Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sears No. 124 in Tillamook, Oregon

Sears No. 124 7050 Fairfview Avenue Tillamook Oregon
Probable Sears No. 124 • 7050 Fairview Avenue, Tillamook, Oregon • 1913
Folks, we've got another Sears model No. 124 on the list! At least, we think it's one. This is number
Sears 124 1916 catalog Daily Bungalow
Sears No. 124 as shown in Daily Bungalow's 1916 catalog

eleven on our national database of Sears houses in the U.S., and of those, only two (testimonial houses) are authenticated. But, this is such a unique home, that we're pretty confident when we find one. Even the "lookalike" model by Keith's magazine has easily identifiable differences, so we're usually pretty comfortable with the ID.  County tax site records tell us that this house was built in 1913, and that seems plausible:  Houses By Mail tells us that the No. 124 was offered as early as 1911, and continued in the catalogs through 1917, though we've seen it listed in the 1909.

I learned of this house through a comment left, early in February, on my blog post about the Sears No. 178 in Guthrie Center, Iowa.  The commenter mentioned that the 178 looked just like a house that she drove past every day on the way to work, in Tillamook, Oregon.  Thanks to that comment, I looked around Tillamook (using Google maps streetview), and, amazingly, came across this house.  (Hey, here's a request: if you know of a Sears house you'd like to tell us about, could you give us a street, and a nearby cross street? I had no idea where in Tillamook to look for this house.) Since it was on the commenter's way to work everyday, I decided to focus on a main road, first, and eventually found it. 

sears 178 sears 124
Sears No. 178 on the left (from my 1914 catalog); Sears No. 124 on the right, with its drastic dip front porch roof.
The No. 178 and the No. 124 are sisters. Or cousins. Or half-siblings. Or something :) The No. 178 is a full two stories, including front windows on the upper rooms -- one being a bay window, to top the bay window on the first floor front -- and the No. 124 is two full stories, but with an overhanging front porch roof that dips very low in the front, obscuring the upper front windows that the catalog's floor plan says are there.  You can't see them at all, if they are there. Take a look at this image:

Sears 178 vs Sears 124

You can see from these two front elevation views, that there is much more upper front to see, on the No. 178.  If you look at the floor plans for the two models, next to each other, you see very little difference in the main rooms at all... just the upstairs front right bedroom having a bay window on the 178, that is absent from the No. 124:
sears 178 floor plan sears 124 floor plan
Sears No. 178 and No. 124 floor plans.
The No. 124 vs Keith's Magazine's Lookalike
The only lookalike model to the No. 124 that we're aware of, is a plan-only model (not available as a kit) put out early in the 1900s by Keith's Magazine.  The two are remarkably similar, but the side view of our Tillamook house shows clearly that it contains features only seen on the Sears model, and not on Keith's: two full-size upper windows on the upper left elevation, and a small square opening in the side of the porch roof overhang:
Sears 124 vs Keith's magazine lookalike
The dormers are obviously different, too, but there is another view of this Keith's model,
with a dormer similar to the Sears dormer.
Unfortunately, I don't have any interior photos to show you, of the Tillamook house, but here's a view of the other side of the house (all house views are thanks to Google maps streetview):
Sears No. 124 7050 Fairfview Avenue Tillamook Oregon

However, a Sears No. 124 in Rensselaer, New York came up for sale in the past few years, and we were treated to some beautiful interior photos (click to enlarge):

Here is the Trulia listing for this house.

Gleaming, gorgeous floors and woodwork.

Here's the front bay window.
Our Western U.S. Sears Houses
What is exciting about locating this Tillamook, Oregon Sears house, is that it is so far west in the United States.  We don't believe that there are many Sears homes west of the central part of the U.S. Those we've been able to find are few and far between.  This No. 124 in Tillamook is, in fact, the most far west we have found any Sears house, except for one that we know of in Alaska.  So, if you happen upon this blog, and you know of any Sears houses in our western U.S. states, please leave a comment (with a street and nearby cross street, or, even better, an address).  Don't worry that you might be mistaken -- we'd rather investigate, and rule out, than not know of a Sears house just waiting to be found!

I'll leave you with a look at the very impressive map that researcher Andrew Mutch (Kit House Hunters) put together for us, with all of the over 6,500 Sears homes that we've located to date:
Our actual map is interactive, so we can zoom in and out, and click to get an address.  This is just a screenshot.

