A Sears Olivia in Springfield

I first started out on my quest to locate houses purchased from the Sears Modern Homes catalog here in my hometown of Springfield, Ohio in 2010.  I already knew I lived in a Sears Jeanette model, discovered by my daughter while she was researching small house plans on the Internet a couple of years earlier.  But it wasn’t until January of  2010 that I was asked to do some research and assist with putting together a Walking Tour of Sears Homes for The Springfield Preservation Alliance (now part of The Westcott Center for Architecture & Design).

Really people, I had no idea how to get started doing that, but with the guidance of local Historian Kevin Robert Rose, Architectural Historians Rebecca Hunter (Elgin, Illinois) and Dale Wolicki (Bay City, Michigan), I jumped right in and slowly but surely figured out what I needed to do.

First stop – the County Recorders Office to look for mortgage records, one of the best ways to document a Sears House.  Dale Wolicki had already provided a list of the names of Trustees for Sears, Roebuck (and Montgomery Ward), so I knew what I was looking for.  Off I went, along with my Co-Researcher for the Walking Tour, Sarah Shivler.  We were elated and excited to find a total of 39 mortgage records here in Clark County!

So…..now what?  We quickly found out that having a mortgage record is just the first step in a fairly complicated process of actually finding the house.  Once you have the mortgage record, you have a legal description of the property but no address, so now you need a plat map for the neighborhood if its in the city, or a County Engineer’s Map if its outside a platted development.  Those are harder to find.  Once you’ve figured out the actual address, off you go to drive by and stalk the house.  Then you have to use Sears Modern Homes catalogs or the Houses by Mail Field Guide to identify the model.  Whew.  Boy, did I learn a lot that Winter about how to do mortgage research.  I’m happy to say I’m pretty good at it now.

Anyway…..back to the Sears Olivia in Springfield!  It was one of two Sears Olivia models that I located and identified through those mortgage records.

Here it is!

S Olivia 150 S Fostoria L CCat Springfield OH

Sears Olivia at 150 S Fostoria Ave., Springfield Ohio. Documented with a mortgage record.  (My photo)

The Sears Olivia was a tiny house, by today’s standards.  The main body of the house is 22 ft wide and 29 feet deep. It has a small extension on the back for storage and the stairway to the basement.  Total square footage – 686 square feet.

Here’s the page from the 1925 Sears Modern Home catalog.

43 The Olivia

The first thing you might notice is that the house pictured is a mirror image of the one in the catalog.  Sears offered reverse floor plans on most of their models at no extra charge.

1925 floor plan

Why am I featuring this little Sears Olivia right now? Because it’s FOR SALE!  Who wants to buy a sweet little Sears House in Springfield, Ohio?

Here’s some interior photos from the real estate listing.


Living Room looking towards the front door.  You can see the small hallway that leads to the front bedroom on the right. (Photo from Realtor website)



Living Room  looking towards the kitchen. (Photo from Realtor website)

This Olivia has had an additional window added along the side wall towards the front of the house.  This would totally mess up a Researcher on a street survey, as one of the field notes for this model is only one window in the room, set towards the back on the side wall.

Living Room


This view of the kitchen shows the double windows as shown in the catalog.  The kitchen is not original (thank goodness) to the original Sears design.



This view of the kitchen shows the small extension for storage, which has been opened up to the room, and the door to the basement stairs. A good Sears researcher will spot Stratford design hardware on the back plate of the knob on that door, even though it has been painted white. (Photo from Realtor website)


The bathroom retains the original placement as seen on the Sears floor plan.  No way to change that around, since the room is small. (Photo from Realtor website)


Here’s the other side of the house, which shows that extra window in the Living Room.

S Olivia 150 S Fostoria R CCat Springfield OH

Sears Olivia at 150 S Fostoria Ave., Springfield Ohio. (My photo)

From the front view you can see that the door and windows are not centered on the house.  This is another good field note for this model. Also notice that the porch roof comes down almost to the outside edge of the bedroom window.

S Olivia 150 S Fostoria CCat Springfield OH

Sears Olivia at 150 S Fostoria Ave., Springfield Ohio (My photo)

The Realtor was nice enough  to take a picture of the back of the house for the listing.  That view shows the rear extension nicely.


