fairfield is just north of Cincinnati, the current leader in the race to have the most Sears Houses located, so I was hoping to spot a few and be ready to grab a couple of quick photos.

I did.  Spot a few.  But we only stopped to get pictures of one.  I was pretty sure it was what I thought, but you just never really know until you see them in person.  And even that doesn’t always do the trick.

So while I am calling this a Sears No. 188, it is not documented as a home purchased as a kit from the Sears Modern Homes catalog.

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Sears No 188 at 1106 Grand Blvd., Hamilton

 

The No 188 was only available for a few years, early on, in the Modern Homes catalogs.  We currently believe it was offered only from 1911 until 1914.

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image from the 1914 catalog

The Sears No. 188 was a larger version of the No. 167, which later was called the Maytown.

Sears explained the difference between the two models in their 1913 catalog, stating the 188 was wider and longer and had the position of the rooms reversed.

Here’s the No. 167, also from the 1914 catalog.

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from the 1914 catalog

 

Besides being larger, I saw two other details to separate the house designs.  First, the tower room on the 188 is taller and the roof of the tower also looks higher and therefore, more steeply pitched.  Second, the dining room bump out is different.  On the 188, it is boxy, while the 167 has a more traditional three window bay.

Here’s the floor plans for comparison.

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Now let’s have a look at the house in Hamilton with these differences in mind.

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left side view of a Sears No. 188 at 1106 Grand Blvd. in Hamilton

From the left side you can see both the extra space above the windows in the tower room and the boxy dining room bump out.  One thing that doesn’t match up is the number of panels that make up the tower roof.  The catalog for the 188 seems to show a four piece design, and this house has the six piece design of the 167.  I guess that could have been changed at construction, or……it could have had to be replaced when this house had a fire in 1954.

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right side view of a Sears No. 188 at 1106 Grand Blvd in Hamilton

The windows on the right side of the house, and the chimney placement, match the catalog image for the No. 188., both important points in identifying this model.

It’s hard to see since the day was so dreary, but the front porch pillars appear to be original and match the ones shown on the No. 188.

I also checked the Butler Co. Auditor’s website and found that the exterior dimensions of the house are pretty close to the No. 188.  I think they must have rounded up the feet on all sides.

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The Auditor’s website does show the year of build as 1924, but my research shows that date to be incorrect.  This house was first listed in the Hamilton City Directory in 1913, which puts it right in the correct short time period for the No. 188.

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Pay no attention to the spelling of the last name of the resident.  It was spelled differently in almost every place I found mention of this house with Gustav in residence.  I’m hoping the spelling in his obituary is the correct one, but you never know.  I guess newspapers haven’t changed that much.

Obit is from The Butler County Democrat 8 Feb 1917.  Gustav passed away leaving his wife and seven children.  It appears that his wife, Minnie, was sturdy stock, as she manged to keep the house by taking in a few boarders.  The 1920 Census shows ten people living in the home.

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it appears that Minnie continued to rent out rooms and live in the home until 1932 when she moved to a smaller place.

While this house is now a duplex, it is a testament to the quality of the building materials that were provided by Sears, Roebuck for the construction of their Modern Home plans.

And it is an exciting find for me, as it is the first No. 188 on our Master List of Sears Houses across the United States.

Thanks for following along.

 

 

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A Sears House under serious restoration

A couple of weeks ago, my husband Frank and I went on a day trip to South Bend, Indiana, to get some parts for the classic car we bought earlier this year.

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Our 1962 Studebaker Lark

Yep, that’s it above.  A 1962 Studebaker Lark.  You don’t see one of these every day.

It’s a great old car, but it needed a bit of tinkering.  Like…….we put the original motor and drive train back in.  The previous owner had replaced them with something else, but gave us the originals when we bought the car.

And then it needed…….well…….lots of miscellaneous parts.

So where does one go to buy miscellaneous parts for old Studebaker’s?  You go to the point of origination.  South Bend, Indiana.

After a four hour (plus) drive, we arrived at stop number one, Tommy Karkiewicz’s place, where old Studebakers go to die.