To see the No. 178 that I located in Guthrie Center, Iowa (including interior photos from a real estate listing), go here.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Gordon-Van Tine Stratford in Washington, DC

gordon van tine cabot stratford 633
Authenticated Gordon-Van Tine Stratford • 1928 •  3609 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE, Washington, DC
gordon van tine stratford 1929
From my 1929 Gordon-Van Tine Plan-Cut Homes catalog
What better house to highlight during Black History Month, than a house in our nation's capital, on Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue?   I'm excited to present a rare authenticated Gordon-Van Tine Stratford, authenticated with a building permit.

Built in 1928, this house was first owned by Lawrence J. Reinhart, Jr., and he lived here with his parents, Lawrence J. Reinhart, Sr., and his mother, Stella. The house originally sat on Nichols Avenue SE, but the name of the street was changed, at some point after the 1960s, to Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue. 

I found the Reinharts in the 1935 city directory for Washington, DC, and the house number given for them was 3609, so... voilĂ  ! I learned the previous name of the street.  The 1930 and 1940 census also list the family at this address. Though Lawrence J. Reinhart, Sr., is shown on the census as head of house, the name on the building permit is Lawrence J. Reinhart, Jr.

Lawrence J. Reinhart and Stella Reinhart
Here are the Reinharts (at the top) in the 1930 census, shown at 3609 Nichols Avenue SE.

building permit for Gordon Van Tine home in Washington DC
From the Washington, D.C. building permits collections.
What Is the Name of This Gordon-Van Tine Model?
This house went by three names over the years, with two floor plans:

• 1926: No. 633
• 1927: No. 633, and No. 633B
• 1929: Stratford (A and B plans)
• 1931: Stratford (A and B plans)
• 1936: Cabot  (A and B plans)
(It was also the same as the Wardway Mount Vernon, through 1931)

The same model was also marketed by Wardway homes (though cut, assembled, and shipped from the GVT factory for them) as the Mount Vernon.  This home in D.C., however, is definitely a Gordon-Van Tine, because we have it authenticated through a building permit, showing "Van Tine (Gordon) Co." as the Architect and Builder, and it is the first authenticated GVT of this model, that we have on our national database -- that's what makes it a rare find. We rarely come across authenticating materials for Gordon-Van Tine homes, because we don't find mortgages for them, and that's one of the chief methods for us of authenticating homes. Nonetheless,  I have blogged previously about a GVT No. 140 that was authenticated through blueprints (sent to me by the owner), and we've found a few through testimonials sent in by satisfied customers to the Gordon-Van Tine company, and shown in their catalogs.  So, finding a house with a GVT building permit is a very satisfying find.  Using the same resource, I also recently found, and blogged about, a GVT No. 619 that was also authenticated through its building permit.  This GVT Cabot/Stratford/633 is the first authenticated example of this model that we have ever found. (EDIT: Before this blog post was finished, a fellow researcher located a testimonial Stratford/No. 633 that I show below, so we now have two authenticated ones!)

Gordon-Van Tine no 633 1926 catalog
The Model No. 633, shown in the 1926 GVT catalog.
Gordon-Van Tine Stratford 1929 catalog
The same model, marketed as the Stratford, as shown in my 1929 catalog.

Gordon-Van Tine Cabot 1929 sale catalog
And, here's the same model, marketed in a special "sale" catalog, that we think is from 1929...
but, the house was still being marketed in the regular 1929 catalog, and the 1931 catalog, as the Stratford.
gvt special sale catalog cover 1929
Here's the cover of what is thought to be a 1929 special sale catalog from GVT.
We don't find the date shown anywhere in the catalog. (source:
Our Stratford/633 is shown in here as the Cabot.
The 1936 catalog has the nicest listing, because it shows the two floor plans in a sort of 3-D model, making it much easier to imagine the feel of the house.  Let's take a look:
Gordon-Van Tine Cabot 1936 catalog
Gordon-Van Tine 1936 catalog, showing the Cabot. (source:

Gordon-Van Tine Cabot 1936 catalog

Let's see how the floor plan looks from the outside, on our DC house.  You can see how the window pattern follows what is shown in the larger, B,  floor plan, along this chimney side, and then the back of the house (photos from Google maps streetview, and Bing maps).  It looks like the Reinhart family may have opted to finish off the upstairs, to add two more bedrooms up there, since we see that window on the side:
authenticated Gordon-Van Tine Cabot Stratford or No. 633 plan Bauthenticated Gordon-Van Tine Cabot Stratford or No. 633 plan B

authenticated Gordon-Van Tine Cabot Stratford or No. 633 plan B

Three Other Authenticated GVTs: Cascade, Evanston, and Stratford Models
While browsing the catalogs to find the different names of this model, I ran across this little mention in the 1929 catalog, of three homes built by satisfied customers:
Gordon-Van Tine testimonial houses

It was pretty easy to find the home of Ralph S. King, in Battle Creek, Michigan... and here it is today, a Gordon-Van Tine Cascade -- a home I've never seen an example of before, and it's the first on our national database :
Gordon-Van Tine Cascade testimonial of Ralph S. King
40 Maryland Drive, Battle Creek, Michigan
Authenticated Gordon-Van Tine Cascade model, owned by Ralph S. King.
Right down the street, is what almost looks like another GVT Cabot or Stratford... but, I'm not sure that the side windows are correct... but, it sure looks good from the front, with the exact same front porch roof, and original medallion over the door.

While we're at it, though, here are the other two homes shown in the little testimonial blurb above, located by our researcher friend, Dale Haynes:

The GVT Evanston (earlier known as the No. 502), at 402 S. Tennessee Street, Danville, Indiana, that was the home of Ora A. Huron, and her husband, Alva:
Gordon-Van Tine Evanston model Danville IN

Gordon-Van Tine Evanston model Danville IN

Gordon-Van Tine Evanston model Danville IN

And, Dale also found us the GVT Stratford (also the B plan), at 139 Fish Hatchery Road, Story, Wyoming (sorry for the quality of the photos... Google Street view, zoomed in)!:
gordon-van tine stratford testimonial 139 fish hatchery road story wyoming

gordon-van tine stratford testimonial 139 fish hatchery road story wyoming

gordon-van tine stratford testimonial 139 fish hatchery road story wyoming
I just wanted to show how lost in the wilderness the house is :) 
Next Door To The GVT Stratford: 
A Chicago House Wrecking Company Model No. 6A
Right next door to the GVT house on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, is a 1909 house that looks surely to be a Model No. 6A.  Given the build date of 1909 (as shown on the building permit), this would have to be the era when the only company marketing this model, was Chicago House Wrecking Company. They eventually changed their name to Harris Homes (in 1916, I believe... or 1913.... but a few years after 1909), and Harris marketed this same model, as the J6 (although the J actually has to do with the year of the catalog, so it was still just the Model No. 6).  Later, Wardway, too, had a very similar version.
Chicago House Wrecking Company model 6A
The front porch has been extended to wrap a bit around the turret side of the house,
so it has lost the little front peaked gable over the entry spot to the porch.
3611 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE, Washington, DC
(formerly Nichols Street SE)

Chicago House Wrecking Company model 6A 1913 catalog
Here is the house, shown in the 1913 Chicago House Wrecking Company catalog.

The fact that the building permit does not list an architect is often a clue that the house was from a kit company.
Interestingly, though the original owner is shown to be James A. Marceron, it was actually Julian A. Marceron who lived in this house, as shown by the 1920 Census (and, James A. Marceron is shown at an address on 14th Street Southeast in the 19-teens and later).
Here's Julian A. Marceron, at 3611 Nichols Avenue SE, in 1920.
More GVT Houses
If you'd like to see more Gordon-Van Tine models, check out this bonanza of 10 authenticated models found by researcher Cindy Catanzaro, in Zanesville, Ohio, and blogged about in her blog, Sears Houses in Ohio.  She found these through newspaper research. It's a great bunch of homes, still in nice shape, and worth a look!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Sears Lewiston: A Sears Model Home in New Jersey

sears lewiston 1929
Authenticated Sears Lewiston • 261 N. Jackson St., North Plainfield, NJ • 1929
This great-looking Sears Lewiston was built in 1929, and used as a model home for Sears after it was built by Anthony P. Raffaniello, and his wife, Helena. It was offered "for inspection" for "one week only", beginning April 28, 1930.   

