Sears Catalog Homes
Sears Catalog Homes were kit houses sold primarily through mail order by Sears, Roebuck and Company, an American retailer. Sears reported that more than 70,000 of these homes were sold in North America between 1908 and 1940. More than 370 different home designs in a wide range of architectural styles and sizes were offered over the program's 33-year history. Prices ranged from $146.25 for the Golden Rod Cottage up to $5,140 for the Magnolia - the grandest of all the kit homes.
Sears Modern Homes offered the latest technology available to house buyers in the early part of the twentieth century. Central heating, indoor plumbing, and electricity were all new developments in house design that "Modern Homes" incorporated, although not all of the houses were designed with these conveniences. Primarily shipped via railroad boxcars, these kits included most of the materials needed to build a house. Once delivered, many of these houses were assembled by the new homeowner, relatives, friends and neighbors, in a fashion similar to the traditional barn-raisings of farming families. Other homeowners relied on local carpenters or contractors to assemble the houses. In some cases, Sears provided construction services to assemble the homes. Some builders and companies purchased homes directly from Sears to build as model homes, speculative homes, or homes for customers or employees.
Download the Walking/Driving Tour Sears Catalog Homes Brochure courtesy of the DG VIllage (copies also available upon request at Village Hall.)
A short video from the village's Inside DG series provides a nice introduction to these houses: http://www.downers.us/govt/historic-preservation/sears-home-walking-tour.