So Many Kit Homes in Staunton, Virginia!

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Rose is returning to Staunton May 2nd to give a talk on Sears Homes!

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Click here to learn more!

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In 2005, I stopped for a short visit in Staunton, Virginia and during that short visit, I spotted a beautiful Sears House overlooking Gypsy Hill Park. To my chagrin, I did not have my camera with me.

That was eight years ago. I’ve waited all these many years to get back to Staunton and take a photo of that wonderful old Sears House overlooking the park.

Thursday morning, I finally got my chance!

And I must say, it was worth the wait.

In addition to the house overlooking the park, I also drove around town a bit to see what else I could find. And I found quite a few interesting kit homes. Neither my husband nor myself know anything about Staunton, so we stumbled around a bit, trying to find the right neighborhoods (1920s/1930s housing within 1-2 miles of railroad tracks).

I’d love to return to Staunton when I can find a Staunton native who’d be willing to help a flatlander tourist do a proper architectural survey of all the best early 20th Century neighborhoods.

Because – I am confident that this historic mountain town has many more kit homes. Below I’ve featured just a few that we found driving through two small neighborhoods!

If you’re new to this site, you may be wondering, what is  Sears kit home? Well…

In the early 1900s, you could buy an entire house out of the Sears Roebuck catalog. These were not prefab houses, but real “kits” (with about 12,000 pieces of building materials!). The lumber came pre-cut and numbered to help facilitate construction. Those numbers, together  with a 75-page instruction book, and blueprints designed for a novice, enabled a  “man of average abilities” to build their own home.

In fact, Sears promised that you could have a house assembled and ready for occupancy in 90 days!  When Sears closed their “Modern Homes” department in 1940, all sales records were destroyed, so the only way to find these homes in one by one. In fact, based on my 12 years of experience, more than 90% of the people living in these homes didn’t realize what they had until I knocked on their door and told them.

This is a piece of American history that is at great risk of being lost, which is why I travel all over the country, take photos and maintain this blog.

And on a side note, I had a terrible time getting good photos. Almost without exception, these houses were facing west, so my early morning photos were snapped looking right into the rising sun, creating a really poor photo. Alas!

To learn more about the kit homes in Staunton, please scroll on down!

To contact Rose, please leave a comment below.

1919 Maytown

The Sears Maytown as seen in the 1919 catalog.

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house house house

This is the Sears House that overlooks Gypsy Hill Park. It's a beautiful Maytown. Do the owners know that they have a Sears Home? More than 90% of the Sears Homeowners I've encountered do NOT realize they're living in a kit home from Sears.

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Sears Sears 1921

The Sears Westly, from the 1921 Modern Homes catalog.

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Westly Staunton

This Westly in Staunton has seen a few changes, but it's still easily identifiable as a Westly.

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house house

The Sears Lynnhaven was a popular house for Sears (1938).

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Staunton

And the Lynnhaven is all over Staunton. I found FIVE Lynnhavens in Staunton which was quite a surprise. This Lynnhaven is on N. Augusta Street, and a few hundred feet away - just across the street - is another Lynnhaven that's being used a business. The front door has been closed up, which doesn't look too attractive.

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house

The house above was at the corner of Belmont and Augusta. The Lynnhaven (a very popular house for Sears in general and Staunton in particular) was also known as "The Belmont."

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house

This Lynnhaven has a slightly altered dormer (more wide than most). Is it still a Lynnhaven? I'm just not sure on this one. It's hard to be 100% certain without seeing the home's interior. The Lynnhaven has a handful of unique features, and this house possesses most of those "unique features."

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house

Another Lynnhaven? Did one builder buy a kit Lynnhaven from Sears in 1930 and build several of these houses from one set of blueprints? Very possible, as this was often done with Sears Homes.

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house house

And yet another Lynnhaven in Staunton. Are these all the real deal? Again, no way to know without an interior inspection, but my first impression is YES.

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house

Is this a real Lynnhaven? The front gable looks a little wider than the other houses.

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Sears Vallonia

Sears Vallonia as seen in the 1928 catalog.