Rear of a Sears Olivia at 150 S Fostoria Ave., Springfield Ohio.  (Photo from Realtor website)

So that’s one of the two Sears Olivia models I located from mortgage records.

Here’s the other one.  It’s right next door!  It was ordered and built with the floor plan as shown in the catalog, but was added onto later.  It also has the second Living Room window.

S Olivia 152 S Fostoria L CCat Springfield OH

Sears Olivia at 152 S Fostoria Ave., Springfield Ohio (My photo)

Here they are side by side.

S Olivia 150 and 152 S Fostoria CCat Springfield OH

Side by side Sears Olivia Models at 150 and 152 S Fostoria, Springfield Ohio


The mortgages for these two homes were both recorded on May 22, 1927.  The mortgage holders were Albert E Asebrook and William Eichelman.  Both mortgages were for $3000.  I researched the mortgage holders back in 2010, and determined that the houses were most likely built as rental properties. Neither of the mortgage holders ever lived in the homes.

Here is the link to the Zillow listing for 150 S Fostoria

Thanks for following along.



A Sears No. 123 in ???

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.

Sigh…….big sigh……

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!

image 1914

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.

Sears No 123 23520 W River Rd R CCat Perrysburg OH

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.

Sears No 123 23520 W River Rd CCat Perrysburg OH

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.

Sears No 123 23520 W River Rd Rd L CCat Perrysburg OH

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!

Sears No 123 23520 W River Rd rear CCat Perrysburg OH

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!

Screenshot (1519)


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.

where built 1914

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!

S 123 3131 Springfield Xenia Rd CCat Springfield OH

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.



A Sears Lewiston in Delaware

I’m longing for Summer.  I’ll even take Spring right now.  After Mother Nature teased us with temperatures in the 60’s earlier this week, Winter has blown back in with lows tonight expected in the teens.

What to do to get through these last days of Winter?  Look through pictures of Sears Houses I took when the grass was green and the flowers were starting their Summer show.

And I came across this beauty.

Sears Lewiston 265 W Fountain Ave Delaware OH 1

Sears Lewiston at 265 W Fountain Ave., Delaware

It was a beautiful day in Ohio when I took these photos.  Here’s a few more showing the house from other angles.

Sears Lewiston 265 W Fountain Ave Delaware OH 4

Sears Lewiston 265 W Fountain Ave Delaware OH 3

Sears Lewiston 265 W Fountain Ave Delaware OH 5

The Sears Lewiston was offered in the Modern Homes catalogs from 1929 until the last catalog was published in 1940.

image 1930

The original owner of the Lewiston in Delaware was  Claude O’Neal, who obtained the financing for his home through Sears, Roebuck (Walker O Lewis, Trustee), making this a documented Sears kit house.

Claude, his wife Mabel, and their two children were listed as living in the home in the 1930 Census.

Claude was a Professor of Botany at Ohio Wesleyan University.

Screenshot (1435)

Claude O’Neal in the 1936 Ohio Wesleyan  yearbook “Le Bijou”

Screenshot (1434)

Fun info about Claude O’Neal from the 1936 Ohio Wesleyan yearbook “Le Bijou”


Screenshot (1449)

Claude and Mabel in later years.  That front porch looks familiar!  (Public photo found on Ancestry)


A Sears Conway in Springfield

You know, I hardly ever post about Sears Houses here in my hometown of Springfield, the place where my love of these homes started.  I really need to prioritize better.

But today, after getting a reminder about a house I noticed last year, I decided to show you this one.

People, I have driven past this house hundreds of times since I started hunting up houses purchased as kits from Sears, Roebuck, but never realized what it was.   But one day last July, I was a passenger and not the driver, and with a turn of my head, I spotted it!

Here’s what it looks like from the street.


This Auditor’s photo shows you what you see when driving down E High St at 50 MPH.

The photo above is what I always saw when passing by.  No wonder I never identified it!

See the “real house” behind the addition that was used as a business?  It’s a Sears Conway.

Sears Conway 1928 image

 Image of The Conway from the 1928 Sears Modern Home catalog

Now is a good time to mention that this home is currently vacant and bank owned, so I was able to get close up (trespass) and see the house.

