Holy Moly, There IS a 7th Magnolia (and It’s In Syracuse) – UPDATED

We have confirmation on our seventh Magnolia.  Absolute, incontrovertible proof.

Earlier this month, I contacted the owner, and learned that she has documentation, showing that this house did indeed come from Sears and Roebuck. Between that, and the visual confirmation, we have a WINNER!  🙂

Let’s back up a bit. What is a MagnoliaThe Magnolia was the creme de la creme of the Sears kit homes. It was bigger and grander and fancier than any of the other 370 models that Sears offered. You can learn a whole lot more about the Magnolia by clicking here and here.

In short, The Magnolia was Sears’ finest home. And it was also one of the rarest.

For years, we’d heard that there were six Magnolias built in the country. There was one in Nebraska (which burned down many years ago), and one in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Alabama, Indiana and Ohio. (Click on the links to read more about those particular houses).

And then in February, I got wind of a purported Sears Magnolia in Blacksburg, South Carolina. I put 897 miles on my car that weekend, driving down to Blacksburg to see that house in the flesh. It was close – real close – but it was not a Sears Magnolia. You can read more about that here.

So when I got another note Wednesday morning (May 4, 2011)  that there was a Sears Magnolia in Syracuse, I was skeptical. Actually, I was many miles past skeptical. It was 2:00 a.m., and I couldn’t sleep so I went to Google and “drove” via Google Maps. And then I saw it.

“Holy cow,” I muttered under my breath in the quiet stillness of my pre-dawn bedroom. “I think that’s a Magnolia!”

By 8:30 a.m., an old-house lover and architectural angel (Mariel Proulx) responded to a desperate note I’d posted online, and jumped in her car and drove to Syracuse to photograph a 90-year-old house for a perfect stranger. She snapped a dozen photos for me.

After seeing the photos, I was 99% convinced this was the real deal. And then last night, two more architectural angels (Scott Bailey and Jerry Ashley) offered to drive to Syracuse and get more photos for me!

When I heard from the homeowner, that cinched the deal! How delightful is that!?!

Enjoy the photos. And please leave a comment below. And thanks so much to both Ted Johnson and Heather Lukaszewski for contacting me and letting me know that there was a good reason to take a closer look at that quiet tree-lined street in Syracuse, New York. And thanks to Mariel Proulx for dropping everything and driving to the next city (in the rain) to get me a dozen good quality photos of my Sears Magnolia! 🙂 And thanks to Scott and Jerry for driving out there today to get even more photos!

First, the original catalog image from the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Sears Magnolia

Sears Magnolia as seen in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog. The Sears Magnolia was offered from 1918-1922.


The glorious Magnolia in all its splendor. (Photo is courtesy of Scott Bailey and Jerry Ashley and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

Close up

Close up of the bracketing under the eaves. Note those awesome Corinthian columns! (Photo is courtesy of Scott Bailey and Jerry Ashley and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

View of the side

Isn't it spectacular! What a house! (Photo is courtesy of Scott Bailey and Jerry Ashley and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

Sears Magnolia in Syracuse, New York

Good gracious, that's a good looking house! (Photo is courtesy of Mariel Proulx and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)


Incredibly, this 90-year-old house looks much like it did when built! In all my travels, this is surely the MOST perfect Magnolia of them all! (Photo is courtesy of Scott Bailey and Jerry Ashley and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)


And our Maggy is SO photogenic! Beautiful from every single angle! (Photo is courtesy of Scott Bailey and Jerry Ashley and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

Details on Sears Magnolias front porch

Details on the Sears Magnolia's front porch. Note how the pilasters (flat half-columns flanking the front door) are tapered, and broader at the bottom than they are at the top.

Those tapered columns are also evident here.

Those tapered columns are also evident here. The details around the entry way are very nice. (Photo is courtesy of Mariel Proulx and may not be used or reproduced without written permission. )

Close-up of the house itself (1921 catalog)

Close-up of the house itself (1921 catalog)

And the house in Syracuse

The second floor windows are not a perfect match to the catalog page, but that's a relatively unimportant detail. More than 30% of Sears Homes were customized when built, and moving windows to and fro was one of the more common alterations. (Photo is courtesy of Mariel Proulx and may not be used or reproduced without written permission. )

Long view down the side

Long view down the side. From this angle, you can see that the dormer is also a perfect match to the catalog image, even down to the short pilasters on the dormer's corners! (Photo is courtesy of Mariel Proulx and may not be used or reproduced without written permission. )


Wow. Just WOW! (Photo is courtesy of Scott Bailey and Jerry Ashley and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

Sears Magnolia in Canton, Ohio

A beautiful Sears Magnolia in Canton, Ohio

Sears Magnolia

Sears Magnolia in Benson, NC.

Sears Magnolia in Irwin, PA.  (Photo courtesy of Bob Keeling)

Sears Magnolia in Irwin, PA. (Photo courtesy of Bob Keeling) Done in brick, this Sears Magnolia also is not a spot-on match to the catalog page.

Magnolia in South Carolina

The Magnolia in Alabama is also not a spot-on match to the original catalog image. Most obvious is that attic dormer, which is much simpler than the Magnolia dormer. Yet this house in Piedmont Alabama is a Sears Magnolia.

