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Do you live in a Sears & Roebuck kit home?

Submitted by Editor on April 9, 2010 – 3:51 am | Print or Email »7 Comments

by Jenn Napp

My family grew up on the Easthill and I have always loved the structure of homes I rode by on my bike and went trick or treating to on Halloween. But it wasn’t until I was helping my ‘then future husband” purchase a home that I noticed how similar many of the Easthill homes look. In fact, you could say some looked exactly the same?

So I went sleuthing… I knew major department stores sold home plans, so I started with Sears and immediately I found information on the ‘modern homes’ that were sold to the public in ‘kits’ . The ‘archives’ website: http://www.searsarchives.com/homes/index.htm states:

“From 1908–1940, Sears, Roebuck and Company sold more than 100,000 homes through their mail order Modern Homes program. Over that time Sears designed 447 different housing styles, from the elaborate multistory Ivanhoe, with its elegant French doors and art glass windows, to the simpler Goldenrod, which served as a quaint, three-room and no-bath cottage for summer vacationers. (An outhouse could be purchased separately for Goldenrod and similar cottage dwellers.) Customers could choose a house to suit their individual tastes and budgets.”

The website goes on to say that there seems to be a large number of these homes in towns near railroad lines – since this is how the entire house, from roof shingles to electrical plates, were delivered. You literally went over and picked up your entire house and built it from the kit with the plans that were provided. The first kit homes were priced from 695.00 to 4,115.00 – for the ENTIRE house (where can I get one of these now a days ?!).

There are groups of homes that were sold during certain years. I went through the entire home collection from 1908 – 1940 and found that you can tell the years that our streets were built by the year of the kit home that was built on it.

I also contacted Rosemary Thornton who has written a book “The House That Sears Built: Everything you ever wanted to know about Sears Catalogue homes”. And told her about our Easthill in Eau Claire, WI. She was very interested in our little neighborhood. She said it was getting harder and harder to find these home is original or close to original condition. So maybe in her next book, our Eastside Hill neighborhood will make the pages.

If you would like to know if you live in a Sears & Roebuck Modern Kit home please go to the following website and look at the catalog: http://www.searsarchives.com/homes/byimage.htm

If you find that you live in a “kit” home – please email and let me know and I can contact Rosemary Thornton and send her information and pictures on your home!

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could still look through a catalog, pick your house and within a couple months you entire home shows up on your lot, with everything nicely packed up (how did they get the lighting fixtures there without breaking them ?) and your very own step by step plan on how to build your house.

Enjoy the Sears website and see if your house is featured. Then sit back and look at the craftsmanship that went into your home, all the sweat and hard work that someone put into your home while scratching their head looking at the blue print and wondering… Where does this piece go ??

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  • Editor says:

    Looking through that catalog, I was amazed. I knew there were a lot of kit homes up here, but I had no idea that SO MANY were kits. I was scrolling through the catalog (especially the “1927–1932” page), and I was like, “That one, that one, that one, that one, that one, that one…”

    Really blown away.

  • Ernie says:

    That was a great article – thanks! Made me wonder about my house, which was built in 1948. In your research did you come across the source of other East Hill homes/designs that were built after Sears stopped selling them?

  • Joshua says:

    I do recognize many East Hill homes from those pages, but mine is not among them.

  • traci says:

    Thanks so much for the article. I had a blast looking through the pages. I did find two kits that looked like my home from 1915-1920, the Natano and from 1921-1926, the Rosita. Funny b/c my house was supposed to have been built in 1913 but none of the kit homes from that era fit. Hmmmm, maybe a mistake? Anyhoo, very cool article and thanks for making my day :)

  • Lynda k says:


    We live in a town with several Sears Kit homes, many close to here. Our Street was originally a show place for new homes and features for homes. One across the street was called the GE home. Then later when they were sold to families it was called “merchant row” Because the buyers were influential merchants.

    Our house has been featured in several articles in our local paper. Very little has changed in the original structure, other than the front pillars replaced, and its sided. It’s a 1935 Chatham. The sun room still open, and the signature built in phone cubby.

  • Lindsey says:

    I live in 1920 Sears Kit home in Seattle and we love it! The outside still looks exactly the same as the original and we are making changes inside to get it back to it’s 1920’s character… although, a lot of that is also still in tact.

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