And while they’re known today for supplying people with things they use to spruce up their homes, there was a time in the early 1900s when Sears was actually the place to buy a home itself!
Yes, you read it right…Sears, it turns out, once sold more than home appliances – they sold actual homes.
A Reddit user who goes by the name RealHotSauceBoss recently posted photos of his great-grandparents’ house, which they purchased from a Sears catalog in 1916. He has since renovated the exterior and is working on the interior.
That’s right – in the early 20th century, Sears sold mail-order houses. Customers could choose between several different models, from bungalows to multi-story houses. The pieces would be shipped by train and delivered to the customer via horse-drawn wagons, complete with pre-drawn blueprints and pre-cut materials.
The Sears Archives indicate that roughly 75,000 mail-order homes were sold between 1908 and 1940. The house in question appears to be a “Model No. 137,” which went for about $1,200 in 1916, Atlas Obscura reports. That equates to $27,000 in 2016.
RealHotSauceBoss wrote on reddit that the house is still in good shape:
It has held up remarkably well all things considered. Obviously the wood wasn’t treated back then so the exterior was in rough shape, but the house was structurally sound. To preserve the interior we essentially had to build a shell of HardiePlank over the old exterior, then we put storm windows over the original windows. The original roof was unrecoverable due to wear and leakage, so it was completely replaced. The basement is in unbelievably good shape considering that cement is a century old! It continues to be a really interesting project.
He is now working on fixing up the inside of the house, which he says is a tricky undertaking.
“We’re going to start working on the oven as soon as we can figure out how to get it back in the kitchen,” he wrote. “It’s cast iron and weighs several hundred pounds. The staircase to the basement is very narrow and we have no clue how it got down there.”
He described the reddit community’s response to his project as “awesome,” and promised to post images of the interior once it is fully restored.