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.
Though the Sears catalog homes weren’t as common throughout the South, they can still be found sparsely scattered throughout southern cities. According to Historic Columbia, there’s at least one Sears Modern Home in downtown Columbia, at 1716 Wayne St.in the Arsenal Hill neighborhood. The house was built for $5,000 in 1914 – equivalent to approx. $128,900 today – by Francis Butler, an Atlantic Coastline Railway postal clerk, and his family.
Identifying a Sears Modern Home can be difficult, especially since the company lost the majority of its records on the homes. However, there are afew tricks to identify one – including stamped lumber, shipping labels + unique column arrangements.
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 home (or think you do)?
Or do you know of any local Sears homes? Send us your photos + stories and we’ll work on an update with what we receive.
○ The SC Department of Education has announced that masks will be required on all school buses when students go back to school. The requirement will apply to students, bus drivers + staff.(The State)
○ The winners of#MaskUpColumbiaSC, the campaign to promote mask-wearing during the COVID-19 pandemic, have been announced. Matt Hudson + Megan Pinckney both received a Fitbit after winning the online public vote and receiving the most likes for an Instagram photo using the campaign hashtag, respectively.(WIS)
○ DHEC has releasednew guidelines calling for expanded COVID-19 testing for patients + staff at SC nursing homes in an effort to ease visitation restrictions. The agency restricted visits to nursing homes on March 13.(WIS)
○ Midlands Technical College (MTC) has switched the fall course catalog from offering 75% in-person instruction to 45% virtual instruction and 33% in-person instruction. MTC faculty and staff are presentinglive virtual class demonstrations today + tomorrow.The virtual class demos are free and will show what the new virtual learning experience will be like.
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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 Columbia’s #MustDo events soon (until then, feel free to submit your virtual events
We’re starting to get the first glimpses of Immersion SC – the new, interactive art space coming to Main Street. Immersion will feature 12 spaces with art you’ll be able to experience with all five senses. 🎨
Are you an artist interested in participating?Immersion is still hiring artists – check out their Instagram for more information.
We’re excited too – keep a lookout for more details + information soon.
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Weather ○ 91º | Scattered thunderstorms | 60%chance of rain
Apply ○ Columbia’s Earth Fare location, which is scheduled to reopen on August 12 on Devine Street, is hiring for 45 various positions. Prospective employees should head to the store or its website to apply. (Cola Daily) ○ Tomorrow, July 30, Michelinis hosting a drive-thru job fair to fill 50+ manufacturing positions at the plant in Lexington from 9 a.m. – noon. Interviews will be conducted with participants in their cars + all are encouraged to bring masks. The fair will be held behind the Michelin Wellness Center on Longs Pond Road. (WLTX)
Dish ○ Tasty As Fithas added a plant-based Poke Bowl to its grab-and-go menu. The bowl uses beets as a substitute for tuna + also includes edamame, carrots, cucumber, brown rice, red cabbage + more.
State ○ Despite shutdowns from the COVID-19 pandemic, SC finished the fiscal year with a budget surplus of ~$220 million. Predictions for the current year, which anticipate an increase to the state’s ~$9 billion budget, are expected at the end of August. (WACH Fox)
Trending ○ Unexpected deliveries of seed packetshave popped up across South Carolina, and around the US, and appear to have originated from China. Officials say that if you receive the seeds, which could potentially be invasive, to not open, touch or plant them + report the delivery to the UDSA. (WLTX)
PlanAhead ○ The 29th annual Southeastern Toy Soldier Show, hosted by the South Carolina Military Miniature Society, will be heldAug. 8 at the South Carolina State Museum. The event will be free to attend. Check here for more information.
TheBuy ○ What if we told you that jeans could be as comfy as the leggings you’ve been living in? Three former Under Armour execs founded Revtown Jeans using a proprietary fabric of Italian-milled denim infused with the same stuff used in yoga pants + football uniforms.Shop here. Ⓟ
Image provided by BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina
Hey, SC – let’s sacrifice convenience for the safety of all citizens.
SC’s health leaders – South Carolina Medical Association, South Carolina Hospital Association and BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina – strongly encourage you to do your part to help slow the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a face mask in public. 😷
(Yep; it’s really that simple. Not convinced? Here’s what’s Rumor vs. Real.)
Why do you wear a mask? Share on social with #SlowtheSpreadSC. Ⓟ
Answered: Yesterday, we asked readers how they wanted to send children back to school this fall. The answers were pretty split with 40% responding with virtual instruction and 38% responding with in-person five days a week.
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