One of the most interesting stories I ever heard came from a man who grew up next door to a Sears Corona in Gillespie, Illinois (about 70 miles northeast of St. Louis).
It was 2003, and I’d just finished a talk on Sears Homes in Bloomington, Illinois. A nice fellow approached the podium and told me that he’d grown up in Gillespie, Illinois, next door to the Sears Corona. He now lived in Chillicothe, Illinois (about 60 miles away), and he thought I should come out to Chillicothe and see his house, for it was really special.
“Oh brother,” I thought to myself. “Another nut job.”
But he continued.
All of his life, he’d appreciated the fine craftsmanship and beauty of the Sears Corona in his hometown, and he vowed that when he grew up, he’d live in a house just as beautiful and well-built.
He’d recently finished his own home in Chillicothe, and his beautiful new home had been built as a modern-day replica of the old Sears Corona.
Now it was getting interesting.
The next morning, I delayed my trip home to Godfrey, Illinois and detoured to Chillicothe. It was well worth the trip, and it was a beautiful home.
In my many travels, I’ve only seen three Coronas, and two of them were within 20 minutes of each other. The third was the reproduction Corona in Chillicothe.
By the way, “Corona” is Latin for the word “crown.”
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Sears Corona as seen in the 1919 catalog
The reproduction Corona in Chillicothe. It's a beautiful house, and he did a first-class job! This photo was taken in 2003, shortly after the house was completed. I'd love to get an updated photo.
In this catalog picture (1921), you can see that the gabled dormer is centered on the roof. This is a pretty distinctive feature of the Corona.
The original Corona in Gillespie that provided the inspiration for the house in Chillicothe. This Corona in Gillespie, IL is one of the most perfect examples of a Sears house that I've ever seen. The fact that the original pergola is intact is remarkable.
This Corona is a little different with that super-sized dormer. It's in Benld (pronounced Benn-eld), Illinois. The town was named for Ben L. Dorsey (some famous guy in Illinois). There was already a town named "Dorsey," so the townsfolk decided on "Benld," which is an abbreviation of Ben L. Dorsey. One of the unique features of the Corona is the cross-gabled porch roof. That always catches my eye. Perhaps the most unique feature is that dormer, centered squarely on the roof.
Another angle of the Corona in Benld.
And you can see how much the Benld house looks like the original catalog image.
The Corona is a spacious house, measuring 49.6 by 26'.
And there's more space upstairs.
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