Sears Catalog Home Capital wants tourists

The village of Downers Grove, IL wants tourists. Their lure is an unusual concentration of Sears do-it-yourself homes.

From 1908 to 1937, a person could order an entire house from the Sears catalog. All the parts for models like the Ivanhoe and the Dover were measured and sawed at a Sears factory. You'd order a house and it would be delivered by rail, sometimes filling two or three boxcars. Prices ranged from $150 to $5,000.

Downers Grove was home to a large rail yard, which made it easy for residents to get their homes. Most of the Sears homes, in fact, are located within four blocks of the tracks.

Some 300 were assembled in Downer's Grove, and many still exist. Local tourism officials are eager to put the village on the map as the Sears catalog home capital of the world. About 200 Sears homes are located in Carlinville, IL, but Downers Grove claims to have a larger variety of models in addition to numerical superiority.

5100 Main St., Downers Grove, IL
Most of the homes were clustered in the neighborhood around the train station, which is on Main St. six blocks south of US Hwy 34/E. Ogden Ave. Private property. Visible from street.
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