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Fortunately, Tommy also has  loads of original parts he salvaged from his Studebaker graveyard, so we were able to get what we went for.  Original wheels.

We only needed four wheels…….Tommy had plenty to choose from.

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Tommy and Frank

After a nice visit with Tommy and his wife, we headed off to our next stop, Studebaker International, for a few more things.

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So……now it’s like, 3:00 PM, and we have a four (plus) hour drive home.  But, like with any day trip we make, Frank always, always, makes sure I get to see at least ONE Sears House.  And since we were in South Bend, the house I got to see was one that had been on my Sears House Bucket List for a long time.

Yep.

The Magnolia.

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The Sears Magnolia in South Bend was mentioned in Houses by Mail, the Field Guide to houses from Sears, Roebuck, which was published in 1986, so Sears House lovers have known about this home for a long, long time.

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Excerpt from Houses by Mail

This Sears Magnolia was for sale not too long ago, and was in need of some major renovation and repair.  Here’s a link that shows a load of photos from when it was listed.

Sears Magnolia in South Bend real estate listing info

Oh happy day for this Sears House researcher, because when we got there, we discovered it was undergoing major renovation, kinda like our Studebaker Lark.

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Sears Magnolia- 325 W North Shore, South Bend, Indiana

There were quite a few construction workers on site, and it was great to see somebody giving this fabulous home the love and attention it needed.  Here’s a few more photos of the exterior work in progress.

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We also made time to get photos of two other fabulous Sears Houses while we were there, an Alhambra, just down the street from this Magnolia and a Preston, a few blocks away.

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Sears Alhambra- 221 North Shore, South Bend, Indiana

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Sears Preston at 204 Peashway St., South Bend Indiana

I’m looking forward to a return trip to South Bend in May of 2017, hopefully, to attend the Studebaker Driver’s Club International Meet, and get photos of the Magnolia when it is complete.   And Tommy’s wife wants to go Sears House hunting with me!

I guess I should mention that Ohio also has a Sears Magnolia in Canton.  While I haven’t traveled there to see it yet, fellow researcher Andrew Mutch has.  Here’s his recent photo.

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Sears Magnolia at 424 19th St NW, Canton. Documented with a mortgage record dated 7/17/1923. Photo courtesy of Andrew Mutch.

Thanks for following along.

 

 

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Sears Rockhurst models in Akron

Last week I did a quick search for Walker O. Lewis in Newspapers.com.  I’ve done that before, and got a couple hundred hits in the Cincinnati Enquirer, which helped to document loads of the Sears Houses that had already been located, and, identified a bunch more.  (Walker O Lewis was the Trustee who signed off on mortgages for Sears, Roebuck.)

But last week when I searched, I noticed a couple hits for Akron newspapers, and took a few minutes to check one out.    It was a Sheriff’s Sale notice dated 15 Feb 1922 in the Akron Beacon Journal.

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And while it wasn’t Sears, Roebuck who was foreclosing on the property, it does mention that the house was subject to a mortgage of $2532.00 given to Walker O. Lewis, Trustee.  That’s our Sears connection!

And look!  An Address!  Sweet!  Usually we just get a parcel number or some big old legal description.  But an address really moves the whole process forward.  Off to Google Maps I go.   And what I spotted, trying really hard to hide behind some landscaping, is none other than a Sears Rockhurst.

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Sears Rockhurst (No. 3077) at 1297 Pondview Ave., Akron  (Google maps screenshot)

I know, I know.  It’s really hard to see the house.  But I knew immediately what Sears model it was, because I have looked at the catalog images for this model over and over and over.  This design is interesting because it had one floor plan, but several different exterior looks.

Here’s what Sears spotlighted in the Modern Home catalog for 1922.

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Yeah, I know.  That image doesn’t look like the house on Pondview Ave.  But wait.  The catalog goes on to show us the floor plan, details, AND three  exterior options for this house.

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The house above on Pondview has the triple window on the attic level and the hooded front porch roof.  It also has the side porch.

 

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Sears Rockhurst (No. 3077) at 1297 Pondview Ave., Akron  (Google maps screenshot)

And what’s that I see?  Is that a Sears five piece eave bracket?  Yep, it is!

