Cataloging Sears Roebuck & Kit Homes in the Somerset Hills

The Mr. Local History Project received a request and we love the idea. We’re going to try to find as many Sears Roebuck houses we can in Basking Ridge and the surrounding area. Don’t know what a Sears Roebuck house is? Well let’s set the stage. Join us as we begin cataloging Sears Roebuck houses, also known as “kit homes” in the Somerset Hills (Get it? We made a funny).

Quick intro to Sears homes that were ordered and shipped for assembly in the early 1900’s to the Mid – 1940s.

Get on the map! If you have a Sears kit house or think you do, get on the New Jersey list. Send in your name.

Background

Sears houses are celebrated and sought out as models of the early 20th century American home, and for good reason. Between 1908 and 1939, Sears sold 70-75,000 houses in 447 different styles all over the country. “From Craftsman to Cape Cods, they offered a custom home at budgets and sizes that could accommodate any size family,” writes Popular Mechanics.

In its first year of production, 1908, Sears sold only one model, number 125, an Eight-Room Bungalow Style House for $945, advertised as “the finest cottage ever constructed at a price less than $1500.” In 1918, the company moved from a numbering system to named models, most of which sound like the names of cozy small towns and bedroom communities.

Have a House to Share on the Map?

Do you live in a Sears Roebuck house? Drop us a quick note with your information and we’ll see if we can get you added to the map.

    What’s even more extraordinary is that 50% of these were built by the homeowners themselves, usually, as in a barn-raising, with the generous help of family, friends, and neighbors. The other half sold were built professionally. “Often,” writes Messy Nessy, “local builders and carpentry companies purchased homes from Sears to build as model homes and market their services to potential customers.”

    Special thanks to Denise Szabo for getting us going. Source: Around and About Basking Ridge
    The shipping label for the above home.

    The Kit Home Continues Today

    Kit homes are growing AGAIN in popularity. Take a look at a few ideas to drop down a prebuilt home quickly and inexpensively. See how they’ve evolved.

    Thinking of a backyard “she-shed” or home for the folks? This model is called the “Container Home”.

    The new “Container home” follows in the Kit Home idea. Small, modern, and cheap shipped right to your door. See More

    Additional Information

    Check the basement beams. Sears Roebuck houses typically had their assembly numbers stamped on the lumber. They are usually less than an inch tall and will be found near the edge of the board.
    Use Facebook to connect with other Sears Kit home sleuths. Click Here

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