First post

So here we are.
First post.

I actually looked at other Sears blogs to see what they posted about on their first posts, and mainly it was how they got started with finding Sears Homes, so I guess we'll continue that trend!

The first time I heard about Sears Catalog Homes was when I was 15 and going on a "haunted" tour of Williamsburg, VA in 2005. The tour guide had pointed out a house to our little group, and said something along the lines of "that house was ordered from a Sears catalog and brought here on a boxcar train!" Kind of a weird thing to point out on a haunted tour, but whatever, we went along with it. I don't remember much else about the tour, but I do remember thinking the idea of ordering a house from a catalog was a pretty cool concept.

Flash forward three years.

My grandpa Pretzinger, Poppo, was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, also known as throat cancer, right after I graduated high school. Since I was going to community college, my schedule was pretty flexible and I ended up spending a lot of time with him. We talked about all kinds of things,  and eventually, I brought up the idea of catalog homes. He laughed out loud and said "Well I grew up in one of those!" and gave me the address to drive by sometime.

Martha Washington
204 Forrer Blvd, Oakwood, OH
Source: Google Streetview

You see, the Pretzinger family in Dayton, Ohio, has had a long, long history of being Architects and Engineers, including my great-grandfather, Freeman Pretzinger, who built the Martha Washington in Oakwood. So why on earth would an architect, surrounded by other architects, order a house from a catalog instead of designing a house himself?

Well because that's life, and life is ironic. Honestly, the reason why has been lost with the times. My grandpa passed away after a short battle with cancer on March 31st, 2010, and a lot of the family stories were left untold.

Flash foward seven years.

It's 2017. I'm married to a great guy, we have two little dogs, two nice jobs, and relatively no debt, which is a MIRACLE. We start looking for houses and I come across this real estate ad for a "Sears catalog home" in Beavercreek (it's not actually a Sears house, but it's based off the Dover). While the house is crazy out of our price range, and the yard is absolutely no-way-ever-ever-ever-happening, the fact that it's a Sears House catches my eye. I remember my grandpa's old house in Oakwood, I remember the weird haunted tour in Williamsburg, and I start looking into it more.

I came across another real estate ad for another Dover (another lookalike, I later find out) on Burroughs Dr in Dayton on the SAME DAY.

Dover lookalike
1940 Burroughs Dr, Dayton, OH
Source: Realtor.com

Dover lookalike
3736 Dayton-Xenia Rd, Beavercreek, OH
Source: Realtor.com

It's fate.
I'm instantly hooked.
I start looking around more, I find more houses.

So then, I want to find more people with this hobby, right? I buy the bible for Sears Homes researchers, Houses by Mail, then I join a Facebook group and start messaging the mods about these houses I found. Some of them aren't actually Sears houses, some are. Eventually I find out one of the admins, Cindy Catanzaro, is local to southwest Ohio, so I ask if there are local meetups for Sears house enthusiasts. She said she could meet up with me for coffee and we could talk about them! YES! So I gather my courage and go to a Panera Bread. We end up spending a few hours driving around Dayton and Kettering, looking at houses already on the list and even finding a few that weren't on it!

I think the weirdest hang-up I have with this hobby is how do I explain it to other people?! How do I tell a group of twenty-somethings that I'm into finding houses that you could order from a catalog from 1908 to 1940 and that I spend a vast majority of my free time google driving around other cities? The first time I told anyone about my hobby was to my cousin, Rachel. It started off like "This is going to sound SO WEIRD..." and I kind of babbled my way through it. Thankfully, she understands me and thought it was pretty cool!

Then I told my husband, Patrick, who mostly understood it but still thought it was pretty weird. He told his friends, who then also thought it was pretty weird. This is the thing... I get pretty amped up about stuff I DO like, because I don't really have too many other hobbies. So anyways, I get amped up and I'm like, "No! This is a badass hobby! Can you imagine ordering a house from a catalog, having it arrive in thousands of pieces in a boxcar, and then having to build it yourself? And then 70,000 other people, all over the United States, do the exact same thing, only with different houses? Then in 1945, during a house cleaning, Sears Roebuck decides to throw out any and all records to do with their catalog homes. This isn't a weird hobby, this is a huge historical treasure hunt."

And then he looks at me.
He says, "Yeah, I guess that does sound kinda fun."
HA. I did it! I made my hobby sound cool to someone else!

Now while I do know not everyone is going to share my love of catalog homes, there definitely are some people out there who do want to learn more about it. There is literally so much information to learn about Sears catalog homes. They made big houses, like the Magnolia, and tiny houses, like the Rodessa, and all shapes and sizes in between. There were all types of lookalikes from several different companies, including but not limited to: Aladdin, Gordon Van-Tine, and Wardway Homes. Some models were even changed over several years, so a 1921 Sears Vallonia looked slightly different than a 1926 Sears Vallonia.

1927 Magnolia Sears Home
325 W North Shore Dr, South Bend, IN
Source: Realtor.com
1927 Rodessa Sears Home
1509 Patterson Rd, Dayton, OH
Source: Realtor.com


So here I am, starting this blog and this is my first post.

If you know of any Sears houses in your area, please email me at MidwestSearsHouses@gmail.com

Comments

  1. Welcome to our world! You have a real knack for recognizing Sears houses... and writing about them!
    Judith
    Sears House Seeker blog

    ReplyDelete
  2. Welcome to our “weird” world! We’re happy to have you along for the ride!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Love this! Look what you've created now, with the "Pretzinger eye" and your degree in English. Looking forward to seeing more of the houses you've spotted.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Congratulations on joining the 'huge historical treasure hunt!' I love the term. I'm only a peripheral member of the kit/Sears house FB group, but am sister of 'Sears House Seeker' Judith and an architect by profession, so I love hearing about the architects in your family. Keep having fun! Betsy

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you for starting this blog. You have a great eye and have contributed so much to the group. I am envious you live in an area with so many houses to discover. I love the fact that you have a family connection to Sears houses too. As for your family being filled with architects living in a pre-designed pre-cut house, the cobler's children have no shoes on their feet" as the saying goes.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Interesting Article. Hoping that you will continue posting an article having a useful information. Install double Pane windows

    ReplyDelete

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