Stats for Montgomery County- part 1

If you’ve been following this blog, you know I have been working through the process of identifying and documenting Sears Houses in Dayton and vicinity.  After procrastinating for several years, last November I visited the Montgomery County Records Center. With information from Tina, who heads up the Center,  I started working my way through on-line Abstract Books for the County, and then more recently, I went to the Recorder’s Office for further research.

It’s been quite a process, and hours of work, but at this point, I think I can say the project is pretty well finished.

Here’s some stats for Montgomery County, Ohio.

To date, I have found 244 mortgage and lien records that might lead to houses purchased as kits from Sears, Roebuck in the Dayton area.   I say “might” because not all the recorded mortgages were for house kits.  Some appear to be for building materials used for the construction of houses not offered in the Sears Modern Homes catalog, and a couple seem to be for the remodeling of older homes.

Here’s the breakdown.

158 mortgages were recorded under the primary Trustee that we see in Ohio for Sears, Roebuck – Walker O Lewis.  Of those 158, I was able to document 103 houses that match models in the Sears catalog.  Some of those homes had already been identified as probable by myself and other researchers, but many of them were new finds, like The Rembrandt shown below.  It’s certainly not the best example of a Sears Rembrandt that has been located, but it is the only one we know of, so far, in Ohio.

Sears Rembrandt 4225 Edison St Dayton Ohio

Sears Rembrandt at 4225 Edison St., Dayton, Ohio.

Sears Rembrandt image 1925

The Rembrandt from the 1925 Sears Modern Home catalog


In addition to the 158 Walker O Lewis, Trustee, mortgages, there were 39 mortgages signed by E Harrison Powell, who took over the position for Sears in 1930 for our area.  Just about this same time, many Sears Houses that were financed carried two mortgages, a first mortgage, and what was called a “junior mortgage” in the recorded documents.  With that process in place, there were less actual parcels to locate, as most had two mortgages.  Also, several of the E Harrison Powell mortgages were re-finances of earlier mortgages that had been signed by Walker O Lewis, which again resulted in less parcels to actually locate.

Of those 39, I identified 11 houses that were kits from the Sears Modern Homes catalog.  Several of those 11 models were ones I had never seen before “in person”, like this Hartford model in Trotwood.  ( I still haven’t seen it in person.  The photo below is cropped from the Montgomery County Auditor’s website.)

Sears Hartford 6513 W 3rd St Trotwood OH (EHP)

Sears Hartford at 6513 W 3rd St., Trotwood, Ohio. (Photo from Montgomery County Auditor website)


Sears Hartford 1932 image


Another piece of the Sears, Roebuck mortgage puzzle that we have here in Ohio is mortgages recorded by Norwood Sash and Door Mfg. Co.

Sears owned that door, window, and mill work plant in Norwood, Ohio during the years they were selling house kits, and for some unknown reason, some house kits in our area were mortgaged directly through that factory instead of through Sears, which was based in Chicago.

Montgomery County had 25 mortgages recorded under Norwood Sash & Door, which resulted in documenting an additional 19 homes that matched models in the Sears Modern Homes catalogs.

Here’s an ad from a Dayton newspaper showing models from the Sears Modern Homes catalog, but listing Norwood Sash and Door’s Dayton office as the company, not Sears.  That’s the Sears Homes catalog in the lower right corner.


Dayton Daily News, March 26, 1922.


One of the houses that is now documented through a Norwood Sash and Door mortgage in Dayton is a Sears Argyle, like the one pictured at the bottom left corner of the ad.

Sears Argyle 3103 S Smithville Dayton Oh (NSD)

Sears Argyle at 3103 S Smithville Rd., Dayton, Ohio. (Photo from Montgomery County Auditor’s website)

Also in our part of Ohio, we see Mechanics Liens from Norwood Sash and Door.  Those would happen if you purchased building materials from the company,  but for some reason, didn’t pay your bill.  I’m pretty sure Norwood offered open credit accounts like most other local lumber companies did.  It’s possible these were for small amounts, and not the whole kit house package.  Maybe something got added on late in the order process, or something was purchased after the kit house was finished, like a Sears garage kit, which Norwood sold, too.  The houses I located through Mechanics Liens didn’t have the traditional Sears mortgages, which means the house kit was financed through a local bank, or might even have been a cash sale.

I need to point out here that there are many more Sears Houses in the Dayton area that didn’t have Sears mortgages.  This blog post is just about the houses that did.

To date I have located 7 houses that match Sears models shown in the Modern Homes catalog from 22 Norwood Sash and Door Mechanics Liens.  There is still work to do on this part of the project, but it may in fact, never get done.  The Mechanics Lien books are no longer available for research at the Recorders Office.  Mechanics Liens run with the property for only 20 years, so after a while, those records can be discarded if the County chooses.  Montgomery County chose to.  The only way to find the remaining Lien records would be to go through the several hundred Abstract Books page by page.

Yeah.  I’m probably not going to tackle that project anytime soon.

So to summarize, from the 244 individual records I had, I was able to document 140 homes that were purchased as kits from Sears, Roebuck in Montgomery County.

38 parcels I have listed in my files as “gone”, meaning whatever house was associated with the mortgage record is no longer there.  Some are vacant lots, some have newer houses, some are parking lots or Interstates.

25 houses are listed as “unknown” meaning they aren’t models shown in the Sears catalogs, or, they have had additions or remodeling that makes them unrecognizable.

