Friday, July 27, 2018

Sears Hampton In Brentwood Missouri

Sears Hampton model at 2611 Rockford Avenue Brentwood MO, home of Perry M. Peat
Authenticated Sears Hampton • 1927 •  2611 Rockford Avenue, Brentwood, Missouri, St. Louis County
Sears Hampton model in the 1928 Sears Modern Homes catalog
Sears Hampton in my 1928 Sears Modern Homes Catalog
This is the first Sears Hampton that I have found in the St. Louis area.  That is likely because this is a model that every company made a version of -- kit companies and non-kit companies, so when I see something like this, I usually dismiss it as a "who knows!" house. I'm sure that every lumber company and contractor offering modest building plans in the 1920s, offered something with a similar look. So, when we see a house like this, we usually hesitate to add it to our National Database of Sears Homes... it's just too likely to be a "lookalike". But, this house has a Sears mortgage record! It was bought in 1927 by Perry M. Peat, and his wife, with Sears trustee Walker O. Lewis signing off on the mortgage.

When we do run across a model like this, in the wild, we look very closely at the window and door configuration. The lookalike models from other companies will have slightly different window placement. The Hampton should have three sets of double windows on this side, with the last set being smaller... that's the kitchen, at that end of the house. With this house in Brentwood, Missouri (which is in St. Louis County), we would have hesitated, because the last two windows don't look quite right. I think that we either have a really small double window, in the kitchen, and then an added small window in the back porch entry area, or two separate windows in the kitchen.

Sears Hampton model kitchen image from the 1928 catalog
The 1928 catalog shows the look of the kitchen. There are the two shorter windows.

Sears Hampton model floor plan in the 1928 Sears Modern Homes catalog
Sears Hampton floor plan, 1928 catalog
Another issue we need to look for, is the existence of an extension on the left side of the house (or whichever side has the the sets of double windows), for the back porch entry into the kitchen. If the back of the house is flat across, we know that the house may not be a Hampton... unless, of course, it had a small addition added on, after the initial build of the house. See why this is a challenge?

In this case, Google Maps Streetview did us a solid, by taking the aerial views during the winter, when the foliage wouldn't get in the way:

aerial view of Sears Hampton model at 2611 Rockford Avenue Brentwood MO showing back porch extension
Aerial view showing us the extension on the back of the Sears Hampton in Brentwood

aerial view of Sears Hampton model at 2611 Rockford Avenue Brentwood MO showing back porch extension
And here's a veiw from the back of the Sears Hampton in Brentwood
Another element that we look carefully at, is the placement of the chimney. This isn't a fireplace chimney, it's a chimney for venting the furnace. The Hampton always has one placed just where this one is shown, on the side of the house where the double windows are. Our friend Cindy Catanzaro, who is not only a Sears House researcher and blogger, but whose professional business is renovating houses for re-sale, reminds us that moving the furnace, and its vent chimney, would not be an easy undertaking, so, since these houses were pre-cut kits, we know to question a house that does not have the vent chimney in this location, on this side of the house. 
Sears Hampton model and floor plan in 1928 Sears Modern Homes catalog
The furnace vent chimney is always shown on the floor plan, by a little black square, as you see here, circled in yellow.
On the right side of the house, we expect to see just three single windows, spaced pretty evenly apart, one for each of the three bedrooms:
authenticated Sears Hampton model at 2611 Rockford Avenue Brentwood MO
2611 Rockford Avenue, Brentwood, Missouri • Three windows of the Sears Hampton's bedrooms. This house has a tucked-under garage, which was not a standard element of this house.
Other elements to check out, are the placement of the front door and those two front windows, the width of the porch roof, the width of the porch itself, and the look of the front porch piers and columns. The Hampton should have a centered door, and one window on each side of it. Its porch roof should not stretch the entire width of the house, and the front porch itself should be noticeably shorter than the full width of the house. If the corner piers of the front porch are original, they should normally be made of formed concrete block, and the porch columns, if standard, should have this chunky, tapered, Craftsman-style look. Lookalike models from other companies may have the front door off to one side, may have only one window, may have a different look to the porch supports... these are the kinds of things to look for, to pin down a possible Sears Hampton, vs a lookalike.
Sears Hampton model at 2611 Rockford Avenue Brentwood MO compared to catalog image
Front elements of the Sears Hampton, offered up to 1931
(click to enlarge any image)
Lookalikes From Other Companies
Let's take a look at some of the lookalike models from some of the other companies. Pay close attention to those side windows--not just the side you can see on the house, but the other side's windows, as indicated on the floor plan. Look for where the front door is, and how close the window(s) are to it. Check out the look and size of the front porch, and its roof.

