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 work. The house known as the Sears “Winona” is just one example; some other houses have similar histories. Below is Sears’ “Modern Home No. 264P205”, possibly the prototype for the design later to be known as the “Winona”, as it appeared in their 1914-1915 Modern Homes catalog:
The 1917 Montgomery Ward Book of Homes included a noticeably similar kit which they marketed as the “Venice”. The porch supports of the Venice were both taller and more slender. The roof appears to have a slightly steeper pitch and there are five brackets beneath the gable eaves rather than the seven found on No. 264P205. While the exterior was a lot like that of the Sears design, the floor plan was given a drastic makeover. Despite the new layout, window placement remained unchanged:
This house may well be a surviving example – drastically altered – which I suspect is Sears No. 264P205 because of the shorter, stockier porch supports and low roof pitch. This example is in McCook, Nebraska:
The 1918 catalog of Sears Modern Homes did not include No. 264P205, but did include a house with the same facade but different floor plan called the “Winona”. This time the floor plan more closely resembles that of Montgomery Ward’s “Venice”! Note that the door and windows are arranged differently than the earlier version (reflecting the new floor plan):
The 1927 catalog of Modern Homes still offered the Winona, but with a redesign of both the floor plan and the exterior! The house was now pictured with narrow clapboard siding, a re-styled porch and a gabled bump-out in the dining room with a window seat. The triangular brackets were gone, but faux beams appeared. The Winona still retained this look in the 1936 catalog:
By 1940 – the last year of Sears’ kit house offerings – The Winona had been modestly tweaked once more. The horizontally-arranged attic windows which helped to lend a Craftsman-era aesthetic had now been replaced by a single sash window with a vertical emphasis. Wider siding also gave the house a more modern look:
By 1940 the house had changed so much that it really wasn’t the same house. The name “Winona” was the only bit of consistency in the end.