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Sears offered the latest technology available to house buyers in the early part of the twentieth century. Central heating, indoor plumbing, and electricity were all new developments in house design that "Modern Homes" incorporated, although not all of the houses were designed with these conveniences. Central heating, for example, not only improved the livability of houses with little insulation but also improved fire safety, a worry in an era when open flames threatened houses and even entire cities, as in the Great Chicago Fire (1871).
More than 370 designs of Sears Homes were offered during the program's 32-year history. As demand increased, Sears expanded the product line to feature houses that varied in expense to meet the budgets of various buyers. Sears began offering financing plans in 1916. However, the company experienced steadily rising payment defaults throughout the Great Depression, resulting in increasing strain for the catalog house program. The mortgage portion of the program was discontinued in 1934 after Sears was forced to liquidate $11 million in defaulted debt. Sears stopped issuing its Modern Homes catalog after 1940. A few years later, all sales records were destroyed during a corporate house cleaning. As only a small percentage of these homes have been documented, finding these houses today often requires detailed research to properly identify them.
Today, some communities across the United States feature clusters of the houses as unofficial historical sites. Elgin, Illinois (a Chicago suburb) has the largest known collection of Sears Homes, with more than 200 Sears Homes (and few kit homes from other companies as well). Sears homes are found in a large area of the United States with homes as far south as Florida and as far west as California." Courtesy of Wikipedia
We were able to go inside and tour this home. Let me show you what I saw when we opened the front door of this quaint building...you won't believe your eyes!