January is traditionally the month when I purge, organize, and declutter. Or maybe I should say, I make an attempt to purge, organize, and declutter. Mostly I read a lot of articles on how to go about it, but like most people, I find it difficult to find the place to start.
I consider myself to be a fairly organized person by nature, especially when it comes to my personal and work related paperwork, but for some reason, I have never been able to get a handle on how to keep track of all my research “stuff” on Sears Houses.
A lot of the “stuff” that is in no way organized, are notes I jotted down when researching from my desk, or made when on a day trip looking for houses, or, just out and about with family and friends.
Once a week, when I sit down to open my mail and pay bills, most of those notes get shoved in the front half of the top right hand drawer of my desk. Hey, that’s a form of organizing, right?
But this week, I had a little problem. When I opened said desk drawer to shove in the current selection of notes, I couldn’t get the drawer shut. FULL! Looks like this might the time and place to start a bit of my January Sears House “stuff” decluttering.
I’ve got quite a variety of notepads in there, thanks to the $25.00 I sent to the VFW in December of 2015. Seems like every week since then I’ve gotten a mailing with at least one notepad, some with my name on them. I’ve also gotten hundreds of return address labels, representing all seasons of the year, which I will surely be purging soon, since we are getting ready to move. In just the last couple of months, I’ve also gotten three or four calendars, Christmas cards, wrapping paper, gift tags, a variety of other assorted Greeting Cards, and a tote bag with pretty Spring flowers on it. I haven’t decided yet if I should send the VFW another $25.00 or not. If I do, I think I will wait until after we move, so I get some new address labels.
ANYWAY……….back to my over flowing desk drawer. A good bit of the notes close to the top of the pile were pretty recent. I knew that because they were on note paper with my name on it from the VFW, and I was able to quickly check out the addresses I had noted to see if they needed added to the Sears House Master List or not. But as I worked down through, I found some older sheets of paper. One of them had quite a few addresses in Middletown. I’ve done quite a bit of research on the Sears Houses in Middletown, after discovering a Train Load of Sears Houses there in July of 2015. Well, actually I spotted them in May of 2015 on a a quick drive through town, but didn’t get back to get real photos until a while later. Since then, I’ve been to the Butler County Record Center & Archives in Hamilton to look for mortgage records, and identified several more from that research.
So now that I’ve been reminded that I know about quite a few Sears Houses in Middletown besides the ones in my post from July of 2015, this seems like a good time to review them myself, and share some of them with any of you who might be interested. I haven’t actually been back to get real photos of the additional ones I’ve located, so some of the pictures will be from the Butler County Auditor’s Website.
As of today, there are 36 homes listed for Middletown on the Master List of Sears Roebuck Houses in the United States. 7 of those homes I located from mortgage records, some I spotted from that one personal trip to town, and the rest are from time spent reviewing street views in Google Maps.
We’ll start with the ones I have photos of from 2015.
When I originally located the Sears Houses on Fourteenth St. in May of 2015, I shared my find with a small group of fellow researchers. One of my friends from that group, Judith, did a bit of looking around the area where those homes were built, and spotted three more one block over on Fifteenth St. So when I went to Middletown in July of 2015 to get photos, I was able to get pictures of those three along with the homes on Fourteenth.
Here’s the three on Fifteenth. Two are Sears Somerset models, and one is a Winona.
Sears Somerset at 701 Fifteenth Ave. in Middletown. This home was built reversed from the catalog listing, an option Sears offered on most models.
Sears Somerset at 719 Fifteenth Ave. in Middletown
The Winona was offered for a really long time in the Sears Modern Homes catalogs, and had several floor plans over the years. The Winona on Fifteenth Ave in Middletown appears to be the floor plan in the 1918 catalog, shown above.
Sears Winona at 705 Fifteenth Ave. in Middletown
Before spotting the block full of Sears Houses on Fourteenth in May 2015, my daughter and I had already driven around a bit, and I got photos of the following homes.
Sears Puritan at 2915 Flemming Rd in Middletown.
I’m pretty sure I knew about The Puritan before we did our first drive about town. The owner, or maybe it was a former owner, contacted me somewhere along the way to tell me about it, but I don’t remember the exact timetable. I think it was through my Facebook Page. Since then I have documented this home with a mortgage record dated Nov 15, 1926.
Sears Osborn at 1114 Parkview Ave in Middletown. Built with the rooms reversed from the catalog listing. This Osborn is not documented, but retains so many of the original architectural details, I can’t imagine it being anything else.
We spotted what appears to be a Sears Dover model, but it was hidden behind a lot of shrubbery, so I didn’t even try to get a picture. Fortunately, the Butler County Auditor had a great older photo of the house. I’m pretty sure it’s a Dover, but this model had a lot of pattern book and other kit house company look a likes.
Possible Sears Dover at 506 The Alameda in Middletown.
Here’s one of the trickier ones I encountered when researching the mortgage records. Back in the 1920’s, mortgage, and deed records, didn’t have actual addresses on them, just the legal description. So some of them are pretty difficult to find. For this one particular mortgage, I had a City of Middletown lot number of 2353. Using the GIS Maps on the Butler County Recorder’s website, I was able to track that to the physical address of 533 Garfield St. Then you can pull up the address on the Auditor’s website for other details and hopefully a good photo. Here’s what the Auditor had for 533 Garfield St.
Not a Sears House at 533 Garfield St in Middletown
I didn’t recognize the house above as being from Sears at all. At least not from this photo, so I then went to Google Maps street view to see if I could get visuals from other angles. That didn’t help much, but since the house was only one door away from the corner, I decided to “Google drive” around a bit to see if I could see the back of the house.
I could. Ha Ha! This house has a second home on the property. In the backyard. Then I discovered the Auditor had a picture of it on their website, too. You can’t see all the details, but I’m pretty sure that’s a Sears Olivia out back behind the main house.
Sears Olivia built in the backyard of a home at 533 Garfield St in Middletown. Documented with a mortgage record dated Feb 5, 1927.
On my July 2015 trip I also spotted what I think is a Sears Avoca. I couldn’t get a real photo because the residents were having a BBQ in the front yard and I didn’t want to bother them. The Auditor had a nice photo of this one, too. The Avoca had a somewhat complicated arrangement of windows on the side shown in the catalog listing, so that is what I am using to compare.
Probable Sears Avoca at 1403 Yankee Rd in Middletown
Are you tired of looking at Sears Houses yet? Just one more. Well, there are a lot more, but I’m only going to post one more, because it’s a popular Sears model, and you might spot one near you.
Sears Westly at 121 Curryer Rd in Middletown
The Westly had two floor plans in the 1920 catalog. The house in Middletown appears to be the plan on the right, No 3085.
I have a nice list of addresses of Sears Houses in Middletown already. I hope to get back there soon for more street survey work. Bet I find more.
Thanks for following along.