After W.A. Turk built his Sears kit house, Modern Home No. 111, he wrote a letter to the company expressing his pleasure.
We are fully satisfied and find we have saved 25 percent on all building materials bought by you.”
If a buyer wanted an inexpensive avenue into being a homeowner, Sears mail-order houses were the way to go. They could peruse 112 house plains in Sears Modern Homes 2013 catalog, purchase a kit and have the materials shipped by boxcar to their nearest train depot. Later versions of the catalog offered up to 370 designs. Sears homes were so well-received that between 1908 and 1940, more than 70,000 of the kit homes were built across America.
William A. Turk’s No. 111 foursquare style home was described in the Sears catalog thus:
“This is a conveniently arranged house of eight rooms at a very low cost compared with the accommodations it offers. A large front porch, 24 feet long and 6 feet wide, extends almost clear across the front of the house.”
First Floor (Standard Plan)
The front door opened into a large hall with a U-shaped, open oak staircase at the far end. To the left of the living room was a parlor, behind which was the dining room and a pantry. A doorway from the dining room led into the kitchen, which also had access to the main staircase as well an entry back into the living room.
All interior doors were six-panel oak with oak trim.
Three bedrooms with closets led off the landing, as did the bathroom. Doors on the second floor were five-panel yellow pine with yellow pine trim.
Although standard first floors doors and trim were made of oak, and second level were yellow pine, Mr. Turk chose cypress, stating they had “a dandy finish.”
A lighted basement ran under the entire house.
The Turk family lived at 1503 Holcomb Ave, Detroit, Michigan, from 1908 or 1909 until sometime before the Great Depression. William held a couple of job over the years, such as a conductor and a carpenter, but he provided a wonderful home for his family which included his wife, Elizabeth, and children, Vera, Charles and Marion.
The Sears Modern Homes catalog has testimonials with names and cities which had the potential to make it easier to track down some Sears home. Sadly, when the address of the Turk’s. No.111 home is Google mapped, the street shows an empty lot. Because many of the homes were built on lots in urban areas located near the train depots, as the city expanded, the homes were demolished. In this case, urban blight was the culprit. So while research can track down the location of a Sears home, oftentimes the homes are no longer standing.