How did Charleston, West Virginia end up with a large collection of kit homes from Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward and Aladdin Homes? Were these homes purchased for industry workers? Were they built by a local builder or developer? Or did word about these well-built kit homes just spread by word of mouth? I’d love to know.
In 2008, Ersela Jordan, Billy Joe Peyton and Henry from the Charleston Historical Society and I toured the area and found many kit homes, from several companies. These early 20th Century kit homes were true kits, and were shipped via rail, arriving at the local train depot in 12,000 pieces. Each kit came with a 75-page instruction book that told the hopeful homeowner how all those pieces and parts went together. Today, finding these homes is especially challenging. Unfortunately, when Sears closed their Modern Homes department in 1940, all sales records were destroyed.
To learn more about how to identify kit homes, click here.
To read more about Sears Homes, click here.
The Sears Dover as shown in the 1936 catalog
The Sears Dover - with a slate roof - in Charleston, West Virginia. This is one of the prettiest Sears Homes I've ever seen!
Sears Chateau - from the 1932 Sears Modern Homes catalog. Very unusual house and unlike the more "traditional" Sears catalog homes.
Sears Chateau: In my many travels, this is the only Sears Chateau that I've seen. Note that the front door was moved from the left side (catalog image) to the middle. The home's living room spanned the full width of the house, so this was a simple change to make. Note the detail on the brick work below the windows. This Chateau is next door to the Sears Dover (pic above).
Sears Lexington, from the 1928 Sears Modern Homes catalog.
Sears Lexington in Charleston, WV. A real beauty!
Sears Alhambra - one of their most popular designs.
Sears Alhambra dressed in brick, in downtown Charleston
Sears Vallonia, another one of Sears most popular designs
Sears Vallonia in Charleston. Dormer windows have been replaced, but note original porch railings and columns. One of the unusual features on the Sears Vallonia is the small space between the two windows on the dining room bay.
Aladdin kit home: The Maplewood
A perfect Aladdin Maplewood in Charleston. We found several of these kit homes in one section of town. this Maplewood is in remarkably original condition, and even retains its original batten shutters. Note the detail around the front porch roof.
Gordon Van Tine catalog page. GVT was a large kit home company based in Davenport, Iowa.
Gordon Van Tine "Roberts" in Charleston
To read more about Sears kit homes in West Virginia, click here.
To buy Rose’s book, click here.
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