3 parcels have houses that I have listed as “Custom”.  2 of the three are fairly close to known Sears models, but have enough differences that they can’t be the actual Sears kit from the catalog, and the third of those 3 was a house built using plans provided by the owners.  I found that from newspaper research.

2 parcels are most likely materials for remodeling, as the amounts are less than $500 and the houses were built prior to when Sears started selling homes.

There were only 2 parcels that I was unable to actually find using all the resources available.  I’m pretty proud of that, since the parcels that have Township legal descriptions can be difficult sometimes.

The other 34 records were “junior mortgages” or re-finances.

In my next blog post, I will do a summary of what models I located through the mortgage records, and the numbers for each city, village, and township in Montgomery County.

Thanks for following along.




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Wardway Homes in Kettering

I’m finishing up the Montgomery County mortgage record research project that I’ve been working on since last November.  I’m down to a few pesky parcels that have complicated legal descriptions, which take a lot more time and resources to track down.  When I get those finished, I will do a blog post here about the total number of Sears Houses in Dayton and vicinity.  It won’t be a complete list of addresses, because there are too many houses for that, but I will surely have a lot of general information to share.

In the meantime, I want to show you a couple of homes that were purchased from Montgomery Ward instead of Sears, Roebuck.  While Sears remains the big player here in Ohio for kit houses, there are a few other companies represented as well.

Montgomery Ward offered financing plans, like Sears,  for their kit houses, which were marketed as “Wardway Homes”.  If a buyer took advantage of that option, there will be a mortgage record on file in the County Offices, usually under the name Thomas P. Riordan.

In Montgomery County, I have found a couple hundred recorded mortgages from Sears, Roebuck, but for Montgomery Ward…….three.


Two of the mortgage records I found when I was going through the Abstract Books that are available on line for Montgomery County.   One is for a house I haven’t been able to ID as a Wardway Home that was shown in catalogs, and the second is a Newport model.

The house I haven’t been able to identify…..well…..it may be gone actually.  The mortgage record was written for two lots.  One lot has the house I can’t ID, and the other lot is a block business building, so it’s hard to know for sure.

The second Montgomery Ward mortgage, the Newport model, was pretty easy to identify, since that style home was very popular, and almost all the kit house companies had a house like it.

Here it is, in Kettering.

WW Newport 352 Rockhill Ave Kettering OH (Riordan)

Wardway Newport, 352 Rockhill Ave., Kettering, Ohio  (Photo from Montgomery County Auditor’s website)


Wardway Newport- 1930


The third and final Wardway Home was one I came across while doing newspaper research.  I tracked down the address using info from the news article, (with lots of help from my research partner, Marie ), then checked the on-line Abstract Books, and discovered it had a mortgage through Montgomery Ward.

Here’s the newspaper write up.


The Dayton Herald, Nov 27, 1930

Notice that the write up says the house was built under the Montgomery Ward money saving plan, but also references the quality achieved by their “ready-cut construction”.

Hmmmm…….yeah……..this house was never offered in the Wardway Homes catalogs.

WW custom model 2468 S Patterson Blvd R Kettering OH

2468 S Patterson Blvd, Kettering OH. Building materials purchased and mortgaged through Montgomery Ward.

I shared this house with a few other Sears House researchers after I located it, and Lara of Sears Homes of Chicagoland noticed it had a strong similarity to a house offered by Sears, Roebuck…  The Carroll.   Another…….hmmm……..

There is still much to learn about how the kit house companies did business.

Sears Carroll catalog 1932

Catalog image of the Sears Carroll from the 1932 Modern Homes catalog


I’m continuing my research of kit houses in Montgomery County.  Check back occasionally and……

Thanks for following along.




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A Sears Albion in Miamisburg

Onward with my search of the Montgomery County mortgage records!

A while back, myself and several other serious Sears House researchers spent many an hour going through on line records for Hamilton County (Cincinnati and vicinity).  One of the things we noticed was that there were mortgages and Mechanics Liens for Sears house kits that were recorded under Norwood Sash and Door Mfg Co., instead of the usual Sears, Roebuck Trustee names we find in other parts of the country.

The Norwood Sash and Door Mfg. Co. was owned by Sears during their kit house years, 1908 to 1942, so apparently some of the financing programs were handled a bit differently in the area serviced directly by the Norwood mill work plant.

The ads we have found in local newspapers confirm our theories, if you can believe everything you read in newspaper advertisements!

Here’s an example


Dayton Daily News July 7, 1921


The Sears Archives website has a timeline which states that a Modern Home Office opened in Dayton in 1921, but the first couple of years, that Office was actually operated under the Norwood Sash and Door Mfg. Co. name, not Sears, Roebuck.  Ads in the Dayton newspapers didn’t show up as Sears until 1925.

Anyways……. how does this bit of Sears history apply to the Sears Albion I located in Miamisburg?

It was financed through Norwood Sash and Door.  I think!  At least that’s what I assume since I found the mortgage holder’s address in a search on Ancestry.

Here’s the Abstract info.  The “M” means the line item is for a mortgage record,  a “D” is for a deed.  Mechanics Liens usually just say “Lien”.  I verified that this was an actual mortgage record during a recent trip to the Montgomery County’s Recorder’s Office.  The amount of the mortgage was $4300.

NSD info for 518 Mound Ave

When the mortgage was issued on 4 Nov 1925, this house was not in the city limits, so the parcel description was just for a Township, Section, and Range.  Those are hard to identify, at least for me, so that is when I did a search for the original owner on Ancestry and found them listed at 518 Mound Ave., Miamisburg in the 1930 Census.

