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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.











A Sears Carrington in Wyoming (Cincinnati)

A couple of years ago, I spent several months going through digitized copies of The Cincinnati Enquirer, available through my Newspapers.com subscription, looking for information about Sears Houses that had been built there.  I found loads of  good stuff.  Ads, articles, mortgage and deed references, building permit notices….. many of which led to locating one or more of the train loads of Sears Houses that were built in the Cincinnati area.

One of the best finds from my newspaper research was a A Sears Jefferson in Wyoming (Cincinnati)

Only one other Sears Jefferson had ever been located, so it was a thrill to identify such a rare model.

So what am I doing now, to continue my hunt for Sears Houses in Ohio?  I’m spending months going through digitized copies of Hamilton County deed and mortgage record index books.  You would think after all the research already done in Hamilton County, first by Beatrice Lask in the 1990’s, then followed up by other serious researchers over the next 20 some years, we would be running out of Sears Houses to find in Cincinnati.


Every once in a while, we find something new.  And today was one of those days, because I found something new.  And to add to the joy of this Holiday Season, it was the very first one of this model ever to be located!  (At least, the very first one among my group of researchers.)

A Sears Carrington

1932 image

According to Houses by Mail, the preferred field guide of most Sears Houses researchers, The Carrington was only available for three years, 1931, 1932 and 1933.

1933 was the last year that Sears offered financing plans, and the house I located today, was indeed, mortgaged through Sears, making it fully documented.


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

1932 details

And here’s the floor plan.

1932 floor plan

And here’s the house!

407 Compton Rd Wyoming OH 2015

Sears Carrington, 407 Compton Rd., Wyoming Ohio

I know…….I know…….you can’t really tell from the Auditor’s photo above.

Well let me tell you, the Google Maps street view is even worse.

407 Compton Rd Wyoming OH Google street view

Guess there wasn’t much chance anybody would have ever spotted this one from the road!

Fortunately, the Hamilton County Auditor’s website has a nice collection of historical photos of houses on their website, and the pic from 2008 is much better.

407 Compton Rd Wyoming OH.jpg

Sears Carrington, 407 Compton Rd., Wyoming Ohio

The house has had a major addition on the right side, but if you look closely at the main part of the house, you will see it matches the details of The Carrington nicely.

Notice the second floor overhang and the stone finish on the first floor, both mentioned in the catalog details.

Here’s a cropped photo that shows just the main part of the house, so we can see the details a bit better.

407 Compton Rd Wyoming OH crop

cropped view of the Auditor’s photo showing just the front

For some reason, it appears the window on the far right of the first floor is a little bit larger than the others.  That is the kitchen area.

Here’s a close up of the entry door, which is pretty distinctive on this model.

If you look closely, it appears that the catalog does show a small arch over the front door, but it appears to be more inset.  Remember the catalog illustration is just an artist rendering of the model, and may be slightly different than what the actual house looks like when built.

Honestly, without the mortgage record,  parcel description, and name of the original owner for guidance, I would never have identified this particular Sears model.

The original owners of the home were William R and Marguerite T Huber.  The mortgage was issued by E Harrison Powell, Trustee for Sears Roebuck financing plans in the early 1930’s.

Huber mortgage record

The property card on the Hamilton County Auditor’s website confirmed the location of the parcel, listing Marguerite Huber as the owner.

I found  a small notice in the Cincinnati Enquirer relating to the home dated May 22, 1933.   ( The additional rooms mentioned on the first floor are explained in an ad I found when the home was listed for sale in 1950.  See below for that article. )


William R Huber was the Comptroller for Proctor & Gamble and did volunteer work with The Community Chest and other local organizations.


The Hubers lived in the home until about 1946.

A later owner named the house “Willow Hill”.  The ad below states the “Recreation Room” mentioned in the article posted above, was actually in the basement.  You can see the house did have the addition by 1950.


Cincinnati Enquirer – Jan 22, 1950

So there you have it.  The first ever (maybe) Sears Carrington located.  And it’s right here in Ohio.

Thanks for following along.





10 Sears Clyde models (Dayton)

Do you ever wonder where Sears got the name for their house models?  I do!  Some, we know, are named after cities in Illinois, where Sears was based.  A lot of them, in fact.  And some are named after cities where the style of a particular model was popular, like “The Pittsburgh”, and “The Norwood”.

