Originally published by Laraine Shape on July 4, 2014
Cheviot loves its parades and festivals.
Home to West Fest and The Biggest Little Fair in Ohio, Cheviot is also home to 28 Sears Roebuck houses – the built to last, DIY kit homes that were built by nearly 70,000 hardworking folks from 1908 to 1940, with the majority being built during the 1920′s boom times.
Hats off to Beatrice Lask for finding 26 of these historic treasures during her 1990′s Cincinnati Sears House Survey. The other 2 popped up as fun surprises (3753 Frances and 3988 Trevor).
Originally published by Laraine Shape on June 11, 2014 – edited
If you were looking for a Sears Roebuck Argyle model and found Cincinnati, you’d be doing okay. We have 16 of them here, or at least that’s how many Beatrice Lask found when she did her Sears House Survey back in the early 90′s. I’m guessing there are more that haven’t been unearthed yet.
Notes about this post
Apparently Laraine was so enthusiastic about all these Argyle models that she lost count, as actually there are 17 houses pictured above.
Laraine got quite a few interior photos of the first one shown, but I am electing to put them in a separate post.
Since Laraine published this, several more Argyles in the Cincinnati area have been located. Here they are.
Originally published by Laraine Shape on May 13, 2014
“Gentlemen, Please be advised that we are well pleased with the Indestructo furnace you sold us for our Sears home. It has performed as advertised and, in fact, has outlived your life expectancy claims of “Guaranteed for 20 years in writing!”
The furnace turns 92 years old this year and is still going strong. As you know, we had it converted from coal to natural gas some years back and it has kept
our family warm all these years…including this most recent winter which was unusually cold.
Thank you for making such a fine product. Very Sincerely, Wilheim C. Stegner – somewhere in heaven.”
I had a feeling about this home from the moment I saw it on the Hamilton County Auditor’s website. It just felt like a Sears home. And when I met with the Executrix of the estate for the purpose of listing the home for sale, I asked if it was a Sears house.
To her knowledge it was not a Sears home. But as I traveled through the house, I continued to feel it was a Sears kit house. And the more we talked, the stronger that feeling became. The house has Sears doors and trim, a Sears Indestructo furnace, original Sears light fixtures and underneath the exterior faux brick siding is narrow wood siding with decorative fish scale and the porches both have bead board ceilings (under vinyl).
Then she mentioned there were blueprints for the house back in Vermont. (Gasp!!) But she was here in Cincinnati getting the home ready for sale. So she called her husband and asked him to see if he could find something on the blueprint that said Sears.
That evening I scoured my Sears plan books to see if I could find a plan that matched. No luck. I could not for the life of me find a one bedroom plan that matched. The only thing that came close was the Starlight model…but it was a two bedroom, with the kitchen placement behind the dining room. Dang!
The following day, when we met to sign paperwork, I was disappointed to learn that her husband had checked the blueprints and found no mention of Sears. He said there was something in the corner of the print, but not Sears. I pressed on and asked what it said. The prints did not say Sears, they said “Honor Bilt Modern Homes No. 7009.” OMG! The Starlight model!! And the reason I couldn’t match it to the Starlight was because of the homeowner’s modification.
Wilhelm Stegner built the house as a one bedroom and the way he did it was by eliminating the kitchen behind the dining room and instead using the 2nd bedroom as the kitchen. Of course! Here’s a rendering of the original Starlight model. (See below for photo gallery of blueprints)
UPDATE ON BLUEPRINTS
What an exciting day it was when I received the blueprints for this house from Vermont. Unfortunately, they were so brittle and fragile from age that they were impossible to copy as I had planned to do. Paper just doesn’t withstand the years the way cast iron furnaces do. In any event, I carefully unrolled the 3 pages (partial set) and did my best to get some readable photos. Here they are.
Originally published by Laraine Shape on April 28, 2014
See update to this post at the bottom
Last year I wrote about an adorable Sears Avalon model in Wyoming. In that article I said “Maybe I’ll get lucky one of these days and the two adorable little “guard” dogs will let me into their domain for a few minutes.”
