Last week we told the story of the authenticated kit homes in Grosse Pointe. We already knew about the existence of a kit home in the community – 849 Notre Dame, and thanks to a superb blog ‘American Kit Homes’ we were alerted to an additional authenticated kit home – 1100 Bishop, along with several “probable” kit homes that exist in the Pointes.
We use the word “probable” because these homes have yet to be authenticated. Given that none of the traditional kit house companies are still in business, and because many of the kit home records were either lost or destroyed it can be extremely difficult to authenticate these homes.
It is these “probable” kit homes we now turn our attention to in parts 2 and 3 of the Kit Home series.
Identifying Kit Homes
The majority of the kit homes found in North America were constructed using large amounts of lumber. ‘Every separate piece of lumber was stamped (using numbers and letters), shipped, and cut to fit its particular place in the house.’ Source: Wikipedia. This eliminated the need for measuring and cutting the wood on site, thus reducing construction time.
The stamped lumber can be used as a potential source of authentication to identify many of the kit homes constructed prior to 1930. ‘It is most easily found in unfinished spaces like a basement or attic, framing members were stamped with a letter and a number. However, prior to 1916 many companies, such as Sears Modern Homes, did not stamp the lumber that was shipped Source: Wikipedia.
Another clue is matching the style of the houses to the product pages in the catalogues issued by the manufacturing companies. It is this method; based on research found on ‘American Kit Homes’, which also includes additional research by Ben Gravel, that allows us to share these potential Sears Modern Homes with you –
Sears Modern Homes
Sears Catalogue Homes (sold under the Sears Modern Homes name) were introduced in 1908 and sold through the company’s mail order catalogue until 1942. The Sears Catalogue, through which the homes could be purchased, offered 370 different models in various architectural styles.
Because Sear’s mail-order catalogs were sent to millions of homes, large numbers of potential homeowners were able to open a catalog, see numerous house designs, and visualize their very own ‘Modern Home’.
It is believed there are over 400 Sears Kit homes in Michigan, with the majority located in the Southeastern area of the state. Source: Kit House Hunters