About Me: The Tulsa Sears House Lady

My name is Rachel Shoemaker and I am a native Tulsan.  I love Tulsa Oklahoma and I think that it is one of the most beautiful cities in the country.  Downtown Tulsa is an architectural smorgasbord.  I love that the most.

In the summer of 2008 I was working on a research project that I had been assigned as a firefighter on light duty while recovering from rotator cuff surgery.  That research landed me on a website about Sears kit homes.  I set out to see one and soon discovered that there were not any documented or known in this area.  I decided that I would find one or two or however many I could.  Long story short I was soon reading the books of Rosemary Thornton and memorizing houses.  It has been five and a half  years and several houses later and this blog is where you can see my discoveries.

I’m not a writer, I am a researcher and I know these houses very well.  I own a large collection of original catalogs that I reference.  I have catalogs from Sears, Gordon-Van Tine, Aladdin,  Montgomery Ward, Sterling, Lewis-Liberty, and others. I research for accuracy and I will always post a catalog image with a kit home. All photographs are taken by me unless otherwise noted.  Please do not use any photographs without my written permission. Please do not use any unmarked catalog images without my permission and when doing so credit must be given.

Welcome to my blog about a part of Tulsa history that has not been discovered or at least documented until now. I say it like that because folks will tell me that they know we have Sears or kit  homes but they can not tell me where to find one.  I hope you learn a lot and enjoy seeing my community in a whole new way, look past the mansions of the oil tycoons and the Art Deco that has made us so popular and enjoy a little Tulsa history as well as Oklahoma history!

I have a network of kit home enthusiasts like myself that I concur with and seek advice from and share information with, they will be appropriately credited because without them I would not be able to identify these houses like I do. I give most of the credit to Rosemary Thornton, she has guided me ever so gently the first three-four  years and I have learned so much from her.

My advice, if you want to learn how to identify these houses then start with Rosemary’s  books. Read them thoroughly!  Read them again and then invest in the book Houses By Mail.  Drive the streets and look for those architectural details that are common to each company and particular models.  I will post what caught my attention when I see a house I suspect is from a catalog to help you learn.  Not every foursquare is a kit home, a craftsman home is more than likely not even from Sears. Craftsman is a style. JC Penney never offered kit homes, LOL.  Sears is a household name as is Montgomery Ward but Aladdin sold more kit homes than any other company. Kit homes hit peak sales in the 1920’s so that 1900 victorian you are wondering about is not a mail order house.  Any pre-statehood home in Oklahoma is NOT a Sears home.  Read my posts and I will try to teach you a little a long the way.

If you have a kit home to report or need help identifying one email me at searshomes@yahoo.com

Creative Commons License
Oklahoma Houses By Mail by Rachel Shoemaker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

43 Responses to About Me: The Tulsa Sears House Lady

  1. I just wanted to say thank you for filling in a research gap for me! That missing 1911 Aladdin catalog was a big question mark and now it isn’t.

    Like

    • You are welcome! 1911 is my earliest Aladdin. I don’t have 1912 or 13 but I have 1914. If you need a better copy of your model just let me know and I’ll scan it.
      My guess is Clarke is missing several catalogs if you check numbers. My 1911 is no 21. It has the Newport on the cover.

      Like

  2. Gayle says:

    HI,
    Here’s the first result of my research on the Aladdin kit houses that were sent to England during WWII. If I can’t figure out which models they are I might have to bother you for advice once I’ve located them on Google maps.
    http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/cs/Satellite?c=Page&childpagename=Planning-Management%2FPageLayout&cid=1223316694322&pagename=BCC%2FCommon%2FWrapper%2FInlineWrapper

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    • Hi Gayle,
      I would be happy to help you identify those houses. There is a chance that they will not be in any catalog because they were likely a special order.

      Like

    • Hi Gayle, Search 3 Hawkesley Drive, Birmingham, England, United Kingdom on google maps and you can drive that entire neighborhood. If you look at the house at 20 Central Ave, it’s a red brick two story and one of the ones they built as a “firebreak” between the bungalows. Notice the left side unit and you will notice above the front door is the same as what was used in the Aladdin Brentwood and is offered in the Aladdin catalogs as well as a separate purchase to anyone who wants to purchase one.
      I’m pretty sure those are all a “special order” and won’t be found in any of the catalogs.

      Like

  3. Sylvia says:

    HI,
    I noticed that the majority of the Aladdin kit homes you show have pictures of the sales reciepts for the homes. How were you able to research and find those records as I would love to find a copy of the one for my Aladdin home. Thanks!

