Norwin Historical Society house tour features model Sears home
For more than three decades prior to World War II, families looking for a reasonably priced new home featuring modern amenities, solid construction and plenty of style choices turned to a Sears, Roebuck and Co. mail-order catalog.
Among the eight homes featured in next week’s Holiday House Tour sponsored by the Norwin Historical Society is one of the mail-order homes sold between 1908 and 1940.
“The Sears home is a throwback to the days when you could browse through a Sears or Montgomery Wards catalog and then order your house through mail,” said Carl Huszar, the historical society’s president. “Then you would go to the distribution center in Greensburg to pick up all the materials and either hire a contractor to put it together or build it yourself.”
This year’s tour also includes a 1904 Tudor, a 1957 Cape Cod and a 1917 Georgian Colonial home.
“The really unique thing about the Sears home on this year’s tour is that it was a model home, so the rooms had different floors, walls and moldings that people could look at to help them decide what they wanted to order for their homes,” Huszar said.
Sears sold between 70,000 and 75,000 homes through their mail-order Modern Homes program, according to the company’s archives. The company designed 447 different home styles ranging from an “elaborate multistory Ivanhoe … with elegant French doors and art glass windows” to a three-room summer cottage that could be ordered with an optional outhouse.
“Whether a home is old, new or has some historical significance, they are part of the fabric of a community,” Huszar said. “They also provide a glimpse of how people lived in the past, and in the case of modern homes, how they live now.”