Francis Shade 1930 Census


Isn’t this fun!

So……want to see the house?  I did, so off we went the other day to take pictures.

OH!  I guess you should see the catalog image first.

70 The Albion

If you want to read about the details of this model, Andrew Mutch has done a nice write up about it on his blog.  Here a link…….Kit House Hunters Albion post

Here’s a closer look at the catalog image

Albion image 1925

And here’s the house, which was built reversed from the catalog offering.

Sears Albion 518 Mound Ave L Miamisburg OH (NSD mortgage)

Sears Albion, 518 Mound Ave., Miamisburg, Ohio

The house retains what appears to be the original porch pillars and railing ( I love the way they are accented with two colors of paint!), and the brackets on the side entry as seen in the catalog.

Sears Albion 518 Mound Ave Miamisburg OH brackets (NSD mortgage)

Front and other side views follow.  All the windows match the catalog floor plan, which most likely means no changes were made to the house kit plans at time of purchase.

Sears Albion 518 Mound Ave MIamisburg OH (NSD mortgage)

Front view of a Sears Albion, 518 Mound Ave., Miamisburg, Ohio

Sears Albion 518 Mound Ave R Miamisburg OH (NSD mortgage)

Right side view of a Sears Albion at 518 Mound Ave., Miamisburg, Ohio.

It was a beautiful Spring day in Ohio when I stopped by this lovely home for pictures.  I hope to go back to Miamisburg soon for more Sears House hunting.

Thanks for following along.

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A Sears Gainsboro in Dayton

Have you been following along?  If you have, you know I’ve been busy researching in Montgomery County (Dayton and vicinity), by slogging my way through their on-line Abstract Books.

Well…….after spending hours doing just that from the comfort of my own home, over the Winter, I realized I could make much better progress if I would just get off my rear end and go directly to the Recorder’s Office.

So I did.

It would have taken me forever to get the same information I got in about 4 hours, one day not long ago.  The only bad part about the whole deal is that their old mortgage books are on Microfilm, and the Recorder’s Office readers are about as old as the film itself, so I wasn’t able to make copies of anything.  But, using the old fashioned method of a notebook and a pencil, I was able to get approximately 85 additional mortgage records to track down.  That part I CAN do from the comfort of home.

Of those 85 mortgage records, 17 of them were signed by E. Harrison Powell, the Sears Trustee for this area from mid 1930, when prior Trustee Walker O Lewis retired,  to early 1934, when Sears stopped offering financing plans.

As I was busy taking my notes, and getting tired and hungry, I neglected to write down an important piece of information on the very last Sears mortgage that was recorded in Montgomery County.  The date!  I’ll be sure to look it up next time I go.

Anyways, since it was the last mortgage Sears wrote for Dayton, we can surmise that it was late 1933, or very early 1934.  Again, I’ll confirm that next trip.

And as was common in the later Sears mortgages, there were actually two recordings.  One for the “first” mortgage, and a second, which was noted at the top as a “junior” mortgage.  I guess second mortgages aren’t a new thing!

Now, back to my findings for that very last Sears mortgage in Montgomery County. (This doesn’t mean this was the last Sears Houses built in Dayton.  It just means it was the last one that carried a mortgage through Sears, Roebuck.)

After 30 minutes or so at my home computer and the available on line resources, I was able to pinpoint the property address for the mortgage records. And it turned out to be ANOTHER one of the Missing Models, meaning Sears researchers hadn’t located one yet.

A Sears Gainsboro

Gainsboro image

Sears Gainsboro – catalog image courtesy of Lara Solonickne

The Gainsboro made its debut in the 1933 Sears Modern Home catalog, making it more difficult to locate using mortgage records, since Sears was about done with their financing program, so I am extremely fortunate to have been able to get this one on our Master List.

In the catalog,  part of the front of the house was intended to be brick,  with a slight decorative extension on the left side, but since the house in Dayton doesn’t have those features, this home would be difficult to spot on a street survey.  Gotta love those mortgage records!

Here she is!

Sears Gainsboro 4300 Midway Ave R Dayton OH (EHP) CCat

Sears Gainsboro, 4300 Midway Ave., Dayton Ohio.

Here’s what Sears had to say about the model.

Gainsboro details

The home today is indeed, hospitable and charming, and retains what appears to be the original front door.

Sears Gainsboro 4300 Midway Ave Dayton OH (EHP) CCat

Sears Gainsboro, 4300 Midway Ave, Dayton Ohio

Sears Gainsboro 4300 Midway Ave L Dayton OH (EHP) CCat

Sears Gainsboro, 4300 Midway Ave, Dayton Ohio

Now, about those “people who owned such a lovely home”, at least at the beginning.

The original owner was Florence E Clippinger, with the mortgage document stating she was ” a spinster”.  I guess that was just their way of saying she was unmarried at the time the mortgage was issued.   Kudos to Sears, Roebuck for giving a single woman a mortgage in 1933 or 1934.  The first mortgage amount was $3500, and the junior mortgage was for $450.

Florence E Clippinger had a 30 year career at Roosevelt High School in Dayton, starting as a Biology teacher, and  later becoming head of the Biology Department.

She was mentioned often in newspaper articles and occasionally made the social section as well.

Here’s a couple of the more interesting articles from the Dayton newspapers.

