Homes in a Box: Modern Homes from Sears Roebuck

Although they were not the first companies to offer "pre-cut" kit homes from the factory, Sears, Roebuck and Company and the Aladdin Company were the industry leaders, each selling at least 75,000 houses during their existence. Sears entered the market in 1908, two years after Aladdin. Their sales gradually declined during the Depression and in 1940, Sears printed their last catalog of kit homes.

Both companies had their own staff architects. They furnished a set of detailed plans for a house chosen from the catalog as well as all of the required lumber, cut to length, notched for fitting together and numbered for assembly. The package also included everything else needed to construct a house—nails and plumbing pipe to doors and roofing shingles.

Sears offered a great range of house sizes and styles, many reflecting a Frank Lloyd Wright influence, which can be traced to a proliferation of Wright designs in Chicago, Sears and Roebuck's headquarters. They were a complete mail order building supplier with catalogs for furnaces, water heaters, bricks, hardware, paints, varnishes and finishing supplies such as doors, windows and moldings.