Sears Archives These days housing doesn’t come cheap and the way banks vet every detail about your finances is soul-sucking to put in mildly. But back in the early 1900s, LONG before Sears filed for Bankruptcy, they were practically giving houses away. In fact, back in “the gold old days” Sears was the biggest retailer in the US and they were revolutionizing home-ownership and kick-starting the American dream for thousands by offering affordable ‘kit homes’.These houses arrived by railroad in pieces that homeowners were expected to build themselves. There were 400 types of home designs to choose from, in a range of budgets, and over 75,000 of these mail-order built homes were bought and built all over the USA between 1908 and 1940.
Sears Archives The Sears’ catalog was such a cultural phenomenon that nearly a full one-fifth of the population signed up to the 1,400-page tome, which offered more than 100,000 items to be delivered to your door. This was Amazon a century before anybody ever thought of that word as more than an exotic location on a map.
Sears Archives Once people received their kit home, which Sears promised could be done without a carpenter and with only rudimentary skills in less than 90 days, it was up to customers to then furnish the houses (more than likely with brand-new Sears goods) and buy modern conveniences like central heating, indoor plumbing, and electricity. Sounds like a Monopoly to me, but people were hooked on the concept.
Old House Online Incredibly, many of these DIY houses are still standing today, a testament to the quality of the materials as well as the solid carpentry skills many families were familiar with back then.
Sears Archives These houses are considered by many to be collectibles. The quaint, early 20th century designs have been known to fetch as much as $1 million on the real estate market!
Sears Archives It is estimated that nearly 70% of the OG Sears kit homes constructed are still standing strong today, many of which are located near to the rail yards they were delivered to. This has garnered a slew of attention from kit home enthusiasts who travel the country in search of the architectural gems.
RealHotSauceBoss) As people continue to recognize the value of these historic national treasures, some are restoring them to their original glory.
Sears Archives These last images are some of the interior shots the Sears catalog had for their customers to choose from.
OK, maybe not quite “Free,” but still it was damn affordable.H/T Sears Archives, Old House Online, Boredpanda
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