A Rare Beauty in Mt. Olive, Illinois

Last week, I was visiting family in southwestern, Illinois and I had an opportunity to drive to Mt. Olive and meet with Realtor Carol Young who has a Sears Modern Home #118 for sale.

It’s also known as The Clyde, and it is, as the title promises, a real beauty in unusually original condition.

When built, the homeowner (whose name I’d love to know), did a lot of upgrades to the house, such as stained glass, oak trim,  (as is evidenced by these photos).

The house is for sale, and it’s priced well below $100,000. For those of us who live in the big cities, it’s almost incomprehensible that a house this big and this beautiful could be had for such a low price.

Frankly, I’m very surprised a local historical society has not snatched it up. The house is located in Macoupin County, and it’s my hope and prayer that some forward thinking soul in the area will have the vision to buy this house and use it for greater good.

Or perhaps some St. Louis commuter will have the foresight to snatch up this house. It’s less than 45 minutes from downtown St. Louis. It’s a fantastic deal on a wonderful old house in a historic community. I hope someone jumps on it.

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The #118 in Mt. Olive is a real beauty. Outside, the original siding has been replaced, but inside, it still retains many original features. The house is about 45 minutes from St. Louis. The house was probably built between 1908-1914 (but sadly, that's just an eduated guess).


the clyde 1916

The Clyde, as seen in the 1916 catalog. The small 2nd floor porch was enclosed many years ago. It's now used as a storage room, which seems like a not-so-good use of space. If I owned this house, I think I'd restore the porch.


The full catalog page, as seen in the 1916 catalog.

The full catalog page, as seen in the 1916 catalog.


Nice floorplan, too!

Walk-in pantry has a space for the ice box.


The spacious front porch with massive columns is one of my favorite features of Modern Home #118

The spacious front porch with massive columns is one of my favorite features of Modern Home #118



The front porch (deck, ceiling and columns) is also in very good condition.


Inside, the house is breathtakingly beautiful.

Inside, the house is really stunning. Note the original transom hardware over the door (all intact and operational) and the original light fixtures in the parlor, dining room (shown above), living room and reception hall.


The fireplace mantel is gorge

All of the trim throughout the first floor and second floor is solid oak - including the fireplace mantel shown above.


The details are

The tile work is also incredible.


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The wood trim on the fireplace mantel has been carefully polished through the decades.


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Another view into the dining room (with its bay window). Notice the beautiful plaster work above the oak trim.


The plaster

The plaster finish on the walls is something I'd expect to see in a 1920s Spanish Revival. I belive it's called a "Sante Fe Finish" and I've also heard it called "Spanish Knockdown." If anyone has a better term for this unusual texture, I'd love to hear it! The faux half-timber look is present on the walls throughout the house, from basement to 2nd floor. The attic is unfinished. It's kind of odd to see this tudoresque treatment present in a trailing-edge Victorian home. That's why I'm so interested in the original owner. Was he a plasterer by trade? Those "beams" are 1/4" oak slats. I've never seen anything quite like it.


Close-up of one of the original light fixtures.

Almost 100 years of living and yet those original glass globes live on.


Yet one of my favorite features is this original colonnade.

Yet one of my favorite features is this original colonnade found in the parlor/foyer. And it's a mere $32.00! Thanks to Rachel for supplying this image!



If you look at the flat spots on the colonnades, you'll see a flared spot, for use as a plant stand (1908).



The solid-oak Loraine Colonnade, as seen in the 1908 Sears Building Materials catalog.



Close up of the colonnade.


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Side-by-side comparison of the colonnade.



Close-up of the corbel on the colonnade.


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An Ionic capital graces the top of the colonnade. Pretty snazzy for $32!


As you step into the reception hall, it just gets better and better.

As you step into the reception hall, it just gets better and better. That staircase just nooks my socks off.


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And it is all solid oak.


Stained glass

Neither Rachel or I could find this window in any Sears catalog.


John Boy

It is not only beautiful, but in wonderful condition.


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Another view of this stunning staircase.


