Imagine flipping through your typical catalog on a Sunday morning. You'd see some dress shirts, shoes, maybe a few appliances, and some home decor - but what about a home?
From 1908 to 1940, Sears, Roebuck and Co.'s mail-order catalog featured more than 400 styles of homes, from Craftsman to Cape Cod, that buyers could choose from. In that 32-year span, the company sold more than 70,000 houses.
Sears bought building materials in bulk and maintained a low price competitive with local builders at the time. The company was also one of the first to use 'balloon' style framing that only required one carpenter.
The majority of Sears homes were built in the Northeast and Midwest, with the largest grouping being in the city of Elgin, IL, where one community has more than 200 verified Sears homes. Sears lost most of the records of home sales so it can be difficult to identify a Sears home, but there are a few ways. Stamped lumber, column arrangements, shipping labels, and public records have all been used to identify a Sears home.