S Conway 3496 E High St Springfield OH

Sears Conway at 3496 E High St., Springfield


The house is a reverse floor plan from the catalog, I think, based on the location of the entry stairs on the left side of the house, and the short brick pillar on the outside edge of the stairs.  I always look for that short pillar if I see a house that looks like a Sears Conway, even though in some instances, that feature is gone.


Another feature to look for on the Sears Conway are the eave brackets.  They are pretty distinctive.


Screenshot (1432)

Even though the house on E High St has been vinyl sided, the original brackets were left exposed.  They could use a coat of paint.

S Conway 3496 E High St Springfield OH 5

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I was reminded about this house today.  I just learned that the home was built by the Grandfather of somebody I know!  I hope to get more information about the original owners and maybe some vintage photos of the house sometime soon.

Here’s a few more photos I took while I was trespassing.

S Conway 3496 E High St Springfield OH 4

Distinctive front entry with windows on each side of the door

S Conway 3496 E High St Springfield OH 6

The storm door was locked so I couldn’t get a photo of the original front door, but it is there.

S Conway 3496 E High St Springfield OH 8

A glimpse of Stratford design hardware that was included with many Sears kit houses in the 1920’s.

S Conway 3496 E High St Springfield OH 3

There’s those eave brackets.  And my thumb.

S Conway 3496 E High St Springfield OH 7

S Conway 3496 E High St Springfield OH 2

More eave brackets.  Glad they were there, as that’s what I spotted on our drive by.

As I said earlier, this house is currently bank owned.  I am waiting for it to be listed for sale, and hope to get inside for further documentation, even though since I now have knowledge that it a Sears Home from a descendant of the original owner, I probably don’t need to see stamped lumber or mailing labels.

If you live in Springfield, turn your head when you drive down this part of E High St., and maybe you will spot the house, too.

Thanks for following along.



A Home Builders Davenport in Springfield

Collaboration has helped me identify another pattern book home built right here in my hometown of Springfield.

Well, sort of.

Recently I was included in a group text message between a few other Sears House researchers, asking for input about a brick home that one of said researchers had questions about.  “Did anybody recognize it”  “Was it from Home Builders?

I imagine I was included in the group text because I have identified quite a few homes here  in Springfield that were built with plans purchased from the Home Builders Catalog Co. of Chicago.  These were not kit homes, like those offered by Sears, Roebuck.  Instead, for twenty dollars, you received two sets each of blueprints, specifications and contract forms, along with a sixteen page guide listing materials.  All the lumber, and everything else you needed to build the home would have purchased through a local lumber company, which many times was the place you went to look through the catalog in the first place.

So…..even though I was pretty sure I hadn’t seen the house included in the text message in my Home Builders Catalog collection, I went ahead and pulled out my 1928 and had a look anyway.  Home Builders had a good selection of plans for brick homes, so I looked primarily in that section of the catalog.  Sure enough, I didn’t see the house my fellow researcher was hunting for, but I did stop at a page that had a house that looked really, really familiar.

The Davenport


Near the west edge of Springfield is a street full of homes that face our wonderful Snyder Park.  Many of those homes were built in the 1920’s, and one in particular, sits proudly on a corner lot and shouts “Look at me!” to everybody who drives, bikes, runs, jogs, or walks the dogs past it.  I know, because every single time I go down that street I have surely looked at it.  For years…..

Guess what it is?

A Home Builders Davenport!


2101 Harshman Blvd., Springfield. Most likely built with plans purchased from The Home Builders Catalog Co. of Chicago.

Let’s have a look at the floor plan and then match up the windows on the sides to see if it looks like the same room arrangement.


On the first floor, left side, behind the Terrace, is the entry door to the vestibule.  While you can’t tell how large the window is in the vestibule by the catalog illustration,  hallway windows are generally small, just enough to let in some light.  Directly behind the entry is a half bathroom, a pretty uncommon feature in houses from the 1920’s.  That means the home was considered pretty upscale for the time period.  Again, a bathroom window would generally be small and high, to offer privacy.  Sometimes Dining Room windows are also small and high, if the designer thought the wall would have a buffet or a window seat there.

On the second floor, left side, is the main bathroom, and a bedroom.  This plan calls it a “Chamber”.  Again, the bathroom window would be small and high, for privacy.