sears lewiston 1929
The Lewiston, as advertised in the 1929 Sears catalog
(scan courtesy of Cindy Catanzaro and Daily Bungalow)
Sears sometimes struck this deal with customers -- we've seen it before, when, for example, a wonderfully kept-up Sears Elmhurst was found in Carthage, Ohio (the Cincinnati area), and was later found advertised as a model home, in a 1930 edition of the Cincinnati Enquirer.  You can read about that house here, on Cindy Catanzaro's Sears Houses In Ohio blog. The Elmhurst was shown for two weeks, but our Lewiston, here in North Plainfield, New Jersey, was only available for one week.  I wrote a blog post last year, about a Wardway home -- the Devonshire -- that was built for a couple in Delmar, New York, and then offered "for inspection" for a short period, so it seems that this was a good deal for both the company and the buyer.  We can only imagine that the buyer must have gotten some kind of break in price by allowing their home to be used as a model home for a short period of time.  

sears lewiston 1929
Looks just like the newspaper image!

sears lewiston 1929
The top of the newspaper ad showed the house.
The ad ran in the Monday, April 28th edition of the Courier-News, on page 4, and advertised that "beginning today" and "for one week only", the house at North Jackson and Farragut would be available for inspection.
sears lewiston 1929
Courier-News, April 28, 1930, page 4
sears model home lewiston 1929
I don't remember ever hearing about a "Better Homes" week in Plainfield, back in the 1960s, but I guess all of the "Better" homes were built by then!
I lived a good bit of my childhood in Plainfield, New Jersey, and my sister, Lynne, lived for many years in North Plainfield. Though they've since moved to another town, my niece, Suzanne, is just about to move into her first home, and it's in North Plainfield, New Jersey, not too far from this Sears model home.  It is thanks to Lynne and Suzanne, in fact, that I have these excellent photos of the house on North Jackson.  They went out during this cold winter weather and snapped photos for me -- Google Street View is just atrocious for this neighborhood. Thanks, Lynne and Suzanne! 

sears lewiston 1929
Though Sears had a Modern Homes office on Front Street, in Plainfield, the Lewiston in North Plainfield was available for those interested builders who happened to see the advertisement in time. 
sears lewiston 1929
Sears was really pushing their financing program in earnest, in 1930.  It was heavily advertised in newspapers in many parts of the country.
The Lewiston Model
The Lewiston was offered by Sears from 1929 through 1940, and a brick, or brick and half-timber version, the Colchester, was offered in 1932 and 1933-- according to Houses by Mail. But, in actuality, the Colchester was introduced in the 1929 brick supplement catalog (see it here, on the website), and also featured in the 1930 catalog, in a section of the catalog focusing on brick-veneer homes.

The brick (no half-timber) version of the Colchester, advertised in an early page of the 1930 catalog.
The Lewiston was featured on the cover of the 1930 catalog, and we've found it to be an immensely popular model... so much so, that there are also many "lookalikes" offered by other companies.
Cover of the 1930 Sears Modern Homes catalog featuring Sears Lewiston
The cover of the 1930 Sears Honor Bilt Modern Homes catalog.
I like the look of the 1940 catalog listing, because it provides a little 3-D type of floor plan, that helps visualize the interior layout. Let's take a look:
Sears Lewiston 1940 catalog
The Lewiston as it was shown in the 1940 Modern Homes catalog
Sears Lewiston North Plainfield New Jersey
261 N. Jackson Street, showing the same view of the left side,
with the side entry door that leads into the kitchen.
The Lewiston had the kitchen, dining room, and living room, running left to right, along the front of the house, with a side entry into the kitchen, as you can see in the photo above, and the catalog floor plan, below.  There were two bedrooms in the back, separated by a bathroom, and the possibility of two more bedrooms upstairs, as an option to be done at time of build, or later on down the road. Sears offered several homes with this kind of "build-up-as-your-family-grows" kind of option.

Sears Lewiston 1940 catalog
The Lewiston had the kitchen, dining room, and living room in the front,
bedrooms in the back, and optional bedrooms upstairs.

Beginning in 1929, Sears began emphasizing the availability of several of its models with a brick veneer option. In the case of the Lewiston, the name of the brick-and-half-timber-look version was changed to The Colchester.  Andrew Mutch shows an authenticated Colchester in this blog post about Sears homes in Massapequa Park, New York.
Read about the Sears homes in Massapequa Park, here, at Kit House Hunters.
Who Lived Here?
Thanks to a little searching on, I was able to find the Plainfield, New Jersey city directory for 1930 and 1931, and, using the section of the directory where the residents are listed by street, I found that the N. Jackson Street Lewiston was owned by Anthony P. Raffaniello, and his wife, Helena.  Mr. Raffaniello was a knitter, working for a company that manufactured silk hosiery. They are listed in the 1930 and 1931 city directories at this address, and also in the 1930 census. Sadly, though, the 1940 census has them renting, on a different street, in a more modest area, and Mr. Rafaniello's "weeks worked in 1939" is listed as only "10", with his earnings at only $300.  The depression must have hit the Raffaniellos hard, and, in 1940, they also had a little four year old son, Richard.

