And Sometimes…We Just Plain Get it Wrong

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.

The Castleton I mistakenly identified as a Chelsea


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.