Richmond is almost in Ohio…..

I’ve been ignoring this little blog of mine about Sears Houses in Ohio.  Well…….maybe not ignoring it……but I definitely haven’t had much time to share here.  Summer has been crazy busy for me, and I’m behind on work projects, but early in August I did get to Richmond, Indiana with a couple of friends for a girl’s day out.  Since I have great friends, and they know how much I love this Sears House thing, and…..August is my birthday month…..I got to pick a few of our activities for the day.  Well…….you know what that means!

Sears House Hunting.

I already had a couple of addresses to check out, from newspaper archive research, so those were first.  Then, we stopped by the Wayne County, Indiana government building to have a quick look at their mortgage records.  Not all counties have these old record books available in their public research room, but Wayne County does, so we spent a little bit of time flipping through a couple of volumes.

Oh yeah.  There is plenty of research to do there.  In just the first index book I checked, I spotted a Norwood Sash and Door Mechanics Lien and a Walker O Lewis mortgage.  Both of those records will most likely lead to Sears Houses, but I didn’t take notes that day.  I will need to schedule time to go back and do a thorough review.  One of my friends grabbed a deed index book, and was able to find a record that did, indeed, lead to a Sears House.

So…..since Richmond is almost in Ohio (check the map) I think it is perfectly OK to show off a couple of my finds.

First, the Sears Home Construction Special Exhibit house.

In 1930, in many areas of the Midwest, Sears constructed and opened to the public, a house that was “Completely Planned and Built” by Sears, Roebuck and Company.  In the Dayton, Ohio area, it was The Lewiston or The Colchester model, very similar home designs.  Sears advertised these model homes extensively in the newspapers where they were built, and that is how I found the one in Richmond.  I am thinking Richmond was probably part of the Dayton, Ohio sales territory, since they are so close together geographically.  Dayton had a Sears Modern Home sales office.  Richmond did not.

Here’s the ad I found in the Richmond Palladium-Item.

Palladium_Item_Sat__May_3__1930_ (1)

Richmond Palladium-Item- May 3, 1930


Check out the 3 car garage!    A three car garage in 1930 was a really big deal!

Another small notice gives us a little insight into how Sears handled construction of these Special Exhibit houses.

Palladium_Item_Sat__May_3__1930_ (2)


Here’s the house today.

Sears Lewiston 5180 W US 40 Centerville IN (Special Exhibit)

Sears Lewiston – Special Exhibit House – 5180 W US 40, Centerville Indiana

It still has the 3 car garage.

Sears Lewiston - Special Exhibit House garage - 5180 W US 40, Centerville Indiana

That was a fun find, but even more fun was finding another Sears Lewiston less than a mile down the road!  It’s not documented, but it sure looks like one to me.

Sears Lewiston 1110 E Main St L Centerville IN

Sears Lewiston, 1110 E Main St., Centerville Indiana


image 1930

The third house I am sharing in this post was also located from my newspaper research.  I spotted a notice, also in the Richmond Palladium-Item, showing a property transfer to E. Harrison Powell, who was a Trustee for Sears, Roebuck.  We see his name on mortgages, and deed records associated with foreclosure cases, from 1929 to about 1934.  This was probably a house that Sears had to foreclose on due to non-payment of a mortgage issued by Sears.


Richmond Palladium-Item, Nov 12, 1932


Using the lot number and the plat on the notice I figured out the actual address, which was a little complicated due to the street names changing.  After doing a drive by,  I was able to identify the house as a Crafton model.  The Crafton was a simple rectangular home design that was very common in the 1920’s and 1930’s, so I would never have spotted this particular house without some type of documentation record.

And what a setting for this sweet little Sears house!

Sears Crafton 523 SW 16th St Richmond IN

Sears Crafton, 523 SW 16th St, Richmond Indiana

Sears Crafton 523 SW 16th St L Richmond INSears Crafton 523 SW 16th St R Richmond IN


.1931 catalog

The Sears Crafton was offered with more than one floor plan.  I’m calling this one a Plan 3318-C, due to the window arrangements on both sides.

That’s all for this time, as I am still super busy, but hopefully will get caught up on work projects soon.   I will share more of my Richmond, Indiana finds when I get back there to do mortgage research.

Thanks for following along.


A Sears Cornell and a Sears Fullerton in Oxford

I love finding Sears Houses through mortgage records.

A couple of years back, I made a trip to the Butler County Records Center for that very purpose, and ended up with a bunch of new finds.  Several of the houses I identified were in Oxford, Ohio, which is home to Miami University.

Ever since then, I have been telling myself I needed to go to Oxford and check out what I had located, but until today, that didn’t happen.