Looking down the left side of the house on Harshman, all the windows would match the catalog floor plan.  One thing that doesn’t quite match up is the window that faces the Terrace.  In the catalog floor plan, that window has four sashes.  The house on Harshman has only three there, but that would have been an easy alteration at time of build.

The windows on the front of the house match perfectly, with the main floor sashes having 18 panes, and the second floor having diamond grids.


The windows on the right side of the house also match the catalog illustration, from what we can see that isn’t concealed by landscaping.  There is an addition on the rear of the house, so don’t count that when you match them up!


The home also has a double flue in the chimney, as shown in the floor plan.


Second floor plan of The Davenport by the Home Builders Catalog Co., of Chicago


Now, the fun part.  Since the house is currently for sale, I have some interior photos to share, all from Realtor websites.


Entry hall.

The door across from the entry door should be access to a small half bath, according to the floor plan.  That doesn’t appear to be the case in this house, but those double doors are certainly not original, so maybe that has been converted to a closet.  There appears to be a full bath on the main floor now, in the addition at the back of the home, based on some of the other realtor photos.


Living Room

Those triple windows are the set on the front of the house, and how about that woodwork around the fireplace!  Remember that this house wasn’t a kit, so interior details would have been determined by the builder at time of construction.


Dining Room. Gorgeous hardwood floors!


Main “Chamber” at the front of the house with the diamond grid window panes.


Main upstairs bathroom.

I’m thinking I should try to become more familiar with the Home Builders plans, as I continue to stumble across them here in Springfield.  I know I will never be able to memorize them, as there were more than 500 in the 1928 catalog alone.  One of our local lumber companies may have been offering the plans, and I have already determined that one local developer built several as model homes in a new neighborhood.

I have already featured The Chantilly from Home Builders in a previous blog post, and will have an update on that house soon.

Keep watching!


More Sears Houses in Middletown

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.



G.V.T. houses in Zanesville

A week or so ago, fellow Sears House researcher Andrew Mutch located a kit house in New York State from the Gordon Van-Tine Co. through a Mechanic’s Lien notice in an on line archived newspaper.  I, myself, have located quite a few Sears Roebuck homes from Mechanic’s Liens notices in the Cincinnati area, but never did a search for Gordon-Van Tine.

For those of you who don’t know, the Gordon-Van Tine Company sold house plans and building materials through mail order catalogs just like Sears, and was also the supplier of kit homes purchased from Montgomery Ward for a period of time.  You can find the history and loads more information on Gordon-Van Tine at this website written by long time researcher and author, Dale Wolicki.

After Andrew shared his find with our small group of researchers, I decided to do a quick search of my own for Gordon-Van Tine houses in Ohio.  Well…..it didn’t turn out to be such a quick search after all, because I got 250 hits in Newspapers.com.  Further review showed the majority of the search matches were in Zanesville.

I then spent several evenings reviewing the newspaper articles, and I was, indeed, able to locate and document, several homes in Zanesville and the surrounding area.

Here’s why.  In 1923, long time Zanesville businessman, Adolph Loeb, established The Pioneer Bungalow Company.  Zanesville had a housing shortage at that time, and this  appeared to be Mr. Loeb’s attempt to lessen the shortage, and of course, make a profit.  Since Mr Loeb had no experience in the housing industry, he choose to associate himself with a company that did.  Gordon-Van Tine.


Advertisement in The Times Recorder (Zanesville OH)  June 2 1923

Too funny about the dog houses.  I didn’t know that.  Truth be told, I can only identify a handful of Gordon-Van Tine models, as I haven’t studied them much.  Fortunately for me, The Pioneer Bungalow Co., A. Loeb, Gen. Mgr.,  pointed me towards some of the houses they built on spec.


Advertisement in The Times Recorder (Zanesville OH) Sept 1, 1923


A did get a chuckle out of seeing that Gordon-Van Tine was referenced in this ad as G.V.T.  I thought only current researchers were using those initials to identify GVT homes in our files and correspondence, but I guess that method goes back a long way.

So now, with this ad to get me started, I have model numbers (e.g. Home No. 516) and a street name.  Between the 1920 catalog available from The Daily Bungalow and my Dover reprint of the 1923 catalog, I was able to find catalog images for all the models mentioned in the ad above.  Off to Google Maps I go!