But what about “The Clyde”?  Why in the world did Sears use that name, for not only one model of house, but two?

Clyde 1918 catalog

Sears Clyde from the 1918 catalog (known as the No. 118 in earlier years)

42 The Clyde

The Clyde from the 1925 catalog

In some years, The Clyde was offered with two floor plans.

floor plan 1928

Floor plans available in 1928

But to me, an even more pressing question, why are there so many of this model (the later one) in Dayton, Ohio?

Well……I may never know the answer to my questions, but I can still share the Sears Clyde models that have been located, to date (Dec 1, 2017), here in this little blog.

Currently (see date above) there are 108 Sears Houses in Dayton, Ohio on the Master List my group of researchers is keeping for historical purposes.  Of those 108 in Dayton, 10 are Clyde models.  The later one, not the early one.  Almost 10 percent.

Huh.  Odd.  I guess the Sears Clyde was popular in Dayton.  And…..because I have way too many photos of Sears Houses in my files, (hundreds) and they are not organized, I mostly will be posting the Auditor’s photos.

Here they are

S Clyde 145 Samuel St L CCat Dayton OH

My own photo of the Sears Clyde at 145 Samuel St., Dayton OH ( documented) Testimonial house of H E Mackrodt ( see below) 

Happy Homes brochure Dayton

Page from the “Honor Bilt Make Happy Homes” brochure that was inside the 1927 Sears Modern Home catalog I purchased on Ebay a while back. I tracked The Clyde model built by H E MACKRODT to 145 Samuel St using  Montgomery County property abstract records.

S Clyde 264 Huron Dayton OH

My favorite Clyde in Dayton! I need to get there and get my own photos of this house before they change the house colors. LOVE!!! 264 Huron Ave., Dayton OH (Auditor photo)

S Clyde 348 Brooklyn Dayton OH

Sears Clyde at 348 Brooklyn Ave., Dayton OH (Auditor photo)

S Clyde 400 Verona Rd Dayton OH

Sears Clyde at 400 Verona Rd., Dayton OH (Auditor photo)

S Clyde 1404 Watervliet Dayton

Sears Clyde at 1404 Watervliet Ave., Dayton OH (Auditor photo)

S Clyde 1409 Arbor Dayton

Sears Clyde at 1409 Arbor Ave., Dayton OH

S Clyde 2805 Grace Dayton OH

Sears Clyde at 2805 Grace Ave., Dayton OH (Auditor photo)

S Clyde 3249 Ridge Dayton OH

Sears Clyde at 3249 Ridge Ave., Dayton OH (Auditor photo) This Clyde has an addition which looks original

S Clyde 3433 Wellington Dayton OH

My own photo of a Sears Clyde at 3433 Wellington Ave., Dayton OH. I took this photo in July of 2014. Since then the house has been rehabbed and has a new owner. Yay!

S Clyde 3439 Wellington Dayton OH

My own photo of a Sears Clyde at 3439 Wellington Ave., Dayton OH. This one also has an addition on one side. It’s also right next door to the Clyde I posted above.


If you want to own a Sears Clyde model in Ohio, Dayton might be the place to look!

Thanks for following along.




Another Sears Concord (Xenia)

A while back I located a 1930’s Sears model, The Concord, right here in my hometown – Springfield.

A Sears Concord in Springfield

The Concord has great history for Sears Roebuck, as it was the model they chose to be on display in Chicago at the 1933 World’s Fair, “A Century of Progress”.   Due to the popularity of the exhibition, the fair was reopened in 1934.  When all was said and done, more than 40 million people had attended.


40 million

So…….with all those people attending, surely some of them would have wanted to build the very same model home they had seen in Chicago.

Concord catalog 1938

Until I started researching Sears Houses, I had always thought the tri-level style home, which includes quad level homes, was a 1960’s thing.  But then, I’ve been wrong about a lot of things in my life, so being wrong about this was no surprise to me!  Heck, even Wikipedia says the house style wasn’t popular until the 1950’s.

So for the first several years that I was researching Sears Houses, I pretty much looked right over any tri or quad levels, even though I knew there were a few shown in Houses by Mail.

But after coming across the one near me in Springfield, I started paying more attention.  And guess what?  They are out there, all right.  You just have to know what to look for.

