Throughout the United States, Canada, and found in select countries around the world, including Australia, are hidden treasures in many established communities dating back to the early thru mid 1900's. These "finds" are the gems and part of Americana which remain proudly prominent in many small towns and countryside's to this day. Many are "Ready Cut" catalog mail order homes which were offered by Sears, Roebuck & Company, and were among the several companies that offered homes thru this venue. Other companies were Aladdin Homes and Montgomery Ward "Wardway Homes". In this posting I will be sharing how to identify and Authenticate a Sears, Roebuck & Company Honor Bilt Home.
These nine (9) indicators will help aid in the discovery:
- Look for Stamped Lumber in the Basement or the Attic (often 2 to 10 inches from the end of the framing member; and on the 8 inch side of the 2x8 floor joists in the basement). Another place to look would be behind the stairway treads on the underside of the stairs (leading to basement or the second floor). Opening the plumbing access panel door might be another place to check. These stamps were often in Blue, Black or Red ink and slightly less than an inch in height.
- Look for Shipping Labels
- Check & Cross Reference House Design by using a field guide (ie: Finding The Houses That Sears Built, by Rosemary Thornton)
- Looking in the Basement, Attic tucked under the eaves, or even under the 'built-in's' (ie: corner hutches, butler pantry drawers) for paperwork or stowed away original plans and drawings that may reveal you have a Sears Home
- County Courthouse Records (dating 1911 thru 1940) for Grantor Records and/or Mortgage Release
- Hardware Fixtures
- Goodwall Sheet Plaster (not absolutely conclusive, so be open minded to cross referencing two or more identifiers on this list)
- Unique Column Arrangement on the Front Porch and Five-Piece Eave Brackets
- Original Building Permits
You may find stamped or imprinted on the underside of original plumbing fixtures, such as the bathtub or kitchen sink, denoted with an "R" inside of a circle, or "SR" which may suggest "Roebuck" or "Sears Roebuck", respectively.
Authenticating a Sears Home is very important, using the nine (9) suggested steps above, which I have adopted and would like to credit from the book "Finding The Houses That Sears Build" by Rosemary Thornton. Designers that contributed to the homes found in the Sears, Roebuck & Company 'Honor Bilt' catalog often designed for other companies as well, therefore similarities in architectural design may be mistaken and are often construed as being a "Sears Home". Similar designs that may not be evident unless with an experienced discriminating eye can be mistaken from other kit home companies and catalogs, such as a regional catalog published by "Pacific Homes", for example. Near perfect matches can be found within the blueprints and designs of Aladdin, Gordon Van Tine, Lewis Homes and Sterling Homes, among others. These would be best described as "clones", with subtle altering to avoid potential litigation.
In your quest for searching a Sears, Roebuck & Company Mail Order 'Honor Bilt' Home, some additional clues strongly suggest they may be found and built near railroad lines and rail spurs for easy access and convenience, as the customer had only several days to expediently unload the boxcar upon delivery, to avoid rail fines and fees. Be sure to consider along an abandoned rail line too, which may since have been removed from service. Original downtown areas with street named after trees such as Oak Street, Maple Street, Elm Street, Forest Street, as well as streets named after early Presidents and States, or lower number streets such as "First Street", "Second Street", or even "Main Street". Don't be fooled. It's worth mentioning that many of these homes were offered with the option of having a 'reversed floor plan' too.
Various designs of these homes include "One Story Homes" with Front Gables, Side Gables, Cross Gabled, and Hip Roof styles; "One and a Half Story Homes" with Front Gables, Side Gables, Cross Gables, Side Gables with Gabled Dormer, and Side Gabled with Shed Dormer. "Foursquare" designs, Dutch Colonial, Two-story Homes, Victorian, and the famous "Arts & Crafts" Craftsman Bungalows were also offered. Interestingly, as there were regional Sears Catalog offices positioned around the United States, the cities that housed such storefronts often had a home design named after that city. Examples here in Ohio include "The Lorain", "The Wellington", and "The Cleveland" to just name a few.
If you have further questions, or would like a complimentary catalog page re-printed from an original catalog e-mailed to you, helping identify a "Sears, Roebuck & Company" Honor Bilt Home, feel free to contact me at: BillKnowsRealty@aol.com . These catalog pages are NOT copyrighted.
To Your Success ~