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The Sears Mail-Order Home Lives On in Chicago’s Suburbs

See four prefab kit houses for sale right now.

Photo: VHT Studios

Sears may be on its last leg, but the company’s enduring impact on retail is undeniable. At the turn of the last century, the catalog revolutionized merchandising with its mail-order business model, shipping everyday items like clothing and tools across the country.

Less immediately remembered are Sears’s kit homes. The pre-assembled dwellings, sold predominantly through mail order, were affordable, practical, and generally made of high quality materials.

A testament to the kit home’s durability: You can still find the structures across the Chicago area today. Nearby cities such as Rockford, Elgin, and Aurora are known for their inventory of Sears homes, which today serve as reminders of the company’s revolutionary vision. Here are just a few for sale in the suburbs right now.

1670 Whitcomb Avenue, Des Plaines, $389,000

Photo: VHT Studios

This modest three-bedroom dates back to 1929, per its listing notes. And sure enough, the arched entryway matches those found on several kit home models sold during that period. What began as a small house has been expanded with a finished basement and rear addition, granting more living space for the modern family.

364 N. Addison Avenue, Elmhurst, $415,000

Photo: VHT Studios

Built in 1925, this three-bedroom, two-bathroom house features an Italianate-inspired exterior with a thoroughly updated interior. The finished basement bumps up the total living space to 1,736 square feet.

467 Carleton Avenue, Glen Ellyn, $599,000

Photo: VHT Studios

Thanks to a generation pressed by high housing costs, tiny homes and container homes have become a full-on craze. The modest bungalows of yesterday have also made a big comeback among millennials. This vintage Sears home has been refreshed aesthetically and functionally, giving the compact prefab renewed life that will last for decades.

239 W. Russell Street, Barrington, $949,000

Photo: VHT Studios

Sears homes came in all shapes and sizes, and this Colonial hits a sweet spot with four bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms spanning nearly 4,000 square feet. The interior has been updated with on-trend white and black finishes, helping the quaint home go big on style and charm.

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