Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Sears Stanford in Webster Groves, Missouri

sears cape cod webster groves missouri oakland avenue
Authenticated Sears Stanford • 1932 • 654 Oakland Avenue, Webster Groves , Missouri
This is the second of three homes in this pretty neighborhood, that I found 1932 mortgage deeds for, signed by Sears trustee E. Harrison Powell.  The first, was a 1932 Sears Clifton (read about it here), next door, and the third is a 1932 Randolph, on another street.

sears houses webster groves missouri
A pretty sight on Oakland Avenue: two Sears houses, side by side.
I actually found these houses first, just by driving by.  Because the house on the left is a little Cape Cod, and there are just so many companies that made Cape Cods, and they all look so similar, I wouldn't have realized that it was a Sears model.  It was the big cat slide front entry gable on the house on the right (the Clifton), that caught my attention.  I took note of the addresses, and went home and quickly opened up Google maps, my copy of Houses By Mail, the St. Louis County Department of Revenue real estate website, and my stash of Sears catalogs.  In no time, I had found that I had come across a Sears Stanford, a model that I had never read about before.

sears modern homes 1932 catalog
The Sears Stanford, from my 1932 catalog.
After first reading about the Sears Milford, another cape cod model, on a Sears Homes of Chicagoland blog post, I started to notice that most Sears cape cod models have little or no space above the door frame.
The casing usually just about meets the roof line.
sears cape cod
The Stanford came in two floor plans: a smaller four-room version (3354-A), and a larger, five-room version, with an added dining room (3354-B), and a bit more square footage. 654 Oakland Avenue is model B. The inside layout of the rooms is very different between the two models, with both bedrooms in the back of the house, in model A, and the kitchen in front, next to the living room, whereas model B has both bedrooms on one side of the house (front to back), with the kitchen moved to the back corner of the house, with a dining room next to it. Both models have the living room in the same spot, in the front of the house.

From the 1932 catalog.

sears cape cod floor plan
654 Oakland Avenue is model B, with a reversed floor plan,
and the addition of a finished set of rooms upstairs, where the dormers were added.

If you look closely, you can see that floor plan B also has an exterior door on the side of the house that would have the chimney on it, just between the living room and the kitchen.  As is common in these 1930s homes, that exterior door opens into the kitchen, and leads you right to the little landing that heads you to the stairs that take you down to the basement.  Our house at 654 Oakland has that exterior door on the chimney side, too -- further evidence that it is floor plan B.  If it were floor plan A, that exterior door would be on the other side of the house from where you find the chimney.

sears cape cod floor plan
Footprint sketch from St. Louis County Department of Revenue Real Estate site

Upstairs Option
Though the option of finishing off the half-story under the eaves, is not actually shown in the catalog listing for the Stanford, the 1940 Colebrook model (a similar cape cod) shows what that might look like, with the added dormers, and the stairway opening. If you compare this to what the actual finished upstairs looks like at 654 Oakland Avenue, you can see that it must look much like this.
sears house 1940 floorplan
From my 1940 catalog.
Upstairs option, complete with kitty!
The Cape Cod Model
Here is how it is shown in the 1940 catalog, listed as the Cape Cod. The 3-D floor plan images help you visualize the layout better, I think. Houses By Mail says that the Cape Cod model is the exact same thing as the Stanford --and, it is... in 1938. But, in 1940, it is not exactly the same floor plan for one of the layout options.  The B floor plan is the same, but the smaller 4-room plan is a good bit different, with the bedrooms no longer side by side in the back of the house, but rather moved to the side of the house, front to back (as they are in the B floor plan). That moves the kitchen from the front right of the house, back to the back left corner, more like it is in floor plan B. The whole layout is more like floor plan B, really. In fact, it's not even exactly the same size as the Stanford's Plan A (No. 3354-A), as this floor plan is 1 foot wider and 6 inches deeper, at 31 X 22.6. So, this smaller version is not called "Plan A", it is "Plan X" (No. 13354X).

sears cape cod model catalog

Realtor Photos
The Stanford at 654 Oakland Avenue was recently for sale, and I was able to get a few interior shots, thanks to this listing on Zillow.  Knowing the floor plan, you can see how the rooms fit into the layout shown in the catalog, though, since it's the reverse floor plan, everything needs to be flipped, like the page of a book. (Click any image to enlarge.)
You can see the little side door that leads to the exterior.

View from the dining room, looking into the kitchen (a new slider in the DR).

Two windows indicate that this must be the front bedroom.

Looking from the front door entry area,
to the two little windows that flank the fireplace.

Everything fits for the bathroom, according to the flip of the catalog layout.

The stairs taking you up to the extra room: the finished space in the half-story.

And here's the extra finished space upstairs.
According to the realtor photos, there is a little bathroom up here, too.
You can see the extra extension for the back bedroom of plan B.
Who Lived Here?
As I was doing mortgage deed research, I came across three 1932 mortgages in Glendale park, which I discovered was the name of this neighborhood.  One mortgage was for block 5, lot part 2, east part, and the mortgage had been taken out by Liberty LaMoyne, a maintenance man (according to the 1940 census) and his wife, Myrtle.  I recognized that this was the lot next to the mortgage for Howard Hankins (owner of the Clifton), and that the third Sears mortgage was for a plot just behind these two-- which I came to realize was for the Randolph I haven't yet blogged about. Knowing that I had three plots right by each other, in Glendale Park, where I had spotted Sears houses, I suspected these mortgages were for those three houses.  A bit of research on Ancestry.com, proved to match up those names to the addresses that corresponded to these legal descriptions, and I was set! Three authenticated Sears houses in Glendale Park subdivision of Webster Groves, Missouri.

The LaMoyne family on the 1940 census. This also shows that the family lived in "same house" in 1935.

Funny how the transcriptions of handwriting from census data  sometimes come up with odd words...
Liberty LaMoyne's occupation as "maintenance man" turns into "maintener man"
(and his last name is mis-spelled as LaMayne).
It's nice to know that Liberty LaMoyne, a maintenance man with only three years of high school, was able to provide his wife, and little son, Arlene (yup! That name is listed as for a son!), with a neat, solid, well-built house in this lovely, tree-lined neighborhood of Webster Groves. This is probably the most modest home in the neighborhood, but it's well kept-up, and desirable for a small family. It's not too far from some railroad tracks, and now, it's got a bit of highway noise not far away, but it's still a very nice neighborhood, where homes go for a good bit more than a maintenance man might be able to afford in 2015.  Arlene would have gotten a good education in the Webster Groves school district, too.  I have no idea how long the LaMoyne family lived in their little Stanford on Oakland Avenue, but I'm sure glad I found out that they did.

Other Authenticated Kit Houses in Webster Groves, Missouri
• Sears Randolph in the same neighborhood as this Stanford
• Sears Clifton, right next door to the Sears Stanford 
• Sears Lewiston on N. Laclede Station Road
• A custom-design Sears home on Westborough Place
• A wonderful Gordon-Van Tine Company's Model No. 535, on Oakwood Avenue
• A beautiful Lewis Homes' Marlboro on W. Lockwood

For other authenticated Sears homes in the surrounding towns of Kirkwood, Glendale, and other areas of St. Louis City and County, please use the SEARCH function on the right-hand side of my blog.


  1. The Stanford/Cape Cod is a big find! Congrats!

    I bet that arched window on the side of the Cape Cod is original (the window itself is not original but the arched shape opening was). The arched side window was one of those components/upgrades that Sears used for models in the 1930's but never featured in the catalogs.



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