Sears Homes and Other Kit Houses
Shire Publications, Paperback, 9780747810483, 64pp.
Publication Date: March 20, 2012
At the turn of the last century, the American middle class was expanding rapidly as homesteaders moved west and as trains took travellers across the country, where they established themselves in the depot towns that erupted along train lines. With that growth came the demand for new homes, and from that demand grew a new industry: mail-order homes. Sold by such makers as Sears, Roebuck & Co., Aladdin, and Montgomery Wards, these kit homes were shipped by train, arriving in two boxcars, which then were off-loaded by the purchasers, usually with a team of horse and wagon. In the boxcars was absolutely everything needed to assemble a house, whether it be a vacation cottage, modest bungalow, or two-and-a-half storey home. Literally tens of thousands of these affordable homes were sold in the early 1900s, with most built between 1910-40. In Mail-Order Homes, historical architectural researcher Rebecca Hunter brings to life the history of these charming homes, many of which still stand in communities across the country. From the manufacturers of mail-order homes to the customers who bought and built them, and from the styles and designs to the boom and bust of the industry, Hunter explains the history of these forgotten homes. Filled with illustrations from mail-order home catalogs and contemporary photos, this book tells the story of a bygone era of residential architecture.
About the Author
Rebecca Hunter is an award-winning historical architectural researcher and lecturer whose focus for more than the past decade has been on mail-order homes. She has lectured before a number of organizations, including the American Institute of Architects, the Sears Home Owners Association, and local libraries, historical societies, clubs, and associations. In addition, Hunter is a speaker for the Illinois Humanities Council Speaker's Bureau and has served as an architectural consultant for a number of municipalities in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Hunter has been featured in a variety of media, including the Chicago Daily Herald, The Chicago Tribune, The Christian Science Monitor, Cottage Living Magazine, the Elgin Courier News, and numerous local publications. She has served as a consultant for articles in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Bungalow Magazine. The author lives in Elgin, Illinois.