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Fans, this location of a Sears Rockhurst was big news for my little group of researchers, because it’s the first Rockhurst on our Master List of Homes, which currently has close to 5500 addresses.

But!  It didn’t remain the only Sears Rockhurst on the list for long, because, today, I went back to Newspapers.com and looked at another Walker O Lewis mention in an Akron newspaper, and guess what!  I located another Sears Rockhurst!

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Here’s the house!

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Sears Rockhurst (No. 3075) at 269 Kryder Ave., Akron (Google Maps screenshot)

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Sears Rockhurst (No. 3075) at 269 Kryder Ave., Akron (Google Maps screenshot)

Well.  Hmmmm…… Two Sheriff Sale notices nets two Sears Rockhurst models?  I guess I better do a little more research.  First thing’s first.  I go back to Google Maps and “drive” down Pondview and Kryder.  Hmmmmm.  Lots of houses that look like the Sears Rockhurst.  What’s up with that?

Then I had a look at those two notices again, and I see they both mention Provident Estates Co.  Guess I better look them up.

Good thing I did!

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Akron Evening Times, 24 April 1920

If you read through the details, you see that all 20 houses being built on Pondview and Kryder are 22X26.  The Sears Rockhurst is 22X26, too!  Looks like Provident Estates Co was building Sears Rockhurst models.

Here’s another notice I found.

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Akron Beacon Journal 13 July 1920

 

Provident Estates Co was building 20 more houses on Minerva Place and First Ave.  Here’s  what I spotted on Minerva Place, thanks again, to Google Maps.

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Sears Rockhurst models on Minerva Place in Akron (Google Maps screenshot)

 

And this one across the street from the three.

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Sears Rockhurst (No 3077) on Minerva Place in Akron (Google Maps screenshot)

So now we know about a train load of Sears Rockhurst models in Akron.  Of course, every single one of these is not individually documented.  Heck, I haven’t even got the addresses nailed down yet.  Guess I’d better get to work.

 

 

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A Sears Preston in Glendale (Cincinnati)

I’ve just finished re-publishing blog posts written by my late friend, Laraine Shape, on a re-creation of  her website, Sears Houses in Cincinnati.  This makes me a bit sad, as whenever I was adding one of her blog posts to the site, it would bring back memories of all the fun we had on our days out and about hunting for Sears Houses, and I don’t want to forget those happy days.

A lot of the houses we drove past had been found by other researchers, but we still wanted to see them up close and personal, and get our own photos.  And we always, always, found  more on our trips out.

Usually I would get up early, and drive to Laraine’s house in Glendale, a little more than an hour from my home in Springfield.  Once there, we would scope out our list of houses for that day, grab a coffee to go, and head out.  Laraine would drive us around Cincinnati, thank goodness, and was a whiz at getting us to our destination neighborhood without too much difficulty.

One day, she wanted to do some driving around her own neighborhood, and show me some of the houses she had spotted recently.   Glendale has lovely, well kept homes all over, but only a handful of Sears Houses, so Laraine was always thrilled when she located a new one in her own backyard, so to speak.

Unfortunately, she missed a beauty!  I know how much she would have loved to have known about the impressive Sears Preston model, literally just a mile from where she lived!

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Probable Sears Preston at 830 Hedgerow Lane, Glendale (Cincinnati)

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The Sears Preston is shown in the catalog illustration with an inset arched front door centered between two sets of triple windows. The second floor windows are three sets of double windows, and there are double windows in the two dormers as well.   The house in Glendale has that same window arrangement, but it doesn’t have the correct front entrance.

The Preston is one of the larger Sears models.  Let’s have a look at the floor plan.

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Here’s a view of the left side of the house in Glendale.  The windows all match up to the floor plan shown above, except for the small window in the “Breakfast Alcove”.  I’ll bet that area has been remodeled and is now part of an enlarged kitchen.

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From this side angle you can see how deep the Preston is.

In the 1925 Modern Homes catalog, Sears showed the Preston from this same angle on a page featuring letters written by Contractors who had built homes.