It was a nice day for a drive, so my husband Frank and I headed out for a day trip.  My brain has been in overload lately with work projects (we re-hab houses), and a volunteer project , so it was good to get away for a bit.

Since my head hasn’t been in the Sears House game for a couple of weeks, and we did this on short notice, I went pretty unprepared.  I did take along a few addresses of houses I had located, and was hoping to find a few new ones along our path.

While I did spot a couple of houses to check out when I got home, we really only ended up getting a close look at two Sears Houses that were on my list.  Oh well.  I’ll get the rest another time.

We took a walk down Walnut St. to get photos of the two houses and as happens sometimes here in Ohio, I discovered I was not the first researcher to locate one of the homes.

The first house we came to is a Sears Cornell.

Sears Cornell 7 W Walnut L Oxford OH

Sears Cornell at 7 W Walnut St., Oxford, OH. This house is documented with a mortgage record.


Sears Cornell 7 W Walnut R Oxford OH

Sears Cornell at 7 W Walnut St., Oxford, OH. This house is documented with a mortgage record


image 1925

The second house on our path is a Sears Fullerton.

Sears Fullerton 225 W Walnut Oxford OH

Sears Fullerton at 225 W Walnut St., Oxford, OH. Documented as a house from Sears, Roebuck with a mortgage record.


image 1926

The Fullerton model is the one that had previously been identified.  That happens a lot here in Ohio, as houses from Sears, Roebuck are well known.

Sears Fullerton 225 W Walnut Oxford OH plaque

Thanks to the homeowners for the wonderful Preservation effort, and to the City of Oxford for recognizing that Sears Houses are, indeed,  part of our Architectural History.

Now…..if we could just get the rest of Ohio to do that……

Thanks for following along!


A Sears Trenton in Columbus

In my last couple of blog posts, I shared information about my mortgage research project in Montgomery County (Dayton and vicinity).  It took months of work and hours of my free time, and I loved doing it, but I have called it pretty much complete.

So……what’s next?

I’ve been trying to decide where to focus my efforts next.  There are several Ohio Counties within easy driving distance that are likely to have houses financed through Sears, Roebuck, but where should I start?

While I will probably make the short trips to Madison County and Fayette County soon, my next BIG project needs to be Franklin County.  You know…….Columbus.  NOT my favorite place to go.  First, the Recorder’s Office is on the 18th floor of a downtown government building, and I’m a small town girl.  Big cities are just not my thing.

I know there will be plenty of mortgage records to research there, as Franklin County has their deed records on line back to 1920, and I spent several months a couple of years ago going through those.  Sears, Roebuck foreclosed on many of their mortgages in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s, which caused Sears to take possession of many of the homes that folks had purchased as kits.  Hence, researchers now have a deed record that corresponds to those foreclosure cases.

Sad.  But…..good for us that are spending time tracking down those very houses.

So wherever there are deed records, there have to be mortgage records, too.  Probably many many more, since of course, not every house financed through Sears got re-possessed.

Since Franklin County was one of my first projects dealing with on line records, I didn’t really know how to keep track of what I was doing.  After abandoning my usual way (sticky notes), I went back to the beginning and put together a notebook and a whole file folder full of papers.


I don’t do that anymore!  Spreadsheets are the way I go now.  Mainly because I can share those with other researchers, and making changes is way easier.  Also, sharing documents with others will preserve the work I have done, and let others build on it.

So, in preparation of making the big trip to Columbus, I pulled out my notebook and file folder to refresh my memory on what I had already accomplished.  I must have done a good job, because even though it’s been several years, I was easily able to review my work.

I spent a bit of time cross checking to make sure I had all the houses I located previously on the Master List of Sears Houses across the United States ( I didn’t ), and then I came across a couple of parcel descriptions that I was unable to locate the first time through.

Well,  I’ve done a LOT of mortgage research since then, so I decided to make an attempt to locate the houses associated with the missing records.

And, WOW, am I glad I did!  Look what turned up.

A Sears Trenton.

Sears Trenton image 1932

Illustration of the Sears Trenton from the 1932 Homes of Today catalog


The reason I didn’t locate this house the first time through was because the plat where it is located had been amended at some point and some lot numbers were changed.  Apparently I was using the original plat map, and not the amended one, which caused me to believe the house associated with the deed record was no longer standing.

This time through, I printed off the actual deed record, which stated it was the amended plat, and gave some streets as points of reference to the location of the parcel.  Using that, I was able to come up with the correct address for the house, which is completely hidden from view on Google Maps.

street view of Sears Trenton

Fortunately, the photographer for the Franklin County Auditor had no qualms about going up the driveway and getting a photo for their website.