The foyer also has an original light fixture.

The foyer also has an original light fixture.



The front parlor (facing the street) also has a beautiful stained glass window.


That half-timbered effect is present throughout the long hallway of

That half-timbered plaster look is present throughout the long hallway of the 2nd floor. Unfortunately, the shag carpeting is also present throughout the entire house (first and second floor).


house house

You can get a better idea of the unique plaster with this shot at the top of the stairs.


Inside the house, you can see the original clapboard, a remnant from the enclosed second floor porch.

On the second floor, on the front of the house, you can see the original clapboard, a remnant from the second floor porch that was enclosed - probably in the 1940s or 1950s.


And the basement wall

This is the original low wall for the 2nd floor porch. Unfortunately, the shag carpet extends even into this room.


The bathroom

The bathroom was enlarged and updated, probably sometime in the 1960s, judging by the tub. The original bathroom was very small. This room was about 16' square.


A permanent staircase

A permanent staircase leads to a very spacious attic. We found several starlings in the attic, and in this photo, you can see the bird lighting on the attic window.


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The kitchen is in a need of a little love, but at least it doesn't have shag carpeting!


Even the basement

The unique plaster and oak trim is on the basement walls and ceiling.


Its a real beauty!

It's a real beauty!


And its less than 45 minutes from St. Louis!

The house in Mt. Olive is less than 45 minutes from St. Louis, Missouri! (Plus, on your way to work, you can find free spare tires along the roadway!).


And this is the real reason for my trip to St. Louis. My little girl - Corey.

And this is the real reason for my trip to St. Louis. My little girl - Corey. She's here playing a piano for a local church in Alton, IL. We had a lovely visit.


Want to buy the house in Mt. Olive? Click here.

To learn more about the Sears Homes in Illinois, click here.

Help me find the 9th Magnolia! Click here!

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  1. Rachel Shoemaker

    Thanks for taking the side trip to get these interior photos! I appreciate it. I’ve been trying for 6 months to get *good* interior photos! Thanks! Now, I have several more! Are you up for some more road trips? 😀

  2. Debbie

    You missed some of the bad weather out this way! And I hope the next owner removes that carpet. I am guessing there are some beautiful wood floors under it.

  3. Sears Homes

    I suspect you’re right, Debbie! Those floors appear to have been covered for many, many years.

    And I am *GLAD* to have missed the bad weather!

  4. Dale Wolicki

    Are you sure that’s shag carpet? It kinda looks like moss.

  5. Sears Homes

    You are so funny!!

  6. Dale Wolicki

    It looks just like the beds of moss under the cedar trees forests in north Michigan, but I bet the original hardwood floor is hiding under that shag carpet.

  7. Rick S

    A great house needing some love.

    I wonder if the knock down plaster wall treatment and “timbers” were added later to cover cracked plaster and “update” the house. The timbers don’t seem to be a match to the door casing. Just wondering.


  8. Sears Homes

    Hi Rick,

    Yeah, it’s hard to believe that these plaster walls and the half-timber effect were original to this 1908-built house.

    However, I’d guess that the plaster is 50+ years old, and all the plaster is in beautiful shape.

    I hope someone who loves old houses buys this house.


  9. marie

    First of all, those are not plaster walls in those pictures. They are wood paneling sheets that look like plaster.

    There are no hard wood floors in the entire house and the fireplace is not functional.

    The house is beautiful, but needs a ton of work. I only know because I had a contract on the house and paid $330 for a inspection and recieved a 30-page report on everything that needed done.

    Given the age of this house, it’s likely that it has lead paint. It appears the exterior has asbests siding. We wanted to buy it but we were not comfortable with that.

  10. Rick S


    When I took another look at the pictures I think the timbered walls may be a paneling wall treetment with the 1/4inch trim used to cover seams.

    If you look at the 8th photo of the interior, right after the bay window, you see the stucco pattern repeats its self above and below the trim piece.

    Another reason is that in the entry you can see the 4 x 8 size panels with added pieces above to cover taller tha 8 foot walls.

