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Photo of a Sears house
The "Lexington" model, Downers Grove, Illinois

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Sears Catalog Homes
A Local Legacy

You probably receive many catalogs in the mail selling all types of things. But have you ever seen a catalog that sells houses?

Between 1908 and 1940, as many as 100,000 Americans bought their house from a Sears catalog! The houses would be shipped by railroad and would include about 30,000 parts - not counting the nails and screws. All of the major parts were there; the main thing you had to supply was the lot on which to build.

The tagline on the Sears catalog was "Sears...the selling of a dream." The great American dream has always been to be able to own a home of your own, and Sears made houses affordable to many people. In 1908, Model Number 107 sold for between $107 and $650, depending on the options chosen. Can you imagine being able to buy a home for only $107? In addition to saving money on materials, it is estimated that building a Sears house took only about 350 hours of carpenter labor, compared with 580 hours for a conventional house.

Many of these mail order houses were built in Downers Grove, Illinois. Today, historians of architecture study these homes, many of which have been unaltered since they were first built.

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