Design Architecture

11 Vintage Houses That Came from a Catalog

In the early 20th century, a handful of companies, including Sears, Roebuck and Co., sold tens of thousands of mail-order homes. Available in a variety of styles and at a range of price points, these “kit houses” would arrive via railroad boxcar as precut and fitted materials, which the owner or a local contractor would assemble into a new house. Sears ceased production of their catalog homes in 1940, but many still stand today. Check out these 12 mail-order houses that have not only survived, but look very much like they did in the heyday of the kit home.

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Sears “Lynnhaven”

Originally listed in 1932 for about $2,300, the Sears Lynnhaven boasts shingle siding and a dramatic peaked entryway. The picturesque abode is notable for its convenient, well-thought-out floor plan.

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Sears “Lynnhaven” in York County, Virginia via Phillip Merritt

This exceptionally well-preserved Lynnhaven in York County, Virginia, retains that model’s interior layout, which includes a kitchen, breakfast nook, formal dining room, and large living room on the lower level. The second floor offers three bedrooms, a lavatory, and plenty of closet space.

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Sears “Vallonia”

Offered for a mere $1,465 in 1921, the Sears Vallonia could be configured to include five or eight rooms, depending on whether the owner wanted a second floor. The exterior is characterized by its large porch and a broad dormer with a three-paned window.

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Sears “Vallonia” in Silver Spring, Maryland

Zillow Digs home in Silver Spring, MD

Though it has lost its front porch, this Vallonia in Silver Spring, Maryland, still has the look of a quaint bungalow. The front door opens onto a generous living room, which leads to the dining room and kitchen; two first-floor bedrooms can be reached through a hallway off the dining room. 

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Sears “Barrington”

First listed in 1926 with a $2,329 price tag, the Tudor-style Barrington has an angular design, eye-catching windows, and an attractive chimney. A “medicine case,” flower box, telephone cabinet, and built-in ironing board were included in the purchase price. 

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Sears “Barrington” in Croton-on-Hudson, New York

Zillow Digs home in Croton On Hudson, NY

The Barrington has a charming entryway that opens onto a generous living room, formal dining room, a kitchen with a breakfast nook, and a porch. Upstairs, three bedrooms (each with its own closet) share a single bathroom. This tidy model in Croton-on-Hudson, New York, now sports a bay window that brings even more sun into the living room and a muted red facade that really makes the home stand out. 

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Sears “Honor” via Internet Archive Book Images

The Sears Honor went for $2,747 in its initial 1921 listing. The interior contains nine rooms, including four bedrooms, a sun porch, and a sleeping porch. The designers even left a space between the living room window seats for an upright piano! 

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Sears “Honor” in Lebanon, Pennsylvania

Zillow Digs home in Lebanon, PA

Although the roof no longer has the thatched effect of the original design, this Honor home in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, has stayed true to its Colonial-style roots, with shingle siding and imposing columns that amp up its curb appeal. Inside, the homeowners preserved period-appropriate wall coverings and furnishings in a nod to the property’s history.

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Sears “Crescent” via Internet Archive Book Images

First listed for $1,351 in 1921, the Crescent had two floor plan options as well as an optional attic. Both had two bedrooms, a living room, kitchen, and dining room, but in one configuration, the rooms were slightly larger and the kitchen opened onto a back porch.

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Sears “Crescent” in Jacksonville, Florida

Zillow Digs home in Jacksonville, FL

The Crescent has a breathtaking front porch and columns, as evidenced by this pristine specimen in Jacksonville, Florida. The owners dressed up the porch with a chandelier and a pair of rocking chairs, yet they retained homey touches like the flower boxes and sidelights. 

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Sears "Woodland"

First listed in 1916 for just $938, the Woodland remained a popular mail-order home into the 1930s. Distinctive exterior features include an odd arrangement of windows along the side of the house and a wide front porch anchored by sturdy columns.

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Sears “Woodland” in Silver Spring, Maryland

Zillow Digs home in Silver Spring, MD

The owners of this Woodland home in Silver Spring, Maryland, opted for a bright, cheery exterior paint color. As in the original floor plan, the front entrance leads into a large reception hall that splits off to the living room on the left and the kitchen down the hallway. Upstairs, several bedrooms are connected by a central hallway.

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Sears “Americus” via Internet Archive Book Images

The Sears Americus offered just what Americans wanted: “a “dignified, substantial house that will stand out among its neighbors and never go out of style,” in the words of its listing. The home was introduced in 1921 with a price of $1,924.

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“Sears “Americus” in Croton-on-Hudson, New York

Zillow Digs home in Croton On Hudson, NY

This authentic 1920s Americus, with a front porch that looks barely changed from the original, enjoys views of the Hudson River. Inside, you’ll find original molding and trim work, as well as hardwood floors, oversize windows, and a formal dining room.

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Sears “Marion”

The Marion, first listed in 1933 with a starting price of $1,330, was a relative latecomer for catalog homes. The charming bungalow-style dwelling offers “a floor and a half” with five rooms and a bath.

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Sears “Marion” in Beacon, New York

Zillow Digs home in Beacon, NY

This Marion in Beacon, New York, hasn’t veered far from the original floor plan: living, dining, and cooking areas are located downstairs, while the two large bedrooms and a shared bathroom split the top level. The owners updated the appliances and bathroom, added hardwood floors, and put in a fireplace.

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Sears “Milford”

The Sears Milford is a classic Cape Cod-style Colonial with a wide, symmetrical facade. In the words of the original listing, “this home expresses good taste on account of its thoughtfully planned architectural details.” Another relative latecomer, it was introduced in 1933 for $1,359 and was available in two configurations, one of which was slightly larger and included a dining alcove.

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Sears “Milford” in Dekalb, Illinois

Zillow Digs home in Dekalb, IL

This Milford in Dekalb, Illinois, bursts with charm and character. Downstairs, an entry hall opens to the living and dining areas. Upstairs, a central hallway is flanked by two spacious bedrooms that share a bathroom.

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Sears “Cornell”

First listed in 1926 for $1,360, the American Foursquare-style Cornell was a suburban favorite for its economical design and its relative simplicity to build. Bonuses include “plenty of light” and “good wall space” in the living room that allowed it to accommodate various furniture configurations. 

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Sears “Cornell” in Saline, Michigan

Zillow Digs home in Saline, MI

This Cornell lies on 2.14 acres of private land in Saline, Michigan. The boxy exterior translates into a spacious, comfortable interior, including three good-size upstairs bedrooms and a roomy bathroom.

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Gordon-Van Tine “Home No. 507” via Internet Archive Book Images

Sears wasn’t the only supplier of home kits in the early 19th century. Originally founded as a lumber distributor, Gordon- Van Tine marketed  its own line of “ready-cut” homes until the company closed in 1947. In 1920, Home No. 507 was listed for $2,702.

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Gordon-Van Tine “Home No. 507” in Richmond, Virginia via Taber Andrew Bain

According to the original floor plan, in addition to the broad front porch, House No. 507 offers two downstairs chambers that could be used as bedrooms, two upstairs bedrooms, and even a sewing room.

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