In 1908, in the midst of the mail-order catalog era, Sears, Roebuck and Company issued the first Book of Modern Homes and Building Plans in an effort to increase its sales of building materials. The first catalog listed 44 different styles of homes that ranged in sizes, options and costs that readers could purchase. By 1916, these catalog homes came with every material that was needed to build the house, all the way down to pre-cut lumber, windows + paint, and a set of instructions. (Think: IKEA furniture on steroids.)
Sample Sears Modern Homes catalog pages | Photos from Sears and Roebuck Companies via Wikimedia
Once a family chose the style home they wanted, all they had to do was mail a check to Sears and Roebuck – which even had financing options available – and a few weeks later, all of the parts would arrive by train.
While Sears Modern Homes were very affordable, they weren’t cheaply constructed. According to Popular Mechanic, the homes came with high-end materials (often including oak floors + cypress ceilings). Because the company ordered the building materials it would ship out in such high volume, it was able to keep prices low for consumers. In 1918, popular models ranged in price from $3,600-4,600 (that’d be approx. $61,000-78,500 today), according to Forbes. Additionally, the financing application didn’t ask demographic questions(ethnicity, gender, etc.), which gave home ownership options to those who faced discrimination locally.
While Sears advertised that the mail-order homes could be built in only 90 days with just basic skills, most families hired builders to get the job done.
The last catalogs were sent in 1940 + in these 32 years, some 75,000 Sears and Roebuck kit homes were purchased and built – predominantly through the Midwest and Northeast US.
And, according to Historic Lakeland Inc., there are an overwhelming number of Sears kit homes in our district. Identifying a Sears Modern Home can be difficult, especially since the company lost the majority of its records on the homes. However, there are a few tricks to identify one – including stamped lumber, shipping labels + unique column arrangements.
Do you live in a Sears catalog home (or think that you do)? Or do you know of any local Sears homes? Send us an email with your pictures and stories + we’ll work on an update with what we receive.
Wishing you could travel back in time and purchase one of these homes?(Me too.) Until that’s possible, check out this Sears Modern Homes catalog from 1936.
Do you live in a Sears catalog home (or think you do)? Do you know of any local Sears homes?
○According to a recent Lkld Now article, Polk County Public Schools shared that the slight majority of parents prefer distance learning to standard classroom learning. Why? While the deadline for parents to choose for their children’s upcoming school year is just days away, 46% of submissions by parents choose traditional schooling for their child(ren). However, 45% chose Campus eSchool with an additional 9% electing Polk Virtual. Final submissions are to be sent in by August 2. (Lkld Now)
○ $290,000 in funding is now available for Polk County nonprofits in an effort to provide relief. The Fund (The United Community Relief Fund) was created by GiveWell Community Foundation and the United Way of Central Floridato aid organizations on the frontlines as well as supporting those impacted by COVID-19. It’s only open to nonprofit organizations addressing the following: childcare/adult assistance, education, food distribution, shelter + emergency needs.
○ At this time, no current COVID-19 outbreaks have been directly linked back to a Florida theme park. While there have been isolated cases that mention the parks, there have been no reported outbreaks. Orange County Health Officer, Dr. Raul Pino has praised the parks and has been so far impressed with their compliance. (Bay News 9)
○ Universal has reduced operating hours for its theme parks for the month of Aug. Previously operating from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. for both parks, the new hours for Universal Orlando Resort will be changed to 9 a.m.-5 p.m. + Islands of Adventure will be changed to 10 a.m.-6 p.m. The hours for Universal CityWalk will stay the same. (Bay News 9)
○ Gov. DeSantis is considering allowing individuals to visit nursing homes and assisted living facilities amid the coronavirus. DeSantis mentioned that the use of 15-minute COVID-19 rapid tests could help ensure that visitors are safe + able to see loved ones after the mid-March in-person visit ban. (Tampa Bay 10)
Hey, there. Looking for today’s #MustDo events? In accordance with the
CDC’s recommendations regarding public gatherings, we have decided to postpone public event coverage for the time being. We look forward to bringing you Lakeland’s #MustDo events soon (until then, feel free to submit your virtual events
Hey Lakeland, if you haven’t heard of Catapult, now’s the time to learn. They’re offering a day for free this Friday and you won’t want to miss it. 🥳
Catapult Lakeland (502 E. Main St.) is what’s called a co-working space which means multiple businesses, organizations, freelancers, and entrepreneurs can apply for a membership + work inside one of Catapult’s offices or shared spaces. The facility is massive + is fully equipped with a kitchen, conference rooms, phone booths, coffee, and more.
