It’s a Magnolia! Well, Not Really…

Thanks wholly to Rachel Shoemaker, we’ve discovered another fancy kit home, and this one is in Angola, NY. In fact, thanks to Rachel, the old legends surrounding this old “mail-order” house will now be righted – we hope!

For years, the people in Western New York thought this house (shown below) was a Sears Magnolia. In fact, newspaper articles were written about the house, hailing it as an “adaptation of the Sears Magnolia.”

If folks had been paying attention to the details, they would have known that the Sears Magnolia was only offered from 1918 to 1922. The house in Angola, was built in 1927.

Oopsie.

In fact, the big fancy house in Angola is a Sterling Vernon. Sterling (like Sears), sold kit homes through a mail-order catalog. Sears was the largest and most well-known of the mail-order kit home companies, but Sterling was also a pretty significant player. According to Architectural Historian Dale Wolicki, Sterling sold about 50,000 kit homes in the early 1900s.

Thanks to Rachel for finding this house and then (somehow) finding photos of the house – both old and new – which are shown below.

Thanks, Rachel!  🙂

To learn more about the Sears Magnolia, click here.

Sears Magnolia? I dont think so. Looks a lot like a Sterling Vernon to me.

Sears Magnolia? I don't think so. Looks a lot like a Sterling Vernon to me. Photo credit is not known. If anyone reading this blog can identify the photographer, please contact me as soon as possible. This photo is apparently from 1982 (according to info found on the back).

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Original article, date unknown, identifying the house in Angola as a Sears Magnolia. This snippet was affixed to the back of a photograph of the house.

Original article, date unknown, identifying the house in Angola as a Sears Magnolia. This snippet was affixed to the back of a photograph of the house. (Note date at top of page.)

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The Sterling Vernon was featured on the cover of their 1928 catalog.

The Sterling Vernon was featured on the cover of their 1928 catalog.

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The Sterling Vernon, as seen on the cover of the 1928 catalog. Youll notice, the house in Angola looks a lot like THIS house! Thats because it came from a kit home company in Bay City, MI known as Sterling Homes.

You'll notice, the house in Angola looks a lot like THIS house! That's because it came from a kit home company in Bay City, MI known as Sterling Homes.

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Catalog page

Catalog page featuring the Sterling Vernon.

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text here Tiger Schmittendorf

Now in use as a Funeral Home, this massive old manse in Angola, NY was alleged to be a Sears Magnolia for many years. It was built in 1927, and it's not a Sears House, but a house sold by Sterling, based in Bay City, Michigan. This "Sterling Vernon" is 100% perfect - right down to the Photo is copyright 2012 Tiger Schmittendorf and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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house house

Another view of the Sterling Vernon in Angola, NY. Photo is copyright 2012 Tiger Schmittendorf and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Schmittendorf

Photo is copyright 2012 Tiger Schmittendorf and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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house

Look at those porches! How pretty!! Photo is copyright 2012 Tiger Schmittendorf and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Schmitten

Photo is copyright 2012 Tiger Schmittendorf and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Now this is a Maggy!

The Sears Magnolia was offered from 1918 - 1922.

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Maggy in Canton

Now THIS is a Sears Magnolia! This is one of seven known Magnolias in the country. This house is in Canton, Ohio. You'll note that this house looks a LOT like the catalog page above. Photo is copyright 2012 Janet Hess LaMonica and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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To see a Sterling Vernon found in Anderson, SC click here.

To read my favorite “Magnolia” story, click here.

To learn more about how to identify kit homes, click here.

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8 Comments

  1. Rachel Shoemaker

    What is it with the misidentification of Magnolias? There is, was, another Sterling Vernon identified as a Sears Magnolia at 233 S Batvia in Batvia Illinois by their historical society!

    The Sears Magnolia and the Sterling Vernon look NOTHING alike, no similarities at all!

  2. Sears Homes

    Rachel,

    I think what happens is that there’s a story that the house was “the biggest kit home sold by Sears” and it all goes downhill after that.

    I agree, the Sterling Vernon looks NOTHING LIKE a Sears Magnolia.

    If you’ll send me those photos, I’ll post them here so we can see how absurd this is. The historical society should know better.

  3. Dale Wolicki

    Rose and Rebecca Hunter and myself found the Sterling Vernon in Batavia Illinois some years ago. We were passing through Batavia on the way west when I saw the Vernon and asked Rebecca to go around the block so I could get a better look.

    Rebecca noted the locals called the residence the “Sears House” and were none too happy when she told them it wasn’t a Sears House some years earlier.

    The original Sterling used for the catalog illustration Vernon still stands in Bay City Michigan looking much as it did when it was built in 1914.

  4. Barnaby Fry

    When I was growing up, my neighbors had a house I was told was a Sears home – more specifically a Sears “Funeral Parlor.”

    I was alway curious but never had any specific confirmation. Now I live thousands of miles away, and the house has been sold, so I’m not getting in to check for lumber stamps!

    Searching through your blog, I now suspect that this home is actually a Sterling “Vernon,” and perhaps the story of it’s design being intended as a funeral home was a confused retelling of Sterling Vernon in Angola, NY being used as one?

    The house in question is located at 2030 Hill Street, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

    Here is a link to Google Maps Street view of the property: https://goo.gl/pbwFFL. It looks a lot like the cover of the 1928 catalog.

    The porch on the left is screened, with the matching trellis work, and the sunroom on the right is enclosed, both as originally designed in the Vernon.

  5. Andrew Mutch

    @Barnaby Fry You are correct, it’s a Sterling Vernon. My sister-in-law’s great-grandfather was Dr. Max M. Peete, who was the original owner of the Vernon.

  6. Dale Wolicki

    I too have seen the Sterling Vernon on Hill Street in Ann Arbor.

    Sadly all the records for Sterling Homes were gone, although the Bay County Historical Society has some original linen prints and the bankruptcy records are in my basement.

    The number of Sterling Vernon’s identified easily outnumbers the number of Sears Magnolia’s identified!

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