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house

This house has been through a lot of remodeling but despite that, my impression is that this is a Sears Vallonia. On the side of the house is a bay window with two windows, spaced a couple feet apart. That's another unique feature, seen in the Sears Vallonia. The dormer is too tall, but this is a very common modification to the Sears Vallonia. Based on my 12 years experience, I'd say it *is* a Vallonia. And I'm usually right. 😉

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house house 1927

In addition to Sears, there were other companies selling kit homes, such as Gordon Van Tine and Montgomery Ward. Montgomery Ward did not have a "Modern Homes Department" (as Sears did). Montgomery Ward turned all orders over to Gordon Van Tine for fulfillment. So a Wardway House is a Gordon Van Tine house. The Mount Vernon (shown above) was a popular house for Wards (1927).

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Staunton, VA

And here's a perfect example of the Mount Vernon in Staunton, Virginia.

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Wardway 1930

The Wardway Kenwood was another popular Wardway Home (1930).

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house house

And this appears to be a Kenwood!

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In addition to Sears, there was also a kit home company known as Lewis Manufacturing. Shown above is one of their most popular homes, The Montawk.

In addition to Sears, there was also a kit home company known as Lewis Manufacturing. Shown above is one of their most popular homes, The Montawk (1920 catalog).

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Lewis Montawk? Maybe.

Is this a Lewis Montawk? Probably. Maybe!

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Sears

As mentioned above, Montgomery Ward didn't sell their own homes. Orders placed with Montgomery Ward were fulfilled by Gordon Van Tine. Gordon Van Tine also created and published the Wardway Homes catalog. In 1931, Wardway Homes closed, but GVT continued on until the early 1940s. (Thanks to Rachel Shoemaker for providing this scan!)

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Montgomery Ward didnt sell their own homes. Orders placed with Montgomery Ward were fulfilled by Gordon Van Tine.

"The Roberts" (shown here and on the cover of the 1916 catalog) was one of their most popular models. It was spacious, grand and priced at under $1,300.

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Its another really poor photo, but this shows a beautiful Roberts on Augusta Avenue in Staunton, VA.

It's another really poor photo, but this shows a beautiful "Roberts" on Augusta Avenue in Staunton, VA. The house is in stunningly beautiful (and original) condition.

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Best for last.

I saved the best for last. Aladdin was a bigger kit home company that Sears, but not as well known. Aladdin is more prevalent in Virginia, because there was a large mill in North Carolina. Shown above is the Aladdin Plymouth - a "perfect home."

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Staunton

And here's a perfect example of the perfect home - the Plymouth! (In Staunton, Virginia)

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And this is not a kit home but a plan-book house. These were also quite common in the 1920s and 1930s. This model was The Mayfield.

And this is not a "kit home" but a plan-book house. These were quite common in the 1920s and 1930s. This model was "The Mayfield," (offered in a plan book titled, "Harris, McHenry and Baker").

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This Mayfield is in wonderful condition.

This "Mayfield" is in wonderful condition.

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Whilst driving through Staunton (via Google Maps), I found another kit home, The Cordova (Wardway/GVT).

Whilst "driving" through Staunton (via Google Maps), I found another kit home, The Cordova (Wardway/GVT) on Williams Street. It's had some rough remodeling, but its original features are still present. What a nice match!

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And

And on Straith Street, I saw a "Genessee" found in the "Harris, McHenry and Baker Planbook" (1920s). Look down the right side, and you'll see what a nice match it is!

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Thanks to Sarah (commenter), for telling me about this kit house on Route 11 in Weyers Cave, Virginia.

Thanks to Sarah Puckett (who left a comment last night below), for telling me about this kit house on Route 11 in Weyer's Cave, Virginia. It's a perfect Sears "Dover" and a very nice find! Please keep those cards and letters coming!! 🙂 BTW, I'd love to have a better photo of this "Dover"! Anyone willing to get me a picture?

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Today, February 25, I found yet another perfect little Sears House (The Berwyn) on Noon Avenue!

Today (2/25), I found yet another perfect little Sears House ("The Berwyn"). It's on Noon Avenue! The image above is from the 1929 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

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And look what fellow researcher Rachel Shoemaker found in the Aladdin records! Its an Aladdin Stanhope

And look what fellow researcher Rachel Shoemaker found in the Aladdin records! It's an Aladdin Stanhope, sold to William Alfred Linkenhoker of Staunton, VA. Does this mean there's a Stanhope in Staunton? Probably so. Now the question is, how do we find Mr. Linkenhoker's home in the mid-1920s? Rachel checked out the 1920 and 1930 census. In 1920, William Alfred Linkenhoker was a renter and by 1930, he was living in Summers, WV. (Photo is copyright 2013 Rachel Shoemaker and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Wherefor art thou, little Stanhope in Staunton?