Gordon-Van Tine offered, in 1921 at least, the No. 519. I've pointed out, with blue arrows, where the windows are shown on the floor plans (in case you're not as used to looking at floor plans as we are). There is a very shallow extension off the back, and the vent chimney is in a similar location, but the location and number of windows is different than the Hampton (singles vs doubles). The porch columns are different both in style and number, and the porch railings look to be shorter in height. The opening onto the front porch is also off-center, whereas the Hampton's porch entry is centered. The GVT No. 519 also has a very deep eave, very noticeable in the front:
Sears Hampton lookalike, Gordon Van Tine No. 519 or No 915
Gordon-Van Tine No. 519, a lookalike to the Sears Hampton (source).
In 1927. GVT marketed this house as the No. 915.
In the 1925 Wardway catalog (Montgomery Ward's line of kit houses, which were, actually, supplied by the Gordon-Van Tine lumber mills), we see the Kenmore. Notice the differences in the windows (singles vs doubles), the important absence of a small window in the front, above the porch roof, the flat style of the porch roof, and the length of the porch columns (which are very similar in style to the Hampton's, but have a longer column, and shorter pier, than the Hampton has). Also, the Wardway Kenmore has this distinctive look to the brackets--the Hampton doesn't have any brackets at all:
Sears Hampton lookalike Wardway Kenmore
A similar model offered by Wardway homes, in the 1925 catalog
Wardway also offered the, slightly larger, Lawndale. Note, for one thing, the double window on one side of the front door, as well as all of the important differences:
Sears Hampton lookalike Wardway Lawndale
The Wardway Lawndale -- no little window above porch, flat porch roof, brick porch piers, a set of double windows to one side of the front door, and other side window differences. See it here, in the 1925 Wardway catalog.
Liberty Homes (offered by the Lewis Homes company) had a large selection of very modest little homes, in their 1926 catalog. Here are the two with a similar look to the Sears Hampton. Note the windows and the front door and the porch... all of those little details are important:
Sears Hampton lookalike Liberty Homes Sheridan
The very modest Liberty Sheridan, with three floor plan options.
Click to enlarge, or see it here, online.

Sears Hampton lookalike Liberty Homes National
The Liberty Homes National model, with its three floor plans. (See it here online.)
Aladdin Homes offered a number of small, shotgun style houses like this. Some are really tiny.
Sears Hampton lookalike Aladdin Erie Aladdin Selwyn
The super small Aladdin Erie and Selwyn (here, online)

Sears Hampton lookalike Aladdin Chester
The Aladdin Chester (go here to see it online)
Sears Hampton lookalike Aladdin Raymond
The Aladdin Raymond, with no front porch, and two possible floor plans.
(see it here, online)

