Thanks to my mentor, Rebecca Hunter, I have located another Sears Model No. 123 in Ohio. Well, indirectly, I guess. Here’s what happened. Last Tuesday, early, I got a text message from Rebecca, saying she was traveling to Michigan for a few days to meet up with some other Sears House Hunters, and was I available to come up. After a quick review of my schedule, I was able to free up Friday for a (long) day trip.
The weather was perfect, in the 60’s, and traffic was light when I left Springfield at daybreak, my destination being Ann Arbor.
I know, I know. Ann Arbor is the home of those infamous Wolverines. What’s a Buckeye doing there?
But the truth is……Ann Arbor has some fabulous Sears Houses. A lot of them are ones I hadn’t seen before in person, so I was super excited to check them out from the sidewalk, and not just on Google Maps. And bonus! I also got to meet up with Dale Wolicki, who has been at this Kit House thing a lot longer than the rest of us in our little Research Group. And has written books about them, too, just like Rebecca.
Montgomery Ward’s Mail-Order Homes
Anyway……back to the Sears No. 123.
Since I was going to be driving to Ann Arbor, I had a look at our Master List of “Sears Houses in the United States” to see if there was anything else interesting along the way that I could stop and get real photos of. There was. A while back, like a couple of years ago, I did a little Google driving of Waterville, Ohio, as my friend Laraine Shape and I were planning to go there and hunt for houses. Laraine was from Waterville, but was currently living in Cincinnati. Since she was living in “Disneyland for Sears Houses” like I call it, she had gotten the bug, started a Website, Sears Houses in Cincinnati and she and I then connected through Social Media.
On my Google drive of Waterville, I spotted what I thought might be a Sears Arlington, and it looked to be in great original condition.
Unfortunately, Laraine and I never got the opportunity to travel there to see it together, as she passed away in January of 2015, after a short illness.
Yep. I really needed to make the short side trip to see it. For Laraine.
So, after a long day of looking at what seemed like hundreds (probably not that many) of Sears Houses in Ann Arbor, visiting, chatting, lunching, picture taking, I headed back to Ohio around 5:00PM.
In a round about way. And I mean that literally. St Rt 23 was a bit backed up with Friday afternoon traffic, so Google Maps took me a slightly different way to get on Southbound. And there were Roundabouts. Two of them. We don’t have a lot of Roundabouts in my part of Ohio, and the ones we do have are pretty simple. I guess the ones in Michigan are pretty simple, too, if you already know what lane you need to be in, and where to exit. But I didn’t. So I missed my exit on the second one, had to find a place to turn around, then tried again. I got on to 23 the second time, but………I was going Northbound instead of Southbound.
Eventually I did get on the road the right direction, and made good time getting to Ohio, and Waterville.
I got my photos of the Sears Arlington, said a little prayer for Laraine, and hit the road for Springfield.
Google Maps took me east out of Waterville on Rt 64, heading me toward I-75 at Bowling Green. After crossing the Maumee River, Rt 64 made a turn to head south, and as I was driving along, there on the side on the road was a large old Dutch Colonial Home.
It looked familiar.
I passed it.
As I was checking it out in the rear view mirror, I realized what it was. A Sears No. 123!
So there I go again. Looking for a place to turn around, only this time in Ohio.
I got photos of the house from all angles, as it sits at a bit of an angle on the lot, and it appears to be part of a small farm. There were no vehicles in sight, durn it, so I wasn’t able to talk to any owners. I’m 99% sure it’s the real deal, but it is not a documented Sears Home.
First, here’s the floor plan, so you (and me) can compare the window arrangement and architectural details to the catalog.
The windows are a little hard to see in the images, as this is just a screen shot of a digital version of the 1914 catalog, so you will have to take my word for it that it matches up if you can’t make it out on your device.
Here’s my photos.
The first one is the angle that pretty much matches the catalog illustration.