Wherefore art thou, little Stanhope in Staunton?

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Heres a

Here's a perfect Aladdin Stanhope in Scotland Neck, NC (near Roanoke Rapids). Where is the Stanhope in Staunton? Please leave a comment below!

I’d love to return to Staunton soon and do a proper survey and maybe even give a talk on this topic. Please leave a comment below if you’d like to contact me and/or learn more about these kit homes.

To learn more about Rose and her obsession with kit homes, click here.

To read about the kit homes in nearby Harrisonburg, VA, click here.

To see an incredible video about the importance of the Sears catalog in early America, click here (PBS Experience, 1991).

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34 Comments

  1. Dale Wolicki

    Ding Ding Ding! That is definitely an Aladdin Plymouth!

  2. G. Schwab

    You should contact the Historic Staunton Foundation. I grew up there, in the area where you found most of the kit homes. Here’s their web site:

    http://www.historicstaunton.org/

  3. G. Schwab

    An update: Only a few hours after commenting on your interesting blog on Sears homes in Staunton, your blog has been picked up on the Historic Staunton Foundation’s Facebook page.

    This sounds like an excellent opportunity for some cooperative research!

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Historic-Staunton-Foundation/108889572483783

  4. Deona

    I used to own a home on Selma Blvd. where you took several of these photographs.

    A backward “S’ was on my house … does this mean it was a Sears home and “S” was taken off and put back on wrong? Where can I send you a photo of the home? Thank you!

  5. Sears Homes

    @Deona

    This annoyingly persistent rumor (about the “S” on the chimney marking it as a Sears House) has been floating around on the internet for many years now.

    Every now and then, the occasional reporter asks me if this is true.

    It is not true!

    That wrought iron “S” you see on the chimney of the occasional Tudor Revival is a stylistic element that has no relation to the Sears Modern Homes department.

    None!

  6. Frank Baylor

    Based on the pictures, I grew up in a “Westly” at 1104 N. Augusta St. in Staunton.

    If memory serves me correctly, it was built in 1925, and the original owners surname was Klotz.

    My parents bought it from them in the early 60’s. Perhaps you can see this address in Google? Best regards, Frank

  7. Faye

    There are some Sears Kit homes in Waynesboro also.

  8. Sears Homes

    Hi Frank,

    I did look up the house at 1104 North Augusta, and it’s a beautiful house, but it doesn’t appear to be a kit home. However, I’m grateful for the tidbit!

    Rose

  9. SuAnn Brown

    Enjoyed this article very much. There is also a kit house in Verona north of Staunton, on US 11 Lee Jackson Highway.

    I met the couple that lived there is the early 90s . They told me it was a Sears kit house , and they had added an addition to the back I remember.

    I believe they had actually built the house from the kit. It was a wonderful , well built home. I am sure they are no longer living there as they were elderly at the time. The house is still there and I can find out the address for you if you would like.

    Thanks for the article.

    SuAnn

  10. Sears Homes

    When I get back to Staunton, it’s my intention to check out all the small towns around in that area, including Grottoe (sp?) and Verona and Dayton and any others!

  11. Sears Homes

    I’d love to know the address! And I’d love to have *any* suggestions for other small towns where Sears Homes are located, in and around Staunton. It really is like a treasure hunt seeking (and finding) these old kit homes.

    These stories have almost been lost to time.

  12. Lynn Morell

    I was told by the Historic Staunton Foundation that I have one.

    Are grant funds available to repair them? The house badly needs to be refurbished.

  13. Cary

    You might also want to check out Waynesboro, just 12 miles away from Staunton.

    It’s at the base of Afton Mountain and when I lived there (admittedly more than 2 decades ago) there were many houses that fit these descriptions.

    What a wonderful way to spend some time, btw.

  14. Marney Gibbs

    I have a friend and guide who is an architect and could be a great help to you.

    Contact me by email if you want to follow up with him.

    Historic Staunton Foundation is a great resource also.

  15. marlene

    I’m not in Virginia, but have always been told the house my in-laws lived in in northeast Missouri was a Sears house, the Vallonia.

  16. frances wilkerson

    There is a Sears house on Route 11 in Verona, VA, north of Staunton.