Sears Hampton lookalike Aladdin Roseland
The Aladdin Roseland, with a similar first-glance look to the Raymond, but with a pergola-style covering over the front porch (Sears didn't offer any model with this pergola-style over the front porch). It also offeres three different floor plans, so there are lots of possible side-window configurations. See it here, online.
Bennett Homes offered the Laurel in their 1925 catalog--actually very similar to the Stirling Ellnwood , shown just below it. Notice that it has eave brackets:
Sears Hampton lookalike Bennett Homes Laurel
Bennett Homes Laurel model had a solid-walled front porch, and eave brackets on the front.
(see it here, online)
Sterling Homes had the Ellnwood in the 1920 catalog:
Sears Hampton lookalike Stirling Ellnwood
See the Ellnwood online, here
Not to mention that all of these companies, like Sears, as well, offered similar style houses but with the addition of some kind of side bumpout, or with a gabled front porch roof, instead. I'm not going to show all of those, but here is one example, by Sterling Homes, that has the same side and front window patterns as the Sears Hampton, and the same look to the rail, piers, and columns of the front porch, but with a very different look to the porch roof... a peaked gable there:
The Sterling Homes Springfield looks quite a bit like the Sears Hampton (if it had a different porch roof!), but there is no extension on the back, and it has eave brackets). See it here, online.
The Sears Grant, and the Sears Crafton
But, wait! Not only did other companies offer lookalikes to the Sears Hampton, Sears did, too. For one thing, during the Hampton years (through 1929), Sears offered the lower-priced, "Standard Built" buddy to the Hampton: The Grant. The Standard Built homes were "lighter built", as they are described in one year of the catalog, with, for example, wider spaces between the rafters and the wall studs, and other cost-saving changes that used a bit less lumber. You can see an explanation of the differences, in this previous blog post of mine, about a Sears Josephine.  The Grant is hard to distinguish from the Hampton, but one difference is that there is only one window in the kitchen, instead of a small double, and it looks like the front porch piers are brick, instead of formed concrete. Here it is, in the 1929 catalog:
Sears Hampton lookalike-- Sears Grant Standard Built
The Sears "Standard Built" Grant model, in the 1929 catalog, is almost the exact twin to the sturdier Hampton.
(My copy of the 1929 catalog is courtesy of Cindy Catanzaro, scanned for us by our friend at Daily Bungalow/Antique Home).
Sears really changed things up in 1932, discontinuing the Hampton, and offering the Crafton... with three different floor plans, so the side window arrangements are different on each of them. Oy vey!
Sears Crafton --Sears model after Sears Hampton
1932: Sears replaces the Hampton, with the more versatile Crafton.
Notice that the porch piers are brick, now, instead of formed concrete, but, otherwise, the porch is pretty much the same.
The Crafton was offered with three basic floor plans, A, C, and D, shown below (yup, no B plan!). But, plans C and D were also offered without a front porch, as floor plans E and F. Additionally, Sears referred to their Crafton X floor plan, which was the D plan, offered with a heightened roof, to add upstairs bedrooms.
Sears Crafton floor plan options
Sears Crafton floorplans in the 1932 catalog, available online, here. (click to enlarge)

Sears Crafton floor plan X
The Crafton X plan, as described in the 1938 catalog.
Researcher Andrew Mutch, did a good explanation of the evolution of the Sears Hampton into the Crafton, in this post of his blog, Kit House Hunters. I refer to it often! 

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Sears Sunbeam In Wilkins Township, Pennsylvania

Authenticated Sears Sunbeam • 176 Churchill Road, Wilkins Twp, Pennsylvania
The original house is intact, with a sizable addition on the back.
Sears Honor Bilt label for Sears Sunbeam
There's a beautiful mid-1920s Sears Sunbeam for sale right now, in Wilkins Township, Pennsylvania. Our Pennsylvania researcher, Karen DeJeet, stopped by the open house today, and was incredibly excited to spy marked lumber! This is why we are now able to mark this house "YES" in the "Authenticated?" column of our National Database of Sears Houses. 

As you may know, if you've been interested in kit homes, part of what makes these kits interesting, is that all of the framing lumber in a (post-1915 Sears) kit house, was pre-cut to make assembly faster, and, to facilitate that, the pieces were marked with a letter-number code. Those marks appear on the edge of each piece of framing lumber, but also would have been stamped somewhere along the face of the board. Usually, once the house is built, you can't see the end stamps, but you can still often find a board or two with the black, one-or-two-inch-high stamped letter-number combos (one letter, and a number... the letter indicates what size board). As I explain in this blog post, one of the places you sometimes find accessible to see marked lumber, is under a staircase (probably visible from the basement), and that's where Karen found the marked lumber in this Sunbeam in Wilkins Township.
use of marked, pre-cut lumber for kit homes, explained in Sears catalog
Here's a bit of an explanation, from the 1930 Sears catalog, about the pre-cut and labeled system.

