This site is a tribute to the original “Sears Houses in Cincinnati” website, which was published from Oct 2013 to Nov 2014.
The original website was created and maintained by Laraine Shape, a realtor in Cincinnati, who stumbled upon information about Sears Kit Houses while researching other homes in her area.
Laraine quickly became a huge fan of this unique part of our Architectural history.
She loved to take photos of the houses that had previously been located by other kit house researchers, and learned quickly how to spot them herself. She would often call on homeowners, get invited to see the inside of the home, then get great photos to share with others through her website.
Laraine Shape passed away in Jan of 2015, following a brief illness.
I hope you learn something about Sears Modern Homes while browsing through these blog posts.
Feel free to share this site with others who might have interest, but please don’t use these photos without giving proper credit.
Originally published by Laraine Shape on November 6, 2014
Take this remarkable four square (a room at each corner of the house) for instance, all freshly built and standing proud for the family who lovingly chose it from a Sears catalog, anxiously awaited its arrival, collected all the pieces and parts from the nearest railway station and finally, painstakingly built the home from the ground up. And at the finish line were able to stand back and admire the fruits of their labor. A home that would serve their family well for many years to come.
This is the home John’s grandfather built at 3958 Lovell Ave. in Cheviot. A Sears Castleton model with 4 bedrooms, 1 bath, living room, dining room, kitchen and tiny den just past the vestibule entry. Easily identified by its hanging bay window on the side (which extends up to the roof line) and its distinctive Castleton dormer with 3 windows.
I should have known. But instead, I mistakenly called it a Chelsea in a post about Sears Houses in Cheviot and went about my business.
Imagine my surprise (and embarrassment) when I received an email that said, in part: “I am the current owner of 3978 Lovell Ave. I’ve lived here the last 15 years and the home has been in my family since the original deed (which I have) when my grandfather purchased it in 1922. My mom was one year old. I find it interesting that my house may be a Sears kit home. I looked around a bit and I don’t think it is the Chelsea model. It looks much more like the Castleton model which was introduced in the catalog in 1921. The Hamilton county auditors website says it was built in 1910. Could this possibly be wrong. It would be amazing to build a house from plans that came out 11 years later. I may have some old interior shots as well. I have a really nice one that must have been taken shortly after construction along with others if you’re interested. The model I think it is would be The Castleton. I have attached it for your viewing. Please let me know what you think.”
What an absolute treat to see one of our Cincinnati Sears house treasures right after it was built! And yes, it turns out John was 100% correct about it being a Castleton and not a Chelsea.
Sometimes we just plain get it wrong.
Notes about this post – This was the very last blog post from Laraine Shape at this website. I’m certain there were comments made about this mis-identification, but for some reason, I did not capture them for this re-post.
The most significant thing about this mis-identification is that is was not Laraine at all that “got it wrong”. In fact, it was pretty much a group effort.
This Sears Castleton was not listed on the thesis done by Bea Lask in the early 1990’s, though other Sears Houses in the same block are listed. If was noticed, and identified, by another lover of Sears Houses, Donna Bakke. Donna, always willing to share info and addresses, gave me (Cindy Catanzaro) the info, and I in turn gave the address to Laraine. I’m sure Donna knew which model it really was, but since she was not a list keeper, and there were so many houses in her head, she just “got it wrong” when she passed along her information. As for myself, I had no reason to doubt Donna, so I didn’t research the model, and apparently neither did Laraine.
Oh well. It’s only a Sears House. What difference does it really make in this crazy upside down world of ours, if occasionally somebody gets something wrong? A smart man once told me, “If you aren’t making any mistakes, you aren’t doing any work”. And while most of us researchers of Sears Houses don’t call this work, we certainly all make our share of mistakes.
Since Laraine and Donna have now passed from this crazy world of ours, I choose to remember both of them with love, and am thankful they were part of my life, however briefly.
I hope you will learn something about Sears Houses from these re-posts of Laraine’s, and I invite you to visit my own blog Sears Houses in Ohio on occasion.
