Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Cringing! Let's Talk America's Modern History

"Sears" 1908-1940
Synonymous with Affordable Housing
Sears Roebuck, Castleton Model, $934 to $2,193
Prefab Housing Is Not New
Listening to KC, FoxNews4 today, I had to cringe when I heard a short exchange about not knowing that there were Sears, Roebuck and Co. kit homes. Sure the reporters knew about the prefab tiny homes of today, but not about America's history; Sears Roebuck's influence, the company's influence on the housing marketing across America. Could this be true?
Do You Know the Sears, Roebuck Catalog?
Let's start with the Sears, Roebuck Catalog. Ok, I have to admit, I'm probably a generation away from the Fox4 reports of this AM, so perhaps they didn't grow up with the most important catalog of my generation. Click link above to also learn about headstones, and clothes and the opening of the Holiday Season. 
Ok...back to the houses! In1908, the Sears Roebuck catalog included 44 styles of ready-to-assemble homes ranging in price from $360 to $2,890. About 100,000 Sears Roebuck prefab homes were erected across America up to the 1940's. I have seen seen this number as low as 70K, but I will be using the preferred adjusted estimate of abt.100K homes. Many of these homes still exist in America's cities. 

In Kansas City, there were Sears Homes in Cass County, to include Belton and Raymore. You can see photos in the Missouri Valley Room of the Kansas City Public Library. 

Here is a 1923 Hillrose Model that sold for under $4000.00. Of course the Hillrose Model was able to boast to be one of the largest, but check out the Magnolia Model below. It was a beauty! Nebraska has about eight of them still standing.  These homes were made to last!

Magnolia Model
The Magnolia Model was just over $5K, and available between 1915-1920. About eight are still standing, one in Lincoln Nebraska.  Now you have a reason to go there!

Other Models and Where to Research?
There were also duplexes and smaller bungalows.  In my paternal grandmothers' homeplace of McPherson, Kansas this cute 1010 square foot bungalow exists. A recent search proved this Bellewood Model, with its Hobbit style front door, was on the market in 2018 in McPherson, KS.
McPherson, KS

Matter of fact here is a series of the homes offered from 1908-1914 located on the Sears Archives.  

Looking to learn more? Click here: Sears Archives

Pre-Civil War pre frabricated houses also existed. This was not a Sears Roebuck invention.  Here's a link: https://modularhomesource.com/us-modular-housing-industry-predates-the-civil-war/

Just remember, new inventions are most often built on our ancestors dreams (if they were dreamers). Affordable housing has always been part of the American dream.

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