All you need to bring is your laptop, a friend, and the desire to work, and you’re good to go + thrive. Due to COVID-19, all stations are being properly sanitized + social distancing is implemented. Catapult asks that masks are worn in the open areas and may remove them when seated at your workstation.
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Weather ○92º | Partly Cloudy |20% chance of rain ○Florida is officially in the cone of uncertainty for what could become Tropical Storm Isaias. As of 5 p.m. yesterday, the system was 105 miles south of St. Croix and 180 miles south-southeast of Puerto Rico. Forecasters are expecting the storm to strengthen and if the cone does not shift, it could impact south Florida as early as Saturday morning with some bands of heavy rain. (Fox 35 Orlando)
Announced ○Bonnet Springs Park (1025 George Jenkins Blvd.) welcomed a new CEO yesterday. Josh Henderson will be taking the title as Chief Executive Officer of the park, with a long list of experience including Six Flags-Whitewater and Silver Springs in Ocala. He will be returning to Florida after opening the Gathering Place in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His career is vast and his experience spans 20 years. The team at Bonnet Springs is “thrilled” to have him join. Congrats, Josh. 🎉
Biz ○Some magical news.Disney World’s Magic Kingdom has been named the top theme park in the world by Tripadvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Awards. Islands of Adventure is named number three, Animal Kingdom is number four, and Universal Studios is number five. (Bay News 9)
Dish ○Kitchen63 is now accepting pre-orders for pick-up at this Saturday’s Downtown Farmers Curb Market. Be sure to email or DM Kitchen63 by tomorrow night so that they can have everything packed up and ready for you on Saturday. 🍲
Family ○ SeaWorld Orlando is planning its next Flicks and Fireworks event. This event will include a drive-up movie on July 31 (Trolls) and another on August 1 (Jurassic Park). Including a viewing of one of those flicks, there will also be fireworks (7:45 + 9 p.m.) that you can view from your car and food trucks on site. It’s $50 per vehicle with passholders saving 20%. (Bay News 9)
Holiday ○While many parks and Halloween themed events have been cancelled, a new haunting experience is opening.The Haunted Roadwill be making its way to Orlando this fall. We don’t have all the details yet, but what we do know is that it’s a contactless drive-thru Halloween attraction with spooky creatures, theatrics, storytelling, + more. At this time, tickets are $15 per person. (10 Tampa Bay)
Listen ○Cue the music.Alex Harris, a Tampa-based musician, released a new song called “Humanity,” which he completed this year as the social justice protests began. Harris is planning on releasing a new “soul music” EP in September and hopes to show through his music the idea that individuals are more alike than different. (Bay News 9) ○Looking to adopt your new BFF? Tune in on Wednesday mornings to Mayhem in the AM at 6:40 on 96.7 FM or The Morning at 9:20 on 97.5 to hear about SPCA Florida’s happenings.
Regional ○ A chemical spill at Borden Dairy in Winter Haven occurred yesterday around 5:40 a.m. When the Winter Haven Fire Rescue + Polk County Hazardous Materials arrived at the scene, the spill had already been isolated by a safety team member. After an investigation of the liquid, the spill was made up of sodium hydroxide, phosphoric acid, nitric acid + other chemicals. (Fox News 13)
PlanAhead ○ Tickets are now on sale forBig Bad VooDoo Daddy’s “Wild and Swingin’ Holiday Party” at the Youkey Theatre on Saturday, December 12. Drawing on a rich catalogue of holiday classics and Christmas originals from the band’s full-length holiday albums, Big Bad VooDoo Daddy’s world-renowned live show has become an eagerly anticipated annual family event. Ⓟ
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