House in a box

Thanks to my buddy Russ, I've discovered something you might be interested in. Most people know that Sears used to sell entire houses, everything you needed to build, right down to the nails. All cut, packed and shipped to your building site.

Well they've got most of their old home plans archived online here.

I've spent a huge chunk of my evening looking at renderings and floor plans, and wondering if any of the countless little bungalows and tudors I've visited might not have started out as a Sears & Roebuck Modern Home.

Rooms are generally (but not always) small, and some plans don't contain bathrooms (outhouse plans were available too), but it's surprising how well the designs hold up. Many of the decades old exterior elevations seem especially graceful to me still. There was even a fourplex apartment plan that could be any number of apartment buildings around KC.


Martha said...

We have two Sears kit houses here on my town on the prairie -- the $190 version -- really small. We also have a big Gordon Van Tine home as well -- it is really impressive.

It's a great post!

Karena said...

David I had heard about these, have not actually seen any, Martha has some examples in her area I see!!

Sears has or had everything!

Art by Karena

Raina Cox said...

Completely off topic, but your cousin was just nominated for an Emmy for his work on Modern Family!

YAY! You know how much I love him.

Kathleen said...

My old house was a Sears house. It was the Newbury model from the 1933-1940 section. Great house.

Russ Manley said...

Thanks for the plug. Yeah small rooms and tee-tiny closets would need some serious remodeling to live with now . . . but like you said, exteriors have a grace and charm that can't be beat.

Staircase Witch said...

There's a great Jean Shepherd monologue with all the drama of a Sophoclean tragedy (complete with implied hubris and fall) about a neighbor who orders a Sears kit house and asks his drinking buddies to help him unload his construction materials from the railyard. This would have been Hammond, Indiana. Pretty sure a lot of houses around NW Indiana and Chicago started out as kits. In fact, I'll bet a lot of them are located in areas close to major rail lines/railway hubs (St. Louis and KC included), as that would have been the primary means of transportation.