The Enduring Legacy of a Midwest Community Built from Sears Kit Homes

In an age preceding the convenience of online shopping and overnight delivery, Americans marveled at a unique form of retail.

Back then, towering catalogs graced every household, presenting a plethora of goods from tools to home essentials.

Yet, the most extraordinary offering? A house.


During the early 1900s, Sears Roebuck spearheaded a revolution in home purchasing. Families eagerly sent thousands of dollars to Sears, anticipating the arrival of their new abode.

Picture the anticipation and thrill as 12,000 individual pieces of a house arrived by train, awaiting assembly by the eager new homeowners.


Nestled in Carlinville, Illinois, lies a remarkable testament to that era: an entire neighborhood consisting of over 150 houses ordered directly from Sears catalogs.

This enclave serves as both a collection of homes and a living museum, showcasing American history and ingenuity at its finest.


Among these dwellings resides a home owned by retired teachers, Ben and Mary.

In 1962, they acquired their Sears home for the modest sum of $6,500. Over the years, their abode has been witness to countless memories, including the celebration of their 63rd wedding anniversary. Today, their home stands as a testament to resilience, remaining as sturdy and dignified as the day it was constructed.


Carlinville’s evolution into a hub of Sears homes traces back to its origins as a housing enclave for coal miners.

Initially, an oil company, aiming to accommodate its workforce, acquired numerous kit homes from Sears. Each of these homes arrived with an impressive assembly kit comprising 12,000 parts, hundreds of pounds of nails, and a detailed 75-page instruction manual.


Today, Carlinville magnetizes visitors from far and wide, all captivated by the allure and historical significance of these Sears homes.

Strolling through the neighborhood feels akin to traversing through the annals of time, bearing witness to the tangible legacy of what was once dubbed “The American Dream in a kit.”


Each dwelling in this neighborhood narrates a profound tale. These narratives extend beyond the families who constructed and inhabited them, delving into a bygone era of American retail and lifestyle.

These homes, characterized by their distinctive designs and enduring structures, offer an authentic glimpse into the essence of that period, encapsulating the very essence of life as it once was.


The Sears houses of Carlinville serve as a poignant reminder of an era when the American dream arrived in a box, awaiting assembly.

They embody not only innovation and resourcefulness but also the indomitable spirit of American homeownership. These homes stand as enduring symbols of perseverance and the pursuit of a better life, echoing the values cherished by generations past and present.

For those captivated by history, architecture, or the allure of a bygone era, a pilgrimage to Carlinville’s Sears homes is an absolute necessity.

It’s a neighborhood that authentically encapsulates the spirit of early 20th-century America, unveiling its story one kit home at a time.

Witness the enduring charm and faded, yet undiminished, grandeur of these Sears homes in the video below!
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