Sears, Roebuck and Co. Mail-order Barns

Sears, Roebuck & Co barn 1935
Photo courtesy of Janice Sass, Bay County

This 1935 photo shows an early Sears, Roebuck mail-order barn owned by Richard Sass, Mackinaw Road, Pinconning, since 1964. Men pictured are currently unidentified. It is known, however, that this barn was initially erected by Pinconning postal worker Arthur Durkee. A date embedded in the barn’s foundation includes one vague digit (4), suggesting likely 1914 construction. A Sears mail-order silo plan offered in 1914 possibly was used to construct the silo.

In Sears, Roebuck Book of Barns: A Reprint of the 1919 Catalog (Rebecca Hunter, 2005), the preface co-authors, Hunter and Dale Wolicki, explain that Sears, Roebuck and Co., Chicago, was founded in 1886, by 22-year-old Richard Warren Sears. Then, mail order companies were developing as marketing of goods by mail became possible with the expansion of transportation facilities and rural postal delivery. From 1908-1914, Sears sold plans for houses/cottages by mail, with sufficient standard-sized materials for construction. In 1915, Sears began selling precut/kit homes, offering mortgage financing until 1933. From 1911-1917, Sears also offered barn plans and materials. Sears 1918 first specialty The Book of Barns catalog offered precut/kit farm buildings that sold until about 1930. Foundations were not included.

The 1919 Sears reprint catalog plus Hunter and Wolicki’s findings reveal the barn pictured to be nearly identical to the Gothic rounded-roof “Big Chief” Modern Bank Barn, No. 3022, advertised as “Already Cut and Fitted.” Sears pre-cut kits furnished everything needed, including Fire Chief Shingle Roll Roofing that “resembles painted shingles.” Seroco mineral barn paint was available in various barrel/can sizes in Oxide Red, Dark Gray, Yellow, and Maroon. Five other mail order companies also supplied agricultural buildings until 1920.


Sears, Roebuck & Co barn 1935
Photo courtesy of Janice Sass, Bay County

This 1935 photo shows an early Sears, Roebuck mail-order barn owned by Richard Sass, Mackinaw Road, Pinconning, since 1964. Men pictured are currently unidentified. It is known, however, that this barn was initially erected by Pinconning postal worker Arthur Durkee. A date embedded in the barn’s foundation includes one vague digit (4), suggesting likely 1914 construction. A Sears mail-order silo plan offered in 1914 possibly was used to construct the silo.

In Sears, Roebuck Book of Barns: A Reprint of the 1919 Catalog (Rebecca Hunter, 2005), the preface co-authors, Hunter and Dale Wolicki, explain that Sears, Roebuck and Co., Chicago, was founded in 1886, by 22-year-old Richard Warren Sears. Then, mail order companies were developing as marketing of goods by mail became possible with the expansion of transportation facilities and rural postal delivery. From 1908-1914, Sears sold plans for houses/cottages by mail, with sufficient standard-sized materials for construction. In 1915, Sears began selling precut/kit homes, offering mortgage financing until 1933. From 1911-1917, Sears also offered barn plans and materials. Sears 1918 first specialty The Book of Barns catalog offered precut/kit farm buildings that sold until about 1930. Foundations were not included.

The 1919 Sears reprint catalog plus Hunter and Wolicki’s findings reveal the barn pictured to be nearly identical to the Gothic rounded-roof “Big Chief” Modern Bank Barn, No. 3022, advertised as “Already Cut and Fitted.” Sears pre-cut kits furnished everything needed, including Fire Chief Shingle Roll Roofing that “resembles painted shingles.” Seroco mineral barn paint was available in various barrel/can sizes in Oxide Red, Dark Gray, Yellow, and Maroon. Five other mail order companies also supplied agricultural buildings until 1920.

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