Well, guess what? We got lucky! It’s owners, Shawna and Daniel and their two adorable “children,” invited us in for a tour.
What an absolute sweetheart of a home. Not one inch of wasted space in the Josephine. It consists of living room, kitchen, 2 bedrooms, 1 bath and a basement. Oh, and in this one…a mystery door.
This mystery door is an extra feature we can’t seem to figure out. Maybe one of you readers can help us. It’s a door between the kitchen and bedroom number two that’s all framed in on both sides, trimmed out top to bottom but has a solid piece of wood in between. And the solid piece is not a new piece of wood. It appears to be the same age as the house. What the…? Is there a million dollars sandwiched in there? Can someone please tell us what this is all about?
It appears the house was originally built by Edith Straub (1895-1974), a single lady, who lived there until she passed away. From there it went to her brother, Eugene Straub and from Eugene to sister Vera Straub (later Vera Adkins). So the home remained in the same family until it’s current owners purchased it two years ago.
It has the feel of a happy, comfortable, homey home. And it couldn’t have asked for nicer owners than Daniel and Shawna.
Thank you Shawna and Daniel for your hospitality and for being such good caretakers of this adorable Josephine. And thank you Marty Russell (fellow REALTOR) for helping your daughter Shawna find this sweet home at such an unbelievable price! She’s lucky to have you.
Originally published by Laraine Shape on September 29, 2014
Well for one thing, the lady behind the deli counter at Lehr’s meat market makes the most delicious turkey sandwich on fat white bread that I’ve ever tasted.
And for another, they have a city wide garage sale there every fall. This year it happens the weekend of October 10th – 12th and according to the official city website, “residents clean the clutter from their attics, drag out treasures from their garages and organize accumulations from their basement in anticipation of the City Wide Yard Sale.”
There are a lot of other great things about Milford but a friend of mine who lives there asked me not to tell you about them. She wants to keep Milford a secret…so I won’t say another word about it…except for the part about all the Sears houses it has. How could you not love a city that has so many Sears houses?
Here they are. There are probably more. And remember, if you happen to go there for lunch or something, don’t tell everybody how great it is.
Originally published by Laraine Shape on September 25, 2014
Yes! And not just one, there are several of them. And they’re attached to what appears to be a Sears Hazelton model – in BEAUTIFUL condition. What a pretty home!
Problem is…it’s not a perfect match to the catalog model and the Sears House “authoritahs” will stamp their feet and say “no, no, no!” since it’s shy of being
AN EXACT MATCH, but I’m afraid I”ll have to disagree in this case.
Here’s what’s off. This house is 6 feet longer than the catalog model plan (yes, Sears did modify their plans to suit the owner), the bay window is missing it’s small side window, and the windows to the right of the bay are not a series of three as they should be. But everything else sure screams Hazelton.
What do you think? Yay or nay?
Comments made on original posting
Sept 25, 2014- Cindy Catanzaro- I think yes! Maybe you can get an invite to see the inside, but until then, I would call it a Hazelton.
Sept 25, 2014- Laraine Shape- Me, too! And I love the invite idea. This one isn’t too far away from that sweet Argyle “plum” I featured.
Sept 25, 2014- Donna Bakke- the side windows are probably covered by the vinyl siding. I ID’ed this as a Hazelton years ago – saw it again last spring and still thought it was. If
those are replacement windows, sometimes they can go from 3 to 2.
Sept 25, 2014- Laraine Shape- Eeeek! Windows covered by siding? Anyway, I’m glad you agree on it being a Hazelton.
Sept 26, 2014- Donna Bakke- those little side windows often get covered. They’re a pain to work around, so they just cover them up!!
Sept 25, 2014- Laraine Shape – Well, god forbid we make the siding people work a little harder to save a Sears house feature!
Sept 25, 2014- Lara- YES!! There are a lot of details that are right. By the way, there’s a Hazelton in Des Plaines, IL without the side windows in the bay.
Sept 25, 2014- Laraine Shape- Thanks, Lara. that’s good to know!