visible mark on pre-cut lumber in Sears kit house in Pennsylvania
Great shot, Karen! One letter, a space, and then a number. The numbers seem to usually be two or three digits.
The Sears Sunbeam Model
Here is a catalog shot from the 1925 Sears Modern Homes catalog, showing the Sunbeam, next to a side view of the house, from the real estate listing.
Sears Sunbeam in catalog, next to image of Sear Sunbeam at 176 Churchill Road, Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania
From the 1925 catalog, available here
One thing you'll notice, looking at the Sunbeam's catalog image, is the base piece under the roof of the front porch, and its little keystone element. This was used by Sears on several front porches (you can see one on a Lorne, in this previous post, but the Americus, the Vallonia, and other models, also had this design element.) This element was not part of the porch design on the earlier version of this model -- the Elmwood -- because it had a chunkier support style there. Here's a comparison:
key stone element vs chunky element Sears Elmwood front porch vs Sears Sunbeam front porch
The Sunbeam's key-stone design under the porch roof, vs the chunkier design of the same area, on the earlier Elmwood.
You can just barely make that out, on the edge of the porch, on this photo from the real estate listing:
keystone element Sears Sunbeam front porch

But, Karen knew what to look for, and got us an excellent photo from the porch side of this area on the Wilkins Township house:
keystone element Sears Sunbeam front porch
There's the Sears-design! Also, note the original tongue-in-groove wood ceiling of this porch. 

Now, on this close-up of the side keystone, you can see (indicted by my blue arrows) where the wonderful keystone element was completely covered over by the vinyl siding added to the exterior of the house. Although vinyl siding looks "neat", it is something that we just hate to see, added to a house. For one thing, it almost always covers up these distinctive architectural elements, and renders the house kind of lifeless. For another, it causes great moisture build-up underneath it, which can be very damaging to the original wood structure of the house.
keystone element Sears Sunbeam front porch
Beautiful original wood elements of the Sears house in Wilkins Township, covered by new vinyl siding.
Another wonderful Sears element that, thankfully, was not covered up by vinyl, is the oh-so-Sears five-piece support bracket for the eaves of the house:
Sears 5-piece support bracket
We rarely see the 5-piece bracket on non-Sears houses.
Brackets, yes, but usually, they have just three or four parts, or are a solid wedge shape.
Inside The Sears Sunbeam
Let's take a look at what's inside this house, that we can also see in the Sears Modern Homes catalog:

Sears two-panel doors:
Sears two panel doors on a Sears Sunbeam

Sears modern homes interior doors in catalog 1930
Source

Sears 8-pane Craftsman-style front door:
Sears Craftsman style front door on Sears Sunbeam

Sears Craftsman style front door in 1930 Sears Building Supplies catalog
Source
Sears Chicago style door hardware, bronze, with copper finish (now pretty darkened!)
catalog image of Sears Chicago style door hardware 1930
Sears was not the only company to offer this basic, solid door hardware style.
Many companies used this. Sears called their line, Chicago .
Sears Chicago style door hardware on Sears Sunbeam
Sears offered a few finishes for Chicago style hardware. This is the copper finish, over bronze.
Sears Craftsman-style colonnades with bookcase:
Sears Craftsman style colonnades and bookcases in Sears Sunbeam

Sears Craftsman style colonnades and bookcases in Sears Sunbeam

Sears Craftsman style colonnades and bookcases in Sears Sunbeam
See those little butterfly-wing hinges? That's a Sears hinge. And, those are beautiful floors!