Sears Trenton 400 N Lenappe Dr Columbus OH

Sears Trenton at 400 N Lenappe Dr., Columbus OH. ( This image is cropped from the 2017 public photo found on the Franklin County Auditor’s website )


What a house!  When I first pulled up the Auditor’s information, I was sure the home had at least one addition, due to the width.

Nope!  That’s all original.  The house is over 57 feet wide!

Sears Trenton first floor plan 1932

Sears Trenton 400 N Lenappe Dr Columbus OH sketch .jpg

Auditor sketch of the Sears Trenton at 400 N Lenappe Dr., Columbus OH

This has to be one of the largest models ever offered by Sears, Roebuck.

Sears Trenton second floor plan 1932

According to Houses by Mail, the primary Field Guide for Sears House researchers, The Trenton was only offered for two years, 1932 and 1933.  So that brings up some questions for me about the construction date for this home.

According to the Historical Parcel Sheets available on the Franklin County Auditor’s website, the house was complete by Oct of 1929.  That makes no sense!  Unless…..like my research buddy Marie suggested, there was a house already on the lot before the Trenton.  Hmmmmm……..it does look like they listed the home as being brick and frame on the tax card.   I don’t see any signs of a partial brick home in either the actual house, or the house in the catalog illustration. Value of the house in 1929 was listed at $10,630, and there was also a stucco garage at that point.   The 1930 appraisal info show a 10% reduction in value to $9770, then there is a big drop, to $5140, in 1933, the same year the house was transferred to Sears, Roebuck by Quit Claim deed.  Very confusing.

Sears Trenton Parcel sheet

The original owners were in residence at the home according to the 1930 Census, which may confirm the 1929 build date.  David and Ruth Stratton lived there along with their two children, Ruth’s father, and a servant ( note the Maid’s room shown in the first floor plan above ).

We may never know the answer, but this may a situation where the house was custom built for the owner, then Sears got permission to offer the house plans in later years.

I have an edit for my statement above about never knowing for sure about the construction date of the house.  Further research, prompted by some questions by other members of my group, led me to additional information.  And it ain’t pretty.  BUT…..Marie was right.  There was a house on the lot before the Sears Trenton.  Said first house burnt down in 1932, taking the life of the maid who was in charge while the owners were away.  The article below references the original address of the parcel that is shown, then crossed out, on the Historical Parcel Sheet above.


The newspaper later ran a story stating that the owner was charged with arson.


The owner was found guilty and given a sentence of 1-3 years.

This new information now leads us to believe that the Sears Trenton was purchased directly from the 1932 or 1933 catalog, and constructed to replace the first house, with financing obtained through Sears, Roebuck.  When the owner was charged with arson, he most likely defaulted on his loan and they Quit Claimed the house back to Sears to avoid foreclosure.  When I get to Franklin County to research the mortgage records, the date of the original Sears mortgage should confirm these theories.

In any case, we now have a Sears Trenton on our Master List.  The very first one.  And it’s in Ohio.  Gotta love living in the land of Buckeyes……Bearcats…….and Sears Houses.

Thanks for following along.



Stats for Montgomery County- part 2

In my last blog post, I shared information about how many Sears mortgages I found, and how many houses I documented, while researching Montgomery County records.  In this blog post, I will share the number of each specific model that was built throughout the county, and the numbers for each specific area.

Please note!  These numbers are only for the houses I documented with Sears mortgages, and are NOT indicative of the total number of Sears Houses in Montgomery County.  Many houses were not financed through Sears, Roebuck and those houses are not represented in the following lists.

Models located and documented using mortgage records

  • Albion – 1
  • Americus – 4
  • Argyle – 1
  • Bedford – 1
  • Betsy Ross – 1
  • Castleton – 1
  • Chester – 1
  • Claremont – 2
  • Clyde – 3
  • Concord No. 114 – 1
  • Conway – 3
  • Cornell – 3
  • Crafton – 1
  • Crescent – 1 -owned by Montgomery County Land Bank – to be demolished
  • Dundee – 3
  • Elsmore – 1
  • Estes – 1
  • Farnum – 1
  • Ferndale – 1
  • Fosgate – 1
  • Fullerton – 4
  • Gainsboro – 1
  • Galewood – 1
  • Garfield – 3
  • Gladstone – 2
  • Grant – 6
  • Hamilton – 2
  • Hampton – 22
  • Hartford – 1
  • Hathaway – 2
  • Homewood – 1
  • Kilbourne – 1
  • Kimball – 2
  • Kismet – 4
  • Langston – 1
  • Lenox –  1
  • Mansfield – 1
  • Maplewood – 1
  • Marina – 2
  • Norwood – 1
  • Oakdale – 3
  • Olivia – 1
  • Pittsburgh – 1
  • Ramsay – 2
  • Rembrtandt – 1
  • Rochelle – 1
  • Rodessa – 1
  • Rosita – 4
  • Sheridan – 1
  • Solace – 1
  • Somers – 1
  • Starlight – 3
  • Sunlight – 17
  • Vallonia – 1
  • Walton – 1
  • Westly – 3
  • Wheaton – 1
  • Willard – 1
  • Windermere – 1 – owned by Montgomery County Land Bank- to be demolished
  • Windsor – 1
  • Winona – 1

