When I started giving lectures in southwestern Illinois, several people approached me after the talks and said, “You know, there’s a Sears Home on East Center Street in Brighton.”
So many times I drove the length of East Center Street and never saw anything that looked remotely like a Sears House. And so many times I went home and studied Houses by Mail trying desperately to figure out if any of the houses in that field guide matched any houses on East Center Street.
I’ve since learned that 80%, people who think they have a Sears kit home are wrong. Often it turns out to be a kit home from another company, but in 2002, when I was still memorizing the 370 designs offered by Sears, I wasn’t equipped or prepared to figure out if this was something OTHER than a Sears House.
Finally, one day someone gave me a specific address. That helped – a whole lot.
I snapped a photo of the house form several angles and then sat down with my pictures and Houses by Mail and this time, I was not going to give up until I figured this out.
Lo and behold, I found my house. It was a modest little thing, but there it was: Sears Modern Home #194. It had been altered and added onto, but there was no doubt that this was a Sears kit home.
Once I discover and identify a Sears House “in the flesh,” I’ll never miss another one. Seeing these houses in 3-D helps me remember all their architectural nuances. And yet, despite that, I have never seen another #194, or its close cousins, #193 and #196.
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