Tue. Apr 16th, 2024

The do-it-yourself, modest tiny home boom is gaining popularity in an era of shocking rent increases and low housing inventory — and we may have America’s former largest retailer, Sears, to thank for some of that inspiration. 

Sears was not the first company to offer “kit homes,” but the 1908 launch of Sears Modern Homes catalog, advertising a variety of home architectural styles and blueprints needed to build them, solidified the retailer as a pioneer in mail-ordered homes.

Similar to the prefabricated homes sold in stores today, Sears shipped pieces for buyers who could construct the houses themselves or hire builders to do it.

The iconic retailer is estimated to have sold between 70,000 and 75,000 houses before the catalog was  discontinued in 1940 and some estimates indicate the majority are still standing.

Look back at ‘kit homes’Sears pioneered the modern prefab house in the early 20th century

Between 1908 and 1940, Sears designed 447 different housing styles, “from the elaborate multistory Ivanhoe, with its elegant French doors and art glass windows, to the simpler Goldenrod, which served as a quaint, three-room and no-bath cottage for summer vacationers,” the company’s website states.

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