    Like

    • I have Aladdin homes without sales records too, I found most of them from recognizing the house. I found the Bristow Brentwood before I ever had the sales record for it. I have about 60 sales record for houses that were shipped to Oklahoma from the Aladdin mill in Hattiesburg between 1914 and 1919. What I have done is work backwards from those sales orders. I research the buyer on the sales record and get their address off of census reports or city directories for that year/time frame and then find the house. Sometimes I am able to locate ancestors and get photos. I research the family as much as I can and piece together their history based on what I can find in records. I have records for houses that were ordered by companies, usually an oil company, that I will probably never find because I do not know who lived in them first. About a year ago a friend made a trip to the Clarke Historical Library where what is left of the Aladdin records are archived. She copied what she found in a few of the record books for Oklahoma while she searched for her Ohio records.
      If you want to locate your sales record you have to have the name of the person who ordered the house. If it was a company that might be a problem unless you know what the company name was. That might explain my long story. 🙂
      Along with the name you will need a year because the records are in log books by year. I think I showed an example. And you will need an address, location, probably the nearest train station which may just be a town or city.
      You can contact the Clarke Historical Library on their website where they have the Aladdin catalogs online and call them or email them. I can tell you from experience though they will not search for records for you. They will look in the year under the name and the location and the model of your house so you must have that information accurate.
      Or, you can visit them in person and look through the sales records yourself.
      I hope that helps you.

      Like

  4. Sylvia says:

    Thanks for the information. I am working on doing the research to trace the house back to the first owner who presumably ordered the house. Based on a date I found in the house I believe it was built around 1914 and I don’t think there are that many previous owners/families to trace back. Again, thanks for the info and good luck w/ your continued research of kit homes.

    Like

    • One of the ways you can determine a build date is searching city directories and Sanborn maps. I am fortunate that our library, Tulsa County, has the Sanborn Maps online. I frequently use Sanborn Maps and city directories which I access through my Ancestry account. For me those are convenient since I would otherwise have to go to the courthouse and sometimes parking is limited. You can also use plats and maps, there’s a website that has free access and you only have to pay to print or order. I’ve used that as well when trying to pin a date on farms from other states.
      Let me know what you discover! You never told me what model your Aladdin is.

      Like

  5. arwilmoth@gmail.com says:

    Rachel_

    I stumbled across this blog while doing some research about my house. I own an Alladin Shadowlawn. Positive on this. I’ve contacted you via Facebook to share some images and a lil information about my awesome(in renovation) house. Check your “other” folder there. I’d love to here what you might have to say about the house.

    Or, if you could email me directly at arwilmoth@gmail, we can correspond.

    Thanks!
    _Amanda

    Like

  6. An avid reader says:

    Great job on your discovery in Melbourne, Florida last week! I saw the article at http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20130603/COLUMNISTS0218/306030018 and noticed you didn’t get the credit you so deserve.
    Keep researching and hunting. You have a gift.

    Like

  7. Mark W. Poole says:

    Can you please check out my parent’s house in Webb City, Missouri? The address is 302 N. Roane St, and it appears to be very close to an Aladdin “Shadow Lawn”. Thanks!

    Like

    • I looked via google street view but can only see the back and one side and a little of the front. I looked from aerial view on Bing and I think it is an Aladdin Shadow Lawn. I see it was built in 1922. I don’t see info available on the assessor’s site. Often they show a sketch of the measurements and photos. You can take room measurements and compare too.
      If you want to send me photos I will look at them as well.

      Like

  8. Mark Poole says:

    Hi Rachel,

    We have confirmed that it is a reversed version of the Massachusetts, ordered from Aladdin in 1917 along with a Peerless garage. We even obtained a copy of the original sales orders for both the house and garage showing the options selected. The Clark Historical Society at the University of Central Michigan has the original sales logs for the Aladdin homes.

    Mark

    Like

  9. Debra Young says:

    Hi Rachel,
    I have a 1930’s style bungalow down in brookside. I was wondering if you new of any good contractors that specialize on old craftsman style homes. I need the siding replaced. I have it rented right now but I would like to start getting it perfect so I can live in this gem one day.

    Like

  10. Charles says:

    Do you ever get to Independence ks? There is a wealth of old homes here. I live in a 1903 Victorian.

    Like

    • I do get to Independence one in a great while. Not very often. I was there last spring for my great uncle’s 88th birthday. I have family in Independence. I have never checked it out though because I am usually riding with someone else.

      Like

  11. michael says:

    Hi,
    I am fairly certain my home is a Gordon Van Tine home, but I’m having a little difficulty finding the exact model. I am pretty sure the home was built in the early 1920’s. The floor plan is an almost exact replica of the 1927(?) Gordon Van Tine “Ames” home. The dimensions are the same, and the floor plan is the same except for 3 differences. I suspect it’s a Gordon Van Tine from an earlier catalog, but I can’t find a link to the earlier catalogs. Any help or suggestions would be appreciated. Also, I haven’t found any numbers on any of the rafters, or floor joists.

