In the early 20th century, shopping for a home was different. Home buyers had the option to order up a house directly from the Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog. In fact, you could purchase a banjo, a top hat, and a home from the same catalog. And while Sears has been battered as a retailing relic in the 21st century, some of the homes sold straight from its pages still stand.
They include this home, built in 1910, long before prefab homes were seen as a cool design trend. This historic three-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom house is available for $439,000 in the Dallas suburb of Celina, TX.
"It's an original Sears and Roebuck home," listing agent Cindy Peters says. "Basically, you ordered it from a catalog and they shipped it down the Mississippi River. They delivered it to Celina and built it on a lot here.
"From what I understand, every piece was numbered so they knew how to put it together," she adds. Think old-school Ikea, minus the impossible-to-decipher instructions.
According to the Sears archives, as many as 75,000 homes were sold from 1908 to 1940, making this one in Celina one of the oldest. The company eventually came up with 447 home designs, from a three-room vacation cottage (outhouse optional) to grander models with names such as The Chelsea and The Hamilton (which kind of looks like this house). Prices ranged from less than $1,000 to a little under $3,000.
"It's extremely unique," Peters notes. "I don't think there's a whole lot of them standing." The home, located on a large lot in downtown Celina, has had just three owners.
The seller purchased the 3,300-square-foot home in 2010, then embarked on a top-down interior renovation. She had planned to live in it herself. But plans changed, and she decided to sell it, after making some serious improvements, including a new foundation, plumbing, wiring, and electrical.
The inside has also gone through a major face-lift. "You walk in, and it's a brand-new home," Peters says.
A brand-new home that's still oozing with character: Original moldings and doors were left intact. But finishes such as textured walls, new wood flooring, new kitchen, and new bathrooms complete the redo.
In the dining room and downstairs powder room, the owner chose fabric walls for the decor, in keeping with the style of the era. Light fixtures are all new, and one of the four bedrooms has been converted into a walk-in closet for the master bedroom; it's storage the original home lacked.
The exterior has been largely left untouched for the next steward to determine paint color -- and whether to hold on to the cheery red gas pump out front (which is just for looks) or the gazebo out back.
"The way you see the house is the way it's looked for 100 years. The only thing that's changed is the interior of the home," Peters says.
For something originally ordered from a catalog over a century ago, that's impressive indeed.