Two days ago I woke up to a gray, rainy day and the ugly weight of two bogged real estate transactions thanks to an incompetent appraiser, nit picky underwriter, useless mortgage broker and a short sale from Hell. So, in order to get my mind off of things I decided to spend the day looking for Sears houses in the Mariemont, Terrace Park, Newtown and Milford area.
I knew from the Beatrice Lask thesis that there were a couple of Sears houses in Mariemont (a Maywood, a Willard and a Lewiston), but imagine my surprise at finding two more (and possibly four!) all in a row just outside the city limits. How fun! A Kilbourne model, a Crescent model and two suspected Hamilton models all snuggled up on the same street together. Makes me wonder about their history. Was it a builder that built all four? Or maybe a family that owned the parcel of land and wanted to stay close together?
And then there’s Terrace Park, a beautiful enclave of luxurious homes, a horse farm, a country club, a swim club, a prestigious elementary school and very little else. Oh yes…and a pink Victorian house (my favorite color). The landscape doesn’t feature much in the way of business which is just fine with me.
I discovered the eclectic mix of 9 Sears houses in Terrace Park via a historical society newsletter online. Unfortunately, there are only 8 of the 9 left…including a Del Rey model, a Kilbourne model, a Crescent model, a Dover model, a Fullerton model, a Somerset model, and 2 Martha Washington models. The 9th, a Stanford model at 709 Myrtle, is now, tragically, a vacant lot. A real estate FOR SALE sign stands in its stead.
By the way, Terrace Park has a building survey of all houses and buildings past and present. Hats off to the people who accomplished that task.
Just down the road a piece is Milford. Home of Lehr’s Meat Market and the nice deli lady who will make you a turkey and cheese sandwich on white bread with lettuce, tomato and mayo to eat on the fly. Milford is a sweet little city rich with Sears houses. As a matter of fact, there are so many of them in Milford I decided to do a separate post about them. Stay tuned
And last, but not least, is Newtown. The little village across the river from Mariemont. Home to that pretty blue craftsman bungalow I love, a fishery, a soft serve ice cream joint and the Main Street Cafe bleu cheese burger – an absolute MUST try next time you’re over that way. There’s a perfect little Vallonia model on Church Street that’s now serving as a dental lab, another Vallonia on Plum Street, a sweet yellow Oakdale model on Main Street that’s just as cute as it can be and a Sunbeam model also on Plum St.
In spite of the rain, I felt like a kid in a candy store. Next time my friend and Sears house mentor, Cindy Catanzaro, comes to Cincinnati I’m taking her over that way to show her all the eye candy for her Sears Facebook page.
Andrew Mutch- Sept 6, 2014– I don’t think 903 Elm, Terrace Park is a Crescent. The windows and the front porch aren’t a good match. Also, I don’t think those are Hamiltons. Do you know what year they were built? Otherwise, that’s a lot of good looking Sears houses there!
reply– Laraine Shape- Sept 6, 2014- Andrew – Tsk tsk. I dare you to tell the Terrace Park historical society that about 903 Elm. As for the Hamiltons…you could be right about me
being wrong. They were built in 1929 and 1933 (8548). The size and footprints are right. I’m going to correspond with the owners and see if we can get an insight on the interior details.
reply– Andrew Mutch- Sept 9, 2014 -Living in a Hamilton, it’s the one I know well! They key difference is I’ve never seen a Hamilton without the hipped dormer on the
front and the side over the living room window (although I just saw my first Hamilton where someone added a 2nd floor and moved the hipped roof up a story – yikes!). Also, the roof line on the front extends over porch so that it’s enclosed.
As for the Terrace Park house, I would show them that house next to the Mariemont house, which is a good example of the type. I’ve gotten more cautious with the Crescents now that I’ve seen enough clones. In fact, I think I have a couple in the Ann Arbor that I
thought were Crescents but may just be knockoffs.
reply– Laraine Shape- Sept 9, 2014– Thanks for your input Andrew. You definitely know your stuff when it comes to Sears Houses. Cindy speaks very highly of you.
reply-Andrew Mutch- Sept 12, 2014-Thanks! Cindy’s been a wonderful resource in learning the ins and outs of the houses. I’m so glad that you’ve been documenting all of these houses. It’s great to have them as reference when trying to ID houses I find up here in Michigan.
