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:


Modern Home No. 264P205 was soon to become the Winona.  The exterior would remain essentially the same until some time in the 1920’s, but modifications were made to the plan.  Image by Rachel Shoemaker via


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:


The “Venice” as it appeared in Montgomery Ward’s 1917 Book of Homes. Image via


The 1920 Bennett Homes catalog includes a similar design called the “Dover”:


The Dover by Bennett Homes.


The following 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 loss of eaves and brackets, along with the alteration of windows and siding, have radically changed the appearance of this house. But the memorable porch and window spacing survive.  Image courtesy Google Street View.


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):


Same look, new floorplan.  Image via


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:


An updated look and updated plan.  Image via


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:


Slight changes to the exterior updated the feel of the house.  Image via


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.

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