Sears Catalog House, or Something Like it (Part II)

In my most recent blog, I talked about the fact that Hopewell’s “Collection of Sears Homes” (and I use that term loosely) was in the local news again.

At the end of that blog, I offered to help Hopewell sort through their historical chaff and find the wheat.

The fact is, at this point I’d be willing to donate my services (gratis), to help this small town (just outside of Richmond) get their Sears-home story straight. But I have a sneaking suspicion that this enticing offer may not be accepted.

A few years ago, I wrote a couple of letters and emails (yes, both) to some folks in Hopewell, making this same offer. I never heard a peep. Not a “Thanks, but no,” not a “we’re not interested,” or even a “Go to hell, Rosemary Thornton.”

Honestly, I would have preferred to hear something, rather than nothing.

In case anyone from Hopewell is reading this, I can tell you, I know a little something about Sears Homes. Here’s a short bio I use with the media:

Rose is the author of several books on early 20th Century kit homes. Rose and her work have been featured on PBS History Detectives, A&E’s Biography, CBS Sunday Morning News, MSNBC, NPR’s All Things Considered and BBC Radio. In print media, her story has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, L. A. Times, Dallas Morning News, Christian Science Monitor and more.

Sounds darn good, doesn’t it?

So what can I do to help Hopewell correct their boo-boos?

I don’t know.

In the meantime, below is the “re-do” of a blog that was a personal favorite of mine. The idea was the brainstorm of Rachel Shoemaker, who loves both music and kit homes, and found a delightful way to blend the two topics.

You can read Rachel’s wonderful blog here.

Here’s the ditty that will  help you learn more about correctly identifying houses.

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Here's a screen-shot of the Sesame Street ditty that tell us, "One of these things is not like the other." Its intent is to teach youngsters how to spot differences in similar items. Learning how to distinguish subtle differences in physical objects can be tough. Ever more so if you live in the small towns around Richmond (apparently).



Let's try it with houses now.


One of the houses above is different from the others.

If you guessed the brick house with the metal casement windows, you’re right!

For some time, Hopewell was promoting a brochure (showcasing a driving tour of alleged kit homes in Crescent Hills neighborhood) that identified this brick house as a Sears Dover.

But oh noes!! That’s not a Sears Dover!

The other three houses (the three that look just alike) are the Sears Dover.

More recently, Hopewell has modified this statement and now claims that this brick house is a Sears Maplewood.

Let’s see how that works.



Oh noes - AGAIN! One of these homes just doesn't belong! Which one is it? If you guessed the brick house, you're right! The other three homes are the Sears Maplewood.



There's also the fact that the Sears Maplewood and Dover were never ever offered with metal casement windows. There's also the fact that this house was probably built after WW2. But hey, why let something like "historical fact" get in the way of a good story!



Here's a Sears Maplewood (1930 catalog).



If you really think that the brick house above looks like a Sears Dover, I highly recommend the Sesame Street "Not like the other" series. It's helped many a lost soul find their way through the thickets of misidentified kit homes.



Meanwhile, in Hopewell, they have a cache of rare and unusual Aladdin Homes (like the one above) and what is being done to promote those houses? Nothing. Unbelievable.


To learn more about how to distinguish differences in certain objects, click here.

Thanks to Rebecca Hunter for the use of her photograph above (the blue Maplewood). You can visit Rebecca’s website here.

Visit Rachel’s website here.

Read about the bonanza of kit homes we found in Richmond!

If you’re from Hopewell, and you’d like to take up Rose on her offer, please leave a comment below.

If you’re not from Hopewell and you THINK they should take up Rose on her offer, please leave a comment below.

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  1. Dale Wolicki

    You stay out of Hopewell and leave them to their make believe history.

    I will vouch for you that our trip to Hopewell identified numerous “Sears Homes” that were not “Sears Homes” and most were not even kit homes, but we did find some real Aladdin and Sears Homes they didn’t know about.

    So you concentrate your efforts on people who appreciate your professional skills with mail-order homes and don’t let me here you utter the word “free” again!

  2. Shari D.

    No, I KNOW they should take Rose up on her offer!

    But, considering the amount of time that has passed since your first encounter with them, and the results of THAT, it’s unlikely that all those closed eyes will open and those hard heads will soften up enough to accept the facts of the matter.

    It would mean them having to admit to being wrong on so many things, and that someone else actually knows more about it than they do.

    Not likely to happen before the current crop of “historical experts” there die off and some calmer, cooler, less prejudiced heads prevail.

    BUT, having said that, I now double-dog-dare them to actually DO IT! C’mon! Let’s see it happen!

  3. Sears Homes

    @Dale Wolicki
    Dale, you’re a stitch!

    I guess my desperation is showing, huh? I’m so weary of their made-up stories and fabricated history.

    And Shari, I suspect you’re right that until the current “local historians” step down, the case is hopeless.

  4. Otto Van Laddin

    Ever wonder why the “architectural historians” in Hopewell never bothered to look outside of this neighborhood to find real Sears houses to include in that glossy brochure?

    They are not interested in any homes outside of this neighborhood and other real kit houses will not be promoted.

    Don’t waste your time, Rose. It’s more about promoting the neighborhood than the houses.

  5. Michelle Anderson

    Hi Rose,

    We have a beautiful brick home in Hopewell.

    An elderly neighbor told us that it was a sears house. It is a brick tudor style.

    We have not been able to find any picture of this exact style.

    Can you recommend a site to research the house. Thanks!

  6. Andrew Mutch

    Michelle – Post photos of the house to the “Sears Homes” Facebook group. The members of the group will help with identification if it’s a Sears house or not.