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The Houses That Sears Built; Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Sears Catalog Homes Paperback – March 25, 2002
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About the Author
Rosemary Thornton has been writing and lecturing about Sears homes for three years. She's also conducted surveys of Sears homes for several communities. As a result, Ms. Thornton found that she received frequent requests from people all over the country, asking for more information about these old catalog homes. Because of this, she decided it was time to combine her copious field notes with the tall stack of rare historical information she'd unearthed, and write a book: The Houses That Sears Built.
From the author:
This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. I hope my love of these awesome old homes shines through the pages of this book. Above all, I hope "The Houses That Sears Built" will inspire you to go out into your community and find the Sears homes that are hidden there. I hope this book will fuel your love of old homes, specifically Sears homes. And I hope that this book helps preserve and protect this country's dazzling collection of Sears Roebuck catalog homes.
Top customer reviews
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What I loved most about the book despite the intricately researched contents is the love and passion the author manages to convey already on the very first page. I think this is what grabbed me most, Rosemary's love for these homes immediately 'infected' me. It is written in a light-hearted way (for lack of a better expression)as if she talked to each reader personally. She touches on so many different aspects but at a dose that leaves one with sparks and fireworks inside one's head, buring to turn the page and 'hear' more. The book made me want to book a flight ticket into the heart of Illinois and start searching for these homes myself. Rosemary, one part I particularly loved was your little stories from people or relatives of those who built these houses and lived in them. I wished I could read endless pages of such testimonies as they really injected life into the pictures in your book. It fulled my imagination of the times and circumstances when the houses were built and about the people who built them.
As I mentiond, I have never actually seen a 'live' Sears home and as far as I know we don't have a European counterpart, none of such iconic status anyhow, but my partner and I are researching to have a replica built for us here somewhere in the English country-side (pending planning permission, I suppose). I personally feel that it is most splendid that Americans all over the country recognise their architectural and socio-cultural heritage and start preserving these great homes for all future generations to enjoy in the same way we can or even more. I bet there are hundreds more out there waiting to be discovered and I hope there are plenty of people who will start 'scratching' on the surfaces of their own homes to find out if they are inhabiting one such great treasure. Sears homes, and for that matter all historic homes, have found a great benefactor and ambassador in Rosemary Thornton and as an outsider, if I may say so, I commend the work she has done and I truly hope that she will keep it up for decades to come and inspire many more to join her in her efforts to educate and preserve!
I only wished, Sears would still sell and build these old homes especially now with the internet, we would have ordered one in a jiffy!
Thanks Rosemary for endless inspiration and for spreading so much love and joy over what is basically four walls and a roof!
I can't wait for your next book to come out and if you ever fancy coming to lecture in Europe, be sure to let me know!
My recommendation to everyone, buy it, read it, fall in love with it and read it again and again and again and...!!!
Even in the late 60's and early 70's, when there still was an opportunity to live and work for the railroad in smaller towns west of the Mississippi, one of the main links to the outside world was the catalog. Sears, Wards and JC Penney all had catalog agents who would set up shop in a storefront on Main Street (not necessarily in the same town) and sell goods from the company they represented. Yes, there may have been a locally owned store or two that might have sold major appliances, but I always seemed to shop for such big ticket items from the well-stocked catalog. It was how (to paraphrase a yellow pages ad), I let my fingers do the walking. It was all there -- in one book!! Everything you ever wanted...... By now, I graduated from toys to tools.
What wasn't there in any of the catalogs of my day, however,were homes. I was too young to have known about the fact that Sears, at one time, also sold complete homes through their catalog. Through Rosemary Thornton's book, I found out that Sears manufactured and shipped, part by part, item by item, numbered and organized, homes all over the country where the purchasers put them together following detailed instructions furnished with the purchase. It was a way of catering to an era of more self-reliance and independence rather than dependence.
I live in a big city now and catalogs aren't important in Minneapolis/St. Paul as they were in small town Arizona, Nebraska and Wyoming of years past. Many catalog distribution centers have been closed including both Sears and Wards in the Twin Cities. But the lore of the catalog lives on and there are many of those old catalog homes across the nation still serving the successors to the old Sears customers of days past.
Ms. Thornton has done an excellent job researching available records, old catalogs and other material. Her book is enjoyable, quite readable and fills, in my opinion, a huge gap in American business history. Rosemary Thornton tells a fascinating story well and those interested in basic Americana, will not want to miss it. 5 stars -- and then some.....