The No. 516 on Moxahala was the first one sold, according to this notice dated before the ad shown above.


Article in The Times Recorder (Zanesville OH) Aug 18, 1923




GVT No. 516 – 710 Moxahala Ave., Zanesville (courtesy of Google Maps)

Here’s some of the others from the ad above




A GVT No. 572 (on the right) at 781 Larzelere Ave., Zanesville. Some of you might recognize the house on the left. It appears to be a Sears Marina. (Courtesy of Google Maps)



GVT No 554 – 2428 Oakwood Ave., Zanesville (Courtesy of Google Maps)



A not very good Google Maps image of a GVT NO. 513 at 2477 Oakwood Ave., Zanesville

Fortunately, a later Pioneer Bungalow ad enabled me to identify another GVT No. 513, which we can see from the same angle as it is shown in the catalog.


A GVT No. 513 at 728 Race St. in Zanesville (courtesy of Google Maps)

The No. 513 on Oakwood Ave even had it’s very own advertisement!


Advertisement (with a typo on the model number) in The Times Recorder (Zanesville OH) Dec 15, 1923.

A later ad lead me to this little house.



A GVT No. 553 at 714 Race St. in Zanesville (courtesy of Google Maps)



GVT No. 511 at 221 Searle St., Zanesville (courtesy of Google Maps)


GVT No 579 at 2517 Oakwood Ave., Zanesville


So far, I have identified 14 Gordon-Van Tine kit homes in Zanesville and South Zanesville.  12 of them were from the ads I found, and the other 2 were ones I recognized, but weren’t listed in any of the ads.

Here are those two.




GVT Valencia at 2423 Oakwood Ave., Zanesville OH (courtesy of Google Maps)



GVT No. 613 at 285 Taylor St., Zanesville (courtesy of Google Maps)

The Pioneer Bungalow Company ran a small classified ad mentioning their association with Gordon-Van Tine weekly in the Zanesville newspaper from 1923 to 1925, which is the reason I had those 250 hits I mentioned at the beginning. Pioneer continued in business until 1934, it appears, but later ads did not mention GVT.

I’m hoping there are more houses to find and hope to spend some time doing just that from my desk before making the trip to Zanesville to get real photos.

Thanks for following along.



A Sears Ivanhoe in Batavia

A while back I was doing some research on Beatrice Lask, who identified over 500 Sears Houses in Cincinnati, and came across an article published in the Cincinnati Enquirer dated January 30, 1993.


The cover photo for the article was the (now documented) Sears Aurora in Pleasant Ridge, but the next house pictured was the one that caught my eye.

What was it???


So, off to Google Maps I went, to see if I could spot the house.  Surely it wouldn’t be too hard, since it was on Main St. in Batavia, which is a fairly small village.  I did find it pretty quickly, and what a great Sears House it turned out to be.

An Ivanhoe!


1918 Sears Modern Catalog image of The Ivanhoe

A spacious home with lovely interior details, The Ivanhoe was promoted as being a “Leading Architect’s Design”.  Here’s the floor plan and details.


1918 floor plan and details for The Ivanhoe

Only a handful of Sears Ivanhoe models have been located across the United States to date; one in Florida, four in Illinois, one in Michigan, one in New York, one in West Virginia, and this one, right here in Ohio!

So earlier this week, on a bright and sunny day, my husband Frank decided we needed to go for a ride, and let me choose our destination.

I picked Batavia to check out Ohio’s very own Sears Ivanhoe!


Sears Ivanhoe at 410 E Main St., Batavia.  (Front of the house faces Fourth St., but the home has a Main St address.)

According to the newspaper article I found, the home was built in 1920, and was still in the original owner’s family as of 1993.


The Ivanhoe was offered in the Sears Modern Home catalogs between 1912 and 1918, but we do know of other instances of Sears selling a  house kit for a design that was no longer shown in the  catalog.  Hopefully the family would have a pretty good idea of the year of build, but I did find the original owner, James Ashburn, listed on “Main St.”, with no house number, in the 1920 Census, which was conducted on the 8th and 9th of January, 1920 in Batavia.  That might mean the house was completed prior to 1920, or that the original owner lived in a different house on Main St at the time.

