A feature that makes this house so interesting is that it is a Sears Roebuck mail order house. According to the Sears Archives website, the company sold more than 70,000 house kits with nearly 450 models, encompassing a variety of architectural styles and tastes, between 1908 and 1940. An ad in one of the catalogs described the range of designs and kits as from “a modest little home to a mansion” priced from $725 to $4000, depending on size and complexity. Most of the homes were built in the mid-west but were also sold nationwide with Florida getting its share. Certain communities have active groups searching for Sears houses and documenting them. Quite a few of these well-designed homes have survived nationwide and some of the well-kept homes are demanding high prices today.
Our home is one of the smaller ones offered in 1925. It is the Crafton model and was offered in three versions up to 988 s.f., priced from $916 to $1,399. The kits contained pre-constructed components that were stout by design and well made with pre-cut lumber and fitted pieces, making the home buildable by the owner with help from friends or local workers. The pieces were shipped via railroad cars. Sears ceased production of the customizable kits after 1940.
We were lucky to discover the little cottage was in such good original condition after so many years. We didn’t have to build it either. The moving process was done carefully and slowly. The crew put on quite a demonstration of how moving a house across unpaved, soft ground is done. I’ll let the pictures tell that story.
above right: Beams in place and cottage raised with jacks and cribbing support started
above left: Cribbing supports below the beams ready for wheels
above right: Getting positioned under and between the grand oaks
above: Tree limb trimmed for chimney clearance and ready to roll again
above: It was a precise move and the cottage is ready to drop onto its new foundation increasing the tree clearance to about two feet
Once the moving process was complete, new plumbing and electric service was installed and we began a thorough remodeling of the house. That alone was a big challenge and despite many hours of sweat and stress, we enjoyed the help and company of friends and family that earlier Sears home builders had enjoyed.
Renovations and Improvements were made to the home’s 2 bedrooms, 1 bath; open kitchen, dining and living room area; enclosed 3 season front porch; front deck; and a ramp entry at the back.
above left: Ramp to back entrance of house
above right: Fireplace and entertainment center
above right: Laundry room
above right: Living room looking back toward kitchen and bedroom
above right: Bathroom cabinets, sinks, mirrors and tile