100-Year-Old Sears House Gets A Modern Makeover

by Laura Caseley
Laura is a writer, illustrator, and artist living in New York City.

Sears department stores have just about everything. You’ve probably purchased at least one item from them, probably something for your home.

And while they’re known today for supplying people with things they use to spruce up their homes, there was a time in the early 1900s when Sears was actually the place to buy a home itself!

No, they didn’t handle real estate. They actually sold kits so that people could build their very own houses.

They came in several models, from simple bungalows to more elaborate, multi-story homes. Buyers put their houses together according to a plan, but could also customize certain aspects to fit their tastes. It’s a little like an IKEA item, but it’s the whole house!

Building your own house is of course possible, and plenty of people have done it, even those without a lot of training, like the young single mom who built a tiny getaway for herself and her three children.

But Sears made it even easier with a selection of models large and small, pre-drawn blueprints, and materials cut to size. And yes, they lasted.

Recently, reddit user RealHotSauceBoss fixed up his family’s century-old house in North Dakota, one of the 75,000 DIY homes that Sears sold between 1908 and 1940. And it still looks amazing!

Check it out below, and see some of the other incredible houses Sears shipped to their customers. You may even have some in your neighborhood!

[H/T: Atlas Obscura]

In 1916, a family in North Dakota ordered a house from Sears. The materials arrived at their 120-acre property in horse-drawn wagons, and the family started building.

Today, the house still stands — and the family pictured above continues to grow.

But recently, their descendant, Reddit user RealHotSauceBoss, fixed up the lovely old house for generations to come…

It required considerable renovations, including weatherproofing and a new roof — plus an extension was added, which replaced the old outhouse.

But despite its modern upgrades, the old Sears house still retains its historical charm.

However, few people today know about these fascinating Sears home kits — much less the many other products they provided to American families.

Back in the day, the Sears catalogue had literally everything you could possibly need, and they shipped across the U.S.

It was kind of like an early version of Amazon, which today, incidentally, sells a book version of one of Sears’ 1897 catalogues.

You could buy clothes…

…and firearms…



…and plenty of questionable health and beauty products.

But from 1908 to 1940, Sears also sold home kits.

These DIY houses came as kits that would then be assembled by the customer, following the included instructions.

The houses came in a variety of sizes and models, and customers bought them depending on their budget, family size, and needs.

They could even draw up their own blueprints and have Sears make a custom kit for them.

Sears didn’t try to create new styles, though. They drew inspiration from existing designs so that their houses would blend in with neighborhoods, like this little Cape Codstyle model.

And as you can see, the prices looked very different than they would today! RealHotSauceBoss’ family bought their house for $1,200.

Of course, adjusted for inflation, that would be about $27,000 today. Still not bad for a house!

And if you don’t think a DIY house can last, just take a look at the final product of this renovation!

It might have needed some repairs, but considering all it’s seen in the past 100 years, it’s held up beautifully!

Please SHARE if you think it’s important to keep American history and tradition alive!