A few moments ago, my sleepy husband stuck his head into the room and said, “It’s 3:11 in the morning. Why are you still up?”
“Well, I think we’ve found our eighth Magnolia,” I replied.
“Oh,” he said quietly, as he toddled back to the bedroom.
No additional information was needed.
Every month, I get a handful of emails from people who are 100% certain that they’ve found the crème de la crème of all kit homes: The Sears Magnolia.
And 98% of the time, they’re wrong.
Sears sold kit homes from 1908-1940, and in that 32-year span, they offered 370 designs. Of those 370 designs, the Magnolia was the fairest of them all (and the biggest and the most expensive).
In 1918 (the year the Magnolia first appeared), 90 designs were offered, and only 13 of those homes cost more than $2,000. Not counting the Magnolia, the most expensive house in that catalog was the Preston, at $2,812.
The other 76 models offered in 1918 were under $2,000, and the overwhelming majority of those were less than $1,200.
The price tag for the Magnolia was $4,485.
Most of the Sears Homes in that 1918 catalog had less than 1,000 square feet, and the Magnolia had almost 3,000 square feet.
For years and years, it was widely believed that only six Magnolias had been built in the country, and yet their locations were not known. In time, those six Magnolias were discovered in Benson, North Carolina, South Bend, Indiana, Irwin, Pennsylvania, Canton, Ohio and a fifth in Piedmont, Alabama. A sixth had been destroyed by fire in Nebraska. (Of those six Magnolias, the house in Benson was the “newest” discovery, found in March 2010.)
And that was that.
Six Magnolias. All accounted for.
One dead (and cremated).
And then in May 2011 (thanks to this blog), someone contacted me and said that there was a Sears Magnolia in Syracuse, NY.
I didn’t pay too much attention, because frankly, I’d heard it before, but fortunately, a friend and faithful reader (Heather Lukaszewski) did pay attention and she did a little research. She wrote me a nice note and said, “I think this may be the real deal.”
All of which brings me to this newest discovery of an 8th Magnolia!
Friday evening, someone contacted me and said that he lived in a house that was across the street from a Sears Magnolia. We exchanged several emails and I started to get pretty interested in this story. It had a lot more background and depth than the typical “There’s a Magnolia just down the street” stories.
Thanks to a lot of help from Rachel Shoemaker and Mark Hardin, we were able to see the house via Bing Maps, and I have to say, I think we’ve got a winner.
In fact, I’d be willing to say that I’m 90% certain that we’ve found our 8th Magnolia.
And the best part of all?
It’s in West Virginia.
I love West Virgina and I’m headed to Elkins in six weeks (with the aforementioned hubby) to visit family.
I’d sure love to stop by this sweet old kit house and check it out in person. Boy oh boy, would I love to see this fine house in the flesh.
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