|Our Family's 1911 Sears #110 (Silverdale)|
In 1911, my maternal great grandparents (both first-generation immigrants from Russian Poland) ordered a house from a Sears catalogue. They chose the #110, later known as the Silverdale. In 1911, Sears had not yet begun selling their houses as pre-cut packages (known as "kits"), but they did sell the blueprints and all of the needed lumber, hardware, windows, door knobs, screws, nails, shingles, floorboards, mill work, and kitchen and bathroom fixtures-- all as one big package, shipped by rail to a nearby railroad station, where it would be picked up by the buyer, and hauled back to the home site... to be constructed by a hired crew, or by the buyers themselves.
Descendants of my great grandparents still own and reside in this home, and this is where my mother grew up. The design of the upper floor was modified at the time of purchase of the blueprints, to accommodate two families, and, over its 100+ years of history, it has had several other additions and alterations, but it sits on the exact footprint of the #110 as shown in the Sears catalogue, and still contains many of the tell-tale signs of a true Sears #110. (Though we knew the story of our family home, our house has been authenticated as a Sears house by noted architectural historian, Rebecca Hunter, through shipping labels, visuals, and family history.) Our house has held its own against at least two major floods-- all the way up into the second floor of the house-- but sits today, lovingly cared for by my aunt and uncle, with the same patch of peonies that my grandmother planted many, many decades ago. Here is the story of our family home.
(NOTE ON PHOTOS: All photos used here are the property of the blogger, and may not be used for any reason, without a direct, legible, link to this blog post. Many thanks to my cousin Martha for the wonderful family photos used here.)
Design and Alterations Through the Years
|In the top photo, of my mom's uncle, you can see the original clapboard siding on the house. It was later re-sided with cedar shingles.|
|On the right, is a photo of the door of another Sears house -- same door! The dark door also has the original round doorbell, one of which was also on our family's front door, originally.|
|Click on image to go to Rose Thornton's blog post.|
Residents of the Massachusetts #110 Through the Years
|My maternal great-grandparents, Jan and Franciszka, purchased and built the Sears #110 in 1911.|
|The house as it looks today (upper left); the house as it looked in 1940 (upper right), before some of the alterations to the back of the house; the #110/Silverdale as shown in the Sears catalogue.|
|Another wonderful family photo (thanks, Martha M.!), circa 1959, showing the back of the house, pre- enclosure of the back porch, and pre-2nd-floor addition above the back porch.|
The Gordon Van Tine #167 – a Silverdale / #110 Lookalike
Browsing through the Gordon Van Tine (GVT) 1916 catalogue on archive.org one day recently, I came across a Silverdale lookalike! The GVT model is called the #167, and is almost an exact duplicate in floor plan and design, of the Sears #110/Silverdale. There are two noticeable differences:
• A spot on the left side of the house, where there is a small window (on the GVT model) looking into the front vestibule of the house, where there is a full-size window on the Sears model.
• The front porch roof is a 3-part roof on the GVT model, but a 4-part roof on the Sears model (this also alters the placement of the entryway onto the porch).
I had read a blog post by Rose Thornton (noted researcher of Sears Homes and Wardway Homes, and author of several books and websites on these subjects) in the past, about a house she identified as a Silverdale, in Hettick, IL. When I came across this GVT #167, and compared its image to the one Rose posted on her blog, I noticed that the Hettick, IL house she was showing, had the two characteristics that would distinguish it as a GVT, instead of as a Sears Silverdale.
I left a comment on her blog, bringing this to her attention, and she graciously replied that she felt that the house in Hettick is most probably a GVT #167, and not a Silverdale. To read Rose’s blog post on the Hettick, IL house, clickhere. To see the GVT 1916 catalogue page showing the #167, clickhere. (To read a newer blog post [March 2015] about ANOTHER company's Silverdale/110 lookalike, click HERE.)
To learn more about Sears Kit Homes, Gordon Van Tine Kit Homes, Wardway Kit Homes, and more:• Houses By Mail (A Guide to Houses from Sears, Roebuck and Company) -- published by the National Trust for Historic Preservation [Katherine Cole Stevenson and H. Ward Jandl]
• Kit House.org (Architectural Researcher Rebecca Hunter's website, which also lists her books)
• Sears Archives (the basic background on Sears Mail-Order homes, with some images from catalogues)
• The Houses That Sears Built (and others on Sears Homes and Montgomery Ward "Wardway" kit homes) [Rose Thornton]-- that link takes you to Rose Thornton's blog on catalogue houses, as well.
• Gordon Van Tine.com (by noted researcher and author Dale Wolicki)
• History and Field Guide to Wardway Homes: WardwayHomes.com [by Rose Thornton and Dale Wolicki]
• Sears Homes of Chicagoland (a very informative blog)
• AntiqueHome.org (a source for many images of house plans from many kit-home companies and plan-book companies throughout the 20th century)
• The Arts & Crafts Society (a blog with images and information for Sears Homes and others)