Well, guess what? I got lucky! The dogs cooperated and the owner was gracious enough to let me inside for a look at her Avalon. And now you get to see what an Avalon looks like inside.
The first thing that surprised me was the amount of light streaming in to the living room and the overall brightness of the house, something I didn’t expect because of the wide porch overhang. Even the dining room, on the porch side, was bright.
As in most Sears homes, the kitchen and bath have been updated in this home. Long gone are the original cupboards, sinks & toilet but the quality of construction (seen in the basement and attic) still speaks loud and clear.
We weren’t able to find any Sears markings on the lumber, but we did find some grease pencil marks in the attic. Not proof of it being a Sears house, of course, but a “sign” nevertheless.
The house sits on land that was originally purchased from Mr. McKee (who owned farm land on Fleming Rd.) and was built around 1923 (probably the year it was ordered from Sears and started) by Mr. and Mrs. Minter (Otto and Vashti). Otto and Vashti had a daughter named Apke and Otto was a Cincinnati streetcar operator. According to a death record on file at the University of Cincinnati, Otto’s mother was Emma Jean Minter, born March 15, 1900. The death notice lists Otto (motorman) and his wife, Vashti as next of kin. Otto and Vashti appear on the Hamilton County ownership card as the owners as of 1947.
Census Record for Mr. Minter shows he would have been 79 years old when he sold the house to Robert Allen.
The home passed to Robert and Betty Allen in March of 1947, then went to James and Armen Barnett in March of 1958. The current owner’s husband grew up in the home. Our next step is to make a trip to the county recorder’s office to see if they may have records tying the house to Sears. A Sears mortgage perhaps? It would be fun to be able to fully authenticate this home, even though everything points to it being an authentic Sears Avalon model.
Meanwhile, it was an absolute treat to see the inside of this sweet Sears Avalon. Thank you for sharing, Mary!
UPDATE – Laraine and I never made it to the Hamilton County Recorder’s Office to look for documents that would connect this house to Sears, Roebuck. Fortunately, in this age of digitization, those documents are now available for public viewing (for free!) through Family Search.
This Avalon model is now considered documented, using current methods, as a kit house from Sears, Roebuck, as it had a Mechanics Lien filed by Norwood Sash and Door on Nov 26. 1926. Norwood Sash and Door was owned by Sears at that time, and the Mechanics Lien proves some type of building materials for it came from there.
Laraine is still watching……and guiding me along this path.
Originally published by Laraine Shape on April 23, 2014
They were all born there!
Sharonville is not only the glamour model’s birthplace, it’s also where seven Sears kit homes were born, including; two Sears Sunbeam models, a Sears Vallonia model, a rare for Cincinnati Sears Princeville model, a Sears Kilbourne model, and a model that looks like it may be a Sears Westly model.
There’s also supposed to be a Sears 123 model (according to one of the Sears Modern Home Catalogs) but we haven’t been able to find it yet. Hopefully it’s still standing and wasn’t torn down to make way for a fast food joint or gas station! If any of you readers happen to know where this home is, please let me know!
Here’s a look at the Sears models we’ve found in Sharonville.
This home on Creek Rd. is a Sears Sunbeam model and was built in 1915. Sears billed it as “A five room modern bungalow with open air sleeping porch.”
Imagine my surprise when I was cruising Sharonville streets looking for the Sears 123 model and saw this unusual gem on Hageman. It’s the Sears Princeville model, originally offered as Modern Home No. 173.
And here we have the Sears Fullerton model. This one is currently serving as the home to HomeWell Senior Care. The Sears Modern Homes catalog offering below boasted a price of $2243 on the Fullerton and said “This style of home has become very popular. It adapts itself equally well to city lots or country estates, and in few other styles can you get so much space for such a small outlay of money!”
Well now, what have we here? Could this be a Sears Roebuck Westly model? Some photos from a recent listing show a few things are off (fireplace is not tucked in to a corner, left side of porch is modified) Hmmm. I’m not 100% sure, but there are enough things correct that I’d be willing to vote for it as a modified Westly. What are your thoughts?