    On the hallway ceiling the trim looks to be every 4 feet. I think the trim was used to help hold the panels to the wall without seeing nails in the “plaster”.

    It does look better than some wood paneling used to cover old plaster. You can see other paneling used elsewhere in the house.

    Most people looking at this house would never know it was mail ordered.


  11. Rachel Shoemaker

    @Rick S
    I had a difficult time convincing the realtor and I am not sure I had her completely convinced after numerous emails and phone conversations!

    I emailed her numerous catalog images of the plan and even millwork.

    This model, #118, was featured in the Sears Fall 1908 General Merchandise catalog, just a few months after Sears began offering home plans. I think that was why it was a popular early model.

    This is only one of fourteen of the #118’s that I have identified or located! I know of another five that others have either identified or located.

    The ones I myself have found were all built between 1908-1914 and I think the others are early years as well.

    I only hope that when Rosemary made the trip the realtor was convinced!

  12. jon

    I’m the owner of this home, and I can say that wood floors are under part of the carpeted area. As as for the carpeting, Mom and Dad grew up in the depression and didn’t like cold feet.

    As far as the inspection, this home is very livable and solid. It’s more than 100 yrs old, and if someone wants a new house, they shouldn’t be looking at a classic old house like this one.

    I would love to sell this house to someone who appreciates it, and will take care of it.

  13. jon

    One more thing does anyone out there have any idea what the contents are worth?

    As Rosemary said, I’ve also never seen woodwork in a home like this, and when most people see it, they just step back and say, “WOW!”

  14. jon


    Sorry I missed you when you were in Mt. Olive. I wanted to thank both you and Rachel Shoemaker for the wonderful history lesson on this house.

    My parents bought this home in 1968 and it was not in very good shape.

    My dad did some of the repair work inside in the early 1970s, but he was on a budget. Another interesting note is that some of the old doorways still have their pocket doors in place. My dad had the oak woodwork closed up, but left the original doors inside.

    I’m 50 now and the youngest of three boys aged from 50-70, so I was pretty young when these repairs were underway.

    If you have any more questions, please let me know and I will try to answer them for you.

    Thansk again for opening up the history on this house.

  15. Sears Homes

    Jon, I’m so glad to hear from you! Your house looks tall, sturdy and true from the outside, but it’s when you step in the front door that it knocks your socks off.

    I’ve also posted a picture of your house at a couple forums, and the folks at those forums have had nothing but pure praise for the incredible beauty and breathtaking quality of that woodwork.

    Heck, I’ve been showing these pictures to friends, family members, and neighbors! I *love* that woodwork!!!

    As I told the Realtor, your house in Mt. Olive is one-of-a-kind, and I’m sure the *right* buyer will come along soon.

    And truthfully, if I lived in the area, I would not hesitate to buy that house. I just fell head-over-heels in love with it.

  16. Rachel Shoemaker

    I LOVE your house! I stumbled upon it in a blog about old houses that I follow.

    I contacted the blogger and told her what it was.

    The interior is beautiful, the woodwork is just gorgeous. The photos I could tell did not do it justice. was so excited when Rosemary made the side trip to see it!

    I’ve got several photos of other #118’s interiors in an album Rosemary’s Sears group on facebook if you are on facebook and care to join you can see them.

    Let me know if you are there and I will make sure you find it!

  17. jon

    Rose,the clapboard that is on the enclosed porch is present under all the 1940s siding.

    Is this the original siding?

  18. Sears Homes

    Hi Jon,

    Yes, that beautiful thin-lap siding is the original siding for this house, and better yet, most likely, it’s cypress which is considered the *BEST* exterior siding that money can buy, and this is 100-year-old cypress siding, making it even more valuable.

    If I were buying that house, I’d remove the substitute siding that was added in the 1940s or 50s, and go back to the original siding (the cypress siding). I just can’t say enough good things about cypress. In the early 1900s, it was billed as “The Wood Eternal,” because it was naturally resistant to bugs, termites, moisture, rot, etc.