First, you have to recognize that the Sears tri (quad) level homes were small.  The 1960’s ones around here tend to be large, more Contemporary looking homes.  The Sears ones were pretty ordinary looking, actually.  Just a Cape Cod with multiple floors, like it says in the catalog details.

detail 1938

The details noted above is from my 1938 catalog, and Sears is telling us this style had become quite popular by then, only a few years after the 1933-1934 Chicago World’s Fair.

Here’s a couple of tips our research group has discussed as ways to spot this model on street surveys, and they are all right there on the front of the house.

  1. The second floor slightly overhangs the first on the  main two story section of the house.
  2. The Concord has two brick sections on the outer edges of the visible lower level that resemble pillars.
  3. There is a small decorative bracket on the brick that makes it look like it is holding up the upper level.

front detail catalog 1938

Those details, of course, are just a start.  You would still need to check all the other things Sears House researchers look for.  The window arrangement, house dimensions, and year of build also need to be carefully reviewed.  And of course, if you can happen to get inside, make sure the floor plan matches the catalog.

You already know I’ve located one in Springfield, which is documented.   I’ve also spotted a possible in Cincinnati, one in Kettering, and just recently, one in Xenia.  Let’s check those front details on the Springfield, Cincinnati, and Kettering houses first, then I’ll move on the one in Xenia.

S Concord 3701 Old Clifton Rd CCat Springfield OH (3)

Sears Concord – documented with shipping paperwork – 3701 Old Clifton Rd., Springfield OH

overhang – check

brick façade pillars – check

small bracket on brick pillars – check

S Concord 1244 Drott Cincinnati OH

Possible Sears Concord, 1244 Drott, Cincinnati OH  (Photo from Hamilton Co Auditor)

The possible Concord in Cincinnati has a garage in the visible lower level instead of a Recreation Room.  This option was mentioned in the catalog.  The house was built reversed from the catalog  floor plan, another option that was available on all models the years The Concord was sold.

garage option catalog 1938

Below is the catalog page for The Homestead mentioned in the detail above.  It has the garage in the basement as part of the plans, and not as an option.  Also notice there is no overhang on the front of the house, and no dormer.  I like how Sears says there is a “regular first floor level” in the details.

Homestead 1938


S Concord 3015 Oakmont Kettering OH

Possible Sears Concord, 3015 Oakmont, Kettering OH

The possible Concord in Kettering doesn’t have the brick façade pillars, so, hmmmmm.  And those brackets look a little larger than on the other houses I’ve seen, unless that’s just an optical illusion without the brick in place.  Everything else checks out.

Now let’s have a good look at the house in Xenia.

S Concord 605 Home Ave Xenia OH 5

Probable Sears Concord, 605 Home Ave., Xenia Ohio

The one in Xenia has original features shown in the catalog image, like the six over six windows, front door with four window panes and attached side porch.

Concord image 1938

The house in Xenia also has a single car garage like the catalog, but it is separated from the house by a small covered walkway.

S Concord 605 Home Ave Xenia OH 6

Probable Sears Concord, 605 Home Ave., Xenia Ohio

When I sent a photo of this house to my research buddy, Lara, of Sears Homes of Chicagoland, she told me that walkway was a “Sears connector”.  Lara is really good with the 1930’s Sears tri (quad) level models.  I had to look it up.  I found it in the catalog, but attached to a similar model, The Homecrest.

Homecrest catalog 1938.jpg

Notice the Homecrest has a flat front instead of the overhang as seen on The Concord.  Also, The Homecrest has a bump out behind the side porch, which makes the dining room a bit larger.

Here’s a closer look at the connector walkway between the house and garage on The Concord model in Xenia.

S Concord 605 Home Ave Xenia OH 7

That’s a nice original leaded glass window on the right side of the open arched doorway.

The Sears Concord in Xenia sits pretty on a lot with loads of trees behind it, and it was nice to get there earlier today and get photos, with all the leaves on the ground.  The setting looks amazingly like a “real house photo” of this model shown in the front section of my 1938 catalog, but I know it is not, because the Xenia house doesn’t have a fireplace on the right by the side porch.

page 5 1938 catalog

S Concord 605 Home Ave Xenia OH 5

Probable Sears Concord, 605 Home Ave., Xenia Ohio

S Concord 605 Home Ave Xenia OH 2

I know there are more Sears tri (quad) level models out there.  We need to get busy and find them.

Thanks for following along!