From the Dayton Herald- June 1930- a couple of years before Miss Clippinger built her Sears Gainsboro.


The_Dayton_Herald_Wed__Jun_11__1930_ (1)

YIKES!  The Dayton Herald- Dec 1933



The Sears Gainsboro housed an interesting collection.  Dayton Herald Feb 1948


In 1960, a squirrel antic…….( my friend Laraine Shape would have been amused.)


A 1962 article about Miss Clippinger when she was one Daytons’ top 10 Women in the Miami Valley.  Her home on Midway Ave is mentioned.

Dayton_Daily_News_Thu__Dec_6__1962_ (2).jpg

What an interesting woman!

Check back occasionally for more updates on my Dayton research project.

Thanks for following along.


A Sears Chester in Kettering

Page by page by page by page, I am continuing to go through the Montgomery County Abstract Books available on line through the Recorder’s Office website.

It’s tedious, but I love the research end of this crazy hobby.

Who knew there were so many Sears Hamptons and Sears Sunlights in Dayton and vicinity?  I didn’t until I started finding mortgage records that helped identify them.  Both of those models are basic rectangular designs with no defining features, unless you really know what to look for.  And a lot of regular ole’ (not from Sears) houses look like them.

But……once in a while…….I find something new.  And cool!

Like last night.

There are a few names we researchers look for when scanning mortgage records here in Ohio, to point our noses towards a probable Sears House kit.  The two we most likely see in this area are Walker O Lewis and E Harrison Powell.  (In other areas of the country, you have to look for different names.)  Also here in Ohio, we find a lot of mortgages and Mechanics Liens through Norwood Sash & Door, a Cincinnati area mill work factory that was owned by Sears, Roebuck during their kit house years.

I haven’t found many mortgages that name E Harrison Powell as the Trustee, in Montgomery County, yet, but maybe I just haven’t got to the right neighborhoods.  We’ll see.

Anyways, the first E Harrison Powell mortgage I came across, that wasn’t a re-finance of a Walker O Lewis mortgage, was for a rare model, A Sears Lenox.

Then last night, I came across another E Harrison Powell mortgage, and YAY!  My research led me to another one of The Missing Models, meaning we researchers haven’t located one yet. At least, my group of researchers……

A Sears Chester!

Chester 1938 catalog details

Sears Chester as seen in the 1938 Modern Homes catalog


According to Houses by Mail, The Chester was first available in the 1933 catalog.  That was the year of the Chicago World’s Fair, where Sears built a new and upcoming design, The Concord, a tri-level, for Exhibition.  The Modern Homes catalog had five or six other tri-level homes offered that year, and for the next several years.

Houses by Mail states that The Chester was similar to The Auburn, but that’s not what the actual Sears catalog says.  It says the floor plan was more like The Homestead.  Huh!

Visually, The Chester IS like The Auburn, but I guess the floor plans aren’t.  The Auburn floor plan was supposed to be like The Concord.  Are you following that?  Yeah.  Me, neither.

Here’s The Auburn, which looks like The Chester, except for the lower level.  The Chester has a garage there, and in the Auburn, that’s living space.

Auburn catalog details 1938

Sears Auburn in the 1938 Modern Homes catalog


Now…..here is the floor plan for The Homestead, which, according to Sears, was the closest to The Chester.   Use this floor plan to compare to the house I located in Kettering, if you want to…….

Homestead floor plan 1938

Sears Homestead floor plan from 1938

Here it is!

S Chester 2629 Aerial Ave MV Kettering OH (EHP)

Sears Chester, 2629 Aerial Ave., Kettering OH. (Photo courtesy of Marie Vore and cannot be used without permission)

Many, many thanks to Marie, a newish member of our Sears House research team, for dropping what she was doing and running over to get real life photos of the house.

The house retains a few original features, which helped me identify it.  One is the half timbering on the front entry.

S Chester 2629 Aerial Ave door MV Kettering OH (EHP)

Sears Chester, 2629 Aerial Ave., Kettering OH. (Photo courtesy of Marie Vore and cannot be used without permission)


The other detail that helped me determine the model was the open entry to the side yard next to the garage.  It is clearly visible in the next photo.

S Chester 2629 Aerial Ave L MV Kettering OH (EHP)

Sears Chester, 2629 Aerial Ave., Kettering OH. (Photo courtesy of Marie Vore and cannot be used without permission)

If you are one of those people who like to match up the windows all around, the above photo is the best one for the left side.  (You don’t have to, I’ve already done it.)

Here’s the right side.

S Chester 2629 Aerial Ave R MV Kettering OH (EHP)

Sears Chester, 2629 Aerial Ave., Kettering OH. (Photo courtesy of Marie Vore and cannot be used without permission)

There is a good size addition on the back of the house that is probably not original.

I love it when we come across missing models, especially if they are documented.  Hopefully, the Abstract books will lead us to a few more rare Sears Houses.

Thanks for following along.



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A Sears Walton in Dayton

Way back at The beginning……. when I did my very first mortgage research, I discovered that my County (Clark) had 36 mortgages for houses purchased as kits from Sears, Roebuck.   Most of the mortgaged parcels were strung out all over the County, but nine of them were located in one small platted neighborhood.  Garden Acres.

I’ve been meaning to do a blog post here about the nine Sears Houses in Garden Acres for quite some time, but for some reason or other, I always get distracted by some other Sears House I come across in my research.