Karrie- Sept 6, 2014– I love the houses on Wooster and every time I pass them I point them out to my husband.. I had no clue they were Sears homes. Very cool. Great blog.
reply-Laraine Shape- Sept 6, 2014– Karrie – thanks! It was a total surprise for me when I saw them. Such fun. I love Sears houses.
Originally published by Laraine Shape on August 19, 2014
The 1913 Sears Roebuck Modern Homes Catalog promoted this pretty (and fairly rare) 187 model as an “Architectural Triumph” and said, “when built on a
lot of proper size and painted in refined contrasting colors its effect is strikingly attractive.”
And so it is. This sweet 187 model, later named the “Sherburne,” is still a triumph 93 years later. What a beauty! Cincinnati is lucky to have her.
Built in 1921 and located at 1347 Beacon St. in the Mt. Washington area of Cincinnati, it’s a standout among at least 12 other Sears Roebuck kit houses.
Is it really a rare Sears Sherburne? I think so. Everything is right – from its window arrangement, to its unique cornice return above the porch, to its open second floor deck, all the way down to the size of its footprint (26 X 31).
Have a look at the catalog photo below and see what you think.
And who knows, maybe we’ll get lucky and get a chance to see the inside one of these days.
Comments from original post
Lara – August 19. 2014 -Wow that is in great shape. Nice find! “Architectural triumph” might be an overstatement.
Laraine -August 19, 2014- Thanks, Lara. Ha! The triumph is Sears wording, not mine. They must have had a great marketing department.
Cindy Catanzaro -August 19, 2014 -Great find, Laraine! Love this one!!!!
Laraine- August 19, 2014-Thanks, Cindy. And thanks for all your help. If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t know which end was up half the time when it comes to Sears houses.
Originally published by Laraine Shape on August 15, 2014
I vote yes. It’s just too close not to be. Naysayers be damned.
The Sears Ellison model. Also known as Modern Home Model 3359A featuring a grand front porch, large living room with exposed ceiling beams, kitchen, dining and 2 bedrooms on the main level with an option to finish 2 more bedrooms and a bath upstairs when the need arises. Originally sold for between $2185 to $2845.
Here’s the Sears catalog Ellison and the home at 4038 Glendale Milford Rd. You tell me. Is it a match?
The Evendale Ellison was built in 1940 according to the Hamilton County Auditor. This would have put it right at the tail end of Sears’ home building involvement. Another neat, sweet Sears house to add to the Cincinnati Sears house list.
Comments from original post
Lara August 16, 2014 at 11:52 am– If you’re asking, I would say it is one. Great catch–I never even knew what an Ellison was until today!
Laraine Shape August 17, 2014 at 10:36 am– Thanks, Lara. I think so too. Living in Cincinnati is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to find.
Donna Bakke August 19, 2014 at 12:54 pm– I have my doubts and here is why. The chimney on the catalog picture is at the edge of the house. The chimney on the real house is in the middle of that back room. Do we know how the footprints compare??
Laraine Shape August 19, 2014 at 1:50 pm– Donna – I had that exact same consideration at first about the Chimney. But if you look at the Ellison plan and where the fireplace is, the chimney on the real house is in the exact right place (in the living room). Also, the footprint is extremely close from what I can see. I just posted it above. I can’t imagine what else it would be. I’m not aware of any Ellison copycat plans.