Sears Craftsman style colonnades in 1930 building supplies catalog
These colonnades were available in several sizes, apparently, because, besides the two shown here, we have the in-between size of the ones in this authenticated house. (Source for catalog image.)
And, here's that unique hinge, which we've only seen offered by Sears:

Sears butterfly look hinges on bookcases on a Sears Sunbeam, and in the 1930 catalog
Sears hinge
You can see those hinges on some of the interior doors, as well as on the doors of the colonnade bookcases:
Sears Craftsman-style wide moulding on Sears Sunbeam house
Oh! And this door, with its beautiful, wide, Craftstman-style moulding, is also in the catalog:
Sears interior door offering from 1930 Sears building supplies catalog
Source: 1930 Sears Building Supplies catalog
This beautiful staircase is the Colonial style offered by Sears, but we don't often see the full-spiral newel design... it's like something out of the Magnolia! This house in Wilkins Township has some very elegant elements.
Sears colonial staircase in Sears Sunbeam

Beautiful full spiral newel of Sears colonial staircase in Sears Sunbeam
This angle newel is not always included... what a lovely touch. It adds such a polished look, and the patina of the wood is just wonderful.
Sears angled newel

Sears staircase image from catalog, showing angled newel

Sears newels from 1930 catalog

You may have noticed that the base of the staircase -- the entry steps-- are a double tread design. We realized, a little while back, that the earlier version of this model, the Elmwood, had a single tread there. We know the house was built during the Sunbeam years, if it has the double tread here.
2-tread entry to Staircase of Sears Sunbeam

Comparison of entry treads on Sears Elmwood vs Sears Sunbeam
Single tread on the Elmwood, left; double tread on the Sunbeam, right.
You can read the blog post about the beautiful Elmwood in Normal, Illinois, here... and there are links within that post, to the blog post about the Orlando Sunbeam, and to another Elmwood (in Elkhart, Indiana).
Another little clue to the kit-home origin of this house, is the presence of a plinth block to connect two pieces of floor moulding that are a different angles. This is a bit tricky for the everyday builder, so Sears supplied this plinth-block solution for those who didn't have a carpenter handy to make the perfect angle cuts. Plinth blocks are commonly used at the base of door trim, but this unusual use for connecting angled pieces, is normally done, and when we see it on a Sears house, it's usually at the staircase.
use of plinth block to connect angled moulding pieces, Sears kit house
Karen knew just what she was looking for, and took perfect photos for our research group to see.
The New Part Of The House!
Now that I'm finished pointing out the Sears elements of the house, let me just show you some of the interior photos of this very special house. The addition looks a little boxy from the outside, but it is beautifully and thoughtfully put together on the inside, with quality elements. I'm just going to focus on showing you the beautiful kitchen. It has gorgeous floors, and high-quality inset cabinetry that is correct for the period of this house. This is a very tasteful addition.
beautiful floors, granite, cabinets, and backsplash of Sears Sunbeam 176 Churchill Road Turtle Creek Pennsylvania

beautiful floors, granite, cabinets, and backsplash of Sears Sunbeam 176 Churchill Road Turtle Creek Pennsylvania
Gorgeous, gorgeous floors!

beautiful floors, granite, cabinets, and backsplash of Sears Sunbeam 176 Churchill Road Turtle Creek Pennsylvania
Notice the short hallway to the right, with its door on a barn-door slider system? That's a new little powder room added by during the addition. But, do you notice the door? That's actually one of the original Sears doors from the house!

beautiful floors, granite, cabinets, and backsplash of Sears Sunbeam 176 Churchill Road Turtle Creek Pennsylvania
Sears two-panel door, on a sliding track, for entry into the new little powder room.
Sears door re-purposed

And, that's it! Big thanks go out to researcher Karen DeJeet for sharing her photos, and allowing me to blog about this great house. 

This beautiful Sears Sunbeam can be seen in this real estate listing on Realtor.com. The house is in Wilkins Township, an area close to Pittsburgh. As of the writing of this post, on July 1, 2018, it is new to the market. We hope it will go to someone who appreciates its value as a historic part of Americana.

page from 1925 Sears Modern Homes catalog showing Sunbeam model
The Sears Sunbeam, from the 1925 Sears Modern Homes catalog.