Sunday, April 15, 2012

Is Your Metrowest Home a Sears House?

Tradition has it that the house at 10 Medway Street in Norfolk, Massachusetts is a Sears House. If you are not familiar with a Sears House, they are homes that were available for purchase from the Sears Catalog by mail. All the materials were delivered pre-cut so all you had to do was build it.

What can you look for if you suspect that you live in a Sears Home? Here are three tips to get you started:

1.  Was your house built between 1908 - 1940?

Sears homes were only sold from 1908 to 1940. Check the property card provided by your local town assessor to see when your house was built. Keep in my that the date provided by your assessor might not be completely accurate. Since Sears houses were a recent 20th century phenomena also check with long-time neighbors who may have knowledge of your house or with the local historical society to see if anyone remembers the house being built or has photos.

2. Do you live near a railroad or railway station? 

Sears homes for Massachusetts were sent from Chicago, Illinois on two railway cars full of materials. For this reason, most Sears homes are located near a railroad. In Massachusetts, particularly in Metrowest, there may be old railways that are no longer being used.  They may be there and you are not aware of them. To be certain you don't miss any, check old maps at your local library or Town Hall.

3. Does the layout match Sears House Plans?

Sears Houses were intended to be built exactly according to the plans provided by Sears (though exceptions were made). Therefore the layout of the house should match the plans published by Sears. Check the book Houses by Mail: A Guide to Houses from Sears, Roebuck and Company by Katharine Cole Stevenson and H. Ward Jandl.  This book provides hundreds of drawings and layouts of Sears houses. It also provides a system for identifying Sears Houses quickly using architectural style.

The lovely home at 10 Medway Street in Norfolk meets criteria one because public record says it was built in 1930. This was during the height of Sears House sales.

It is also within a reasonable distance of a railway station as the local railroad, still in use, is located in the center of Norfolk.

The layout for 10 Medway Street closely matches several Sears House Plans (which is not unusual since many of their house plans were revisions of existing ones).  So at this point, 10 Medway Street can still be considered a possible Sears House but more research needs to be done to prove it conclusively.

In future posts I will describe other more specific ways to check to see if you live in a Sears House.                            
The property at 10 Medway Street, Norfolk, Massachusetts is currently for sale and listed by realtor, Rose O'Connor. More information about the house can be found on Rose's website.


  1. I love these Sears homes, probably why I love San Fran. I live in 1904 Shirtwaist Victorian, but would love the old Sears home style. Thanks for this blog. I must share with my friend, who has a proven Sears home.

  2. I seem to remember seeing something like this on History Detectives a few years ago, where the home owners were trying to determine if their house was an "Edison" house, which apparently was also an early "kit" house.