    Back in the day, the cypress logs were moved via intricate canals, and today, “harvesters” will go into those antique waterways and retrieve cypress logs that have been *UNDER WATER* for 150 years, and those cypress logs are still sound.

    As to the lead paint, IMHO, we’ve really gone nuts in this country with this lead paint fiasco. Guess what – you should *NOT* eat paint chips off the exterior of most old houses.

    If the regulatory agencies that oversee this stuff aren’t stopped at some point, we’re going to end up demolishing all pre-1978 houses.

    It’s just gone nuts.

  19. jon

    Exterior of this house was sealed and sprayed over in 1980 and has held up very well.

    Don’t know if lead was in paint then or not, but I think I’ll put some paint chips on my cereal in the morning (LOL).

  20. Sears Homes


    There’s a thing on Youtube titled, ‘How did we survive?” and it chronicles the fact that us baby boomers grew up without wearing bike helmets and we drank out of garden hoses and we lived in lead-paint houses.

    And it’s true. The risk of lead paint in houses has been so grossly exaggerated.

    BTW, I wouldn’t sprinkle them on my cereal, but I do hear that lead paint tastes just like sweet tarts and is highly addictive!

    If you want to know what *I* think about this whole lead paint fiasco, click here. https://searshomes.org/index.php/2011/12/10/epa-rrp-government-regulation-gone-mad/

  21. bfish

    Let’s face it: The older people here, myself included, are living miracles!

    Damn, my mother smoked cigarettes and drank alcohol when she was gestating me, my brother, and sister (back in the mid-fifties).

    We should have been born with two heads or something. Lots of folks today are total germaphobes yet they seem to catch a lot more colds and such than those who don’t obsess over what’s on the door handle to the restroom.

    Not knowing better, I’ve done a lot of work on old houses — undoubtedly loaded with lead paint because nothing had been done to them in many decades.

    There are many things that could kill me but I don’t expect lead paint or radon to be among them.

    I’m pro public health and advances in preventive medicine; what’s missing though is a healthy balance between the realization that the human race has survived far worse hazards than a lot of the minor things people freak out about today, and the benefits of reducing reasonable risks through heightened awareness.

  22. Sears Homes


    I think I’m in love! LOL.

    Seriously, you echoed my sentiments beautifully and in far better way than I could have done!

    It’s so true, isn’t it?

    My gosh, I grew up on an estuary of the Elizabeth River and we spent entire summers wading in filthy polluted water, stepping on rusty nails, building stuff that drifted up to the shoreline and then eating lunch without washing our hands.

    Sometimes, I fear that this ours is the last generation that’ll have a super-sturdy and robust immune system because we grew up around so many germy things!

    My father lived to 92 years old and, as my dear husband says, he was “a heroic abuser of cigarettes and alcohol.”

    Three packs a day and – *and* – “Vodka, it’s what’s for breakfast!”


  23. bfish

    You are just as funny — and playing in the waters of the Elizabeth River just about beats all since they’re still trying to clean that up!

    I grew up in Pasadena, CA which at the time (50s and 60s) was kind of the smog capital of the LA area, since all of it blew up against the San Gabriel mountains and just hung there.

    NOT being enveloped in a yellowish-tan haze on summer mornings was a rare event.

    So imagine my puzzlement, upon moving to the Washington DC area as a teen, with the hand-wringing and wailing over “dangerous air pollution index” when the sky was clear and it was no effort to take a deep breath! (Of course it’s a good thing that measures have been taken to eliminate leaded gas emissions and clean up the atmosphere some.)

    For many years I tried to emulate your dad (although I drew the line at drinking my breakfast) but have slowed down a lot — I think the generation ahead of us has even sturdier constitutions.

    And I’m guilty as charged of being a boomer who doesn’t think I’m old yet (even though I am).

    The good news for us is growing up in an era when neither houses nor consumer goods were considered “disposable” or designed with “planned obsolescence”, we’ve got that old house appreciation ingrained in us!