Long before the era of online shopping and next-day delivery, Americans experienced a different kind of retail wonder.
It was a time when massive catalogs were the mainstay of every household, offering everything from tools to home goods.
But the most remarkable item one could order? A house.
In the early 1900s, Sears Roebuck revolutionized home buying.
Families would send thousands of dollars to Sears and eagerly await the delivery of their new home.
Imagine the excitement as 12,000 pieces of a house arrived by train, ready to be pieced together by the new homeowners.
Nestled in Carlinville, Illinois, lies a unique testament to this era- an entire neighborhood comprising over 150 houses ordered from Sears catalogs.
This place is a collection of homes and a living museum of American history and ingenuity.
Among these homes is one owned by retired teachers, Ben and Mary.
They purchased their Sears home in 1962 for $6,500.
They even celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary in the same house, standing as strong and proud as the day it was built.
Carlinville’s transformation into a hub of Sears homes began with its history as a housing development for coal miners.
An oil company, seeking to provide housing for its workers, purchased several of these kit homes.
Each came with 12,000 parts, hundreds of pounds of nails, and a 75-page instruction book.
Today, Carlinville attracts visitors from all over, drawn to the charm and history of these Sears homes.
Walking through the neighborhood is like stepping back in time, witnessing the tangible legacy of what was once called “The American Dream in a kit.”
Each house in this neighborhood tells a story.
Not just of the families who built and lived in them, but of a bygone era of American retail and lifestyle.
These homes, with their unique designs and enduring structures, represent a true glimpse into what life was like at the time.
The Sears houses of Carlinville stand as a reminder of a time when the American dream was delivered in a box, ready to be assembled.
They symbolize innovation, resourcefulness, and the enduring spirit of American homeownership.
For those intrigued by history, architecture, or just the charm of a bygone era, a visit to Carlinville’s Sears homes is a must.
It’s a neighborhood that uniquely captures the essence of early 20th-century America, one kit home at a time.
See the faded (but not forgotten) glory of these Sears homes in the video below!
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