The Tulsa Sears House Lady
The Lewis Company of Bay City Michigan published their first catalog of pre-cut homes in 1913. They were one of three kit home companies located in Bay City for several years, Aladdin, Lewis which later became Liberty and Sterling. Tulsa is home to Aladdin Readi-Cut Homes, Sterling, and now I have identified three Lewis homes. That is VERY exciting! The three Lewis San Pedro homes are located in historic Maple Ridge.
The San Pedro is a very distinctive house and once you see one you will know it! This is the catalog image of the San Pedro from Lewis catalog 1914.
The San Pedro was not a popular model for Lewis Company. According to the man who knows more than anyone about the Bay City companies, Dale Wolicki, the Lewis company didn’t even build a San Pedro model in Bay City! It wasn’t a big seller, no model home built, what a rare treat to have THREE built in Tulsa, Oklahoma!
I have been “looking” at these houses in Maple Ridge for three or four years telling my self I know that house is *something* but I could never find it. When I saw the catalog image I put two and two together. I remembered seeing this image which was published in this book dated 1920.
Unfortunately that San Pedro was demolished about ten years ago. Why? I don’t know. I haven’t found out, yet.
I decided to look through all of my John Brooks Walton books to see what information he might have on that house. No luck. HOWEVER, I did see this house in an advert in one of his books. I have cropped out everything but the house. Take a look!
WOW! Deja vu! That house is at 303 E 18th Str in Tulsa. A few weeks ago I showed my photos to my friend Rosemary Thornton and she thought that this photo was the actual catalog image! If I didn’t know for sure I would have thought the same thing.
This side by side will explain that.
My research shows that the Lewis company shipped three homes to Oklahoma between 1917 and 1920. Most of their records were destroyed in a fire in 1925 but a few were salvaged and are at the Bay County Historical Society. Are the three San Pedros in Tulsa those three houses? Quite possibly because the dates ours were built fall in that exact time frame.
I did a quick search of city directories to see who lived in the San Pedro at 303 E 18th. In 1917 Harry B Pees and his wife Effie were living there until 1919/1920. Harry was a drilling contractor. Per the city directory in 1920 the house was occupied by a lawyer, Fred W Kopplin and his wife Mary. I think we can assume this house was likely built in 1916 sometime.
Just a few houses north of the San Pedro above is another San Pedro! This San Pedro is at 1723 S Detroit and per the 1918 city directory was occupied by MC Rodolph and wife Francis. He was an attorney at McKeriel Rodolph and Ira J Underwood in the Ohio Building. In 1919 the city directory shows RW Kellough at this address which is interesting because he was the original owner of the Gordon Van Tine #560 at 1601 S Madison. Then in 1920 the city directory once again shows Rodolph as the occupant. Hmmmm.
It’s too bad that one of our San Pedros was demolished. I am excited that we still have two of this rare model that the Lewis Company offered in their early years. This is big news for us!
Take a look at what you can see as far as kit homes we have within a few blocks in Maple Ridge.
I am excited beyond words to add the Lewis Company to my discoveries! That gives us homes from Sears, Aladdin, Gordon Van Tine, Wardway, Sterling and Lewis. When I first started this search in the summer of 2008 this was what I found on the internet. Do a search for kit homes in Oklahoma now and see what you come up with! And I haven’t even started to share what I have discovered on here. This blog is a very small fraction.
If you know about a mail order kit home please drop me a message. And, yes, I have heard of the Boulanger house and I hate to say it but it is not a Sears #102 or a Sears house.
A few years ago the Tulsa Historical Society caught wind of my research project, my passion. I helped them put together a short program based on many of my discoveries. You can contact them for information on arranging to see that program.
A few years ago I “scored” a 1930 Sears catalog. When it arrived I was a little surprised to see it wasn’t what I thought it was. There weren’t any catalog images and floor plans like all of my other kit home catalogs. This catalog was nothing but pictures of houses and letters from their owners, testimonials. My first thought was what in the world will I do with this? Then one day it hit me! Why not find them? So I set out to find them all or as many as I could. And I am happy to say I am almost finished. Some are MIA and a I have a few more but I am so close. In my last blog I featured a New York Sears Elmhurst from that catalog.
There were testimonials for two more Elmhurst homes. One of which I found but haven’t shared because the story was fascinating and I decided I would contact the home owner.
Sometime in 1929 John A. Patton and his wife Lillian ordered a Sears Elmhurst and hired a local contractor to build it.
John was an active member of the Indianapolis Indiana Community where he owned a funeral home. I found Mr Patton’s life story so fascinating that once I had discovered that the house was likely still in the family I would try to contact them.
The Sears Elmhurst was introduced in the 1929 Brick Veneer Honor Bilt Homes catalog.
The Elmhurst was advertised as a brick face, half timber tudor home.
As you can see in Mr and Mrs Patton’s testimonial they used all brick!
I was correct! The Elmhurst was still in the family. It sat vacant for seven years until recently when Mr Patton’s great great grandson moved in. He was kind enough to share several photos of the house and explained that they have had to make some repairs due to deterioration but they are doing their best to restore it. All of the following photos are courtesy of the homeowner and may not be reproduced without his permission.
I present to you……the lovely Sears Elmhurst in Indianaplois, Indiana! With the exception of new windows the exterior remains original. Kit homes are often remuddled over time and disfiguring additions built on unfortunately. This house and garage are just beautiful.
