I Live In a Sears Kit Home – Here’s How I Honor Its History
This past year was a big one for me. I had a baby in my 40s, and I bought a Sears kit house with my husband, and moved into it. It was our fourth move since the pandemic started, but that’s a whole other story.
The house is fantastic. It’s on a tree-lined street in a gorgeous, quaint, and beloved part of a small East Coast town. And did I mention it’s a Sears kit house?
The little iconic Sears touches throughout the property really make it shine — the multiple columns, the widow’s peak windows in the attic, the side square patio and entrance. Sears kit houses are a new phenomenon to me, and I’ve truly enjoyed getting to know about them from the inside out. Here are some ways I have been able to honor my home’s history.
I Hold Onto to the Pieces from Yesteryear
Whoever remodeled the house in the 1960s or again in the 2000s removed the old French doors and put them in a closet downstairs. Apparently, one of the challenges in identifying some craft houses is that they’ve been remodeled so many times over the years. My husband took the doors out of our house and put them into the garage to sell in our upcoming yard sale. I said, “Not so fast, buster!” I believe that the older pieces of the home should stay on the property, even if we don’t plan to use them. (I’m also one of those people who saves old iPhone boxes.)
Similarly, the sliding doors on either side of the kitchen have not been used in probably half a century. They stay neatly tucked in between the walls, hoping to someday see action again. When our painter offered to remove and throw them away for us, I said, “Absolutely not.” They’re not hurting anyone where they are, so I asked that they be left alone.
Someone may be really happy to have access to all these forgotten doors one day. They may also help identify the home as a Sears kit house in years to come.
I Repainted It in the Original Color Scheme
I can’t say for sure if my home’s exterior colors are the ones that were planned for it or not, but who am I to touch perfection? I had the painter stick to the original scheme — meaning the paint colors I found on the house. Even if it was redone in, say, the ‘60s and the colors aren’t original, there’s something special about keeping a bit of the old story in place. The interior veers from its storied past, however. Whenever I move into a new home, I have the interior repainted from top to bottom. It’s like the moving-in equivalent of changing the house’s sheets.
I’ve Read (and Continue to Read!) About Kit Houses
Now that I know it’s a Sears kit house, I’m excited to learn what I can about this neat little category of home. I always look for more identifying markers around my house — such as stamped wood or original fixtures — and try to start conversations with fans online with whom I can share my affection for this interesting place I happened to buy. I’ve found countless websites, articles, books, aficionados, experts, and laypeople who enjoy and appreciate Sears craft homes as much as I do. Who knew when I bought a home I’d also become a member of an unofficial club?
I Took a Trip Downtown — and Back in Time
My curiosity about my new home even led me on a bit of a march through history. I called my local historical association and deed office to try to find out about the house’s past. I wanted to know who the previous owners were, who had our home built, and whatever else I could scrounge up about my address. I was intrigued to learn about the existence of title searchers — a group of people who hang out at the deed office at the county courthouse and search through public records to trace legal ownership of a property. They’re a quirky crew, and very knowledgeable about the property history of the area they’re working in. To hire someone to do a search 60 years back, I was quoted a rate of $225. So, with a baby in my arms, I did the searching myself.
I was able to trace the owners of this home and before it, as well as the property it sits on, back to the late 1800s. (Quite an interesting morning’s read!) The information wasn’t necessarily life-changing, but it did give me a mental picture of what the area looked like when it was first being built. I got a sense of what was going on in the community, who the people who lived here before me were, and what their lives were like. It helped to fill in some fascinating pieces about the story of the home we bought. One previous owner was a famous jazz musician. Pretty neat! I wonder if someday, 100 years from now, someone will be looking through the records and will say, no kidding, Jessica Delfino, writer of quirky comedic music and articles about this and that, lived there.
I Always Keep an Eye Out for More Info About Sears Kit Houses
As I mentioned, this was my first foray into the Sears kit house world, and it’s been one that ticks a lot of boxes in areas that I find interesting: history, real estate, people/personalities, and research, among others. Going forward, I will be sure to put the knowledge I’ve collected about Sears craft houses in my palm pilot so that I can bring it out at parties, during opportune conversations, and whenever the mood strikes. Maybe I’ll be able to find some additional pieces of information about craft houses that I haven’t heard or read about yet.
All these little ways help not only honor the history of my home, but keep history alive in me, and through me, more readily available for future generations — my own little gift to the world. You’re welcome!