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Old 02-16-2011, 07:26 AM
 
Location: Norfolk
806 posts, read 683,650 times
Reputation: 1574
Default Pictures of pretty, pretty Sears Homes in Atlanta

Recently, I went to Atlanta to look for Sears Homes. In that I live in Norfolk, it was a long trip (but well worth it). A woman friend in Acworth (Nancy) invited me down there and then drove me around the area, and let me stay in her home. I couldn't have done this without her.

I found many kit homes in Atlanta and when I got home, I contacted a couple historical groups in Atlanta to tell them of my amazing discoveries. Sadly, they responded with, "yes, we did a survey and found all our kit homes."

I'd bet $50 they did not find all the kit homes.

Based on my life experience and 11 years of devotion to this topic, I typically find 75%-90% more kit homes than the “local historians.” And that’s not to disparage the good work of others, but the fact is, unless you have access to several thousand images of kit homes from the six national kit home companies (Sears, Aladdin, Sterling, Harris Brothers and more), you can’t really know what you’re looking for.

Thanks to the efforts of a couple fellow researchers and dear friends (Dale Wolicki and Rebecca Hunter), we’ve compiled these “several thousand images” into massive field guides, organized by housing style. We pore over these pages regularly, striving to memorize hundreds of the most popular designs, so that we may identify them in the communities we visit.

It’s a labor of love, and it’s also a lot of work. And it’s also a lot of fun. It’s a real treasure hunt, and we hope it’s also preserving a piece of history.

Kit homes are historically significant for too many reasons to go into here, but in short, these homes were ordered from a mail-order catalog and were shipped in about 12,000 pieces, arriving via boxcar at the local train station. The kits came with 75-page instruction books and a promise that “a man of average abilities” could have one put together and ready for occupancy in 90 days!

Enough words.

My point in posting this is to spread the word. Atlanta has a bunch of kit homes, and here are a few of the most interesting specimens I found in the area. Please share this link with others. This is an *amazing* chapter in Atlanta's architectural history that should not be lost.

Enjoy the pretty pictures.

My favorite Sears Homes, the Sears Alhambra.





First, my OTHER favorite: The Aladdin Villa in Atlanta. This was Aladdin's biggest and best house. BTW, Aladdin was a kit home company - just like Sears - but they were more popular in the south.











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Old 02-16-2011, 07:30 AM
 
Location: Indianapolis, IN (ATL Bound)
392 posts, read 381,489 times
Reputation: 224
Great stuff! Thanks for posting!
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Old 02-16-2011, 07:53 AM
 
Location: ITP - City of Atlanta Proper
6,494 posts, read 6,609,191 times
Reputation: 3663
Lovely post!

And you are right, Atlanta is a kit house paradise. I have a mild obsession with finding them where ever I go. :P
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Old 02-16-2011, 08:07 AM
 
309 posts, read 451,317 times
Reputation: 357
Wow great post!

I never knew about Kit Homes but it seems like a fascinating topic. That Villa home looks like an absolute doll house (and my dream home lol) These homes look just like the homes I grew up around in the small south GA town i was born/raised in. What an amazing piece of history...it makes me wonder what if we had something like this in our day and age...for an average man to be able to provide for his/her family and build a roof over their heads without much "hip and hoorah"
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Old 02-16-2011, 12:05 PM
 
22 posts, read 52,286 times
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Default Modern day kit homes

I know of a couple of modern day kit homes, I am sure there are many companies. Two that I am aware of are "shelter kit" and "first day cottage". Both claim that you can build one for about 20k-40k for the kit, and between 7-30 days for 2 people to assemble. They claim that you need no special tools or prior experience. Of course, it will cost extra for plumbing, wiring, permits, septic, etc.

The foundations can be built on piers, or a slab can be poured.

I am dreaming about building one of these for a cabin in the woods one day, with the idea of having no mortgage.
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Old 02-16-2011, 12:43 PM
 
9,125 posts, read 23,194,989 times
Reputation: 3329
Quote:
Originally Posted by GaBison2007 View Post
Wow great post!

it makes me wonder what if we had something like this in our day and age...for an average man to be able to provide for his/her family and build a roof over their heads without much "hip and hoorah"
Problem is, most men nowadays don't know which end of a screwdriver to hold, much less how to put a kit house together. Back when those kits were popular, the average middle-class guy knew how to work with his hands, and always had neighbors and family to rely on if he couldn't- now all they know is how to text and call someone on their 7G iPhones.....

