Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sears Kit Houses



Did you know that Sears used to sell mail order kits for houses?

*nodding seriously*

From 1908 to 1940, Sears sold about 70,000-75,000 of their kit homes. It's actually really, really cool to think how many old houses you drive past daily may have been someone's mail-order dream house. On this page, you can click on 5 different year spans which showcase some of the different houses available in that period. What was really cool is that people could design their own house, send their ideas off to Sears and Sears would ship them the plans and all the materials. Interesting to think how people were encouraged to customize the plans, isn't it? Sears had affordable financing options for people, and they guaranteed they'd ship you enough materials to build the house except for brick, cement or plaster.




This also brings to mind the fact that financing homes is very different now than it was 100 years ago. Up until the depression, the few people who could get home loans brought 50% of the house sale price in cash to the closing, and the lender would finance the other half. These days, it's pretty incredible to think of parting with the equivalent of that much dosh in one sitting as they would do back then. What would be left to stuff your mattress with?

11 comments:

Rabbit said...

There are still several around downtown Richardson. I've seen several in other towns. They started (or contributed to ) the Craftsman Style, an extension of the Arts and Crafts movement which brought us such cool stuff as mission furniture.

Regards,
Rabbit

D.W. said...

I'm pretty sure there are at least a dozen of that first model, "The Cedars," in the downtown area of Elizabethtown, Kentucky. That ski-jump roof over the front entrance is common among the homes there. (I know it has a particular name in the architectural vernacular, but I forgot to take my Rememberitall today...) :-)

Mrs. Widget said...

Home Depot does that too. Your initial purchase includes enough concrete for a 1 room foundation. Then every month it is a bag of cement and concrete block with a few wood and such extras. Eventually you have your own house. This is done at the stores near the Mexican border.

Nancy R. said...

My sister and her family lives in one of these near Annapolis. It's lovely. The upstairs storage closet even has a window in it so as to not muck up the line of windows on the outside of the house.

falnfenix said...

i'm a huge fan of the Craftsman homes that came from the Sears kit idea.

elmo iscariot said...

I grew up in a Sears house, though my parents moved in long after it was built. I remember how self-satisfied my dad was when he identified the model in an old Sears catalog.

LauraB said...

There was one in Bastrop Cty for sale that I adored. But Trooper declared a spark would send that dried cedar up in flames in moments. True, true.

But I ADORED that little place!!

Old NFO said...

I know they did, we lived in one in Jena, LA back in the 50s... It was a one story with wrap around porch.

Rabbit said...

http://www.lowes.com/cd_The+Katrina+Cottage_634317861_

http://www.cusatocottages.com/

Regards,
Rabbit.

Crucis said...

My Grandparents bought, built and lived in a Sears house until they day Grandpa died. It looked a bit like the Columbine house without the gables. Grandma showed me the receipt---$2300 bought in 1919.

Jon said...

After looking at the pictures, I realized that I've either seen thousands of Sear's homes, or something they were patterned after. The styles, or actual houses, were very popular along the upper Texas coast in the late 20's, into the 30's. They didn't have insulation, the wiring was nob and tube and the plumbing was cast iron with leaded joints.