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And look at that!  The Preston shown in the above illustration doesn’t have the inset arched front entrance.  It has the same entrance as the house in Glendale.

Here’s the right side of the house in Glendale.  It’s had a side porch added, but the evenly spaced upstairs windows also match the catalog floor plan.

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I’ve been fortunate enough to have seen two other Sears Preston models, one in Marion, Ohio, and one in South Bend, Indiana.

Here they are.

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Sears Preston at 537 S Vine St., Marion

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Sears Preston at 204 Peashway St., South Bend Indiana

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And then there were 10…….

A while back I did a blog post about the The Nine Sears Alhambras in Cincinnati.

Well, just today, I did a quick scan of real estate listings in Cincinnati (gotta keep my eye out for Sears Houses we all missed), and OMG!

There is another Alhambra in Cincinnati.  That makes 10.

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Sears Alhambra at 3975 Abington Ave., North Avondale, Cincinnati (Historical photo from the Hamilton County Auditor’s website)

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Sears Alhambra at 3975 Abington Ave., North Avondale, Cincinnati (Photo from Hamilton County Auditor website)

The exterior looks to be in great condition still, but the interior photos of the inside…….well…….it could be a gorgeous home again.  And it can be yours for only $79,000!

Zillow listing for a Sears Alhambra in Cincinnati

The Auditor and the real estate listing both state the home was built in 1935, but that is incorrect.  The  house is shown in the 1930 Census with Lester Herrick, his wife Harriet, an adult son, and a near adult daughter living in the residence.  Lester Herrick stated he owned the home at that time.

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The Alhambra was offered in the Sears Modern Homes catalog from 1918 until 1929.

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Joseph St. in Mt. Healthy (Cincinnati)

If you have been following this little blog, you might already know that the most complete inventory of Sears Houses in Cincinnati was done in the 1990’s by Beatrice Lask.

Since then, a handful of serious researchers have added to her list of about 500 homes, and have been able to document many of them through mortgage records.

We have added so many homes to her list, that every once in a while I like to go back and refresh my memory on specific neighborhoods and review her original finds.

Since I had the opportunity recently to grab a few photos of Sears Houses on Joseph St. in Mt Healthy, I decided to get out my hard copy of her thesis and see what Bea had noted.

Ha!  Three houses in Mt. Healthy.  None of them on Joseph St.

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Then I had a look at our Master List and saw that we have 25 Sears Houses listed in Mt. Healthy, seven of them on Joseph St.  What’s up with that?  How could Bea have missed that many houses?  Well, she didn’t.  When Laraine Shape and I met her a few years back, one of the questions Laraine asked was why she didn’t survey a lot of the northern suburbs.  Bea just smiled slightly and said “Well, I had to stop somewhere”.

Another lover of Sears Houses, Donna Bakke, was the one who spotted quite a few models in Mt Healthy, and supplied a pretty good list of addresses, so others could drive by and check them out.  I mean, really, if you love Sears Houses and want to promote them, you’ve got to freely give out information on where they are, and what they are, or you aren’t helping anybody but yourself!

Anyways, here’s a few of my photos of the Sears Houses on Joseph St. in Mt. Healthy.

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Sears Dundee – 7817 Joseph St.  This house had several rooms and a garage added on the left side in the 1950’s.

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Sears Hampton – 7848 Joseph St

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Right next door to the Sears Hampton is a Sears Starlight.  You can’t see it well from the street due to landscaping.  You can just make out the identifying feature, that clipped gable dormer, from the side.

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Side by side Sears Houses at 7848 and 7844 Joseph St. A Hampton model on the left and a Starlight on the right.

Here’s the Auditor’s photo of the Starlight from 2008,  when the shrubbery was much smaller.

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Auditor photo of a Sears Starlight at 7844 Joseph St.  As is seen quite often in Cincinnati, half of the front porch has been modified to make the Living Room larger.

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Sears Josephine at 7853 Joseph St. This home is documented with a Mechanic’s Lien from Norwood Sash & Door, a millwork factory owned by Sears, Roebuck.

