Kit Homes- A Blast from the Past

With our love for convenience today, it’s a wonder we haven’t quite tapped into our past when it comes to home manufacturing. Did you know that between 1908 and 1940, Sears (yes, Sears Roebuck & Company) sold over 70,000 homes. Yes, homes!

And, how exactly did that work, you ask? Well, you’d pick up your local Sears catalog, sort through your favorite (of 370 styles), then mail out a post card request. Your entire house was then shipped through mail order with a price tag ranging from $280-$6000. The catch: it was up to you to assemble said home (you were supplied with pre-cut framing timber, plasterboard– similar to drywall, and everything else you needed to build minus appliances, plumbing, and heating systems). Sears advertised that their pre-fab homes would save on about 40% of construction time, and promised that a person of “average abilities” could assemble the homes in about 90 days. Your home would be packed and travel via railroad and then be delivered to your property by trucks. You would receive a detailed book that covered every nut and bolt. From there, you would put together all 30,000 parts (approx 25 tons)… and viola, there’s no place like home!

And we thought pre-packaged furniture was difficult to assemble…

Here are some of our favorite Sears’ Catalog Homes, many of which are still standing today (images courtesy of Wikipedia & Antique Home Styles):

1. The Sears “Magnolia” Model Home.
The gorgeous stately home on the right is located in Benson, North Carolina and still stands today. This was the bee’s knees of the Sears Kit Home Collection, being one their most expensive.

2. The Alhambra. Inspired by Mission style architecture, this stunning home design was available for purchase in 1923 for the price of $2998.00. The one pictured still stands in Chicago, IL. You can read all about it here..>>

3. The Americus. Featuring an All-American appeal, this home was one of the most popular. You can read a blog that is all about finding these homes, here.

4. The Walton. This Craftsman style was seen all over the Pacific Northwest and is known for its open floor plan, solid details, and great family room areas.

5. The Sherburne. Designed in 1923, this model of Sears home was one of the least built. This is because Sears did not provide pre-cut lumber for this particular style. However, they did furnish all of the other materials. One detail that is consistent in many Sears homes is that they typically have a lot of windows, and often a sitting porch.

6. The Carlton. Known for having a lot of windows and plenty of bedrooms, this model was very popular in the 1930’s, as it was the beginning of the “baby boom,” and families were seeking more space to grow.

Not too far from Seattle, in Moses Lake, WA, a Sears home sits quietly. It is home model 165, from the 1930’s. You can read about it on Zillow, here.

Do you know of any Sears homes in Seattle or Washington State? We would love to hear about them and feature them on our next blog! Send info to [email protected]

Image Sources:

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