Category Archives: Mail Order and Kit Houses

Restored Balustrades on a Sears Westly

The “Westly”, a popular kit house by Sears, was offered throughout the ‘teens and 1920’s.  Its overtly Craftsman porch supports and balustrade make it memorable and easily recognizable.  The following Westly, built in Holdrege, Nebraska, had lost its original balustrades at some point as seen in an image from 2013, (second image below).

Earlier this year, I photographed the house.  Its porches have been restored with balustrades replicating the originals… it looks so much better now!


A period Sears catalog page depicting the Westly.


This image dated 2013 from Google Street View shows the house without its distinctive balustrades and a with pair of modern sliding glass doors in the dormer.


This is how the house appeared earlier this year!  SO much better.  Now, about those sliding glass doors…


An Interesting Craftsman Bungalow

This house captured my attention for several reasons.  First, it bears a striking resemblance (in reverse) to the Aladdin “Plaza” and Harris Homes’ plan No. N-1026.  Secondly, its elaborate mortise-and-tenon porch supports are both fun and chamfered.  The balustrade is similarly playful (cut-outs alternate between circle and diamond shapes).  Lastly, the house outwardly appears to… Continue Reading

The Evolution of the Winona by Sears

There are numerous frustrating obstacles to those who research houses with kit or plan book origins.  One is that on occasion the various competitors would not only rename or renumber their assorted offerings over the years, but redesign the floor plans as well.  And it doesn’t help that these same competitors routinely copied each other’s… Continue Reading

Frederick L. Ackerman’s Plan No. 198

I’ve been fascinated by house plan books and catalogs for as long as I can remember and “The Books of a Thousand Homes” is particularly riveting.  Published in 1923 by an entity calling itself The Home Owners Service Institute, the book contained five hundred house plans.  Working blueprints for each design could be ordered through… Continue Reading