Probable Sears No 123 just outside Waterville, Ohio
The details on the right side include a small dormer towards the front of the house that is a bump out in the large upstairs bedroom. The gambrel cross gable has the correct window arrangement, single, double, single, and that is over a three window bay. You don’t see a lot of Dutch Colonials with those features in this pattern.
Here’s the front.
Probable Sears No 123 just outside Waterville Ohio
Yep. The windows match up, too, along with the cornice returns and pediment style front porch.
The left side differs just a bit in that is has another small bump out in what would be that large bedroom at the front of the house. The other windows appear to be correct. Rebecca told me once that most of the early Sears Houses she has seen have some type of modification, which would account for that extra small dormer. The No. 123 was offered in the early years, before Sears was “Pre-cutting” the framing lumber, so minor changes would have been more common at build time.
Probably Sears No 123 just outside Waterville Ohio
Here’s the back. Happy to be able to get this photo, since you don’t have that opportunity very often. For some reason, folks just don’t want people poking around in their backyards trying to take pictures!
Probable Sears No 123 just outside Waterville Ohio
The small “platform” shown in the catalog is now an enclosed porch and the other windows match up.
Yep. After reviewing my photos when I got home, I’m pretty sure it’s a Sears No. 123. So now, in order to add it to our Master List, I need the address. Which turned out not to be so simple to figure out. Sure, I knew where I was. Right outside Waterville, Ohio. In fact, I could get in the car and drive there right now. But since this house wasn’t in a platted city neighborhood, finding the correct address on a County Road outside of an incorporated area can be a bit tricky.
My Google Maps app on my Iphone told me I was on Rt 64, or maybe it was County Rd 64, which I was. But when I got home and looked for the house on my desktop Google Maps, the road shows up as Toledo-Grand Rapids Rd. Then I used the point and click method of finding the address on Google Maps. It gave me 14998 Reitz Rd. And when I sent my photos to Rebecca and Dale, that’s what I told them it was.
Wrong! I always admit it when I’m wrong.
I tried that address in the Wood County Auditor’s website and there was no match. So back to Google Maps I go and try again. Seems Reitz Rd was the cross road, and the house sits at an angle on the corner, so Google was confused. Then I zoomed in on the house, and noticed one of those green reflector number panels near the road. Hooray! Now I have a house number. After a bit more clicking around, I discovered that the road name changes from Toledo-Grand Rapids Rd to W River Rd, pretty much at the intersection with Reitz Rd.
Then I went back to the Wood County Auditor website and tried that. Success! The house is actually located at 23520 W River Rd. Google Maps tells me this street address is in Perrysburg, Ohio, not Waterville. That is strange since the house is much closer to Waterville than Perrysburg, but when I crossed the Maumee River, the County changed from Lucas to Wood, so maybe that’s the reason.
One last thing to check out, now that I have found the house on the Auditor’s website. The dimensions. Perfect match!
So, what about that Sears Arlington in Waterville? Sadly, I have to say it isn’t one. I took photos from three angles and there are several things that just don’t match up. I told you. I always admit it when I’m wrong.
But I have to say that Laraine would still be happy about the Sears No. 123. In fact, maybe she led me there. Sears told us in early catalogs that the No. 123 had been built a couple of places in Ohio.
One of those places was Sharonville, which is the community next door to where Laraine lived in the Cincinnati area. After she found that out, she spent hours driving around hunting for it. She even went to local Historical Societies with the catalog image to see if anybody recognized it. No luck. I told her we would find it one day. Maybe this one can be considered its replacement.
All in all, I had a great day in Ann Arbor, Michigan with Sears House researchers Rebecca, Dale, Andrew, and Nigel. I have a really good photo of the five of us together, but since I was told that you can get in big trouble for posting pictures of people without their permission, I better not add it here!
Oh yeah. That other No. 123 that Sears said was built in Ohio. In Springfield?
Here it is!
Sears No. 123 at 3131 Springfield-Xenia Rd., Springfield Ohio
Additional photos and info about the No 123 in Springfield here.
Thanks for following along.