I also promised to update with photos very soon. Well, very soon happens tonight!
I made the 3+ hour drive one way from Tulsa to Idabel two days later. And I have edited my photos, talked to a few folks, collected my thoughts, rested from the long day and several hours on the road. I’m ready to share! If it is a Sears 303 yay! If it isn’t it’s a great house and just enjoy the photos (I took several) and bit of Oklahoma history…it was a long road trip by myself. For one house.
A very special thanks to Rosemary Thornton for use of the only known Sears 303 catalog image I am aware of.
This is the Sears 303 from the modern homes catalog in late 1910 I believe, maybe early 1911. It only appeared in one catalog. One question remains, how many issues of that one catalog were published?
This is the catalog cover used for Sears Modern Homes Fall 1910 Spring and Fall 1911 and Spring 1912. The Sears 303 appeared in the catalog with this cover. Did it appear in all of these publications? It’s hard to say. This catalog seems to be very rare! I have managed to collect all of the modern homes catalogs published between 1908 and 1940 and this is the ONLY one I don’t have.
The Barnes-Stevenson House is located at 302 SE Adams, Idabel Ok. Thomas Jefferson Barnes came to Indian Territory in 1898 to practice law. He was the first county judge of McCurtain County. Harold Stevenson, an Idabel native, purchased the home in 1973 from the Barnes family. Stevenson, a friend of Andy Warhol, is a well known artist.
I always shoot for the closest I can get to the catalog angle. The sun and a large tree were somewhat of a problem and this is the best that I could do. The TJ Barnes home was built in 1911. The local history says that the home was the design of renowned Oklahoma architect Jewell Hicks. Hicks was one of the architects for the State Capital as well as the governor’s mansion and several state or government buildings. The carpenter is said to have been RD Cheatham. I found that Cheatham was indeed a master carpenter.
Here is the Sears 303, in brick. Is that a match or what? I found a tiny image on flickr of the house dated 1912. This catalog image is brick and the catalog description calls for brick. It would have made sense to square the sides if constructed with lumber. The turret roof was tall.
The turret roof was likely replaced when the house was reroofed in the 1970’s I believe. The railing on the polygonal tower is there as well although now gone. Click here to compare the 1912 image from flickr. Updated 1912 photo at the end of the blog.
This is the floor plan for the first floor of the Sears 303. From what I could see peering through windows (no, I’m not a peeping tom….it’s home to the local historical society now) and the photos I found on facebook it’s a good match!
And, this is the second floor plan for the Sears 303. I would have loved to have had a look but evidently it takes an act of congress to see the inside or catch someone there in a good mood. 😉 I tried. I really did. They weren’t interested in the information I had to share. The historical society there doesn’t have regular visiting hours.
Let’s take a walk around the entire estate and you can refer back to the floor plans provided as needed. This is where the several photos happens.
What a beautiful home! I wish there was an Oklahoma flag on that other flagpole!
Left angle. Yes, I noticed that the left tower on this house is polygonal and the Sears 303 is circular. The Sears house is constructed of brick. That’s an easy alteration for a master carpenter and an architect. And, Sears didn’t sell bricks or masonry so that would be a larger materials sale for Sears!
Left side elevation. The bay is squared and not rounded as shown in the plans. Same song different verse as I often say.
Left back angle. A few minor alterations. With the early Sears homes I have noticed that there were often a few minor alterations. Keep in mind, materials were supplied but not yet ready-cut this early in the game.
Rear elevation. In the upper left there was at one time a balcony. You can see that it has been enclosed. The Sears 303 shows a balcony there as well.
Are you still there? We’re almost all the way around now! You know, this is a HUGE house. I think I would prefer an open balcony over an enclosed balcony! Oklahoma sunsets are beautiful! This balcony faces the western skies.
The right side elevation. The queen anne leaded glass attic window is broken. I hope that is on the soon to be repaired list before rainy season gets here. Otherwise, there will a lot of water damage! Per the Sears 303 floor plan there should be a window on the first floor between those two chamfered corners. This faces west, maybe they didn’t want the western sun beating in during the summer? Or, maybe they just didn’t want a window there!
Now we are back to the front. What do you think? It’s a great match to the Sears 303. Did Jewell Hicks purchase the materials and free plans from Sears in 1911? OR…..did Jewell Hicks maybe design the home that Sears would use and name model 303? Many of the early Sears modern homes models were actually early plan book designs!
Let’s take a close look at the description and see what else matches to the Barnes-Stevenson House in Idabel Oklahoma!
The description calls for Queen Anne windows, leaded glass, on the first floor and attic windows. This house has those!
That’s right! The front door on the Barnes-Stevenson House is an exact match to the Sears Superba, the specified front door for the Sears 303! Those side lights are also found in the millwork and materials catalog.
Not only the front door but the side door off of the living room to the enormous porch is a Superba design door!
A great second story balcony for catching the Oklahoma sunrise!
The second floor balcony wraps all the way around the left tower. If I lived here this is where I would have my morning coffee. Notice the queen anne windows in the tower? The Sears 303 has those as well!
What a beautiful home! What a view that must have been in 1911. It’s a shame the turret roof wasn’t restored to it’s original steep angle.
Now that you have seen the “evidence” what do you think? Yay or nay? Is the Barnes-Stevenson House a Sears 303 or did Jewell Hicks design the pattern/plan that Sears would “borrow” for the model 303? Leave me a comment with your thoughts.
The Barnes-Stevenson House was place on the National Register of Historic Places, NR 78003083, in 1978. It is now the home of McCurtain County Historical Society.
UPDATE! NEW PHOTO! The president of the McCurtain County Historical Society shared this photo and information with me. This is the TJ Barnes home in 1912. I was told a tornado came through Idabel in 1917 and the two towers sustained damage resulting in the loss of the “witches cap” to the left turret and the the railing on the top of the right tower. This photo shows the ionic columns on the wrap around porch, the ionic caps to the columns are no longer there. This 1912 photo is a very good match to the Sears 303 catalog image!
Do you have a Sears 303 to report? If so please contact me at email@example.com. I have another possibility and have had for a few years. I’ll share it sometime.
Oklahoma Houses By Mail by Rachel Shoemaker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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