Pictures of my favorite Sears Homes (many pics)

rosemarytNovember 11, 2009

I've been writing about Sears kit homes and Aladdin kit homes and Gordon van Tine kit homes for a long time now, and here are a few pictures of some of my favorites.

There's SO MUCH bad information out there on kit homes. It's pretty frustrating. And so many people who think they have a kit home are wrong. Anyway - here are some of my favorite pictures.


author, The Houses That Sears Built

Sears Newcastle

Sears Newcastle in Maryland

Sears Alhambra

Sears Alhambra in Richmond, VA

Gordon Van Tine #601

Gordon Van Tine in West Virginia town near WV/VA border.

Wardway Kenwood

Wardway Kenwood in Beckley, WV

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I love seeing the magazine pic and then the actual house. Very nice.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2009 at 4:05PM
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Rose, what an interesting post. Thanks for sharing your favorites from your research.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2009 at 5:12PM
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I love these pictures and I'm not a fan of aluminum siding! Thank you!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2009 at 7:26PM
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I really enjoyed looking over this post, thank you for sharing!

    Bookmark   November 12, 2009 at 10:39PM
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I'm in Richmond VA & I've seen that Alhambra - can't remember where - but I didn't know it was a Sears. Thanks

    Bookmark   November 13, 2009 at 2:39PM
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That Alhambra is in a downtown part of Richmond - in a kinda rough area as I recall. But it sure is a beauty!!!

    Bookmark   November 13, 2009 at 5:46PM
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Thank you and ck link below for more!

Here is a link that might be useful: Sears kit homes

    Bookmark   November 13, 2009 at 9:45PM
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OMG! Those look exactly like many of the houses on some of the "ritzy" residential streets in the city near hear! I wonder if they were from these 'kits'!

    Bookmark   November 14, 2009 at 10:03AM
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I think there's another Alhambra up the road from me. It's in an apple orchard area, not exactly a Mediterranean hillside.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2009 at 8:43PM
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Post the pics here of your Sears Homes. :) I'm happy to help with identification, but prefer to look at pictures here. My email inbox is overwhelmed these days.

Rose Thornton
author, The Houses That Sears Built

Here is a link that might be useful: The story behind

    Bookmark   November 16, 2009 at 11:17AM
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My home as a small child was a Sears. This was in Canton OH, many streets lined with them. I have the reprint of the old Sears catalog offering outhouses or inside baths. Love going through it.

Rose, Will visit your book too.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2009 at 9:40AM
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Here's a Sears Madelia trapped in a tavern's body:

And here's a normal, happy Madelia (from the 1920 catalog):

Here is a link that might be useful: When bad things happen to nice Sears Houses

    Bookmark   November 28, 2009 at 10:12AM
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What do you think about this one? I was told that it was a Sears house. Something to do with a design that was Regional and only a few were built. Supposedly there a two others just like this one in the area.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   November 23, 2011 at 11:22AM
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Front view of house.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   November 23, 2011 at 11:29AM
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I've posted pictures before of my 1928 Sears & Roebuck Catalog home, but I can't resist participating. I have always loved and been so proud of the history of my home. I am no expert, but I think the Starlight Plan from 1928 comes close?!! The Starlight inside floor plan is almost exactly like the floor plan of the inside of my home. At some point, the porch was completely enclosed and heated.

There are 4 Sears Bungalows on my block and many, many more here in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The homes came down on the train to the Cordage Park Shipyard back in the early 1900's.

Some day soon, I will take my camera around town and post more pictures. I suspect there are many more treasured Sear's & Roebuck Kit homes to be found here in town and on the South Shore in Massachusetts.


Here is a link that might be useful: The Starlight

    Bookmark   November 28, 2011 at 8:49PM
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Ummm Traceee, those don't look like Sears Homes to me. What makes you think that they're Starlights?

I'd have to disagree.

Here's a Starlight:

These "Sears Homes" *have to be* a spot-on match. Closeness doesn't count.

More than 80% of the time, people who think they have a Sears House are wrong. It's really frustrating.

Part of the problem is, Sears homes were designed to look like the popular housing styles of the day. For example, people see that Sears offered a foursquare with a pyramidal hip roof and a little hip dormer, so they decide that every foursquare is a Sears House.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Your house should have stamped lumber in the basement. The "Starlight" with the hipped dormer was built post-1920, so if it does not have these marks on the lumber, it is not a Sears Home.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to identify a Sears House.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 3:55AM
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I love these old homes. At one point we seriously looked at buying and rescuing and old house, but the price to just get it solid and up to code, without any nice touches priced us out of the neighborhood it was in, so we ended up passing on it. Too bad, so far the people that bought it have not done much with it, I keep my eye on it.