Christina Camacho August 23, 2014 at 5:01 pm– My grandparents built a Sears Ellison in State College, Pennsylvania, in about 1933. They altered the plan by shrinking it 1 ½ feet, and putting a regular ceiling in the living room, giving them a storage room above it. In addition, the fireplace was on the outside wall facing the side of the house, and where the fireplace is pictured on the floor plan shown, they had their piano. They built it with the upper floor finished. There was a door in the dining room that opened onto the terrace. The garage was under the dining room, and the washing machine was originally in the basement. After Grandpa died, Grandma remodeled the kitchen to buy all new appliances and put the washer and dryer in the kitchen along the wall next to the refrigerator opposite the window. It was Grandma’s dream house. The interior walls at least in the living room and front hallway, were stucco. I loved that house, too. The people who bought it from my grandmother in 1966 still live there as far as I know. They turned the terrace into a greenhouse and turned the small living room window that originally looked out on the terrace into another door. The exterior walls had a lot of local fieldstone in them. This one pictured here looks like a clapboard version of my grandmother’s house.
Laraine Shape August 28, 2014 at 7:53 pm– Wow! What a great story, Christina. Thanks for sharing. More evidence of Sears’ willingness to modify plans to suit their buyers needs/wants. I love it. Do you happen to remember the address of the house? I’d love to see it on Google maps.
Originally published by Laraine Shape on July 16, 2014
Imagine knocking on a total stranger’s door and having them invite you in, be happy to see you, show you around their home, open their closet doors and make you feel as welcome as a long lost friend. That’s what happened to me when I knocked on Sherry Williams’ original Sears Roebuck door at 112 Church Street in Mason.
It was such a treat that when I left I felt as if I had spent the afternoon in a day spa getting rubbed, plucked, waxed and pampered. Speaking of which, guess what my new found friend does for a living? She’s the VP of Client Relations at Mitchell’s Salon and Day Spa. (I hope her boss knows how lucky he is to have her)
Her home is a perfect example of the Sears Argyle model, one of my absolute favorites and one of Sears’ top ten most popular models. And no wonder. It’s a sweet 2 bedroom with beamed ceilings, built ins on either side of the living room fireplace, a bookcase colonnade entry to the dining room and so much more. Sears billed this little plum as a home that “Makes its owners proud.”
And the one Sherry found and purchased less than two years ago is the kind we Sears house aficionados dream of getting the opportunity to see. It’s still in near perfect shape, from head to toe. What a lucky find for her. Not only did she get a great deal on it, she grew up across the street from it!
Sherry’s Argyle still has its original built ins, beamed ceiling, colonnades, doors, hardware, wavy glass windows, kitchen cabinet with flour bin (my camera battery went dead before I got a picture of it!!), claw foot tub, medicine cabinet, bedroom cubby hole, hardwood floors, shake siding, window flower boxes and garage doors!
According to Sherry, her Argyle was built in 1924 by the Wiseman family, owners of the Wiseman Chicken Farm in Mason (the old metal roofed chicken coop still stands within a stone’s throw and has been converted to apartments).
Thank you, Sherry for sharing. And thank you for being such a sweetheart. No wonder you have such good fortune.
Originally published by Laraine Shape on July 11, 2014
Can I share a little secret with you? I nearly fainted when I turned my head and saw this house from my car window tonight, sitting there just as prim and elegant as it could be. It was like seeing a ghost. A good ghost, mind you. I actually gasped.
Fellow Sears house aficionado, Cindy Catanzaro, told me that there was supposedly a rare Sears Preston in Wyoming (right next door to Hartwell) so I set out to find it. About a hundred times. Every time I went out in search of Wyoming Sears houses, I looked for it. And I came back empty handed, every single time. I found lots of other Sears houses in Wyoming, but not the rare and illusive Preston. It was like hunting for a rare, white orchid.
After driving up and down every street in Wyoming, asking staff at the Wyoming Historical Society and showing photos of the Preston to long time Wyoming residents, I threw in the towel and decided it must be a figment of someone’s imagination. (like the Sears 123 model that was allegedly built in Sharonville which eludes me).
Until tonight. And here, at long last, is the Sears Preston located at 59 Woodsdale Ave. in Hartwell. The icing on the cake would be a glimpse of the inside. Wow. Thinking about it gives me goosebumps. Stay tuned. You just never know when you’re going to get lucky.