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50. Craftsman-style Residence, 1913 50. Craftsman-style Residence, 1913
502 Raymond Ave.

Craftsman style Residence, 1913

Wide angle view


Walkway entrance

“I’ve been restoring buildings for 35 years and did this one with the intention of selling, but I fell in love with it and sold my other house,” observed Gail Howell, owner of the landmark property at 502 Raymond in the Santa Monica Mirror.

She describes the property as “a little house in a wood full of big buildings,” referring to the apartment buildings and condominiums on the block. “It’s important to save what you can.”

In rehabbing the porch, Howell used the original bricks to rebuild the porch piers, which had been covered in stucco by a previous owner. FYI - the standard brick size has changed nine times since 1913, when the house was built.

This traditional Craftsman is in the genre of the Modern Homes program popularized by Sears, Roebuck and Company from 1908-1940. During this time, Sears sold more than 100,000 homes through their mail-order Modern Homes program. Sears designed 447 different housing styles, from the elaborate multistory Ivanhoe, with its elegant French doors and art glass windows, to the simpler Goldenrod, which served as a three-room and no-bath cottage for summer vacationers. The Modern Homes program allowed customers to choose a house to suit their needs and pocketbook.

Sears established their reputation by using popular home designs of the day, and allowed the buyer the advantage of customizing their house and hardware according to personal tastes. Families could even design their own homes by submitting the blueprints to Sears. The catalog company would then ship off the appropriate precut and fitted materials, giving Modern Home customers the ability to build their dream house. Sears also offered favorable financing.

When Sears was at their peak with Modern Homes production, their catalogs advertised three lines of homes, Honor Bilt, Standard Built, and Simplex Sectional.

Honor Bilt homes were the finest quality sold by Sears. Joists, studs, and rafters were to be spaced 14 3/8 inches apart. Attractive cypress siding and cedar shingles - similar to the ones at the property at 502 Raymond - adorned most Honor Bilt exteriors. Interiors often featured clear-grade (i.e., knot-free) flooring and inside trim made from yellow pine, oak, or maple wood. Standard Built homes were best for warmer climates, as they did not retain heat very well. The Simplex Sectional line was ideal for summer cottages.

Modern Home designs offered distinct advantages over other construction methods. By offering precut and fitted materials, Sears shrunk construction time up to 40%. Their use of "balloon style" framing required only one carpenter. The system used precut timber - mostly standard 2x4s and 2x8s for framing. The timber, fitted pieces, even nails were shipped by railroad directly to the customer added greatly to the popularity of this framing style.

Sears introduced drywall to replace the plaster and lathe wall-building techniques previously used. Asphalt shingles were offered to replace more common roofing materials of the day - tin and wood. Asphalt shingles were inexpensive to manufacture and ship, easy and inexpensive to install, and fireproof.

Central heating, indoor plumbing, and electricity were new developments in home design that many Modern Homes incorporated. Central heating improved fire safety in an era where open flames threatened houses and cities, as in the case of the Chicago Fire. Indoor plumbing and homes wired for electricity were the first steps to modern kitchens and bathrooms. Through their Modern Homes program, Sears was a vital part of bringing homes into the 20th century.