I guess part of the reason, too, is that the Garden Acres houses are old news.  At least to me, since they were the very first houses I was able to identify using the mortgage research method way back in 2008. Or maybe it was 2007.  I don’t really remember.

Since then, I have done mortgage record research in…….let me think……

Champaign County, Greene County, Hamilton County, Butler County, Warren County, Franklin County (well those were only deeds, which were the houses that Sears foreclosed on), Miami County, Cuyahoga County (again, only deeds), Stark County,  Montgomery County, Delaware County…….I probably forgot one…..or two……I’ll have to hunt up my notebook……


About the Sears Walton in Dayton…….

Yes, there is a connection, people……..

Back to those nine Sears Houses with mortgages in Garden Acres in Clark County.  In my research I discovered that most of the people that took out the mortgages for the Sears House kits had some kind of connection to the developer that platted the neighborhood, The James-Bauer Realty Company.

James- Bauer was a pretty important developer here in my area, having already platted several other neighborhoods, including Glen Terrace in 1917 and the Broadmoor Addition in 1923.

Then, in 1925, along came Garden Acres, which, since it was located about a mile outside the Springfield city limits, you would have needed an automobile to get to. And not everybody had an automobile in 1925!

Well……things got off to a slow start and not much building was going on, so in 1927, the James-Bauer Realty Company started building some Sears, Roebuck kit houses on spec, to get things “growing” in Garden Acres.  One of them was a Sears Cornell, which was advertised in the local newspaper…… no mention it was from Sears, Roebuck!

S Cornell Ad 121 Larchmont Rd CCat Springfield OH


So……how does this all connect to a Sears Walton in Dayton?

Here’s how.

The James-Bauer Realty Co., here in Springfield, was a partnership type of business between two local men……J Warren James and Walter B Bauer.

J Warren James, the principal, started out in the real estate business with a sole proprietor type of business , The James Real Estate Co.  He was very successful on his own here in Clark County prior to turning his business into a partnership,  but apparently also had some real estate dealings in nearby Montgomery County as well.

I discovered that just the other day when I was going through the property Abstract Index Books that are available on line through the Montgomery County Recorder’s website.  I am going through those books, page by tedious page, looking for parcels that were mortgaged through Sears, Roebuck.  And I’m finding them!  Yay!

But in one of those books, as I was scanning through, a different kind of line item caught my eye.

A parcel had been deeded to the James Real Estate Co.

2824 Whittier Ave Dayton OH Abstract

Hey!  That’s my guy!  What was he doing with a deed record in Montgomery County?

I had to look up the house and see what my guy,  J Warren James, was building in Dayton.   And guess what I found?????

A Sears Walton.   How cool is that?

S Walton 2824 Whittier Ave L CCat Dayton OH

A Sears Walton at 2824 Whittier Ave., Dayton Ohio

S Walton 2824 Whittier Ave CCat Dayton OH

Sears Walton, 2824 Whittier Ave., Dayton Ohio

S Walton 2824 Whittier R CCat Dayton OH

Sears Walton, 2824 Whittier Ave., Dayton, Ohio


45 The Walton.jpg

Now I cannot tell a lie.  I didn’t actually locate this Sears Walton.  It was already listed on the Master List of Sears Houses in the United States, having been spotted by Andrew Mutch on a Google drive he did around Dayton a while back, but I am now considering it a documented Sears House, due to its connection to a known builder of Sears Homes in another community.

I don’t know the exact year of build for the Sears Walton in Dayton, because the Abstract Index Books don’t have dates attached, but the Montgomery County Auditor says 1928, so that is just about the same time there was a Sears Walton being built here in Springfield in Garden Acres.  Yep.  It’s one of the nine.

S Walton 236 Larchmont R CCat Springfield OH

Sears Walton, 236 Larchmont, Springfield Ohio


I’ll save the other Garden Acres models for a future blog post.  Unless I get distracted by some other Sears House I come across……….

Thanks for following along.







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A Sears Lenox in Dayton

Last weekend, I made a day trip to Cincinnati with my newest research pal, Marie.  We were hoping to go see the Sears Lenox I located there back in January, but due to the flooding conditions on the Ohio River, we decided to stay well north of Cincinnati proper.

Then this week, thanks to the Abstract Books that are available on line through the Montgomery County Recorder’s Office, I have now located a SECOND Sears Lenox.  To date, these are the only two of this model known to have been built, but I’ll bet there are more out there to be found.

Due to my crazy busy work schedule, it may be awhile before I can go get real life photos, even though this one is much closer to me in Dayton.

Here’s the Montgomery County Auditor’s photo from 2013, which shows the house still retains most of its original details.

4053 Annapolis Ave Dayton OH (EHP) Crop

Sears Lenox, 4053 Annapolis Ave., Dayton OH. (Photo from Montgomery County Auditor’s website)


And the catalog image…..

sears lenox 1933 image

Pretty cool looking little house, in my opinion.

Here’s the floor plan.

sears lenox 1933 floor plan

This Sears Lenox is documented with a mortgage record between E Harrison Powell, Trustee for Sears, Roebuck and Irven L Fletcher.  It was pretty common to see two mortgages for Sears Houses in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s.  Researchers are still not 100% sure why this was done, but it may have been the second mortgage was for construction costs, while the first mortgage was for the building materials only.   The house was completed by 1934, according to the Auditor’s info.

4053 Annapolis Ave Abstract

Further research needs to be done, but it appears that Irven L Fletcher lived in the house until his death at age 94 in 1992.

