A few weeks after The Houses That Sears Built was published, the New York Times decided to do a feature story on Sears Homes and contacted me for an interview. Soon after that, a New York production company rang. They were putting together a brand new show for PBS and they wanted one of the first episodes to feature Sears Homes and would I be willing to appear? The show, they told me, would be called, History Detectives.
The show was filmed in Akron, Ohio and we drove to Canton, Ohio to visit the Sears Magnolia there. The filming went on for six days (for a 15-minute segment) during which time I commuted – by tiny airplane – back and forth to Alton, Illinois. Being part of that production was a fun, life-changing experience. The day we drove up to the Sears Magnolia in Canton was one of the happiest days of my life. What fun that was to see this magnificient house – in the flesh – after dreaming about it for so long. And it was just as wonderful as I’d dreamed.
Some days, I stood around and watched and there wasn’t much for me to do. During one such moment, I took a nap in the parlor of the Sears Magnolia. I remember waking up, looking around and wondering if I had died and gone to heaven.
In 2006, I moved back “home” to Norfolk and in Spring 2010, a woman friend wrote and said that she’d found the 5th known Magnolia in the country. Having heard this five times a week for the last seven years, I was highly doubtful.
Nonetheless, when I opened the link she’d sent, I saw a Sears Magnolia smiling back at me! A real Magnolia – the Creme de la creme of Sears Homes!
As soon as possible, I drove down to Benson, North Carolina to see this sweet thing.
The happy owners of the Magnolia allowed me to tour the inside of the house, where I found proof that it was indeed a Sears Magnolia (as if there were any doubt). Click on this link to read more about that.
There are also Sears Magnolias in Indiana (South Bend), Pennsylvania and South Carolina. There was one in Nebraska that burned down many years ago. That’s five Magnolias. There’s still one missing! Write me if you know where it is.
Pictured below is the Sears Magnolia in Benson, North Carolina, with corresponding catalog image (from 1922 Sears Modern Homes catalog). This Magnolia is currently in use as a family-owned Funeral Home.