    And have you heard about the Sears barns at the Montpelier home of James Madison in Orange, Virginia?

  17. Sears Homes

    @frances wilkerson
    Hey Frances,

    You’re the second person who’s mentioned a Sears House on Route 11. Could you get me a specific address? Using Google maps, I went up and down Route 11 and saw very few houses and NO Sears Homes!

    Rose

  18. Sears Homes

    @Sarah Puckett
    Sarah! What a find! And you’re right – it is a kit home, but it’s the Sears Dover! Thanks so much for leaving a comment!!! I’ve updated the blog now to include the Dover.

    As to the Vallonia on Route 11, I’m sorry to say that I can’t identify that house (that you linked to) as a kit home. Might there be another house they’re talking about?

  19. Katie McCaskey

    Ms. Thornton, thanks for the detailed round-up of Sears houses in Staunton!

    It made me think of a house by a gas station at 1905 West Beverley, near Gray Avenue. I think it is a Kenwood. It’s a nice, tidy house.

    I look forward to attending your lecture when you’re in the area again.

  20. Sears Homes

    @Katie McCaskey
    Hi Katie,

    I looked at that little neo-tudor (with the truncated chimney) and sadly, it is not a kit home.

    However, it sure is a fine little house, and it gets to sit there all day, admiring the Maytown on the hill, just across the street! 🙂

  21. Katie McCaskey

    @Sears Homes

    Thanks for taking a look! I guess true identification takes a bit more time to understand.

    I’ll keep my eyes open next time I’m driving through that part of town.

  22. carol whitaker

    My parents home was built in 1906. It was a Sears kit home, brought by rail to Rocky Mount, Virginia. It is a 119c.

    When I was younger my dad showed me a plaque in the basement that verified that it was indeed a Sears home. For some reason I cannot find the plaque. The area that it is in is Historical and we have tried to keep it true to build.

    You can see it at http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/80-Orchard-Ave. For some reason the real estate agent doesn’t want to push the fact that it is a Sears home. Guessing she doesn’t appreciate the quality that went into building it.

  23. Rachel Shoemaker

    The Mayfield was a plan from Standard Home Plans Co Washington DC.

    Standard Home Plans Company catalogs were published for lumber companies and lumber dealers with personalization.

    I own several of the actual catalogs, two of which are 1926 which is what year this Dover reprint is printed. Harris, McHenry and Baker Co was actually a lumber dealer in Elmira, NY in the early 1900s and their company name was printed on Standard Homes Plan Company catalog for distribution to contractors and customers.

    The founder Justice B Harris lived at 454 West Church Street, Elmira NY in what is now known as Near Westside Neighborhood.

  24. Sears Homes

    @carol whitaker
    Hi Carol,

    That link is not working. Can you send me a photo of the house?

    Rose

  25. ShariD

    If you type the home address – 80 Orchard Ave, Rocky Mount, Va – into the search box at the top left of the screen, the house comes up, complete with photos.

  26. Rachel Shoemaker

    You would think Dover would do their homework. :-O

    I buy catalogs and often multiple copies from consecutive years or even the same year to read the content to see what is different. The content tells a lot about the company. The plans don’t change much if ever.

    I have been chastised for it too. But, my interest in these houses goes beyond identifying a model or a company.

  27. Linda Ramsey

    Rose,

    I went to the Staunton Library to try and track down W. A. Linkenhoker (the buyer of the Staunton Stanhope) in the city directories. Unfortunately, they only had back to 1931. I could find no Linkenhokers of any kind in the 30’s.

    Also, I have a digital photo of what I believe is the Sears Home on Route 11 in Verona people have mentioned. From what I can see, it is a Crescent. Research shows the house was built in 1935. I have always thought it was a beautiful house and would love to be able to identify it as a Sears Home.

    Not sure how to send it to you.

  28. Leslie

    @Linda Ramsey
    Maybe the deed room would help us find that sneaky Stanhope. I’ve driven all over town looking for it.

  29. Naomi Fetty

    I came across this website in trying to track down the history of my home and noticed that you had tagged my house as a possible Sears home known as The Wilmont.

    I was wondering if you could help me figure it out or point me in the right direction!

  30. Sonja Musser

    I wonder if Katie McCaskey didn’t mean 1907 W. Beverley St, rather than 1905. I’ve just bought 507 College Cir. in Staunton and am wondering if it’s a kit home and if so which one.