Monday, December 06, 2010

10/11 Academic Decathlon The Great Depression Art Selection #13 - Winona

The Winona, 1935 Sears Honor-Bilt Homes

This Honor-Bilt model home was the top of the line (and the most expensive) for Sears' home kits. They had lesser grade structures - the Standard Built and the Simplex Sectional. In the 1930s, this house would have cost between $721 and $1998, which would be from $10,000-25,000 in today's dolllars. The style is a bungalow-style house from the Craftsman movement. The Craftsman movement was one that wanted to go back to a handmade look. After the advent of the Industrial Revolution, there was a return to things that looked handmade and not machine made. A bungalow is a small, intimate dwelling and has been a popular house throughout the 20th century. You will hear of bungalows in California, where they were widely built, but they are super expensive in that real estate market now!

They typically have covered porches and low-pitched roofs. There are deep overhangs and exposed beams. The look is simple, square and there is limited space. In order to make the small space seem bigger, the main spaces (kitchen, living room and dining room) are open to each other with built-in furnishings. You can see the floor plan in the image post. The main living areas are on the left and have arched openings to the center of the structure. The right side of the building has the bedrooms, bathrooms and closets. There was some customization available - the customer could choose between two and three-bedroom designs. Or, they could flip the design so the bedrooms were on the left. The house came with a basement and an attic and the owner could add a garage or a carport.

These kits made owning a home very affordable. Because Sears could mass produce these, and the houses were limited to the customization, they could keep the price down, more people could afford to build them and it really upgraded their life in spite of their limited incomes. Compare these prices to the $155,000 it took to build Fallingwater (the next post down), and you can see why they were popular! In the 1930s, the average salary was $1,600, so even though these houses were inexpensive, they were still a commitment to the buyer. In order to make it more attractive for potential home owners, Sears, Roebuck and Company set up financing so people could purchase their homes with a loan that had 6-7% interest. Coupled with the steady growth of the automobile industry, the middle class was beginning to boom in the early part of the 20th century, and the average consumer was in debt for a house and a car. Debt spending had begun on a larger scale in the U.S.! But, in the end, the Great Depression hit even this industry and during the 1930s Sears stopped offering the financing because people could not keep up their payments. Sales fell and in the 1940s Sears stopped offering mail-order homes all together. During the 24 years they sold the house kits, between 70,000 and 75,000 people bought them and there are still many Sears houses standing today.

2 comments:

greenjars said...

i can only say that humans are unbelievable creatures.

how many kinds of shelters do we use?

and you gave one example of smart doing by smart people.

to make something out of nothing is real art.

Coach Outlet said...

I stumbled across your site, and I think that your advise works for everyone, young at art or not! I especially loved the part about understanding what music has to do with your art.thank you!