 

 

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Sears Whitehall – 7821 Joseph St. This is also documented with a Norwood Sash & Door Mechanic’s Lien.

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This small group of Sears Houses are all pretty much in the same long block.  There are a couple more Sears Houses on Joseph St. a few blocks down.  I will share those in a future post.

One final note about the three houses that Bea Lask identified in Mt Healthy.  Two of them, the ones on Clovernook, aren’t actually in Mt Healthy.  They are in the neighboring suburb of North College Hill.

Thanks for following along.

 

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A Sears Dundee in Mt Healthy (Cincinnati)

This house is on the Master List of Sears Homes as a  Dundee model, and it is one.

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Sears Dundee – 7817 Joseph St – Cincinnati (Mt Healthy)

But here’s the deal. I was in Cincinnati yesterday with a friend (who loves my Sears House habit), and she drove me around a bit, checking out a few of the houses on Joseph St. in Mt. Healthy,  before attending a birthday party nearby.  I was taking photos of this house (and the one next door) when the owner came out. Bob. He already knew it was a Sears House because they had bought it from the family of the original owner, who passed along the history.  He didn’t, however, know what model it was.  We chatted for a minute, then I headed on down the street to get photos of several other Sears Houses that are also on our list.

I was just finishing up getting my photos, ready to hop in Gretchen’s car and head for the birthday bash, when I saw a woman waving at me from down the street.   So, of course, I headed back towards The Dundee, and discovered it was Mrs. Bob.  She had a question.  Did I know what the house looked like originally?  The home had been added onto, sometime in the 1950’s, they knew, but she had always wondered how the rooms were arranged before the addition.

Fortunately, I had brought along several of my research books, so I grabbed my copy of the reprint of the 1926 Sears Modern Home catalog out of the car, and turned to the page showing The Dundee.

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Sears Dundee from the 1926 catalog (my original, not the reprint)

Mrs Bob had a look, and said that it still didn’t seem quite right, based on the current room arrangement, and I’d better come on in and see what was what.

Sweet!

In we go.  She was right.  The original part of the house didn’t quite match up with the 1926 catalog floor plan, even though some of the rooms had been repurposed.

Hmmmmm……..I promised to do some further research when I got home, and see if I could find another floor plan for the Dundee, or an alternate model that was similar.

And I did.  Find an alternate floor plan for The Dundee.  Well, not really an alternate, I guess, but an earlier one.  And it was one that had no bathroom!

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Floor plan of the Sears Dundee from the 1920 Modern Home catalog. No bathroom!

 

Lets compare the two floor plans, 1920 and 1926.

In order to make room for a bathroom in The Dundee, Sears added square footage to the back right hand corner of the house, and reconfigured the layout of the bedrooms.  They squeezed in a super small bathroom, and added a short hallway in between the bedrooms for added privacy.  In the original floor plan, without the bathroom, the bedrooms opened directly off the kitchen and living room.  No wasted space there!

Now, back to the real Sears Dundee in Mt Healthy.

I’m no good with those photo shop programs that let you add lines, circles, pointers, etc., so I won’t waste my time and get frustrated trying to do that.  I’ll just make an attempt at explaining what I think happened with the Dundee on Joseph St.

The exterior footprint of the house matches the plan in the 1920 catalog, the one with no bathroom.  The living room is in the correct place, and the front bedroom door is off the living room, right inside the entry door.  The original kitchen is now the dining room, and the wall between those two rooms has been widened to make it more open and light.  Off the back of the new dining room is the original stairway to the basement.  To the right of the old kitchen/new dining room space, originally the back bedroom, there are now two rooms.  One is a small galley kitchen, at the rear, and the other is the bathroom, larger than the one in the 1926 floor plan.  There is no little hallway.  The house does not have the added square footage shown in the 1926 floor plan.

So that’s pretty much it for the original part of the house, which is lovely.  It retains all the original doors and trim boards, unpainted and glowing just like new.  The house also has the Stratford design hardware that is listed as being included with The Dundee in the catalogs.

