SAVE the Westly in Lewisburg, WV!

When Back to the Future” first came out (1985), I was a lass of 26, and yet my sympathies readily fell to the Clock Tower Lady (Elsa Raven) and the Hill Valley Preservation Society.

Heck yeah, they needed to save that Clock Tower in Hill Valley! It was an integral part of the community and its history and culture.

And now, a historic preservation group in my much-loved state of West Virginia is trying to save a Sears kit home that I identified during a visit to their town in Fall of 2010, and heck yeah, they need to save that Westly.

The endangered house is in Lewisburg, WV.

The Sears Westly was first offered in the very rare 1909 Sears Modern Homes catalog, and by 1914, this model had undergone a significant “face lift” and the new Westly looked quite a bit different from the old Westly.

According to the folks at PAWV, the Westly in Lewisburg was built about 1924 or 1925. Perhaps at some date in the not-too-distant future, I’ll have the opportunity to see the inside of this fine old house and perhaps learn a bit more about this piece of architectural history.

Unfortunately, thus far, I’ve not had good success in saving kit homes in college towns. Last year, I blogged continually about another rare kit home (in Bowling Green, OH), threatened with extinction. Seems like all my blogging accomplished was to get that house torn down AHEAD of schedule. However, that house was on the college campus, and colleges are notorious bungalow-eaters.

Hopefully, the Westly in Lewisburg will be spared that fate. As I understand it, this house is not on a college campus, but is currently used as a West Virginia University Extension Office. It is not threatened with immediate demolition, but is dying a slow, ugly death due to neglect.

Please visit this website to learn more about what you can do to save the house in Lewisburg.

Click here to learn more about the kit homes in Lewisburg.

And a PS to the folks at Preservation Alliance of West Virginia: If it would help your cause, I’d gladly come out and give a talk on your kit home(s) gratis. Please contact me by leaving a comment below.

*   *   *

The Sears Westly was first offered in the very rare 1909 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

The Sears Westly was first offered in the very rare 1909 Sears Modern Homes catalog. It was then known merely as Modern Home #144. Note the floorplan, which is a little different from the Westly that was offered in 1915 and beyond.

*

The floorplan shows a vestibule, which is certainly an eye-catching feature.

The first-floor floorplan shows a vestibule, which is certainly an eye-catching feature.

*

And

And the second floor is a bit different from the later model Westly, too.

*

Close-up of the house.

Close-up of the house.

*

And heres the Westly in Lewisburg!

And here's the Westly in Lewisburg! See that Vestibule!

*

Close-up on the details of the old Westly.

Close-up on the details of the old Westly.

*

Pretty

The details on the Westly in Lewisburg are a little different from the image above. That could be for several reasons. For instance, the front porch has columns that were offered on a later-model Westly. This house seems to have elements of both the old and newer Westly. According to PAWV, this house was built in the mid-1920s.

*

Heres a Westly as seen in the 1919 catalog.

Here's a Westly as seen in the 1919 catalog.

*

And a real life example in Portsmouth, VA.

And a real life example in Portsmouth, VA. Notice how the porch columns look more like the Westly in Lewisburg. This house also has the windows as seen in the 1909 catalog.

*

Another view of the house in Lewisburg.

Another view of the house in Lewisburg.

*

Please visit this website to learn more about what you can do to save the house in Lewisburg.

Click here to learn more about the kit homes in Lewisburg.

*   *   *

5 Comments

  1. Betty Simmons

    Even though this is a Kit House, I would have never known. This is a high quality built home and still appears be in good condition.

    There should be no reason why this could not be preserved, it’s a little hard to grasp. I really do not get, these decisions being made. It would be an absolute shame if it were destroyed. Is there a petition of some sort or form that could be taken around the area to be signed by the locals.

    People need to do a lot more in helping preserve the places that could stand the test of time and have, if given the opportunity to do something about it. Leaving on a positive note that only something good, will come out this and the best of luck!

  2. Catarina Bannier

    Betty, one of the amazing things about the (authentic) kit houses that many people are not aware of is exactly that: they’re of superior quality, when compared to their contemporaries of similar scale.

    We can often identify mail-order homes from the 19-teens and 20s by their fine and dense, high-grade lumber. Even the construction methods, while ingeniously simplified, created more sturdy and long-lasting structures than most homes from that time that were hand-cut and built by carpenters on-site.

  3. Bob Brown

    @Betty Simmons
    Good Morning Betty.

    I noticed the words, “Even though this is a kit house.”

    I’ve been restoring historical landmarks since 1975 and have found the kit homes of Sears to be of the highest quality. The pre-cut homes had the best lumber and the construction was on center. The only problems were occasional glitches with designs, like the Mitchell, which sometimes leaked behind the chimney.

    Off to work, have a great day.
    Bob Brown

  4. B Maura Townsend

    I have to agree with Bob and Catarina. My great grandfather was a professional carpenter and housebuilder (and a stickler for quality in construction).

    He and his crew were contracted to build a number of kit homes in southern IL during the height of their popularity, and the only objection he had to kit homes was that they deprived his sawing crew of some work hours.

    This, from a man who visited a worksite while overseeing a building of a subdivision in the postwar years, and knocked down a poorly built frame with one hammer blow to one corner, just because it wasn’t built right and he’d caught the crew skimping on materials.

  5. Betty Simmons

    I do remember Kit Homes at some point in the past that Sears had built in Ohio.

    I believe someone had brought this to my husbands and my attention at some point, while we’d worked in construction remodeling, but nothing bad was said about them. Thanks for more information regarding these homes and filling me in on a bit of history.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *