Sears Catalog / Catálogo de Sears

La versión en español está después de la versión en inglés.

MY WONDERFUL BLOGGING FRIEND JUDY (who calls herself “The Other Judy” so as not to be confused with my wonderful friend Judyshannon), is an avid researcher of Sears Modern Homes. These were catalog and kit houses sold mostly through mail order in the United States.

There were more than 370 different designs and styles, and more than 70,000 homes were sold from around 1908 to 1940. Many of the homes still exist, but are not always easy to find. Some were simple and charming. Others were quite grand. Judy is expert in what to look for and even finds Sears homes on her travels by simply recognizing and comparing original features. Be sure to check out Judy’s blog “Sears House Seeker” (click here). You’ll be amazed by what you could build from a kit 100 years ago.

Judy recently discovered a website of New York City Historical Records (click here if you’re interested). She immediately emailed me knowing I might have an interest.

My great-grandparents (my maternal grandmother’s parents) owned a home in Brooklyn, in which my Aunt Sylvie was born in 1922. I didn’t know until recent years that my great-grandmother lived in the house until her death in 1951. Nor did I know the house was still standing. I had found a brick row house at the address, but the online information had the date of construction incorrect, so I thought it was a newer house.

Well, thanks to Judy, I found a tax photo from 1940, when my greats still owned the house. I was able to compare that to the current Google Maps photo and it’s clearly the same house. Very exciting. A distant cousin, who was born in Brooklyn, but left very young for the West Coast, told another cousin that our great-grandparents lived on a farm outside the city. We knew that wasn’t the case, but we now know where that memory came from. When I shared the photo with another cousin, she remembered they had a large vegetable garden (you can see part of it beside the house). Although they also lived in Brooklyn, they were perhaps 45 minutes away by car, and much more by subway or bus. So, it must have seemed to her like they were driving into the countryside.

I’m so grateful to Judy for thinking of me. I love the history and it brought back memories for two of my cousins and my aunt. I remember looking at the Sears Catalog when I was young (and, especially, the photos of men in underwear), but I don’t remember my parents shopping from it.

San Geraldo’s family made good use of the catalog. He told me the pages were especially good as toilet paper in the outhouses on the farm. However, he said it was important to crumple the pages aggressively between your hands to remove the slick finish from the paper (I’m pretty sure, BEFORE, you used it; although I’ve never asked). I’m SO glad I didn’t grow up on a farm.


MI MARAVILLOSA AMIGA DE BLOGGING Judy (que se hace llamar “La Otra Judy” para no confundirse con mi maravillosa amiga Judyshannon), es una ávida investigadora de Sears Modern Homes. Estas fueron catálogos y casas de kit vendidas principalmente a través de pedidos por correo en los Estados Unidos.

Hubo más de 370 diseños y estilos diferentes, y se vendieron más de 70,000 casas desde 1908 hasta 1940. Muchas de las casas todavía existen, pero no siempre son fáciles de encontrar. Algunas eran simples y encantadores. Otros fueron bastante grandiosas. Judy es experta en qué buscar e incluso encuentra hogares de Sears en sus viajes simplemente reconociendo y comparando características originales. Asegúrese de visitar el blog de Judy “Sears House Seeker” (haz clic aquí). Te sorprenderá lo que podrías construir a partir de un kit hace 100 años.

Judy descubrió recientemente un sitio web de Registros Históricos de la Ciudad de Nueva York (haz clic aquí si está interesado). Judy me envió un correo electrónico sabiendo que podría tener un interés.

Mis bisabuelos (los padres de mi abuela materna) eran dueños de una casa en Brooklyn, en la que nació mi tía Sylvie en 1922. No supe hasta hace pocos años que mi bisabuela vivía en la casa hasta su muerte en 1951. Ni sabía que la casa todavía estaba alli. Había encontrado una casa de ladrillo en la dirección, pero la información en línea tenía la fecha de construcción incorrecta, así que pensé que era una casa más nueva.

Bueno, gracias a Judy, encontré una foto de impuestos de 1940, cuando mis bisabuelos aún eran dueños de la casa. Pude comparar eso con la foto actual de Google Maps y es claramente la misma casa. Muy emocionante. Una prima lejana, que nació en Brooklyn, pero se fue muy joven a la costa oeste, le dijo a otra prima que nuestros bisabuelos vivían en una granja en las afueras de la ciudad. Sabíamos que ese no era el caso, pero ahora sé de dónde vino ese recuerdo. Cuando compartí la foto con otra prima, ella recordó que tenían un gran huerto (se puede ver parte de él al lado de la casa). Aunque también vivían en Brooklyn, quizás estaban a 45 minutos en coche, y mucho más en metro o autobús. Entonces, debe haberle parecido que estaban conduciendo hacia el campo.

Estoy muy agradecido con Judy por pensar en mí. Me encanta la historia y me trajo recuerdos para dos de mis primos y mi tía. Recuerdo haber visto el Catálogo de Sears cuando era joven (y, especialmente, las fotos de hombres en ropa interior), pero no recuerdo que mis padres lo compraran.

La familia de San Geraldo hizo buen uso del catálogo. Me dijo que las páginas eran especialmente buenas como papel higiénico en las dependencias de la granja. Sin embargo, dijo que era importante arrugar las páginas agresivamente entre sus manos para eliminar el acabado liso del papel (estoy bastante seguro, ANTES, que lo usó; aunque nunca lo he preguntado). Estoy tan contento de no haber crecido en una granja.

In 2019, under renovation. No more vegetable garden; a new house instead. Too bad the stained glass enclosed porch didn’t survive.
En 2019, en proceso de renovación. No más huerto; una casa nueva en su lugar. Lástima que el porche cerrado de vidrieras no sobrevivió.
Aunt Sylvie and Uncle Harry’s wedding, 1946. Behind Sylvie, from left, my great-grandparents, my grandmother, and my grandfather (in top hat and tails). The couple behind Harry are his parents. Sylvie told me Harry grabbed her for a dramatic kiss, which was very inappropriate in front of her grandparents. My great-grandmother doesn’t look very comfortable.
La boda de tía Sylvie y tío Harry, 1946. Detrás de Sylvie, desde la izquierda, mis bisabuelos, mi abuela, y mi abuelo (con sombrero de copa y cola). La pareja detrás de Harry son sus padres. Sylvie me dijo que Harry la agarró para un beso dramático, que era muy inapropiado frente a mis bisabuelos. Mi bisabuela no se ve muy cómoda.

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

24 thoughts on “Sears Catalog / Catálogo de Sears”

  1. Another piece to the ‘puzzle’……good to have the family history verified when possible.

    1. Anonymous Jim:
      SG is amazing at confirming things through his research. We’ve given up sharing most info with extended family. Every time we did, we were would told we were wrong… and no one could agree on the “right.”

  2. I’ve always liked the idea that you could order a house through a catalog and then the boxes would arrive and you’d put it together like a puzzle. And so many of those homes are still standing!

    1. Bob,
      The first I heard of it was from a thing the Abbott and Costello episode about the “Honeymoon House.” I wanted one.

  3. pity they removed the pretty front porch. the first pix looks like any city row house (NYC or philly). I think my friend fearsome beard used to live in a sears house in CA many years ago.

    1. Anne Marie,
      I would love to get inside a Sears House with Judy as guide to explain the details and point out what would be original. Most of those porches were pulled off over the years. A shame. They added so much charm.

  4. Great pictures. Neat piece of history. When I return, I drive by homes I have lived in,

    1. Kirk,
      I didn’t make clear that my great-grandparents’ house wasn’t a Sears house, but, yep, Sears shipped everything. Creating the kits was a brilliant idea that apparently turned the hardware supply part of their business around.

  5. Believe some family friends who lived in Riverside, CA had a Sears Craftsman home. Stayed with them when I was in college (50 years ago!) and remember the beautiful wood detailing in the house and being told at that time it was a Sears catalog home. Don’t remember the address or I would check it out. Judy has an amazing site. Will have to explore it further.

    Sears catalogs played a big role in my life. We lived overseas (military) almost my entire childhood and early teens and the only way you could get some things in 1950s/early 60s were through the catalogs (Big Books that came out seasonally)–or should I say, the only way you could dream about some things was to look through pages of the (then) very thick catalog. Remember as an 11 year old coveting a pair of leather booted roller skates that were $50–a huge sum in those days. Never could afford them. Even my own children (now in their late 30s/40s) remember poring over the Sears Wish Book that usually came out in the fall. Dreaming of the toys they might receive for Christmas or using the pictures for imaginary play.

    Love the wedding photo. Easy to see where you get your height looking at your grandfather in top hat and tails.

    1. Mary,
      Judy has shared some really incredible info about Sears homes. I had no idea they were so varied. Also, they were sold primarily in the Midwest and Northeast of the country, so always exciting when one is discovered on the west coast.

      Amazingly, of the 7 siblings in my mother’s family, all but 2 were above average in height (my mother being the second shortest at 5’2”). In my generation of 17, most are above average in height. I’m the tallest and my sister was tallest of the women. And it ALL must have come from that grandfather because my father’s parents were short and my maternal grandmother was under 5’.

  6. Interesting! It’s amazing what’s available online these days, isn’t it? I like the house but, like you, I’m sorry the stained glass porch is gone.

    1. Steve,
      SG has so much online that often when I do a search on my family history, all that comes up is his website links. I might do a “Trip to Bountiful” tour of NYC the next time I visit my brother… whenever that might be!

  7. What interesting research and photos about your great-grandparents’ house!

    In Canada, our equivalent to the Sears Catalogue was the Eatons Catalogue. And yes, it served double duty as outhouse toilet paper as well. San Geraldo is absolutely correct about the necessity of crumpling up the torn-out page first in order to get a “rougher” surface for wiping purposes. In our outhouse, however, we always had toilet paper because we put on the dog that way.

    1. Debra,
      SG’s family has lots of outhouse stories. Probably time for me to share another. They loved to tell them just to see my reaction. Thank YOU so much for sharing yours…

    1. Mcpersonalspace,
      The neighborhood went through rough times. Either the stained glass was destroyed or it was sold. A shame.

    1. Wilma,
      For Jerry’s family, it was Sears and Penny’s. If I ever get back to visit the Kid Brother… I plan to explore all the addresses I have for my grandparents in NYC. Magical.

  8. That is HILARIOUS that your cousin thought they lived on a farm– ha! I was surprised, when looking through the 1940s tax photos for the area, that some streets did look rural, which is just not anything I think of, when I think of NY. Thanks for mentioning my Sears-house-ing!
    (The other) Judy

    1. Judy:
      I hadn’t met her at the time I was told that story. Her name was prefaced with the word “Crazy.” We began to have contact about a year later, but it didn’t last long. In her defense, however, she was probably less than 5 years old the last time she was at that house. (STILL… pretty funny.) My uncle Aaron told me lots of stories about old Brooklyn from his childhood. He used to love to take me for drives when I was already in my teens and point out where the farms had been, the sheep meadows. Those drives were magical for me. It was a different place.

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