To learn more about the Sears Magnolia, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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  1. Redcurls

    Wow….I sure wish we could see the inside! In fact, do you have any pics of any of the homes’ interiors?

  2. Kathleen

    I know of one in Northern WV. I lived not too far from this house in the early 1980s. At the time it was in good repair and had loving owners, though I’m not sure they were aware it was a kit home. It was just lovely, and set in a park-like area… so stately!

  3. Lisa

    Hello! I am the owner of the 7th Magnolia in Syracuse, New York. I am so excited to see pictures of my beautiful home for people to share. We love the house and take a great deal of pride to keep her in original shape. I had no idea this was such a passion for so many people. I thought I was the only one that loved the Sears Magnolia.

  4. Sears Homes

    Lisa, I sent an email to my fellow authors and friends (Dale and Rebecca), and I was telling them that of all the Magnolias I’ve seen, yours is in the best (and most original) condition. It really is a beautiful home, and a real treasure!

  5. Sears Homes

    Hi Kathleen. It sure would help to have a street address! 🙂

  6. Mary

    I live in Syracuse New York and I am thrilled that you have found a Magnolia here in my home town. I will have to keep an eye out for it in my travels 🙂

  7. Mary Cirelli-Fawcett

    Hello to you in Syracuse N.Y. I own the Sears Magnolia in Canton, Ohio! It was built in 1923. And I have also replaced the front banisters since the photo of my home was taken by Rose Thornton (as seen in the website). Do you have photos of your interior ? I do and I could send them to you if you are interested.

    I am planing on having my home painted this Summer. I am planning to use a product called “Vinyl Paint” as it is rated to be the best product available,and it has been used on many Historical Buildings. I am most interested in the color of your home as it is very attractive.

    Have you replaced any exterior parts of your home and when was it built?

    Thank You, Mary

  8. Linda O'Koniewski

    Hello All, I am marketing a property in Melrose, MA, and a friend just brought it to my attention that she believed it was a Sears and Roebucks house. Impossible I replied. She reports that she had gone to the estate sale during it’s last ownership and that the owner reported having found the Sears paperwork in the house. He also reported tossing it!

    We have the name of a local architect who we know worked on the project, so I dismissed the notion that this could possibly be a kit house. But when my friend sent me the link I was amazed at the extraordinary resemblance to the Magnolia design. You can see our full catalogue of photographs for the sale on our website, AgentExpertise.com. The interior layout of this home does not match the Sears layout, but the exterior is a dead ringer. However, this home was built earlier than this product was available according to the website which lists 1915 as the initial offering. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me. My office number is 781-979-0100, Ext 2211. The property is listed for $,1590,000.

    Rose’s reply:

    I went to your website and saw the house (“The Wedding Cake House”).

    Please – go back and look at the Magnolia and you’ll see that these houses look nothing alike. The details are important, and the Sears Magnolia and the Melrose “Wedding Cake House” share only a handful of architectural features, like walls, windows and a roof.

  9. Christopher Clark


    I do believe our funeral home is another Sear’s Magnolia home. It is located in Hawkinsville, Georgia and has had many updates and changes to the structure. We are not quite sure that it is a Magnolia but we have owned it since the twenties and we were always told that it was indeed a Sears Catolog home that was shipped in via railroad and built on the property. Please get back to me.

    Christopher Clark

    Rose’s Reply: I sent an email to the address you left in your comment, but it was returned as an invalid address. Your funeral home is most definitely not a Sears Magnolia. It shares some of the Magnolia’s common architectural elements, but I can state with 100% certainty, it is not a Sears Magnolia.

  10. Sal

    Are you interested in a photo of the interior of the 1500 James Street home in about 1958?


  11. Sears Homes

    Yes!!! Please send it to me!!!

  12. Joanna

    I learned about the Sears “Magnolia” kit from the special features on the movie “The Notebook.”

    I’m a big fan of architecture, and this was the first site I looked at in relation to this style. I notice that there is one built in Indiana and I am wondering if it is in Columbus, IN.

    I know there is a house in Columbus that is strikingly similar in facade with some obvious differences (i.e. the portico is round instead of rectangular). Do you know what town the Indiana home is in?

  13. Sears Homes

    The house on the movie “The Notebook” is *not* a Sears House. There is no model of Sears House that is so often misidentified as the Sears Magnolia.

  14. Rachel Shoemaker

    @Sears Homes


    Oh how I wish I had seen your post about the Sears Magnolia in Northern WV! It took me some time to peg the exact physical address but with the two cross streets (rural roads) you gave Rose, I found it easily with Bing aerial view!

  15. Brent

    There is another Sears Magnolia home in Watseka, Illinois in the 700 block of South Fourth Street.

    It’s in need is repair and restoration, but is a well kown landmark in the town.

  16. Sears Homes

    Nope, that is definitely NOT a Sears Magnolia.

    Gosh, I wonder where these rumors get started.

  17. Alan

    I was recently on a facebook thread and someone posted a photo of my neighbor’s home near Drew, Mississippi.

    A friend suggested it was a Magnolia home from Sears. I believe it was built in the early 20s. How can I send you photos of it to verify?