Tiny white tiles and big soaking tubs

The Old House Web
Text and Photos by Rosemary Thornton

Tile bathroom
The Fentons' "Whitehall" retains many original features, including this bathroom with tiny white and blue tiles set in mortar and pedestal soaking tub.

Eric and Judy Fenton bought their home, also on University Street, in 1995. They live with their two sons, ages 11 and 16, in "The Whitehall," which is about 1,100 square feet.

The house is one of the large collection of Sears kit homes in Carlinville, Illinois.

As built, the living room was 10'6 by 16' and the adjoining dining room was 10' by 14'. A covered front porch measured 8 feet wide and 22 feet long. In the 1970's, the front porch was closed in, to create a small foyer and a larger dining room and living room.

The additional square footage came at a cost. The large bay window in the living room was taken out in the remodeling. The corresponding bay on the second floor, in the master bedroom, still remains.

An interesting feature in the Fenton home is the storage cabinet over the staircase. The 36" wide enclosed staircase off the living room has a 3' wide by 6' deep storage cabinet attached to the stairwell ceiling, with an original, albeit primitive, pull down ladder for access.

(Click on pictures for larger view.)

The Fentons
Eric and Judy Fenton in their "Whitehall" kitchen.

Whitehall exterior
The exterior of the Fentons' home. The front porch was closed in in the 1970s, and a new front stoop was built.

Whitehall exterior
A side view of the house.

Entry door
Original roof and brackets and wooden storm door on back door.

Storm windows
Some windows still have original wooden storm windows and hardware.

rear exterior
Rear exterior.

storage cabinet
Every storage inch counts in an 1,100 square foot home. This cabinet is built in over the staircase.

Original hardware on storage cabinet.


Rudimentary ladder stows away in base of stairwell cabinet.

pine floors
Yellow pine floors, with lovely patina of age.

panel door
Five panel door with original finish.

dining room
Foyer and expanded dining room, located in the enclosed front porch area.

The attic has a pull down staircase, but the hip roof leaves only a small space. Wallboard, added many years ago, hides the rafter ends which should bear stamped numbers, the signature of a kit home.

The bathroom floor still has the trademark white and blue hexagon tile and the original Sears pedestal tub.

"It's a very deep tub," says Judy. "You don't usually find tubs that deep and I'm a soaker. No way I'm ever going to take out that tub."

The Fentons admit that their "Whitehall" feels a bit cramped at times, but they have no intention of moving in the near future. They figure that soon, the boys will be off to college and the house will be a perfect fit for the two of them.

Eric says, "We've been in some newer homes in this area and I would rather have this house. It is well built, has low utilities and we're in a good neighborhood and there is a lot of renovation going on out here."

living room
Living room and dining room (in enclosed front porch).

The kitchen.

Enclosed staircase off living room.

The master bedroom retains original bay window. The downstairs bay was sacrificed when the porch was enclosed to form a dining room.

upper hallway
Long narrow upper hallway.

panel door
Bathroom with five panel door.

One of three small bedrooms.

(Click on pictures for larger view.)

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