This sweet little home on Oak Ave. is the Sears Elsmore model and was built in 1920 with 2 bedrooms and 1 bath. Sears billed this cute, little house as “A popular, inexpensive and graceful bungalow, well lighted and ventilated. Large porch, with bungalow columns and porch rails.” Sadly, much of the original detailing of this home has been wrapped in siding and is no longer visible.
Well, how do you like that? Another Sunbeam model. This one is at 11173 Main St. and still has a lot of it’s original building features intact. Amazingly, the siding contractors haven’t gotten their hands on this one yet (and hopefully won’t) so you can still see the distinctive 5 piece knee brackets and original wood siding.
Ooh la la! A Sears Kilbourne model done in brick – an absolute sweetheart. According to the county auditor, this one was built in 1930. The Kilbourne was billed as “a house that looks as well outside as it is planned inside.” It surely does.
This blog post by Laraine got a few comments from other Sears House lovers. Here they are.
Donna Bakke- That’s funny – I just found that Princeville on Saturday. There’s 3 more Princevilles over towards Pleasant Ridge or Kennedy Heights.
Reply by Laraine- Donna – Wow, really? 3 more? That’s exciting!
Cindy Catanzaro – Love this group of houses! Nice spot on the Fullerton. It has the original pillars! I drove right past that house last time I was in Sharonville, and never looked at it twice. BTW, there is a Cornell model up the hill behind the second Sunbeam. I’ll bet there are more to find! Like that No. 123.
Reply by Laraine- Cindy – Oh that 123 model is driving me berserk! I swear I’ve been up and down EVERY street in Sharonville. Maybe I’ll go over to the Historical Society and see if anybody there has ever seen it.
Cindy Catanzaro – Oh, yes! I think that’s a Westly.
Reply by Laraine – Sure looks like one, doesn’t it?
Follow up to the possible Sears Westly at 11121 Spinner Ave. Yes, it is one. The house was recently documented with a mortgage record, meaning the house kit was financed through Sears Roebuck.
Here’s an image of the Sears #123 that was listed as being built in Sharonville in early Modern Home catalogs. If you spot it, please leave a comment!
Originally published by Laraine Shape on April 9, 2014
The SEARS kit house Chester and Hattie Wood built was a few years in the making, but it turned out just fine. One of their two daughters, Eileen, was born deaf and later went blind. She was able to live out her life in the comfort of the home she grew up in. Eileen passed away in 2005 and Chester and Hattie’s house patiently waited for its new owner, Kate, who made it hers in April of 2010.
Kate’s house at 7553 Ross Ave. in Cincinnati, Ohio is the SEARS Roebuck Hamilton model – only available in the SEARS catalogs from 1922 to 1930. The Hamilton County Auditor’s site shows the house being built in 1928.
Kate knew the minute she met her little Hamilton model that she was to be the new owner. It was a match made in heaven. She loved it at first sight and today, after 4 years of living in the home, she experienced the thrill of discovering something very special about the home’s history – original blueprints! Can you imagine our excitement when we discovered a carefully wrapped roll labeled “blue prints” in a basement floor joist cubby hole? Who needs to find grease pencil marks or numbered lumber to “prove” it’s a SEARS house when you’ve got original blueprints in your hand?
Lucky for Kate, the house has withstood the test of time and still has a lot of its original features and charm. Kate intends to keep it that way, thank you very much. And no, she’s not removing the original kitchen floor because of its asbestos content.
Today was the kind of day I’d call a perfect “10.” The sun came out, the magnolias are blooming, I got to meet Kate and her dog and got to share in the thrill of unearthing a rare treasure – a set of SEARS blueprints in the flesh.
Here are some photos of Kate’s Honor Bilt SEARS home. The one Chester and Hattie built with love and lumber from Norwood Sash and Door.
Originally published by Laraine Shape on March 25, 2014
Did you know that Mt. Healthy, Ohio was a refuge from the Cholera epidemic of 1850? And that it was originally called Mt. Pleasant? Or that it has a bakery that makes an award winning beehive coffee cake?
