Sometime in 2005 or 2006, a nice fellow named Bill Inge told me about a Sears Alhambra in his town. I'd heard of Bill through several mutual friends, but I had assumed he was some really old guy that wanted only to give me a 4-hour lecture on every thing I was doing wrong in my little career. Plus, 73% of the time, people who report a Sears House sighting are 100% wrong. When I pulled up to this house a little town in western Virginia, I was delighted to see that Bill was right: It was a Sears Alhambra.
On January 1, 2007, I married a nice fellow named Wayne and moved to Norfolk (from Alton, IL), and that's when I met Bill Inge for the first time. He was not a tottering old man in his dotage (as I had suspected), but he was younger than me. In fact, he was an old soul (like me) who loved old houses and had become Norfolk's #1 architectural historian. And when I started spending all my spare time doing research at the Norfolk Library Local History Room, I got to know Bill. It was nice to meet someone equally rabid about historic architecture. Photo is copyright 2007 Dave Chance and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.
Everyone loves the Alhambra, and Bill told me that the Alhambra is his favorite Sears House, and there's one in his own neighborhood. How sweet is that? (1925 Sears Modern Homes Catalog)
Bill contacted me and said that this lovely old Sears house (built 1923) was now "under the knife." It's always troubling to hear about an old house suffering these indignities.
For 92 years, this house had a set of original wooden windows and then - in a quick moment - they were gone. Judging by this image, we must surmise that Santa was overcome by emotion. Photo is copyright 2015 Bill Inge and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.
Apparently some smooth-tongued traveling salesman (perhaps a masher) convinced the homeowner that double-glazed vinyl windows would pay for themselves in 12 years (which is most likely not even close) or that the repairing the old wooden windows was just a chore (yes, they do need maintenance every 40 years or so), or perhaps the most egregious lie of all: Fancy new windows would give the house more value when it was sold. Photo is copyright 2015 Bill Inge and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.
What he did NOT tell them is that low-to-mid-range vinyl windows typically have a lifespan of 15 years, and then they rot, crack, warp of the seals fail, and there is no repairing them. That's it. You're then on the roller-coaster of replacing those windows every 15-20 years for the rest of the home's life.
Bill, being almost as "unique" as I am, attempted to salvage the old wooden windows from the Alhambra but someone beat him to it! I have a sneaking suspicion that they're not going into another Alhambra.
I'm hesitant to name the city where this Fenestration Devastation occurred, but I can tell you this: This old Virginia mountain town is not kind to old houses. This is what happened to an Aladdin Colonial on a dead-end street, not terribly far from the Alhambra. The Colonial was one of Aladdin's biggest and best; key word - WAS.
The Aladdin Colonial from the 1916 catalog.
It’d be easy to write an entire blog on this topic alone: WHY you should save your home’s original windows, but this is a much better piece than I could write. Take a minute and read it.
To read more about the other kit homes I found in this unnamed Virginia town, click here.
Bless their heart, I am still so shocked that many have no idea what they are doing!
The Aladdin Colonial is a very nice house even by today’s standards.
I would take the one in the picture that was altered and try to restore it to its original appearance as best as possible.
I would have the portico replicated, same for the side porch.
If I ever needed to replace the original wooden windows in an old house, I would replace them with good quality wood windows, not vinyl windows that won’t last a long time.
The problem with most windows in old homes is not performing proper maintenance through the years.
The solution is to repair them and reap the rewards of original windows that were usually “old growth” wood that is more durable than the tree farms most wood comes from.
the Old House Guy has a site that explains the benefits of original windows and how to get them fixed.
A solution, satisfactory to us and to the Historic preservation office, is color matched, metal framed, efficient storm/screen windows on the exterior of our original windows.
They have the same profile as our original storms and screens (think we got the original $48 worth out of the old ones) which were in use until a little over a year ago.
Our interior windows are not perfect by far and do have some damage from the SD sun and sporadic neglect.
But with protection from the new storms we can continue to maintain and refurbish the original interior windows (all 409 window panes).
Hi! I am so glad I accidentally happened upon this site!
We live in the Aladdin home my grandfather built in 1950; four generations later! We love our quaint Pasadena and have been fortunate enough that it was well cared for all these years.
I am impressed with the quality of the flooring, walls, beams; not a single squeaky board in the entire house! Aside from the normal cracks in the ceiling, the home really hasn’t needed much in terms of major repairs. Thanks for the cool pics of other Aladdin homes!
I’d love to send a picture from 1950 and one from now to you!
My Georgia 1, in New Hampshire.
I know this house very well. I grew up two houses down from this exact house in another Sears house, The Avalon (a dutch colonial). My parents were constantly working on repairing and fixing up our sears home. We all loved growing up in such a special and unique home. Unfortunately the house was just too large and too much work to maintain and when my brother and I left for college they had to sell it. But we have the best memories of growing up in that house and with the couple that owned the Alhambra pictured above.
Two houses down from the Alhambra at the top of the page was our Avalon. I suspect there are a few Sears houses in this area of Lynchburg.