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Sears kit houses stand strong in Triangle with company on shaky foundation

Posted March 23

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— Sears is one of America's most iconic companies, but after losing billions of dollars in recent years, the company said it may not survive much longer.

For decades, Sears provided Americans not just with appliances and home furnishings, it furnished people with homes.

For payments as low as $35 a month, people could purchase a Sears kit house.

"We've got a good number of them. They are scattered around the neighborhoods that were built between the wars," said Raleigh historian Matthew Brown.

Brown said in neighborhoods like Mordecai, Sears kit homes were popular during the 1920s and 30s.

"And they're fine, beautiful homes," he said. "I mean, Sears hired the best architects of the day to design these houses."

They are still standing in 2017.

John Bailey lives across the street from one of the homes. Back in the day, he said Sears sold everything, including the kitchen sink.

"You would order the whole thing. It would come in pieces on a train car. It would come with instructions, and the pieces would be numbered and you would hire a contractor and he would put it all together," Brown said.

There would be about 12,000 pieces and would cost $2,000.

"We don't build a house that's as good as those Sears houses were," Brown said.

Bailey is now saddened to hear Sears is on a shaky financial foundation.

"Such a shame because it was big, big, big in its time," Bailey said.

Sears was not the only retailer that sold kit houses, but it was the most popular.

The houses can be found in other Raleigh neighborhoods including Cameron Park, Boylan Heights and Glenwood.

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