Thanks for following along.



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A Sears Concord in Kettering (the old style)

Sometimes this Sears House researching thing makes me feel really smart.  And sometimes…….not so much.  You would think, after ten plus years of doing this, I would be better at spotting houses on street surveys.  Nope.  Not so much.  That’s why I love to track down houses from mortgage records.  You give me a parcel that was financed through Sears Roebuck, and after a bit of sleuthing, I can find the house.  And usually……I know what model it is.

But not always.   Like this house.

S Concord- No114-2011 Heritage Point Dr Kettering OH

Sears Concord – No 114 – 2011 Heritage Point Dr – Kettering Ohio

Not too long ago, Tina from the Montgomery County Records Center pointed my nose to some Abstract Index books that had been digitized and were available on line, so I could do some research from home.  Sweet!  And not so sweet……because there are a lot of books, and going through them page by page is tedious and makes my eyes hurt.  But every once in a while, I take a stab at one of them, and hope to find something.  And find something I did, the other night.

If you have been following along with this little blog, you might remember that in the Cincinnati area, there are some additional kinds of records to look for, that aren’t found in other parts of the country, as far as tracking down Sears Houses.  Usually we researchers look for mortgages that have been recorded with the Sears Trustees names that have been identified to date.  In Hamilton County, we have also found that quite a few Sears Houses have a Mechanics Lien that was attached by Norwood Sash and Door.   We don’t know all the details of that, but its a fact.

Well……guess what?   Montgomery County has the same thing.  And that’s how I found a Sears Concord (the old style) in Kettering.

I’m calling this Sears Concord “the old style” because Sears used the name “Concord” twice during the years they were selling house as kits through their Modern Homes catalog.

Early on in the Sears House timeline, as early as 1911, Sears offered the model No 114.  By 1914, the model number has gotten a little bigger- the Modern Home No. 264P114.

1914 catalog

Thankfully, a few years later, around 1916, Sears changed to catchy little names for their house designs, instead of using numbers, and the No 114 became The Concord.

1918 catalog

And almost 100 years later, I would stand in front of a Sears Concord, and never even “see” it.

Yep.  A couple of years ago, while driving around Kettering looking for Sears Houses, I spotted a fabulous Sears Osborn on Heritage Point Dr.

S Osborn 2003 Heritage Point Dr Kettering OH

It wasn’t until the other night, when I found a Mechanics Lien for a parcel in the S H Carr plat in Montgomery County, and tracked it to a house on Heritage Point Dr in Kettering that I figured it out.  Right next door to the fabulous Sears Osborn was a Sears model I had never seen before.

So today, even though we had rain, and a bit of ice, and it was cold, and it was dreary, I hopped in the car with my daughter in tow, and we went to get photos.

Here they are.  I’ll post the catalog image and the floor plan, too.  You know what to do.  Match up the details and the windows, etc…….etc……etc…..

1918 image

S Concord-No114-2011 Heritage Point Dr R Kettering OH

Sears Concord (old style) 2011 Heritage Point Dr., Kettering Ohio . The house has had an addition put on the right side sometime in the last 99 years.

S Concord-No114-2011 Heritage Point Dr left Kettering OH


1918 details

It’s hard to see in my photos above, the bay window and the angled window in the Living Room, due to the gloomy day, but they are there all right.

2011-2003 Heritage Point Dr Kettering OH

Sears Concord and Sears Osborn – 2011 and 2003 Heritage Point Dr., Kettering Ohio

It was a quick trip, but lots of fun, especially since we also met up with the newest member of our research team, Marie, and went to an Open House of a Sears Wilmore that is for sale nearby.


Sears Wilmore, 1581 Springhill Ave., Kettering Ohio


If you all haven’t been to Kettering yet, Heritage Point Dr., and Springhill Ave. have some great Sears Houses to see.

Thanks for following along.




A Sears Lenox in Cincinnati (Riverside)

There’s a few models in Houses by Mail that I just don’t pay much attention to.

Like this one.

sears lenox 1933

Sears Lenox from 1933. (Scan courtesy of Lara Solonickne)

According to Houses by Mail, the Lenox was only available for one year – 1933.  So……really…..what’s the chances of me actually locating one?  Pretty slim.

But,  I’m continuing to slog through the Hamilton County deed and mortgage records books that are available on line, and guess when the last year was that Sears, Roebuck offered mortgages?


It’s tedious work, those mortgage records, but once in a while we locate something we would probably miss on a street survey.  At least I would, since even after I located the house through a mortgage record, I still didn’t recognize it!

That’s when I posted a photo of the house to my Sears House research group, and pretty quickly, Andrew popped in and ID’ed the house.  One of the missing models!

A Sears Lenox.

I had already checked my 1932 and 1935 catalogs, to no avail, and did a scan of the cross gable roof style designs in Houses by Mail, but still didn’t spot the house.  No wonder since the model is listed in the “Gabled roof, one story, end entrance” section of the field guide.  Sigh……I just don’t see the right stuff sometimes.

Anyways, now it’s identified, and here it is.   The Auditor’s photo anyway, from 2008.

S Lenox 5674 River Rd Cincinnati OH (EHP 1933) cropped

Sears Lenox, 5674 River Rd., Cincinnati OH (photo from Hamilton Co Auditors website)


The house  appears to retain most of the original exterior details….. at least it did in 2008.

And in 2014, the last time the Google car drove by.