And did you know that Mt. Healthy is a goldmine of SEARS Roebuck kit houses? It’s true. Mt. Healthy is a veritable treasure trove of SEARS kit homes, some in beautiful condition and some not so much. And best of all, they’re all within a few blocks of each other.
There are undoubtedly more SEARS Roebuck houses in Mt. Healthy than those listed here, but these are the homes we feel are the real deal. Legitimate SEARS Roebuck kit homes. If you have one we didn’t include, please let us know!
Thank you to Donna Bakke and Cindy Catanzaro, fellow SEARS kit house enthusiasts, for providing the list and pointing the way!
What is it about yellow houses? They all seem to have such sunny dispositions and this one is no different. It’s as pretty as it can be with its “Four rooms and
a bath.” And according to SEARS, “with its four good size rooms, bath, large closets and many conveniences, you will like the Josephine the longer you live in it.”
A Sears Marina model with an addition on the left and new windows throughout. Sadly, the original porch pillars and railings are gone on this one. The window configuration on the dormer is also different than what Sears showed on their original offering.
Lovely example of the Sears Barrington model. Sadly this home went into foreclosure and went back to the bank (JP Morgan Chase) in December 2013. Watch for it to be on the market soon. I have a feeling someone is going to get a great deal on this pretty home.
This is a beautiful Sears Osborn model that has been meticulously maintained by its current owners. Click here to see the earlier feature and interior photos of this home.
This pretty home is either a SEARS Gladstone or Langston model – nearly identical models.
According to the SEARS catalog, “The Starlight bungalow is one of our most popular designs. It is dignified and substantial in every detail.”
This sweetheart of a home is a near perfect example of the SEARS Hamilton model. The Hamilton was perfect for a narrow lot. It featured lots of windows, a breakfast nook and a walk-in pantry.
“Refinement and comfort” is what you could expect to find in this SEARS Elsmore model, according to the catalog offering of this home. The Elsmore opened into a reception hall, rather than directly into the living room as most other plans of the day.
Another SEARS Marina model with a different dormer arrangement than the one on St. Clair.
“A neat and roomy house at very low price” is how SEARS billed this 3 bedroom two story with bay windows on the first and second floors.
The SEARS Dundee model – one of the sweetest little houses SEARS made. It came with 4 rooms including a living room, kitchen with a convenient landing for the refrigerator and 2 bedrooms.
And another SEARS Whitehall model. Sadly, this home is missing most of its original character according to a contractor that was present the day I took this photo.
You say tomato. I say tomato. Same holds true for the SEARS Conway model, also known as the Uriel. Same home, different model names. Whatever you call it, it’s one sweet home. Neat, clean lines and attractive symmetry. What’s not to like?
Here’s a cute little Hamilton on Forest that appears to be in very decent shape, with the exception of needing a coat of paint. Definitely a popular model.
Originally published by Laraine Shape on February 19, 2014
A beautiful SEARS Roebuck Vallonia model at 278 Sharon Rd., Springdale, Ohio
One of the most popular kit homes sold by Sears Roebuck was the Vallonia model, a beautifully designed craftsman bungalow with many distinctive features. This SEARS home located at 278 Sharon Rd., on the edge of Glendale, Ohio is a perfect example. Many of its original features are still intact including its distinctive grouped porch pillars, porch railing, windows, storm windows, doors, elaborate barge boards and rafter ends. All of this nestled on a beautiful, expansive half acre + lot. What a beauty!! According to the Hamilton County Auditor’s Office, this home was built in 1924 and consists of 2 bedrooms, 1 bath.
Sears billed the Vallonia as a “Real prize bungalow. It meets many living conditions because it lends itself to future growth without the expense of changing roof or foundation.” (Sears gave customers the option of purchasing this kit with 2 bedrooms and an unfinished attic or as a finished 4 bedroom home.
Maybe we’ll get a chance to see the inside one of these days!
