Have you ever put together a piece of furniture from a popular box store? Imagine putting your entire house together from a mail order kit! Several Riverside residents did just that in the early 1900s.
Riverside is home to several mail-order homes, designed and made by Sears Roebuck.
The homes are often perceived as being small, but the layouts proved to be surprisingly spacious. The plans included both bungalow style and two story colonial style homes. According to Sears, more than 70,000 of the company’s kit homes, featuring more than 370 different home styles, were sold in North America between 1908 and 1940. Illinois is second to Ohio in the number of Sears kit home homes sold by state.
Buyers looked through a catalog to choose their home design and materials. The home-buyers had to provide the lot and furnish the foundation, masonry materials, and labor.
Not all of the Sears homes were ordered by mail. Sears had offices in Chicago, Joliet, and Rockford where prospective buyers could see floor plans, elevations, scale models and samples of building materials.
A Sears-produced brochure stated “The customer must be satisfied for a lifetime.”
Interested in learning if your home might be a Sears Kit Home? Stop by the Riverside History Museum to learn more about your home’s origin.