Louisville Magazine

DEC 2018

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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nortoncancerinstitute.com 30 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 12.18 THE BIT JUST SAYIN' You might think the only local relic left after Sears completes bankruptcy arrangements will be the company's Art Deco original Louisville store at Eighth and Broadway (built in 1929 and now owned by LG&E). Unless it's the vintage Craftsman radial-arm saw that has sat unused in your basement since 1955. But in fact footprints of Sears can be found sprinkled near CSX rail lines, as well as farther afield, in several Louis- ville neighborhoods with pre-World War II housing stock. They're called Sears kit houses, sold by mail order to customers who chose them from a multitude of styles and interior layouts depicted and described in Sears catalogs between 1908 and 1940. Sears provided all the lumber (pre-cut to fit after 1916), shingles, varnish and hardware, and you — or a carpenter you hired — put the pieces together like a jigsaw puzzle, saving you a bundle compared with having your house designed and built from scratch. The construction materials, delivered to a rail stop near your selected site in a person- alized boxcar whose door latch featured a wax seal for you to break, included a 75- page instruction book. Marketing copy read that a homeowner could do the entire job without professional help in 90 days. Estimates for how many Sears kit houses were sold nationally range from 70,000 to 100,000. Small towns in Illinois, where Sears and its milling operation originated, have whole neighborhoods lined with them. (One of those towns, Carlinville, has a Sears home design — the Carlin, a cute two-story, five-room bungalow that sold in 1918 for $1,172 — named after it.) But because Sears Homebound in a Boxcar Sears may be kaput in Louisville, but its early-century mail-order houses live on. By Jack Welch

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