    Like

    • Hi Mike, If you can send me photos or an address maybe I can see it from google view. If not let me know and I will message you my email address if you want to send photos. I will need to see the front and down both sides. You can also post them on my facebook page. Thanks!

      Like

  12. laura fought says:

    I’m so excited I found this site! I live in Oklahoma City and moved into a 1915 bungalow a couple of years ago. I’ve had the hardest time trying to figure out what kind it is. Do you think you might be able to identify it? It looks like a mix between a Belmont and an Aladdin Kentucky. I’m always looking closely at other houses in our neighborhood and NONE match it. Could I send you a pic?

    Like

    • Hi Laura,
      I’m glad you found my blog! Your bungalow was a very popular style. There are several variations of that bungalow from that time. Unfortunately your bungalow doesn’t match any of the bungalows of that style that were offered by any of the mail order catalogs. I’ve not seen it in any of the more common or well known pattern books either. I looked around your neighborhood for several blocks and I didn’t see anything I recognize as a mail order kit home. Your bungalow is very distinctive, I won’t forget it, if I do come across it in a pattern book I’ll let you know.

      Like

  13. Beth Stiefer says:

    You should come to Liberty Mo, heck come to Kansas City. There are tons of Bungalow Kit Homes here.
    I live in a home built in 1922, in historic Liberty. It is very plain inside, without built in or bump outs. The wood work and doors are great. We have the original bronze hard wear on the doors. I think that whoever lived here were very simple people. The first owner was in to rocks. The retaining wall around the house is made with the common field stone that you can find all over the area. Except for this large piece of petrified wood to the left of the cement stairs that lead to the front door. My son and I have found a lot of stones and coral that are not normally found here in the backyard. Since the retaining wall dates to the same time as the home, the rest of the rock must too. We live near William Jewels College maybe in 1922 he was a professor of geology. 🙂
    I plan to go to the historic society and library when the weather warms up.
    Thanks for all the helpful advice!

    Like

  14. Nabil says:

    Hi Rachel

    Love your blog. I am currently writing an ebook on prefab homes and was hoping to use some of your images.

    Please email me to discuss further.

    Hope to hear from you soon.

    Regards

    Nabil

    Like

  15. Greg Barnhill says:

    Hello Rachel,

    I saw your Flicker photo of the 1919 Craftsman bungalow #634 by Jud Yoho – was wondering who the kit builder was. I have this house minus the pergola (at this point) in Tampa, Florida. Any details you could provide would be appreciated.

    Like

    • It wasn’t a kit, only a pattern available for purchase.

      Like

      • Greg Barnhill says:

        Thank you for your reply I see in the craftsman bungalow Company catalog page 15 the information on the house. Mine has been modified as it once was a rooming house but there is another in the neighborhood with the original footprint which is exactly that. The picture of the exterior is my home exactly but the sleeping porch upstairs has been enclosed with casement windows. Do you have any information on the craftsman bungalow company?

        Like

      • No I do not, not other than what I have read in the catalogs. I haven’t done much research on him, yet. I do know that some of his patterns/designs were used by some of the kit home catalog companies. You might see my blog on the Sears Hollywood in Enid.

        Like

  16. Holly Hilpert says:

    I came across your blog while on Pintinrest. I too love old houses. The one house you show from a Sears Catalog and also have a photo of in green ;I’ve seen before.It’s the one you are asking someone in LA to send you pictures of. I have a Standard Homes house plan catalog which has the house in it. I also have seen the house in San Marcos; Texas up the road from Schertz. I once had a Sterling Homes book that had that same house as well.They called their version The Madrid.
    There used to be a Sears think it was a Sunbeam in McQueeny .The house has been moved but to where I don’t know.
    On the access road of IH35 North just a few miles from New Braunfels is the Aladdin Shadowlawn.
    Last time I was up that way I don’t recall seeing any cars and it looked kind of overgrown.Between Schertz and Cibolo is an area where there are some old bungalows as well as a few trailers.One of the homes looks like it might be an Aladdin;however I need to take a photo to make sure.
    Also in McQueeny are a couple of other houses that might be Sears but I need to check them out.
    I have also seen a home from the 1920s that came from one of the early Garlinghouse plan books.
    Another kit house company was Pacific Ready Cut Homes of California. According to an article I read about Cementville, this company provided homes for the workers there. Cementville belonged to the Portland Cement Company . The area is now the Alamo Quarry Market Place in San Antonio. It had its own church, school etc. like most company towns. The Missionary Servants of St.Anthony a order of nuns was founded by the Reverend Peter Baque to minister to the mainly hispanic workers of the town and the poor. The community is a small diocesan community.
    While not mail order homes there are a couple of Radford’s I know of. One is built of stone and in Spring Branch north of me.It also has some sort of historical marker on the house. The other is wooden and sits in a field in Summerville.It’s a little community on Texas Highway 97 near Gonzales. The funny thing is Sears also sold a home that was like the one by Radford. I’ll have to look and see what Sears calls it. It seems these comapnies often borrowed plans from each other.
    Alos house plan books were very popular. InCibolo which is 2 miles from me is a home from one of Fred T.Hodgson plan books.In Both Gonzales and Waelder east of here; you can find homes from George F.Barber’s book,The Cottage Souvenir No2.
    A good source for information on Aladdin Homes in Oklahoma and all over the country is the Clarke Historical Library. They are located in Michigan and have the Aladdin Homes Catalogs on line.

