Real Estate

Yorktown Homes of Historic Distinction: Sears Kit House

Credits: Nancy Milanese
Credits: Nancy Milanese

YORKTOWN, N.Y. – In the early days of the 20th century, and much as Amazon does today, the Sears Roebuck catalogue (minus the internet) provided a mail order source of everything for everyone—from groceries, shoes and clothing to hardware, building materials and eventually even to houses. (From 1908 to 1912, the company even produced its own line of automobiles.) In 1906, a glut of inventory in the company’s building materials department prompted Frank Kushel, a Sears manager, to suggest that the company sell entire houses in kit form through mail order. The first order for a Sears house was filled in 1908, and by 1940, some 70,000 homes were constructed from kits supplied by mail through the company.

One of those Sears home kits was delivered to the Croton Heights station of the Putnam Railroad in 1929, hauled up the hill to Croton Heights Road and assembled, where it stands today, much as it did almost 90 years ago.

Larry Klein and Terry Dugan are the current owners of this property, recently named a Home of Historic Distinction by the Yorktown Landmarks Preservation Commission. The couple purchased their home in 1989, and, in researching the property, discovered that theirs was a Sears kit home dubbed “The Maywood”.

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First offered in the 1920s, the home is described poetically in a Sears Modern Home Catalogue: “The Maywood two-story home bespeaks simplicity and worth. Designed after the finest in modern architecture, it makes an ideal home. Viewed from any angle, its lovely proportion and balance is outstanding. Every line is expressive of quality, durability and good taste.” The kit, in its entirety, retailed for $2,805.

Kit homes supplied the purchaser with everything necessary to finish a home—from exterior lumber, roofing, siding, flooring, windows, interior doors and trim to kitchen cabinets, hardware, paint, stain, and even wallpaper. (Plumbing, heating, wiring, electric and shades were extra.) The Klein/Dugan house today features its original wallpaper in the dining room. Over the years, the couple has renovated the kitchen and bathroom, and at some point before their purchase of the home, the side porch was enclosed. Otherwise, the house is remarkably the same as it was in 1929.

After 28 years in their home, Terry Dugan sees little to change. She admits that a bathroom renovation might be on the horizon, but agrees that, just as the Sears catalogue described, the Maywood “makes an ideal home…”

The Yorktown Landmarks Preservation Commission is always seeking applicants for the Homes of Historic Distinction Program. To qualify, homes must have historical significance based on age, architectural style, past ownership or association with a person or event important to Yorktown’s history. Through the program, plaques designating the basic facts about each house’s history are fabricated and installed on or near the home. The commission will work with each homeowner on appropriate wording for the plaque and will assist in research. The cost for the application and the plaque is $100. Applications are available online at yorktownny.org/planning or by emailing nmilanese@yorktownny.org.

. Other Yorktown Homes of Historic Distinction

This article was submitted by the Yorktown Landmarks Preservation Commission as part of a series highlighting Yorktown Homes of Historic Distinction.

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