What we don’t know, is whether this room change was made at time of build, or was done when the house had an addition put on in the 1950’s.  If the rooms were changed at construction time, that would mean there was an alternate floor plan available for The Dundee that wasn’t shown in the catalog, or the house was customized by the purchaser at time of ordering.  Either way, when it was done, all the doors and closets were kept in the original positions, except for the back bedroom as that room was re-purposed.

Interesting.  If the house did have those room changes made at construction time, it would have had only one bedroom to begin with.

Here’s a current photo of the house, which shows the addition on the left side of the home.

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Sears Dundee at 7817 Joseph St. in the Mt Healthy area of Cincinnati. The house had rooms and a garage added on the left side in the 1950’s.

Thanks to Bob and his wife for allowing me in their lovely Sears Dundee, and thanks to my friend Gretchen for waiting patiently while I got an unexpected house tour.

 

 

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An Aladdin Sunshine in Champaign County

A few years back, I went to Urbana to check out a house I thought might be a Sears Barrington model.  I had seen it listed for sale and had already checked out the Realtor’s photos, but I wanted to do a drive by to get a better look at the exterior details.  When I got there, there was a large truck in the driveway, and the folks were moving out.

Hmmmmm……should I stop?  Why not!  The moving guys pointed me to the owner, and I went to talk to him about the house.  Well, seems the house was a rental, and the man wasn’t the owner, but he had lived there for a while, and was interested in my speech about the house possibly being a kit from Sears.  He had heard of them!  We chatted for a minute, then he told me he knew about another Sears House in the area.  He gave me specific directions,  then went back to monitoring his moving guys.

Of course, I drove past the house he told me about on my way home.  I didn’t recognize it.  Since then I have driven past it about 50 times, but still didn’t recognize it as a Sears House.

Sigh…….

Early on I didn’t make that important connection that the house might not be from Sears, but possibly a kit from another company.  Now I know better…..some days anyways…..so the last couple of times I have driven past it, I tried to look at it with new eyes.  Still no luck at identifying it.

But, today my luck changed.  I was going through some of my old stuff, looking for my record of an Aladdin Home that was shipped to Medway, when I came across a sales record for a house that was shipped to Bowlusville.

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Photo of the original sales record.  Aladdin Homes records are available for research by the public at The Clarke Historical Library at CMU University in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.  Thanks to them for allowing me to share images of these documents.

You all might have never even heard of Bowlusville, but I know exactly where it is.  Or at least what is left of it.   About 1/2 mile from that house I have driven past 50 times, but didn’t recognize.

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1640 W County Line Rd., Urbana.  (The house isn’t really in Urbana, it just has an Urbana mailing address.)

Is this it?  Is this the Aladdin Sunshine on my sales record?

Yep.  It is.

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Aladdin Sunshine at 1640 W County Line Rd., Urbana.  

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image of the Aladdin Sunshine from the 1917 catalog

The house on County Line Rd has had quite a few changes and additions since it was purchased as a kit in 1919, but after reviewing the window arrangement, along with the year of build (1920) and exterior footprint available on the Champaign Co Auditor’s website, I was 99.9% sure I had correctly identified the house.

Ancestry filled in the other .1%, by telling me that John A Schart lived on Storms Creek Rd in the 1930 Census.  County Line Rd.’s name changes to Storms Creek Rd just a little ways west, once you cross over Upper Valley Pike.  I’ll bet it was all named Storms Creek in 1930.

The house has lost its little dormer, and had a side porch added where you see the triple window in the bump out behind the fireplace chimney.

Here’s the floor plan and details, also from the 1917 catalog.

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It’s really hard to tell where the original house begins and ends in the current Auditor’s sketch, due to all the additions, but the width of 28 feet matches the floor plan.

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I’m really glad I was finally able to identify this house.  I’ve gotten a lot of leads over the years about possible kit homes in my area, and many of them  are still on my “need to check out” list.

Thanks for following along.

 

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Gunnison Homes in Springfield

Gunnison Magic Homes- Gunnison Homes- United States Steel Homes

I had heard about Gunnison Homes.  I had even been in one, when it was listed for sale a while back.  But I thought they were just some plain old Pre-Fabricated House from the 1950’s, and not of much interest.  But twice this Summer, they came up while I was out and about hunting up Sears and other kit houses.