    Like

    • I would be happy to help identify anything you might have. Send photos to me at searshomes@yahoo.com

      I have a huge collection, according to my friend Rosemary Thornton the largest collection south of Detroit, Mi. 🙂
      In that collection are all of the Standard Homes Company through the 1920’s and other years here and there. Many other pattern books as well. Too many to list or post.
      A good source for Aladdin homes for me is in my file cabinet, it’s easier to access LOL ……. every Aladdin catalog from 1911-1945 and others in the years beyond.

      Like

  17. Brook says:

    Hi Rachel,
    I live in Oklahoma City and found that my house was built by Aurelius-Swanson Co. but I can’t seem to find the original plans. I’ve looked through the Modern Bungalow PDF book online. Do you have any suggestions of where else I can look? Aurelius designed several of the homes in my neighborhood, Linwood Place.

    Brook.

    Like

    • I’ve been waiting for someone to ask me about Aurelius-Swanson! I have been working on their ‘story’ since I have been locating some of the bungalows in that pattern book and posting them on Facebook I knew it was a matter of time before I started getting more questions.
      Aurelius-Swanson Co was a company with a few irons in the fire. One was as a lumber dealer in OKC. Another in building loans. And, as a designer/architect of mainly residential.
      For the most part three men made up the company. OKC brothers Eben L and Harry Aurelius and Dr. John Swanson of Sioux City Ia. The Aurelius brothers pretty much handled everything from selling lumber and the plans and Dr Swanson was financial backing. I will avoid the long detailed ancestry report. But, Eben Aurelius’s brother in law, Joseph Edward Liljedahl is the brother of Dr John Swanson’s wife Selma Antonia Liljedahl-Swanson . That is how Aurelius and Swanson are connected both business wise and by marriage.
      The catalog to which you refer was for advertising purposes. This was common with lumber dealers at the time. I don’t know if any of those patterns in that catalog are actually Aurelius designs because I do know some of them are “borrowed” patterns. Something else common at the time. However, I do know that Aurelius drew up plans for several other residences around the state as well as other states. Since you do not find your house pattern in that catalog it is possible that it appeared in another catalog they provided to customers or it was one Aurelius designed for someone . I see a few houses in that neighborhood that have architectural features of some of the patterns shown in that catalog. If you want to email me your address to searshomes@yahoo.com or the name of the original owner I will see if it is on any of the records I have as plans drawn. If you want to include photos that I may use at some point in a blog those are welcome too!
      One of these days I will come to OKC to photograph the Aurelius-Swanson bungalows I have found that were used as the model photos shown in that catalog and write a blog.
      Thanks for contacting me!

      Like

  18. Anonymous says:

    There are several kit homes in State College Pa. If you google drive around this address you will find some. 444 W Fairmount

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Okay, thanks. I will take a look.

    Like

  20. Oh, I thought that sounded familiar! Someone posted that neighborhood/area in the Sears Group a few years ago and I went through there with a fine tooth comb. I can send you the addresses if you want. I don’t post addresses publicly.
    There are homes from Gordon Van Tine, Aladdin, Sears, as well as some pattern homes.

    Nice neighborhood. Thanks for the reminder!

    Like

  21. Arlene says:

    Thank you for liking several of my posts on OUR RETIRED LIFE.
    I will be stopping by your blog later for an in depth look. I use to drive my kids nuts looking at floor plans for houses online. Your blog is like a one stop shop for my weird hobby. I know I will not get any of these, I just like to window shop I guess you could say.
    Have a nice day! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Amber Friel says:

    Hey, Rachel – I recently purchased what I thought was a 1925 Sears Craftsman home. After a little research, I realized that it was an Aladdin “Sunshine” home. We’re doing some restorations on the interior and I’m struggling to find what the transition between the large front living room and the dining room would look like. Any help you have would be great!

    Like

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