The Plainfield city directory also included North Plainfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood, and Dunellen.  I recently found a Sears Sherwood model in the nearby town of Bound Brook, New Jersey.

Here are the Rafaniellos in the 1931 City Directory.

Here are the Rafaniellos in the 1930 City Directory.

The 1930 census lists the Rafaniello couple at their new home, at 261 N. Jackson Street, and the house is valued at $3,000.

Anthony Rafaniello was born in Pennsylvania, but his parents were from Italy.
Helena Rafaniello was born in New Jersey, but her parents were from Germany.

I don't know where the silk mill was located that Mr. Rafaniello worked in.
Lookalike Models
Many companies offered similar models to the Lewiston... some almost exactly the same, and others with clear differences... if you compare them to the Lewiston's window layout and floor plan. Sometimes, we can't really tell from the exterior. One thing I look for, is the side entry. Some companies have a floor plan that doesn't have the kitchen there, and the kitchen entry is in a different spot... like the back of the house. But, at least one company has almost the exact same layout as the Lewiston.  Let's look at a few examples (click any image to enlarge):

Kit-home company Aladdin Homes, offered the Shelburne:
Aladdin Shelburne Sears Lewiston lookalike
The Aladdin Shelburne, shown here in the 1939 Aladdin catalog,
which looks to be the first year that it was offered.
Aladdin Shelburne Sears Lewiston lookalike
Aladdin Shelburne's floor plan.

The 1937 Bennett Homes catalog (a kit-house company out of Tonawanda, New York, in upper NY state) offered two models similar to the Lewiston: The Chelmsford and the Dryden.  I only have access to the 1930, and then the 1937 catalogs for Bennett, so I don't know when they began offering these two, but they were not in the 1930 catalog:

Bennett Homes Chelmsford Sears Lewiston lookalike
Bennett Homes Chelmsford model (source)

Bennett Homes Chelmsford Sears Lewiston lookalike
Floor plan for the Bennett Chelmsford, 1937 (source)
Bennett Homes Dryden Sears Lewiston lookalike
Bennett Homes Dryden, 1937 (source)

Bennett Homes Dryden Sears Lewiston lookalike
Bennett Homes Dryden floor plan, 1937 (source)

The Standard Homes plan-book company (not a kit-home company -- they only sold blueprints) had a model called the Holbrooke. It looks to have had at least six different floor plans. I show it here, as offered in the 1946 catalog, though I'm sure that it was offered earlier, as well (if you'd like to look through other years of Standard Homes blueprint catalogs, there are several linked here, on
Standard Homes Holbrooke Sears Lewiston lookalike
Standard Homes plan book company, Holbrooke, 1946 (source).

Standard Homes Holbrooke Sears Lewiston lookalike
Standard Homes Holbrooke floor plans, 1946 (source)
Standard Homes also offered several floor plans of a model similar to the Sears Colchester: the Burlington. As shown here, it is clearly smaller than the Lewiston/Colchester, but they had about four different floor plans, so there may well have been one that was larger:
Standard Homes Burlington Sears Lewiston and Colchester lookalike
Standard Homes Burlington, 1946 (source)

Standard Homes Burlington Sears Lewiston and Colchester lookalike
Standard Homes Burlington, floor plans, 1946 (source)
There were no doubt other plan-book companies that offered a similar model. Feel free to let me know of any you're aware of, in the comments.

Do You Know Of a Sears House?
It's always exciting to find a Sears house, but finding one that was offered as a model home, is especially fun, since it allows us to mark the house as authenticated, when we add it to our ever-growing national database of Sears homes in the United States. If you know of a Sears house, please let me know, by leaving a comment (with email address-- the comment comes to my email, so others won't see your address), or using the "contact me" section of my blog. It's very likely that there were more Lewistons built in the greater Plainfield area.

261 N Jackson Street North Plainfield NJ Sears Lewiston model