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Sears homes

Volume 5: Viktorija Bilić (2008): Sears homes: Building the American Dream

Heartland 5 / WVT 2008

978-3-86821-011-8

€ 26 • $ 35

Sears homes: Building the American Dream
 
Sears, Roebuck and Company successfully sold kit houses by mail in the years between 1908 and 1940. The all-American Sears homes represent a unique slice of American history and culture. This work examines the distinctly American cultural phenomenon of mail-order homes and presents Sears homes in the American Midwest. The thesis includes interviews with owners of mail-order homes and presents the results of a survey for Sears homeowners. Additionally, a focus is put on today’s fascination with these historic homes, since interest in these houses is growing in the United States, and has led to the construction of modern kit homes and houses resembling the early Sears homes.

The thesis concludes with a glossary of architectural and construction terms, and an image database on Sears houses with pictures of Sears homes in the state of Indiana and images from old Sears catalogs.

175 pages, 66 images, image database: 335 pictures

 

Table of Contents

 

0 Introduction 7

1 Comment on Research 9

1.1 Cultural studies and translation 10

1.2 Purpose and objectives 11

2 American History 1900-1940 12

2.1 Progressive Era 13

2.2 Immigration 13

2.3 From economic boom to stock market crash 15

2.3.1 The Roaring Twenties 16

2.3.2 The Great Depression 18

3 Sears, Roebuck and Co., Chicago 20

3.1 Company History 20

3.2 Sears mail-order homes 30

3.2.1 Modern Homes Department 31

3.2.2 Marketing Sears homes 32

3.2.3 Types of Sears homes 34

3.2.4 Construction 36

3.3 The Sears Tower 38

4 Indiana 44

4.1 Porter County and the Dunes 46

4.2 Porter 49

4.3 Chesterton 49

5 Sears houses in Chesterton and Porter, Indiana 51

5.1 Models of Sears houses 52

5.1.1 The Silverdale 52

5.1.2 The Puritan 55

5.1.3 The Ridgeland 57

5.1.4 The Hampton 59

5.1.5 The Rodessa 61

5.1.6 The Vallonia 65

5.1.7 The Winslow 67

5.2 Architectural styles 74

5.3 Modern conveniences 75

6 Sears and the American Dream 78

6.1 The notion of the American Dream 78

6.1.1 Defining the concept 79

6.1.2 Ambiguities 80

6.1.3 Elements of the American Dream 81

6.1.4 Inequality and the American Dream 83

6.1.5 The American Dream in literature 84

6.2 The homeowner and the American Dream 85

6.2.1 Development of home ownership 86

6.2.2 Importance of home ownership 88

6.3 Sears houses: Building the Dream 88

6.3.1 Homes for workers 89

6.3.2 Homes for immigrants 90

6.3.3 Letters from happy Sears homeowners 91

7 “The World’s Largest Store” 94

7.1 Sears: A success story 94

7.1.1 The Sears Laboratory 94

7.1.2 Serving the Customer 95

7.1.3 Buying strategy 95

7.1.4 Sears’s strategy for growth 96

7.2 Other mail-order companies 97

7.2.1 The Chicago mail-order giants 97

7.2.2 Sears’s competition in the kit home industry 100

7.2.3 The Sears advantage 106

7.3 Sears and social responsibility 108

7.3.1 Sears: “The farmer’s friend” 109

7.3.2 Loans and mortgages 111

7.3.3 The end of the Modern Homes Department 114

8 Architects and “Non”-Architects 116

8.1 Vernacular architecture 116

8.2 Architects versus mail-order builders 117

9 Identifying Sears homes 121

9.1 Clues to Sears houses 122

9.2 Survey results 126

10 Sears homes today 135

10.1 Kit house fascination 135

10.1.1 Forums 136

10.1.2 Modern Home Enthusiasts 137

10.1.3 Tourism Event: Sears homes 139

10.2 Modern Kit Homes 140

10.2.1 Types of kit homes 140

10.2.2 Kit homes and home improvement chains 141

10.3 Modern Inspiration from classic Sears Designs 143

10.3.1 Building “Not So Big” 143

10.3.2 Coolman Communities 144

11 Conclusion 146

12 Glossary 148

13 Image Database Sears houses 157

14 Bibliography 158

15 Table of Images 173

 

Single price: 26,00 EUR
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