Originally posted by Laraine Shape on January 14, 2014
SEARS Roebuck kit houses. Just one more reason to love Wyoming, Ohio. It’s loaded with them! And if you’ve ever wanted to own one, you may just get lucky in Wyoming.
Some of the SEARS house homeowners in Wyoming may remember the lecture Beatrice Lask gave at the Historic Society back in the early 90′s (available on DVD at the Wyoming Historical Society office at 800 Oak Ave.). At that time she was in the process of surveying Cincinnati for SEARS houses and is the person responsible for identifying 500 of them (with no help from the internet). Her work was done as part of her masters degree program at the University of Cincinnati and was the basis for her thesis. Her complete thesis is on file at the University of Cincinnati.
The Cincinnati Enquirer published an article on SEARS homes which mentions Ms. Lask’s work titled SEARS Homes Come Into Their Own by Denny Lee/ The New York Times and Joy Kraft / The Cincinnati Enquirer. Because of this article I recently had the pleasure of meeting Beatrice and discussing her SEARS project at some length.
The following photos are of homes believed to be genuine SEARS homes in Wyoming, including 5 four family apartment buildings.
Sears Atlanta – 1114 Springfield Pike
Notes about this post: Armed with the list of houses from the Bea Lask thesis. Laraine headed to the Wyoming area of Cincinnati and photographed a whole lot of Sears Houses. Some were unidentified at the time she got her pictures, like The Brookside, but were later ID’d.
Originally posted on Jan. 8, 2014 by Laraine Shape
I recently had the distinct pleasure of meeting Beatrice Lask, the preservationist and architectural aficionado who performed an in depth survey of Sears Houses in the Cincinnati area in the early 1990′s.
The first (and only) Sears House survey of its kind in Cincinnati, Mrs. Lask’s research was performed as part of her university studies which culminated in a thesis titled Sears, Roebuck Catalogue Houses in the Cincinnati Area. The thesis, in which she identified nearly 500 Sears kit houses, is once again safely on file in the rare book section at the University of Cincinnati thanks to the efforts of Cindy Catanzaro.
According to Mrs. Lask, the purpose of her study was twofold;
“to compile a list of identifiable Sears houses in the Cincinnati area” and “to help the public and particularly Sears home owners become familiar with these houses and appreciate their unique qualities and historic value. Perhaps this knowledge will help protect against further indiscriminate alterations or demolitions.”
Her study was done over a two year period, using little more than a guide book published by the National Trust for Historic Preservation titled Houses by Mail, A Guide to Houses from Sears, Roebuck and a drive through Cincinnati…neighborhood by neighborhood, block by block, street by street. She did not have the benefit of the internet for her studies. But according to Mrs. Lask, she enjoyed every minute of the task. “It didn’t seem like work to me,” she said.
Ms. Lask’s work first came to my attention in a 2003 Cincinnati Enquirer article titled SEARS Homes Come Into Their Own. In it, the writer noted that “Some people are insulted when Mrs. Lask tells them they live in a Sears home, until she explains. “Then they often say, `We wondered why it had such fine wood,’ or `I couldn’t believe each window screen was numbered to match each window,’ ” she said. “They wondered how such a modest home could have features like hardwood floors, . . . built in shelving, things you don’t usually find.”
When asked how many of the homes she was able to get inside, Mrs. Lask said “about one in four.” That means she had the opportunity to see at least 100 Sears houses in Cincinnati.
There’s absolutely no doubt that Mrs. Lask loves Sears houses. She radiates with passion when she talks about their distinctive features, quality materials and craftsmanship. And when Cindy Catanzaro, fellow Sears House enthusiast, Sears House owner and historian from Springfield, Ohio showed Mrs. Lask a photograph of the Osborn model located on Eastwood Circle in Madisonville her eyes lit up like a child’s on Christmas day. “That’s my favorite.” she said.
Cincinnati owes Beatrice Lask a debt of gratitude for having located and identified a piece of its history that may never have been found otherwise. I’m honored to have made her acquaintance and to have had the opportunity to chat with her about the work that wasn’t really work. It’s a day Cindy and I will both cherish.