The Thrift Book of a Nation

Earlier this week, my friend Rachel posted a picture of this 1922 Sears catalog in our Facebook group “Sears Homes.”

I found it utterly enchanting.

The cover shows a little girl dashing out to the mailbox to retrieve the goodies that just arrived from Sears & Roebuck. In the background, there’s a Sears Silo, a Sears Barn, and a Sears kit home, The Silverdale.

It’s an entire farm built by Sears!

Years ago, I interviewed Joseph Origer who’d purchased a Sears Hammond (kit house) out of the 1940 Sears Modern Homes catalog.  He was inspired to buy a Sears House by his father.

Mr. Origer explained,

My dad built a Sears kit silo in 1911 and he was so impressed with the quality of the lumber (all cypress) that he decided to buy and build Sears Modern Home #101.

I remember my father telling me that his kit home was all number one lumber and material. All the building materials cost $879 and the total expense, including all carpenter labor, was less than $1500. I still have the itemized list of materials for that house!

When I decided to marry and stay on the farm, my parents suggested we go to Chicago and pick out another Sears home. Dad said, “you know the material will be good.”

These 60-plus years The Hammond has been a wonderful house. I am glad I built it. This house has been well maintained inside and out, and it is still just as good as new.

Mr. Origer’s experience was probably fairly typical. Potential customers might have been hesitant to purchase an entire kit house, but they were ready and willing to buy chicken coops, silos, corn cribs, milk sheds, tool houses and more.

How many American farms were filled with Sears outbuildings and kit homes?

I wish I knew!

Many thanks to Rachel Shoemaker for sharing these wonderful images!

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Cover of the 1922 Sears General Merchandise catalog.



The barn in the background is a Sears kit barn, L2055.


Sears barn 1918

The Sears barn as seen in the 1920 Sears Modern Homes catalog.


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Unnamed, happy child with severely deformed left leg and mangled left hand rushes out to the mailbox to see what parcels have arrived from Sears and Roebuck.


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These must be some of Sears best customers! Not only did they order a house, silo and barn from Sears, but each day they receive a plethora of packages!


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Close-up of the Sears Silverdale. But what kind of car is that?



The Silverdale, as seen in the 1916 Sears catalog.


Hettick, IL

A real live Silverdale in Hettick, IL.


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Thanks again to Rachel for sharing this wonderful picture!


To learn more about the amazing Mr. Sears, click here.

To read more about Sears Homes, click here.

To visit Rachel’s blog, click here.

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