S Lenox 5674 River Rd Cincinnati OH Google 2014

Sears Lenox at 5674 River Rd., Cincinnati OH. (2014 Google maps street view)

In the photo above, you can see the angle of the roof on the part of the living room that juts out several feet from the rest of the house.  That is a pretty unique feature, I’m thinking, and something to look for in the future to help ID this model.   That roof angle is mirrored on the other side of the house in the area that makes up the bathroom.

Here’s the other side from that catalog image above.

sears lenox 1933 image

The half timbering on the front of the house matches the catalog perfectly, and it looks like the house has the original front door as well.  The half timbering is mentioned in the catalog details.

sears lenox 1933 details

Even Sears says it’s an unusual design!

Andrew thinks the house may have a fireplace in the Living Room, since it has two chimneys and the placement of them doesn’t match the catalog  floor plan illustration.  That would make sense.  I think the original placement of the chimney on the left side of the house between the front bedroom and the bathroom, was for the furnace vent, so that would probably have been moved to the kitchen area, (back right side chimney) when the fireplace was added to the plans.

Here’s the floor plan.  I think that open living room/dining room concept wasn’t common in 1933.

sears lenox 1933 floor plan

The house looks really nice with that deck on the front, and I can just imagine sitting there in the Summer with a cold drink and enjoying the view.

It’s on River Rd, ya’ know!

S Lenox 5674 River Rd Cincinnati OH Google 2014 view

I’ll be adding this one to my ever growing list of houses that deserve a drive by, so I can see them in person, and get my own photos.

Oh yeah, those pesky important details……this Lenox (the only one ever located!) is documented with a mortgage record dated Sept 27, 1933.  Mortgagors were Arthur and Eugenia Hall, who borrowed $2800 from Sears for the kit.  The mortgage was signed by E Harrison Powell, Trustee for Sears, Roebuck.

Thanks for following along!


A Sears Norwich in Cincinnati (Green Twp)

My last blog post was about A Sears Carrington in Wyoming (Cincinnati).  Until recently,  researchers used to think that mid to late 1930’s Sears Houses were rare, but the current group (me included) of kit house hunters know now that is just not so.  They are out there all right…….but they are harder to find.

One of the reasons is that in late 1933, Sears stopped offering financing plans.  If you bought a Sears Modern Home and chose to make your payments directly to Sears Roebuck, a mortgage would be recorded at your County Offices.  These mortgage records are still available in many County Recorders offices across the country and some have even been digitized so they can be seen on line.

My research group is finding train loads of Sears Houses this way, and even more importantly, the process documents the house for historical purposes.

So here I am in Ohio, “The Heart of it All”, researching Sears Houses.

And so far, Ohio is the “heart” of it all as far as locating Sears Houses as well.  Most of that is due to the fact that Sears, Roebuck & Co. owned Norwood Sash & Door Manufacturing Company, which was located…… guess where?  Norwood, Ohio, which is right in the “heart” of the Greater Cincinnati Metropolitan area.  Due to this there are train loads, and train loads, and more train loads…..of Sears Houses in Cincinnati, and the surrounding area.

Making my job way easier.

One of the ways I have been locating Sears Houses in the Cincinnati area has been through the tedious process of going through the Hamilton County deed and mortgage record index books which are available on line.  A couple of my research buddies paged through a lot of the books a while back, but when we got down to the Township books we set the project aside for a while.

Now I’m back at it, and I just finished going through a 919 page index book looking for what we look for to find Sears Houses.  It’s slow…………and my eyes get tired……..and my head hurts from trying to decipher legal descriptions…….but once in a while, I find a Sears House.  Like that Carrington.

I actually had more success with this particular index book than we have had with some of the others, as I had 32 separate records that I needed to research.  Some books only have had a few.   Of course, I wasn’t able to connect all 32 records to houses still in existence today, but I was able to put addresses and models to 19 of the records.  Pretty good work, eh?  Of the others, some were gone, replaced by commercial buildings or new housing additions, and a few weren’t actually Sears Houses.

How did that happen, you must be wondering?  How did Sears finance a house that wasn’t a Sears House?

Well…..that’s where all this has been going.  I want to tell you a bit about the kind of records that are showing up regularly in the Hamilton County index books, because it appears that in the Cincinnati geographical area, the financing plan thing, through Sears, was handled just a little bit differently sometimes.  And that’s where we get back to Norwood Sash & Door.

Sears researchers have known for years what to look for when hunting up mortgage records, due to the early work done by Dale Wolicki.  Thanks, Dale!  Sears, and the other kit house companies that offered mortgages, had employees known as “Trustees” that signed off on the paperwork that went out to the various County Offices to record the mortgage, and those are the names we look for.

And we are finding those in the Cincinnati area, but, due to the sheer volume of sales there, over 3000 homes according to Sears advertisements, we aren’t really finding many actual Sears mortgage records.


Here’s where I’m going to do what Historians are supposed to do.  Look at all the information available, through source documents, and make a supposition.

Through my own research, and other members of my group, we can clearly state that many of the Sears Houses that were sold in the Cincinnati geographical area, were sold through Norwood Sash & Door, who then carried in house accounts for buyers, and builders.  What that means is that any credit worthy buyer, and maybe some who weren’t so credit worthy, could open an account, and make their payments directly to Norwood Sash & Door, instead of to Sears, Roebuck.

How do we know that?

Because…..in Cincinnati, and in many neighboring areas, we are finding Mechanics Liens instead of mortgages.

