For much of the last 10 years, I've wandered through too many hamlets and villages to count, chasing down that elusive Sears Magnolia - the finest, best, and biggest kit home that Sears offered. I've traveled to 25 states, given 200 lectures, and have identified thousands of kit homes yet heretofore, I'd never *discovered* a Sears Magnolia.
For those poor unenlightened souls, Sears sold kit homes through their mail-order catalogs in the early 1900s. From 1908-1940, you could order an entire kit house from Sears. The 30,000-piece kit was shipped by boxcar and Sears promised that a "man of average abilities" could have the house fully assembled and ready for occupancy within 90 days.
That was probably a little ambitious. In fact, some people spent *years* assembling their kit home. By 1940, Sears had sold about 70,000 of these homes, and they were offered in about 370 styles.
Head and shoulders above the many little bungalows and four-squares that Sears offered was their biggest and fanciest home: The Sears Magnolia. According to some very unreliable reports, only six Magnolias were sold.
There was a Magnolia in Nebraska, but it burned down many years ago. The remaining Magnolias were in Pennsylvania, Alabama, Indiana and Ohio. And those were all the Magnolias we knew about - until last week!
A dear FOSH (friend of Sears Homes) sent me a link to a story that appeared in a North Carolina news report. The story talked about a Sears house in North Carolina. When I clicked on that link, I could hardly believe it. They were talking about a SEARS MAGNOLIA!
Of course, I immediately hopped in my car and drove four hours due north so that I might touch the hem of this beautiful Magnolia. It was beautiful and grand and lovely and happy.
And it is the SIXTH known Magnolia in the country.
Isn't it beautiful? Isn't she lovely? Doesn't she take away your breath?
Be still my quivering heart. And the best news is, this delightful Magnolia is less than four hours away from my home in Norfolk!
Rose Thornton (author of lots of books on kit homes)