Editor's note: RosemaryThornton is one of the country's leading experts on Sears catalog homes. She'salso the author of a new book, "TheHouses That Sears Built: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About SearsCatalogue Homes," published in 2002 by GentleBeam Publications.
By Rosemary Thornton
Houses by Mail: A Guide to Houses from Sears Roebuck and Company,isregarded by many experts as the authoritative research tool on Sears cataloghomes. It lists 447 different designs of Sears homes sold, but I believe thenumber of actual different designs is 370.
Through obtaining and studying several old Sears Modern Homes catalogs, I'vediscovered about 10 houses (and one school!) that were not listed in Housesby Mail. There are also a few duplicate listings in Houses by Mail.
In later years (the 1930s), Sears began calling the same house a differentname if it had brick rather than wood siding. For example, the Willard and theRandolph are identical in every way--but one is brick and the other has woodensiding. Ditto on The Brentwood and The Oxford, The Parksdale and The Jeanette,The Mayfield and The Berwyn. There are a couple dozen of these examples of thesame houses with different siding. Eliminating these brick/wooden differences,subtracting the redundant listings and adding in the 10 designs not previouslylisted, I came up with about 370 different designs of Sears homes. That's mynumber and I'm sticking with it. However, I still regard Houses by Mailas a fantastic resource and a great book!
Other parts of thisstory: Part1: Building by the book ~~ Part2: Post-WWI building boom ~~ Part3: How to find and identify Sears catalog homes ~~ Listof references for these stories
Text and photos are copyright2002 by Rosemary Thornton and may not be reproduced or distributed without herexpress written consent.
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