What’s a Mechanics Lien, you say?   It’s the legal way for a company, or an individual, to get money owed to them, if somebody doesn’t pay their bill for materials or services rendered.  Pretend it’s 1933, and you decide to buy a furnace for your house.  You give a local company a deposit, and promise to pay the balance due after installation.  But……something goes wrong.  When the final bill comes due, you don’t have the money, and can’t pay the bill.  You work out a payment plan with the company, but for whatever reason, you don’t follow through and after a while, you still owe on the furnace.  You  stop making  payments.  At this point, the company wants to make sure they get what is owed to them, even if they have to wait until you sell your house!  They file a Mechanics Lien, which basically says whatever you owe the company has to be paid before the deed can be transferred to a new owner.  Just like a mortgage.  Make sense?

So…….that’s what we are finding in Hamilton County…..and surrounding areas.  Mechanics Liens, put in place by Norwood Sash & Door Mfg. Company against kit houses sold through the Sears Modern Homes catalogs.

NSD Mech Lien for 7180 Bridgetown Rd

And what is even better, is that this practice was still going on long after Sears Roebuck stopped offering traditional financing plans (mortgages) in 1933.

And that’s how I located a Sears Norwich in Cincinnati.

I’ll bet you were wondering when I was going to get around to that!

Anyways, finding this little bit of information is just the start of the process of actually putting an address and a Sears model to the record.  And while it’s long and sometimes tedious, that’s the part I like the best.  It’s almost like a game……with a prize at the end if you’re the winner.

Like I mentioned earlier, this index book was for Township areas, and not within Cincinnati city limits.  City records are easier because they have a platted neighborhood and a lot number.  Township legal descriptions use a bunch of jargon that needs to be deciphered, and sometimes it’s not easy.  The one for The Norwich was actually pretty simple compared to most I’ve seen……but that didn’t mean it was any easier.  First, the name of the road changed.  Then, somewhere along the way, part of the original parcel was sold off, so the current dimensions of the lot are different than in 1937.  Hamilton County has old property record cards available on their Auditor’s website, but they didn’t go back far enough in time, to list Lee A. Henkel.  I had to use my Newspapers.com subscription to find out who Henkel sold the house to, through deed transfer notices,  then again……then again….. to find the first owner of record on the property card for the parcel.

But, finally, I did determine that 7180 Bridgetown Rd., in Green Township, Section 33, South West 1/4, matched the parcel description and owner mentioned in the 1937 Mechanics Lien.   Whew!

Then……I had to figure out if it was actually a Sears House!  Because…….you know…….Norwood Sash & Door sold stuff besides Sears kit houses.  Like windows…….and doors…….and millwork…….and roofing materials……..and that’s how there might end up being a mortgage, or Mechanics Lien, record for something that’s not a Sears House.

Want to see the house?  So do I, but it’s zero degrees outside, so I’ll be using the Auditor’s pictures.

First, here’s the catalog image of the Sears Norwich, offered in Modern Homes catalogs from approx. 1931 until 1938.

1938 image

Typical looking Colonial Revival styling.  No wonder we don’t spot them on street surveys!

Let’s look at a few of the details.  Here’s Sears description…….

1938 description

Whoa……an attached garage!  That was a bit uncommon for a Sears House in 1931, but was seen more a few years later.

Notice Sears recommended the house be painted white with dark shutters.

Here’s the Auditor’s photo of the actual house from 2008.

S Norwich 7180 Bridgetown Rd Cincinnati OH 2008 cropped

Sears Norwich, 7180 Bridgetown Rd., Cincinnati OH (Photo from Hamilton Co Auditor’s website)

There’s that attached garage, and yep, it’s painted white, but the shutters are gone.

Let’s compare it to the floor plan.  There are a few differences, but I’m still confident this is a Norwich model.

1938 first floor .jpg

1938 second floor.jpg

A couple of things different.  First, the Library on the first floor is missing!  Hard to see that in the Auditor’s photo, but it’s not there.  The porch on that side of the house has been turned 90 degrees and runs along the side of the house instead of in front of the Library.  I’m thinking it’s because of the size of the lot.  If the Library was in place, the house would be 65 feet wide.  Maybe it wouldn’t fit on the lot, or maybe they didn’t need the space and wanted to save money.  I did find out when I did my research that the original owner, Lee A Henkel, was the son of a contractor, and he did sell the house in 1939, so I’m thinking he built it for resale.  Eliminating the Library would have been a cost savings at build, and sell, time.

The second thing I noticed was the absence of two windows in the front bedroom on the second floor.  It looks like maybe they moved that window to the back bedroom on the second floor.

Now you’re probably wondering how these changes occurred if this was a Sears kit house?  Well…….first we know that Sears encouraged changes to their designs, and would make those changes for a small extra charge.  Second……in the 1938 catalog……this wasn’t a Pre-Cut design, meaning those changes would have been a bit less expensive to make.

1938 No 3342

Here’s what was included with The Norwich in 1938.

1938 details.jpg

Catalog price of this house in 1938 was $3136……plus……plus……plus…..

The house has had exterior updates since 2008, when the photo above was taken.  Here’s the 2015 picture.

S Norwich 7180 Bridgetown Rd Cincinnati OH 2015

I like the new color.  Hopefully I’ll get to Cincinnati soon and get my own photos.  If it ever warms up!  And maybe…..I’ll knock on the door.

Thanks for following along.