And that fireplace pictured in the testimonial?
Here’s the fireplace today. Just beautiful!
The front door and stairway in the entry? Here it is!
The La Tosca hardware was the style of hardware that came with the Elmhurst kit.
Here is the hardware from Mr and Mrs Patton’s Elmhurst. Just beautiful!
The “Tudor” door came with the Elmhurst kit.
And thanks to the homeowner for sharing a beautiful example of the Tudor door!
And for last, one of the most exciting discoveries with this house! Remember that image of the door from the 1930 catalog I bought? It also appears on the 1932 Sears homes catalogs. This entry looking out?
How awesome is this? The catalog cover image was a photo taken from the Patton’s Elmhurst! The tudor door, strap hinges and even the door knocker are still there and in excellent condition. What a treasure for that to all be intact! The shadow is almost in the same position…eerie huh?
I hope you enjoyed the tour of a historical and authenticated Sears kit home. I have been told that they even have the original blueprints. I hope they share a few images of those with me soon. Check back for possible updates to this blog as I receive more information.
In the meantime, do you know where a Sears Elmhurst is? I know of one more testimonial Elmhurst but I don’t have enough information yet to locate it. Do you know of a Sears house or any other mail order kit home?
If you need help identifying a mail order home I can help you with that as well. Send me a message or find me on facebook.
There is a facebook group for Sears homes enthusiasts, if you can imagine that! I’ve been an active member of that group since it was started about four and a half years ago. There are a handful of die-hard researchers. One of the recent exciting discoveries was a rare Sears house. That rare house is the Sears Elmhurst. What makes this house unique and an awesome find is the fact that it was only offered for a few years, 1929-1932, so that means there are not many out there. It makes the hunt more fun I think. I can count on one hand how many have been discovered so far. There is one in Illinois and one in North Carolina. Then recently Rosemary Thornton was able to see the inside of an Elmhurst built in 1932 in Saint Louis Mo.
In 1929 Sears Modern Homes introduced a new line of homes.
Those homes were brick face home of current models they offered. This is the special catalog that was published in 1929.
I have a Sears catalog that features testimonials of special houses ordered from Sears. It was published in 1930. I have been working my way through it and finding the homes featured inside and I have found most of them.
In that testimonial catalog is a testimonial for a Sears Elmhurst! Remember this catalog of testimonials was published in 1930 and the house was first offered in 1929. If you consider mail order time, shipping time and then building time I think you can be pretty sure this house was ordered from the special catalog that introduced the brick veneer homes in 1929.
In 1929 and early enough to be completed by 1930 an Elmhurst was constructed in Douglaston, Long Island, NY. I set out to find that house, of course!
This one wasn’t easy either!
The Zvanovec testimony house for comparison.
How awesome is that? I squealed with delight!
Yes, there are three windows under that ivy just like the plans show! I am a Tulsa County Master Gardener and boy I would love to re-landscape that house! Ivy can get away from you if you don’t stay on top of it.
That’s quite a house! Let’s look at the floor plan.
Another angle of the Long Island Sears Elmhurst that Mr and Mrs CE Zvanovec built.
This catalog image lists the specifications. I would show you the inside if I could.
Remember that entryway from the testimonial catalog? Surprise….that is the entryway to the Elmhurst!
What a beautiful house the Elmhurst was and only four known and verified at this time! Do you know of a Sear Elmhurst? Remember it was only offered between 1929 and 1932 so the likely build dates will be 1930 and 1933. If you do send me a message an I’ll check it out.
I am a nut for searching for mail order homes, kit homes, or even plan book houses. I spend hours just “google driving” the countryside and visiting cities. I do that while watching the news or during inclement weather. We have had a lot of ‘weather’ here in Oklahoma lately!
Last week I was searching in Jacksonville Florida to help Rosemary Thornton find Sears houses for a reporter. I veered off course and stumbled upon a blog about a Sears house in Melbourne Florida. That often happens!
The blog said the house was a Sears Gordon however I knew otherwise. I easily located the house in the La Bertha Lawn addition in Melbourne.
I determined the exact address to be 509 Palmetto Ave. That “Sears” house is actually a Gordon Van Tine #620. Rosemary says that 80% of people who think they have a Sears house are wrong however typically they do have a kit home but from another company.
Wow! WOW WOW WOW! Is that it? Hold on…..my next step to make sure for those who doubt is this information from the assessor website.
See how the measurements match up? Even for pictometry it’s pretty darn close!
One of the things I do when I find a kit home is look around the neighborhood. Well, I didn’t have to go very far in this neighborhood!
Much to my delight I hit the jackpot! Three Gordon Van Tine houses all in a row. Pleased I was!
At 501 Palmetto Ave, the corner house, is a Gordon Van Tine #613
The funny thing about this image is that it is right next to the #620 in the 1926 catalog.
Look at the front and side of this house and compare them to that catalog image.
And just a little farther back……..what is that? Is that a garage?
How awesome! This house even has a Gordon Van Tine Garage! This is garage number 109 with stucco walls.
Of course I consulted the assessor records to see what the sketch shows.
How about that! Looks like another strong hint.
UPDATE ON THIS HOUSE!
This house was demolished on August 22, 2013