At least it'd make for plenty of good episodes for "DIY Disasters", "Renovation Realities", and all the other shows that feature homeowners bungling their projects.
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Old 02-16-2011, 01:12 PM
 
Location: Norfolk
806 posts, read 683,650 times
Reputation: 1574
Default yes

Quote:
Originally Posted by BobKovacs View Post
Problem is, most men nowadays don't know which end of a screwdriver to hold, much less how to put a kit house together.

Back when those kits were popular, the average middle-class guy knew how to work with his hands, and always had neighbors and family to rely on if he couldn't- now all they know is how to text and call someone on their 7G iPhones.....
You're correct on this. Remember the Little House books? Laura Ingalls Wilder talked about how "Pa" built soddies for the family, and then built their "Little House on the Prairie."

These "Little House" books tell about life on the prairies and plains in 1870s and 1880s. Only three decades later, Sears started offering their kit homes. And they were called "Sears Modern Homes" for a reason. They had bathrooms (inside!), and plumbing and electrical systems and heat.

As late as 1917, American Carpenter and Builder (a popular building magazine of the time) was "recommending" that modern homes have "weathertight walls and roof."

Housing was still very primitive in this country (in places) well into the late 1800s.

To have a house arrive in 12,000 pre-cut pieces with a 75-page instruction book would have seemed a very manageable task to the average man of the early 20th Century. All the framing lumber was numbered, to facilitate construction.

One century ago, men were well-versed in a variety of skills, and for a man who knew how to build a log cabin, the idea of building a kit home would not have seemed so onerous.

Here are pictures of soddies from the late 1800s. Note the captions scribbled on the images. BTW, lots of our ancestors lived in soddies. They were made from SOD cut out of the treeless prairies.




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Old 02-16-2011, 01:28 PM
 
14,575 posts, read 9,152,381 times
Reputation: 3445
Quote:
Originally Posted by RosemaryT View Post
Recently, I went to Atlanta to look for Sears Homes. In that I live in Norfolk, it was a long trip (but well worth it). A woman friend in Acworth (Nancy) invited me down there and then drove me around the area, and let me stay in her home. I couldn't have done this without her.

I found many kit homes in Atlanta and when I got home, I contacted a couple historical groups in Atlanta to tell them of my amazing discoveries. Sadly, they responded with, "yes, we did a survey and found all our kit homes."

I'd bet $50 they did not find all the kit homes.
Great stuff! I grew up in one of these homes and one of my children lives in one now.

Would you be able to post the addresses (the street name, not the number) for these houses?
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Old 02-16-2011, 03:20 PM
 
Location: America
5,098 posts, read 4,498,360 times
Reputation: 1863
Quote:
Originally Posted by BobKovacs View Post
Problem is, most men nowadays don't know which end of a screwdriver to hold, much less how to put a kit house together. Back when those kits were popular, the average middle-class guy knew how to work with his hands, and always had neighbors and family to rely on if he couldn't- now all they know is how to text and call someone on their 7G iPhones.....

At least it'd make for plenty of good episodes for "DIY Disasters", "Renovation Realities", and all the other shows that feature homeowners bungling their projects.
That's not fair. I know plenty of young men from my generation who are good with their hands. I have friends that are in business for themselves doing house painting and home repair. I'm kind of handy myself around the house and I used to work on lawns with a friend...my grandfather was born in 1919, and I doubt he knows any more about building a house than I do

Anyway, that Alhambra house reminds me of Driving Miss Daisy.
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Old 02-16-2011, 03:24 PM
 
Location: Mableton, GA USA (NW Atlanta suburb, 4 miles OTP)
9,913 posts, read 14,189,969 times
Reputation: 2733
Quote:
Originally Posted by BobKovacs View Post
Problem is, most men nowadays don't know which end of a screwdriver to hold, much less how to put a kit house together. Back when those kits were popular, the average middle-class guy knew how to work with his hands, and always had neighbors and family to rely on if he couldn't- now all they know is how to text and call someone on their 7G iPhones.....

At least it'd make for plenty of good episodes for "DIY Disasters", "Renovation Realities", and all the other shows that feature homeowners bungling their projects.
The fact that many items that were previously easy to tinker with (automobiles, radios, etc.) are much more difficult for the layman to play with is a factor, I think. Hard to tinker with a single IC package or a car that won't let you easily access even relatively simple items like oil filters and headlights.
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