Belfast, Bucksport, and Bad Information

Generally speaking, I’m a lukewarm fan of Wikipedia but when it comes to kit houses, I really have grown weary of this online “encyclopedia.” So much of the information is just not accurate, and yet it’s trusted by too many people as a rock-solid resource.

Frustrating!

One ongoing disappointment Wikipedia is the information on the “neighborhood of Sears Homes” in Bucksport, Maine.  According to this page, “The entire town site of Bucksport consists of Sears Homes in the Belfast Model.”

Oh dear.

I actually feel sorry for the poor soul who penned that. And I wish there was a way to correct such egregious information, but I’ve washed my hands of Wikipedia. Everytime I log in to make corrections to the wiki site, it’s edited away within hours by some “expert” who thinks he/she knows better.

So, scroll on down and take a look for yourself at one of these so-called “Belfast Models” in Bucksport.

Oh, and by the way, the build date for the “Belfasts” in that neighborhood is 1930. Ding, ding, ding: The Belfast was not offered for sale until 1934.

That single fact right there is pretty compelling evidence.

Secondly, the houses in Bucksport look nothing like the Belfast model. But hey – why let facts get in the way of a good story?  🙂

How is it that this is such a common mistake? Click here to see the answer.

To read more about how to identify Sears Homes, click here.

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The Belfast was not offered until 1934. The houses in Bucksport were built in 1930.

The Belfast was not offered until 1934. The houses in Bucksport were built in 1930.

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Darling little house

Darling little house with a good floor plan, too.

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Upstairs, it had three

Upstairs, it had three bedrooms and one teeny tiny bath.

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I love

Maybe this is where that nutty rumor started? A bit of The Belfast was patterend after The Perkins House, built in Costine, Maine in 1769 (second parargraph in text above).

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When comparing houses, the details are vital. I cant stress this enough. Sears was not an innovated in anything, most of all, housing design. They looked at what was popular and copied those housing styles.

When comparing houses, the details are vital. I can't stress this enough. Sears was not an innovated in anything, most of all, housing design. They looked at what was popular and copied those housing styles.

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Heres a real life Belfast in Elkins, West Virginia.

Here's a real life Belfast in Elkins, West Virginia. It's been through some major renovations including new windows, aluminum siding and those pediments added to the top of the door and windows, but the proportions are spot on. I've not been inside this house, but I'd say there's a 98% chance that this is a Sears Belfast.

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This house in Bucksport is NOT a Sears Belfast.

This house in Bucksport is NOT a Sears Belfast. The Belfast is a mere 24-feet wide. This house is probably 32-feet wide (or more). The proportions are also way off. And look at the space between the 2nd floor windows and the first floor windows. This house probably has nine or ten foot first floor ceilings. The Belfast has eight foot ceilings. The Sears Belfast and the Bucksport Houses are wildly different from one another.

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To learn more about the many Sears Homes in Elkins, West Virginia, click here.

To contact Rose, please leave a comment below.

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14 Comments

  1. Angela

    Plus the half-moon window on the Belfast is centered between the two front windows. Even if the Bucksport houses had additions, that window would be in a different spot.

  2. Rete

    Same general shape but that is all that is similar to the Sears Belfast.

    This wanna-be has three windows on the top floor instead of two, which right off will tell you it is larger than the Belfast.

    The roofline on the side porch is completely off scale to the Belfast.

    The timeline tells any one who is interested enough that they are not looking at a Sears Kit Home.

    Who knows but perhaps Sears modeled the Belfast from those in Bucksport only downsizing them a bit and making them more inviting to look at and live in. Now wouldn’t that be a hoot.

  3. Rachel Shoemaker

    This was a popular style. Sears and other catalog companies emulated popular house patterns.

    The description even claims the Belfast was reminiscent of another house.

    I would more likely believe that the Bucksport houses came from a pattern from a neighborhood builder or developer.

    People just don’t have an understanding of what a kit is I guess. It’s like going to Lowe’s/Home Depot and buying an 8×10 shed kit with one door and reconfiguring it to a 12×16 shed with 3 windows and a barn door.

    Yeah, farfetched and it doesn’t make sense does it? And it’s completely impossible. You have the materials to assemble the picture on the instructions … nothing more.

  4. Hannah Homes

    I’ll let you know what I find in the town records later this month!

    Just noticed that Sears copywriters misspelled Castine. Is nobody perfect?

  5. Dale Wolicki

    Wikipedia also mentions that Bucksport Maine has the nations highest percentage of residents that believe in UFOs and wear tin foil hats. You mean that isn’t true either?

  6. Catarina Bannier

    How very sad indeed! This kind of stupid misinformation in a place that’s perceived as authoritative by many boycotts all our efforts to educate others on this amazing chapter in history.

    Do you have any idea how this myth (of the Bucksport “Sears” houses) started? Perhaps they have at least *a* kit house (of any kind) in that town?

  7. Shari D.

    It’s a sad, but unfortunately all too common, state of affairs, when people get hold of “the wrong end of the stick” as it were, and absolutely refuse to let go of it no matter how much legitimate, experienced, well-researched, authoritative assistance is offered to them to get them to let it go in favor of facts.

    All the expert knowledge that is obviously applied here can’t seem to make a dent even in the hard heads that hold on to misinformation like a dog worries a rag or a bone until it is just shreds or fragments of worthless material.

    But, as is often quoted amongst us, “Why let the facts get in the way of a good story?”

  8. Akon

    “This house probably has nine or ten foot first floor ceilings. The Belfast has eight foot ceilings.”

    Very interesting detail.

    I wonder how the ceiling height developed over the years of the Modern Home program.

    I know ceiling height varied based on model (the Magnolia and possibly the very intriguing Pennsgrove had higher ceilings) but Belfast’s mere 8 feet in the ’30s and ’40s seems cramped, even if the house is of humble proportions.

    The catalog spreads toward the end of the program seem not to list ceiling height.

  9. Sears Homes

    @Akon
    Hi Akon,

    Many of the earlier Sears Modern Homes descriptions include ceiling height, and the early Sears Homes had ceiling heights of nine or ten feet. But by the late 1920s (1927, as I recall), Sears was promoting “platform construction” and when they went to platform construction, they also went to eight foot ceilings in *most* (not all) of their houses.

  10. Kris

    You’ve must have fixed it again because I believe I have combed through the Wikipedia page and do not see it now.

    Let’s hope it stays that way. Otherwise someone in Bucksport must be determined.

    Wikipedia is good for a quick scan on something but that’s about it. The links at the bottom of the articles are helpful on most pages, though.

    By the way, were you able to get the pictures I had sent?

    I am wondering if your email is not accepting mine.

  11. Andrew Mutch

    @Kris Kris, I removed the Wikipedia entry after no one was able to provide any evidence of Sears houses in Bucksport and I was among those who looked!

    The Sears Catalog Home page on Wikipedia is in much better shape these days after lots of editing.

  12. Jan Clowes

    I’m looking for an “expert” who is willing to give a talk on Sears kit homes – in Embden and possibly in Vassalboro (where a Sears home was just lovingly restored). Does anyone know of a speaker?

  13. Phil Houck

    I inspected (home inspector) a “Belfast” a few days ago. Looks just like the Sears photo but the porch is on the other side. I compared the measurements. You could see where the wall was removed between the main entry and the living room.
    Before seeing this home, I was unaware that Sears was selling homes that late.

    I do have a question if anyone knows??? The add says “not ready cut.” Does this mean that a pile of lumber was delivered and it was up to the builder to size everything from a set of plans?
    I ask because I have seen some of the older Sears homes with every board precut and marked to be put in the proper place.

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