Sears began offering house plans in 1908. The first Sears Plan Catalog was published in 1908. According to the Sears Archives the first bill of sale for a complete “modern home” was in 1909. I recently found three houses in Norwich, Ct that were built sometime between 1908 and 1910.
Tonight I was reading through an old Sears merchandise catalog from fall of 1911 and came across a testimonial in the building materials and home plans section.
Curiosity got the best of me, a 1911 testimonial could mean a very very early Sears house!
John Clear was a locomotive engineer and according to the city directories was living in this house by 1909. The 1910 census shows he and his wife and their two daughters lived here. Here is the catalog image of the house he chose, the number 132. (UPDATE: The home owner shared original documents from John Clear. Included was a letter from Sears for this house dated Sept 12, 1908)
John Clear’s number 132 is located at 1710 W Pikes Peak Ave in Colorado Springs, Co. The google view is blocked by trees but the assessor has a good photo. According to the assessor website this house was built in 1908. Assessor records are often wrong. I guess it is possible that it was built in 1908, late 1908 at the earliest since it would have to be ordered and then the materials delivered. However, the Sears Archives say the first bill of sales was not until 1909! Is this the earliest Sears house? Maybe. Maybe not. I do believe it is ONE of the earliest Sears houses. Since the Sears sales records are no longer available there is no way of knowing.
Evidently locomotive engineers made really good money. Look at the estimated cost to build this house according to the 1908 Modern Homes catalog!
A quick internet search turned up an old listing on Trulia with photos! Here are a few interior photos courtesy of RSC.
Here is the scrollwork and balusters from the building materials catlog.
Put those together and you have this.
Let’s take a look inside!
How fun was that? Here is the photo that John Clear sent to Sears upon completion of his number 132 compared with another image from RSC on Trulia.
When Sears started naming their houses instead of giving them numbers in 1918 the no 132 was named the Palmyra. A quick internet search revealed this Palmyra in Paxton Illinois. It has also been on the market recently!
Do you know of a Sears number 132 or Palmyra anywhere? Do you need help identifying your kit home? please message me with any questions.
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I found another #132!
Oklahoma Houses By Mail by Rachel Shoemaker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.