Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Mail Order Homes

From Open Culture:
Sears houses, on the other hand, are celebrated and sought out as models of the early 20th century American home, and for good reason. Between 1908 and 1939, Sears sold 70-75,000 houses in 447 different styles all over the country. “From Craftsman to Cape Cods, they offered a custom home at budgets and sizes that could accommodate any size family,” writes Popular Mechanics.
These Sears homes weren't cheap low-end houses. Many of them were built using the finest quality building materials available during that time. It's not uncommon to find Sears homes today with oak floors, cypress siding, and cedar shingles.
What’s even more extraordinary is that 50% of these were built by the homeowners themselves, usually, as in a barn-raising, with the generous help of family, friends, and neighbors. The other half sold were built professionally. “Often,” writes Messy Nessy, “local builders and carpentry companies purchased homes from Sears to build as model homes and market their services to potential customers.”

These houses could have a significant effect on the character of a neighborhood. Not only could potential buyers see firsthand, and participate in, the construction. They could order the same or a similar model, customize it, and even—as the company tells us in its own short history of the “Sears Modern Home”—design their own homes and “submit the blueprints to Sears, which would then ship off the appropriate precut and fitted materials.” (Read more.)

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