What fun!

A friend recently posted to Facebook (along with the notation of having himself done drawings in the link — not the 1908 catalog! — as a student 31 years ago):

For our fans of Sears Catalog Homes!

From NPR: The Sears Modern Homes catalog debuted in 1908, and it offered all the material and blueprints needed to build a house. The pieces that arrived in the mail were meant to fit together sort of like LEGOs, so buyers could build the houses themselves or hire contractors.

Learn more about Sears Houses by seeing the HABS documentation of an Alhambra model at http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/md1235/

#HistoricHouse #SearsHouse #SearsHome #HistoricPreservation#CatalogHouses


In the early 1900s, Sears sold thousands of homes around the U.S. through its mail-order catalogs. Many of those houses are still around, and their owners are saddened by the retailer’s bankruptcy.


That’s Amy’s house! Amy is one of the protagonists in Masjid Morning by Richard Morris. He studied these homes while he was writing the novel. The one in this picture looks like the front of Amy Breckenridge’s home that Morris described on page 8 when she returns home after meeting Atif: “Her eyes swept across the stately two-story portico supported by six white columns with Corinthian scroll tops.” He refers to a sunroom on the right and a carport on the left.

Recent evidence from Richard Morris’s computer verified that Amy lived in a Sears Magnolia with a recent addition.

What fun to imagine Amy driving through the carport and entering the garage and the house addition at the rear. One can follow Amy on the floorplan up the stairs, past Jesse’s room, to her own room on the back of the house with the sleeping porch overlooking the addition. It is easy to picture her in her deep dressing room eavesdropping on her father’s meeting in the addition’s “trophy room.” Poor Amy — looks like she has to share a bathroom with her parents while Jesse has one to himself.


Imagine all the research and planning that went into this small part of a novel! You might enjoy printing the floorplan map to accompany you when you read Masjid Morning.

In what ways is the floorplan essential to the plot of the story? Perhaps only to architects, builders, and other house-savvy people who might be mentally distracted if the layout of the house didn’t fit together!

Our favorite builder says of Masjid Morning, “The book moves effortlessly between technical descriptions of a mosque rising from the ground like a living being and the emotional struggles between religions.” — Jay Endelman

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