What’s interesting to me in this list is the large number of Hampton and Sunlight models that were built in Dayton and vicinity.  Both of those models were basic one story home designs that were economical to build.  I’m thinking these 2 models were popular in Dayton because of the industrial base, as these homes would have been very affordable for working class families.

Sears Hampton image

image 1928

So where are the Sears Houses in Montgomery County?  All over, really.  Here’s a summary of the total number of houses by area.  Again, this is only the houses that I documented with mortgage records.

  • Brookville – 1
  • Clayton – 1
  • Dayton  – 77 in Dayton city limits, though many of these were not when they were built, but annexed later
  • Harrison Twp – 7
  • Huber Heights – 1
  • Jefferson Twp – 3
  • Kettering – 17
  • Miamisburg – 13
  • New Lebanon – 1
  • Riverside- 6
  • Trotwood – 10
  • West Carrollton – 3

The above numbers are the breakdown of the 140 Sears models I documented using mortgage records in Montgomery County.

I know this is kind of a boring blog post for most of you, but these numbers are important to serious researchers.

I should have included this little bit in my last blog post about how many mortgages were signed by the individual Sears Trustees, but I forgot, so here it is.  This mortgage record was all set to be signed by Sears Trustee Walker O Lewis, but he left the company in 1930 and was replaced by E Harrison Powell.  Apparently in 1930, the rules for mortgage documents were a bit looser than today, because instead of re-doing the paperwork, they just crossed out Walker O Lewis, and typed in  E Harrison Powell.  The mortgage was recorded with no issues.


Sears mortgage dated May 24, 1930. Walker O Lewis left Sears and was replaced by E Harrison Powell, and this mortgage was corrected to show the new Trustee.

And in case you are wondering, here is the house associated with the above mortgage record.  It’s a Sears Mansfield, the brick equivalent of the Dover model.  This house appears to have had a couple of feet added onto the right side of the house at time of build.

S Mansfield 2039 Harvard Blvd Dayton OH (WOL)

Sears Mansfield at 2039 Harvard Blvd., Dayton, Ohio. Documented with a mortgage record. (Photo from Montgomery County Auditor’s website)

Sears Mansfield image 1930

If you want more information about specific models or my research project in Montgomery County, please contact me at cyn.catanzaro@gmail.com

I am always willing to share information with those that are interested.

Thanks for following along.



Stats for Montgomery County- part 1

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

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

Here’s some stats for Montgomery County, Ohio.

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

Here’s the breakdown.

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

Sears Rembrandt 4225 Edison St Dayton Ohio

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

Sears Rembrandt image 1925

The Rembrandt from the 1925 Sears Modern Home catalog


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

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

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

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


Sears Hartford 1932 image


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

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

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

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


Dayton Daily News, March 26, 1922.


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

Sears Argyle 3103 S Smithville Dayton Oh (NSD)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for following along.




Leave a comment

Wardway Homes in Kettering

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Here it is, in Kettering.

WW Newport 352 Rockhill Ave Kettering OH (Riordan)

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


Wardway Newport- 1930


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

Here’s the newspaper write up.


The Dayton Herald, Nov 27, 1930

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

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

WW custom model 2468 S Patterson Blvd R Kettering OH

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

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

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

Sears Carroll catalog 1932

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


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

Thanks for following along.





A Sears Albion in Miamisburg

Onward with my search of the Montgomery County mortgage records!

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

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

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

Here’s an example


Dayton Daily News July 7, 1921


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

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

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

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

NSD info for 518 Mound Ave

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

Francis Shade 1930 Census


Isn’t this fun!

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

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

70 The Albion

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

Here’s a closer look at the catalog image

Albion image 1925

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

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

Sears Albion, 518 Mound Ave., Miamisburg, Ohio

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

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

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

Sears Albion 518 Mound Ave MIamisburg OH (NSD mortgage)

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

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

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

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

Thanks for following along.

1 Comment

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.



Leave a comment

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.