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Houses by Mail: A Guide to Houses from Sears, Roebuck and Company Paperback – May 1, 1996


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Houses by Mail: A Guide to Houses from Sears, Roebuck and Company + Sears, Roebuck Catalog of Houses, 1926: Small Houses of the Twenties - An Unabridged Reprint + Sears Modern Homes, 1913 (Dover Architecture)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 364 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (May 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471143944
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471143949
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.8 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #330,466 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Between 1908 and 1940 Sears sold over 100,000 nearly completed houses across the country, particularly in the Northeast and Midwest. Some 500 models were available, and the company sought to make ordering them "as easy as ordering an automobile, radio or piece of furniture." The houses, which had on average 30,000 pieces and cost between $650 and 2500, were usually shipped by rail and often were assembled by Sears employees. This volume reproduces copy from the original Sears house catalogues. There is, for example, the "Matoka," a two-bedroom bungalow that was popular during World War I. The "Rockhurst" had three possible exterior designs. The "Winthrop" was based on classic New England styles. This book offers a nostalgic and informative look at the tastes of Americans in the years before World War II. There are 800 illustrations, an informative introduction, a bibliography and an index.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Between 1908 and 1940, Sears, Roebuck offered ready-to-assemble houses from special catalogs. Over 100,000 of these dwellings were constructed across America. The authors have re-created the look of the catalogs in this heavily illustrated guide to 447 models. Each entry includes, among other information, promotional copy from the original catalog, house details and features, price, and a short list of cities where examples can be found. The book is organized as an identification guide, with sections arranged by roof design. A lengthy introduction chronicles the evolution of the catalogs and explores the reasons for Sears's success in helping Americans select, finance, and build low-cost homes of good quality. Recommended. Douglas Birdsall, North Dakota State Univ. Lib., Fargo
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

I found Houses by Mail to be very helpful and informative.
Richard Kearney
This book is amazing - actual floor plans, and Sears would send you absolutely everything you need to build whatever house you choose.
Evelyn L. Stacey
I do have another book on Sears, by Rose Thornton, which is excellent, but this one is the bible of Sears houses.
goldfish

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 15, 1999
Format: Paperback
A "must have" for the Sears home owner! Not only did I find my house in this exhaustive resource, I found many of my neighbors' as well! This is a great read for anybody interested in kit houses of the past. If you know somebody with a Sears house, this would make an excellent, unusal gift for the upcoming holidays.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Chrijeff VINE VOICE on July 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
...I'd give it five stars. This book is a treasure trove for old-house mavens, especially those interested in early 20th-Century domestic vernacular architecture. Houses of all sizes and styles are included, most with full floor plans--which, unfortunately, you often need a magnifying glass to view clearly--and all with an illustration showing the exterior, as well as the dates sold, price, and other useful information. Many of the writeups also show interior suggestions. A very useful book.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 7, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book probably provides useful information for persons otherwise unfamiliar with this genre of house and architecture, but personally I found two things about it particularly annoying: first, its small size. Many plans are reduced to the point where they might just as well be heavy line diagrams, and second, I find direct reproduction of original text to be far preferable to the uniform re-typing found here. Original text tends to be just as legible and lets the reader know with no uncertainty what is, in fact, original text. In all fairness, I have to say that since I am an architect and very familiar with house plans in general, my review may not apply to all readers. I much prefer the direct reproductions, and without a doubt favor a larger format.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 10, 2002
Format: Paperback
I was happy to see all the different style and enjoyed all the photos. BUT I really wanted to see the house size and the floor plans they were so small you could not really make out what size the rooms were. I wanted to see the sq. footage of each home. I also would have like to see what each floor plan size was. So if each page had been the floor plan so you could read it I would have enjoyed it more. What was hard is all the info was there just so small could not make out what numbers were.I think all the info in the book was good I guess I just wanted a little bit more out of it.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 5, 1998
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent resource for amateur preservationists and architectural historians alike. The introduction is an excellent background into the how, why and where of these houses as well as containing some great turn of the century interior shots. I am privileged enough to live in a neighborhood filled with the sturdy beauties from this book and plan to use it to educate my neighbors about their 1900-1910 architecture.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Adam Barner on November 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a magnificent volume of historic treasures by Sears, Roebuck, and Company. The charming residences in this book are fascinating to anyone who loves old houses or bungalows. The introduction is an interesting lead-in to the dozens of houses with floor plans and some with interior drawings as well. There are houses of many styles: bungalows, colonials, craftsmen style, and others such as Dutch Colonial and multi-units. Very cool!!!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Christian Oribio on September 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is a great collection of designs and illustrations but what disappointed me most was that some houses did not have floor plans at all while some only had a downstairs and no upstairs floor plan illustrated. I was especially disappointed about those without any floorplans since I have seen floorplans elsewhere on the internet on various archive lists, the same goes for interior illustrations which I really expected to be many more of. I hoped it would be a 'Bible' or ultimate reference book to Sears homes but I guess I need to complement it with my own internet research.

I am not sure if I would recommend it to somebody who has high expectations and such a great love for these old homes like me.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Rosemary Thornton VINE VOICE on April 29, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm the author of "The Houses That Sears Built" and my love of Sears Homes was ignited by this wonderful book.

The first 43 pages are photos and stories about real people and their real Sears Homes. This section makes for a delightful and easy read.

And it is also a great reference on historic architecture. Sears Homes were patterned after the most popular architecture and housing of the day, so once you get a feel for the dates on Sears Homes, you'll be able to "date" many houses with some accuracy.

Also has specific info on how to tell if you own a Sears Home.

Rose Thornton
author, The Houses That Sears Built
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