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1908-1914 1927-1932
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1921-1926
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Books and references
 
1895–1900
Building supplies are sold through Sears, Roebuck and Company general catalog 1906

Sears considered closing its unprofitable building supplies department

Frank W. Kushel (formerly manager of the china department) took over the building supplies department and realizes supplies can be shipped directly from the factory, thus saving storage costs

1908
First specialty catalog issued for houses, Book of Modern Homes and Building Plans, featuring 22 styles ranging in price from $650–2,500

1909
Mansfield, LA, lumber mill purchased

First bill of materials sold for complete Modern Home

1910
Home designers added gas and electric light fixtures

1911
Cairo, IL, lumber mill opens

First mortgage loan issued (typically 5–15 years at 6% interest)

1912
Norwood, OH, millwork plant purchased

1913
Mortgages transferred to credit committee

Mortgages later discontinued

1916
Mortgages revived

Ready-made production began

The popular “Winona” introduced; featured in catalogs through 1940

First applied roofing office opened in Dayton, OH

1917–21
No-money-down financing offered

1918
Standard Oil Company purchased 192 houses for its mineworkers in Carlinville, IL (approximately $1 million)

1919
First Modern Homes sales office opened in Akron, OH

Modern Homes catalog featured the Standard Oil housing community

1920
Philadelphia plant became the East Coast base

Sears averaged nearly 125 units shipped per month

1921
Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Dayton sales offices opened

1922
Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington sales offices opened

Honor Bilt homes feature deluxe kitchens, with white-tile sink and drain boards and white, enameled cupboards

1924
Columbus, OH, sales office opened

1925
Detroit sales office opened; Philadelphia became East branch of Modern Homes

Newark, NJ, lumber mill began

1926
Cairo, IL, plant ships 324 units in one month (May)

Honor Bilt homes featuring “Air-Sealed-Wall construction,” which enclosed every room with a “sealed air space” to increase insulation

1929
Sears began supervising the construction of homes

Sears shipping an average of 250 units per month just from Cairo, IL

Nearly 49,000 units sold to this point

Program’s high point of sales reached ($12,050,000); nearly half, however, are tied up in mortgage loans as the stock market crashes

1930
Sears had 350 different sales people working in 48 sales offices

Home specialty catalog proclaims Sears the “World’s Largest Home Builders”

1933
Mortgage financing discontinued

Construction supervision abandoned, except in greater New York City

Modern Homes catalog featured models of Mount Vernon and New York City’s Federal Hall.

1934
Annual Report announced the Modern Homes department was discontinued

All mortgage accounts were liquidated ($11 million)

Steel-framed, air-conditioned Modern Home exhibit featured at the Century of Progress World’s Fair

1935
Sears reopened the house department

Offered only houses, no financing or construction.

Houses were prefabricated by General Houses, Incorporated (Chicago)

1936
Sales reached $2 million

1937
Sales reached $3.5 million

Last appearance of department in the general catalog.

1938
Sales reached $2.75 million

1940
Cairo, IL, millwork plant sold to the employees who used their profit-sharing money to make the purchase

Last catalog issued (Book of Modern Homes). Sears ends Modern Homes program, having sold more than 100,000 units, not including cabins, cottages, garages, outhouses, and farm buildings

 
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