The first time was in July, when my Mentor, Rebecca Hunter, was visiting my area.  We were making a quick trip out early on a Sunday morning to get photos of one of Springfield’s best kit houses, an Aladdin Villa.  Our next stop was to pick up Andrew Mutch, who was also visiting, and I drove through a connecting neighborhood to where he was staying.  Rebecca, of course, had her eyes peeled for anything that might look like a kit house, even though I knew we were in a 1950’s neighborhood.  And then she said “There’s a Gunnison House”.  It was actually the one I had been in when it was for sale a while back.  And then she taught me something.  Not like she isn’t always teaching me something, because she is, but she taught me something about Gunnison Homes.  They have a unique feature that is easy to spot from the street.  Huh.  We’ll get to that shortly.

The second time Gunnison Homes came up was a just a few weeks later when I went to an Open House for A Harris Bros 1517 in Urbana.

I took a copy of the catalog page for the Harris Bros., and gave it to the real estate agent on site at the Open House.  She was very interested.  We discussed kit houses for a minute, then she said she knew of one in Springfield on Kensington Place.  I was skeptical.  Kensington Place is in our Ridgewood in the Country Club District, and I hadn’t spotted any kit homes there on my numerous visits to the neighborhood.  But she was insistent, and said it was just a little ranch style house, and seemed very out of place on the block.  Oh yes!  I knew exactly which little house she was talking about.  Then I asked her if she thought maybe it was a Gunnison Home.  She thought a minute, and said that sounded  familiar, but wasn’t sure.  So, of course, I had to take a drive past the house, and sure enough, it’s a Gunnison Home.

How did I know so quickly?  From that little detail Rebecca Hunter pointed out when she was visiting.  Gunnison Homes have a unique design on the chimney, and once you know that, you will be able to easily spot Gunnison Homes, too.

chimney-detail

 

See those two stripes on the chimney?  That’s all there is to it.

Now I do have to tell you, you can’t really see that small detail on Google Maps or Bing Maps, so you do have to leave your house, drive around, and look for the houses.  And that’s what I did the other day.  I spent about an hour and a half driving around the North West Quadrant of Springfield, and I got photos of 18 Gunnison Homes.

But what is a Gunnison Home?  Yes, they were pre-fab, but they didn’t come into being in the 1950’s like I thought.  The first Gunnisons started being manufactured in 1936, and continued until 1974.  They were made from insulated plywood panels that were bolted together at the home site. I’m going to send you to a link that explains them in more detail.  No sense repeating what someone else has already taken the time to research and post about.  This link has good information.  The Gunnison Home  If you want to know more, you can just Google them.

From my reading up on them, it looks like they had between 11 and 14 models, depending on the year, and we have a nice selection of those models here in Springfield.  The Gunnison Home kits had to be purchased from a Gunnison Dealer, so I am assuming we had one locally.  I’ll have to do additional research to see if I can figure out who was selling them.

Before I show you photos of a few of the ones around town, please take a look at this flickr set showing the  1950 Gunnison Homes catalog.  Note that you could purchase porches, sun rooms, and garages as add ons.

OK, here’s some of the ones in Springfield.  A couple of them still retain their original exterior look, meaning you can tell they were built from panels, but for the most part, the homes have been covered over in newer vinyl siding.  Some have been altered so much, that if it wasn’t for those two stripes on the chimney, I never would have known.

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520 Southwood Dr. According to Rebecca Hunter, this was one of the largest models, and was purchased with added side porches and a garage.

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221 W Harding Rd

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1345 N Plum St.  This one still has the original exterior panel design.  There are three other Gunnison Homes on N Plum St., within a few blocks of this one.  

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1824 Fairway Dr.  This one sits sideways on the lot.  The side with the two windows and the garage door is what you see from the street.

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1963 Oak Knoll Dr.  This one had an added side porch and garage, but they are attached to make the home an L shape.  There is a matching home next door at 1977 Oak Knoll Dr., but it is hard to see from the street due to a lot of mature trees.

