If you live in Mansfield, there’s a chance that you might live near a residence that was bought out of a book.
A Sears catalog, to be exact.
With Sears in the news this last week with the impending closure of the store at Richland Mall, we are joining those reflecting back on the long history of that retail chain in Mansfield. One unique connection between the two was in the large number of houses which were purchased from Sears and erected along city streets.
According to Wikipedia, Sears Catalog Homes (sold under the Sears Modern Homes name) were catalog and kit houses sold primarily through mail order by Sears, Roebuck and Company, an American retailer. Sears reported that more than 70,000 of these homes were sold in North America between 1908 and 1940. More than 370 different home designs in a wide range of architectural styles and sizes were offered over the program’s 33-year history.
The leading researcher for Sears Homes in Ohio has identified some 2,100 of them to date. Cindy Catanzaro has been researching Sears Houses since 2006, after discovering she was living in one! As a volunteer for The Westcott Center for Architecture & Design, she leads walking tours and gives presentations to local interest groups. She is a leading contributor to the National Database for Sears Catalog Homes.
Her blog, Sears Houses in Ohio, includes references to some of those as well as photos and stories of some of those she had identified. Unfortunately, her trip here was unsuccessful as the Richland County Recorder’s Office did not have the mortgage indexes needed available that particular day. To date, she notes that she has found one Mansfield Sears house.
There are undoubtedly many, many more. One which is all but certain to have been purchased from Sears stands (at least it did in 2018) at 75 Bartley Avenue. In 1930, that house was listed as a Sears “Modern Homes Sales Center,” a regional site for sales of catalog and kit houses. These facilities, typically located in cities with a large number of sales, showcased woodwork and features which could be added after construction. Mansfield’s was one of only 48 Sears Modern Homes sales offices in the country, according to the 1930 Sears catalog. A Google Maps view of that house can be seen here.
Another is located across the street from Oak Hill Cottage.
And, as it turns out, these types of houses can be found in many corners of Richland County. Houses which were shared as being the actual article include (known Sears house styles noted in parenthesis):
1980 Middle Bellville Road
148 Main Street, Lucas
158 Main Street, Lucas
160 Main Street, Lucas
560 South Main, Mansfield (Americus)
641 Arlington, Mansfield (Barrington)
408 W. Sixth St., Mansfield (Hamilton)
37 Sherman Street, Mansfield (Hamilton)
560 Arlington, Mansfield
79 Stewart Avenue, Mansfield
151 W. Raleigh, Mansfield
334 Oak Hill Place, Mansfield (Fullerton)
71 Glenwood Blvd., Mansfield
187 Euclid Avenue, Mansfield
122 Parkwood Blvd., Mansfield
49 Grand Blvd., Shelby
454 Parnell, Mansfield
Readers also shared the following possible locations:
- Berry House near Malabar Farm
- Several houses on Elmwood Drive
One reader sent in a link to an archive of Sears houses, showing each of the house styles, sorted by date. The site also includes a narrative history on the houses and additional information. It can be accessed here.
If you know of a Sears or other catalog or “kit” house other than those listed above, please share with us at: [email protected]. We are conveying all of this information to the new Richland Preservation Action Group, and through them to the Richland County Historical Society.
Do you live in a Sears house? Drop us a line at: [email protected], or via Facebook or Twitter, and let us know. We’re hoping to include several in a future Landmarks of Mansfield post.
Photo: A Sears Home – Creative Commons License