The newspaper also had a photo of the fireplace with the Rookwood tile.


cropped from Cincinnati Enquirer article dated Jan. 30, 1993

Hey!  We haven’t even gotten to the good part of the story yet, so I hope you’re still with me.  The good news is that this home now belongs to the Clermont County Convention & Visitors Bureau.  That means we got to go INSIDE!


Many thanks to Mark Calitri, Executive Director of the Bureau,  for letting me take photos of a lot of the original interior details of the house, like the fireplace with the Rookwood tile, with the triple door bookcases on each side.  This makes me feel like a newspaper photographer!  (Just kidding.)


Fireplace with Rookwood tile and built in bookcases on both sides


One of the built in bookcases along side the fireplace.

Here’s what the 1918 Modern Home catalog had to say about the first floor of The Ivanhoe.


Some of these details match up to the house in Batavia, but not all.  That is not unusual,  considering that this model was “not Cut or Fitted”, meaning that the lumber would have been hand sawed on site, and not machine cut at a Sears Lumber Mill.  Many of the “not Cut or Fitted” house kits had changes made at time of construction, to suit the buyers preferences.

Here are some of the interior details on the first floor.


This Sears Ivanhoe has a Colonnade entrance from the hall to the living room instead of French Doors.


Colonnade doorway shown from the living room side.


Close up of the cabinet in the colonnade. Those over sized door hinges are seen on many built ins and doors of early Sears Homes.


Built in buffet in the Dining Room, which is mentioned as being included in the catalog listing.   I couldn’t find a match for this specific buffet in any of the Sears Building Materials catalogs that are available on line, but it’s a beauty.   You can also see the built-in cabinet in the pantry in this photo.


Beamed ceiling in the Dining Room. The catalog says this ceiling is paneled, which may be the same thing.  I’m not sure.



Open stairway to the second floor from the foyer

The stairway looks like this diagram, shown in the 1918 catalog, explaining how the Sears stairways were assembled from the pieces in the kit.




Another view of the stairway, this one from the second floor looking down to the foyer

Now let’s look at the second floor details.


You’ll have to take my word for it that the second floor layout of rooms matches the catalog floor plan.  I didn’t take photos of the bedrooms because they are all offices now.  The bedrooms still had the “mirror doors” mentioned in the catalog.

I did, however, get a few photos of some of the details on the second floor, like the clothes chute door.


The catalog also mentions that The Ivanhoe has a floored attic and that the stairway to the third floor is “open”.  Here is that stairway from the second floor hallway going up to the attic.


The doors on the second floor were all original, but some have been painted.  This one was not.


Original two panel doors with those over sized hinges and Stratford Hardware


And the house still has the original bathtub!


Sorry I went a little crazy with bathtub pictures, but it was stinkin’ cool.


I was sad to have to leave this wonderful Sears House, but we needed to move along.  When we got outside, I walked all the way around and got photos from all sides.  That is nice because many times we’re not sure what the back of the models actually look like.  My mentor, Rebecca Hunter, recommends getting photos of the rear of the house whenever possible.

Here’s some exterior photos.




Thanks again to Mark for his time, interest, and assistance in finding a great place to have lunch in Batavia.  We walked a block or so to the Village Diner for great food and service, and passed a couple of Clermont County’s unique government buildings along the way.





Made it to the Diner!



What should I have?  How about a BLT and fries?


Frank had a chicken wrap.  It was huge!  He was happy.


A quick walk back to our car netted me a few more photos and then we headed home.



As always, I hope you enjoyed this blog post, and thanks for following along.

Happy New Year!



A Sears No. 188 in Hamilton

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

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

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

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

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


Sears No 188 at 1106 Grand Blvd., Hamilton


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


image from the 1914 catalog

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

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

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


from the 1914 catalog


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

Here’s the floor plans for comparison.



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


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

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



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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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

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

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

Thanks for following along.




A Sears House under serious restoration

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


Our 1962 Studebaker Lark

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tommy and Frank

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


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


The Magnolia.


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


Excerpt from Houses by Mail

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

Sears Magnolia in South Bend real estate listing info

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


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

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



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


Sears Alhambra- 221 North Shore, South Bend, Indiana


Sears Preston at 204 Peashway St., South Bend Indiana

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

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


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

Thanks for following along.



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