So instead we built a new "old" house. I based it off the sears plan for the castleton 4 square. It retains the first floor plan with the only change being size and we halved the pantry to put in a powder room. The second floor is very different though. It was hard to find a way to marry a first floor to a second floor plan and fit everything we wanted into it.

I think I did okay because I have been asked several times if my house was the original farm house for the area or if it was old.

I enjoy reading posts of others who are brave enough to do what I wasn't


    Bookmark   December 22, 2011 at 10:28AM
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In early 2009, looking for a reasonable investment for my retirement money, I came upon this slightly beat up cutie, foreclosed and abandoned, in a pleasant but not fancy neighborhood in Washington, DC.

It spoke to me. It was probably saying, "I hope you have deep pockets, sucker," but I heard, "Save me, save me."

It was only after we had started work that it occurred to me check whether it might be a Sears kit house. I poured through the images in Sears archives online and -- ta dum -- I found the Americus.

Sure enough, we found Sears labels on the back of the baseboards, and 1923 was stamped on some of the joists. With that came the knowledge that someone ordered this Honorbilt kit house, it arrived in two box cars with a 70-page instruction book, and it was put together in all likelihood with the owner's own hands.

Anyway, two eventful years later my "investment" exceeds its current market value as it stands, but I have made it good for at least another 90 years, and I am crazy about it.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2011 at 7:30PM
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Oh. My. Parts of me are tingling seeing your post. (Maybe too much eggnog?)
But, that house is soooo lucky to have found you! That is truly beautiful and you have done an amazing job!
Any chance we can get some interior shots?

    Bookmark   December 24, 2011 at 12:28AM
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Honorbiltkit, ditto on badgergrrl's post.

The paint is perfection. Any windowboxes upstairs, yet?

So lovely.

(Btw, always assumed your "kit" was for "kitchen", since I've only seen you over at the kitchen forum. Just had an aha moment.)

    Bookmark   December 28, 2011 at 10:49PM
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Love these!!!!

    Bookmark   January 1, 2012 at 3:18PM
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badgergrrl -- Thanks for the compliment. The house is finished but still not occupied, so the interior looks -- um -- empty. That said, last week I outed the kitchen on the kitchen forum (where there is also a new demand for pics from you BTW) under the title "Here's my recycled kitchen." As I explained there, the reason the kitchen had to be done with re-used materials is that making the envelope for the house good for another 90 years, jacking up the sagging bits, and updating the systems gobbled up most of the available funds.

shainghaimom -- I take any compliment from you with unseemly glee. I loved your kitchen from the get-go, and I was even more blown away to see the before. That you managed to think out the change in how the space is used from across the Pacific is almost scary. The Sears kit house is a 20-minute bike ride from my "real" house, door to door, and I still managed to discover belatedly things that would have dictated doing things differently.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2012 at 12:14PM
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Here's a 'Bloomfield' Sears Barn model in Crown Point, NY. Different owners throughout the years added onto the building, but the main building is still there.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 12:20AM
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Honorbiltkit, I'm in awe of what you've done. Just in awe.

It's a beautiful, beautiful house, and you have really and truly RESTORED its original grandeur.

Just beautiful.


    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 6:48AM
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Thanks, Rose.

To achieve this resuscitation, we had to:
* have new cypress clapboards specially milled to match the original so that the patches would not be obvious;
* inside, take down the damaged original plasterboard and insulate the exterior walls before putting new drywall on;
* restore the opening between the LR and the DR to its original width (at some point, the house had been used as a church);
* replace all the windows with woodframe double-paned replicas of the originals;
* heavy up the electricity;
* install SpacePak flexible duct AC;
* jack up the porch roof (it is clear from a heavy beam running front to back in the basement that the entire house had had to be jacked up a bit at one time, which is why there are no level horizontal surfaces in the house); and
* replicate some of the roof corbels and other bits of trim that had gone missing over the past nine decades.

I finally found on craigslist a door that is close to the original.

Of course, by the time it was installed, the paint on the porch was already needing attention again.

The bottom line is that we spent too much money (for the neighborhood, not for the house) to give this old sweetie another 90 years with no vinyl siding. [On this street so close to where box cars would have delivered the kits, there are two other Americus examples; they look ok from a distance, but the siding is not cypress.]

It was a harrowing project that could not have been undertaken without a GC who has an affinity for old houses. I made some not great decisions along the way (i.e., the tile in the master bath looks closer to avocado than stone green).

It is the most gratifying project I have ever completed. I'd do it again in a heartbeat if I had the money.

And you need to keep up your good work so that other people will become as besotted as I am.

Thanks again. hbk

    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 2:59PM
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