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1977 and 1983 Harshman Blvd.  The home on the left is turned sideways on the lot.  There are three other Gunnison Homes on Harshman Blvd.

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2027 Pembrook Dr.  

425-427-w-harding

425 and 427 W Harding Rd. These two are business buildings, and they are longer than the largest model available from Gunnison Homes. I am thinking they were custom ordered, or both had additions made to them sometime after they were built in 1951. If you read up on these homes, you will find that there were only a few types of panels made, and they were bolted together in different ways to create the various models.

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132 N Kensington Place. This is the home I showed the chimney for in the beginning of this post.

132-n-kensington-2

132 N Kensington Place, and it does indeed look out of place among the larger homes on the block that were built in the 1920’s.

 

If you know of any Gunnison Homes near you, please leave a comment.  Just look for that chimney with the two stripes!

 

 

 

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A Harris Bros 1517 in Urbana

I’ve had my Sears House hunting eye on a home in Urbana for a couple of years now, and recently the house was listed for sale.  On Sunday they had an Open House, which is always a good time to go explore the inside of possible kit homes.  The house in question is not a kit from Sears Roebuck, but is from another mail order catalog company, Harris Brothers of Chicago.   I only recognize a few of their house designs by sight, but the No. 1517 is one of them.

1923 image

This Harris Brothers bungalow has a few floor plan and exterior details to look for when trying to match it up to the catalog.  And one of those features, the roof line, that is shown in the catalog illustration above, just may be flat out wrong.

Here’s the deal.  In our little Facebook research group, there have been several homes posted that seem to match the No. 1517, but they all have one thing that doesn’t match.  The rear roof line.  Notice how in the catalog illustration the lowest point of the front part of the roof, and the lowest part of the back roof are even.  If that doesn’t make sense, see how the front and rear parts of the roof are symmetrical.  Got it?

Well, let’s have a look at the floor plan, and thanks to Andrew Mutch for figuring this out.

side by side floor plan

 

I’ve placed the first floor next to the second floor and there is a line drawn between the furnace chimney vent for both floors.  That will allow us to see how the second floor stacks on top the first.  Looks like the back wall of the second floor lines up with the first floor to me, except for that small dining room bump out area.   Actually we don’t even have to do that to see that the front roof is not equal to the back roof, since “ROOF” is plainly marked on the diagram for the second floor layout.  Look how large it is on the front section of the second floor compared to the back.  Duh.  It certainly doesn’t match the illustration of the house in the catalog.  We’ve seen this type of thing on a few other models in other catalogs.  You always need to check the floor plan diagram and not rely exclusively on the house illustration, which may have been stock artwork for a common home design.  Remember, these catalogs were advertising publications, not historical documents.

Anyways, now we know.  And now I am 99.9% certain that the house I toured on Sunday is a Harris Brothers No. 1517.

Harris 1517 119 S High St L Urbana OH

Harris Brothers 1517 at 119 S High St, Urbana

Harris 1517 119 S High St R Urbana OH

The room arrangement in the home matches the catalog floor plan exactly, and the exterior dimensions are correct, using the Champaign Co Auditor’s website sketch.  Those details are necessary to document the home.

Here’s a few interior photos I took on Sunday.  The home has a lot of original leaded glass and casement windows.

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Central stairway to the second floor from the living room, and the dining room with bay. This matches the catalog floor plan.

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I found the fireplace mantel in a Harris Brothers Building Materials catalog.

 

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Remember that really cool pattern book house I blogged about a while back?  There it is across the street.  A Home Builders Crestwood in Urbana

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Back hallway between the dining room and the kitchen.

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I couldn’t find these gorgeous interior doors in the Building Materials catalog, but I only checked one year. I may find them later.

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Here’s those interesting porch columns.

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And the rear of the house.

Harris 1517 119 S High St rear Urbana OH

From the back of the house you can see the dining room bump out, double windows on the stairway landing, and what appeared to be an original back porch addition. And not much roof!

I’m adding this to our small but growing list of Harris Brothers Homes that our little research group has located.  Bet we find more.

 

 

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