Sears Homes in Longmeadow
Updated: Dec 2, 2022
11 Franklin Terrace, Longmeadow, MA
Until the turn of the 20th Century, Longmeadow was primarily an agricultural community. That started to change when trolley service began down Longmeadow Street in 1896; people who worked in Springfield could then live in the pastoral Longmeadow but easily commute to work in the city by trolley car. Real estate developers started purchasing farm property and developing it into the many subdivisions that fill today’s Longmeadow. One of the earliest developments, Greenwood Manor, was on the former dairy farm of Franklin B. Allen. By 1911, Bay State Realty Trust had acquired the property and laid out the Greenwood Manor subdivision into over 400 lots.
From 1910 Map of Longmeadow
W. Clinton Read, a single man from Springfield, purchased four of these lots on April 12, 1912. But how was he to quickly develop these lots so that he could resell them? To build houses on them, Mr. Read, like many other people, turned to one of the most a trusted names in American business – Sears, Roebuck and Co.
Hampden County Registry of Deeds. Book 843, Page 249
Sears, Roebuck and Co. began as a catalog company, selling everything from watches to sewing machines, toys, groceries, farm equipment, clothing, kitchen stoves, furniture, building supplies, and eye glasses. The general merchandise catalogs were supplemented by specialty catalogs for items such as horseless carriages, motorcycles, and buildings. Sears promised quality products at reduced prices and many loyal customers consulted the convenient Sears catalog first when making a purchasing decision.
In 1908, Sears, Roebuck and Co. published its first catalog of Modern Homes kit houses. In addition to kits for houses, you could buy kits for barns, garages, outhouses, hen houses, cottages, and even a two-story, six-classroom schoolhouse (that did not include a bathroom). Sears was not the first or the only company to sell kit houses (other vendors included Aladdin and Montgomery Ward), but, because of its large existing customer base, Sears quickly became the industry leader. The 1912 catalog can be seen its entirety. Page 89 of this catalog encouraged real estate developers to buy multiple homes – “Greater Economy = Bigger Profits” – to create an economy of scale.
Modern Homes, Sears, Roebuck and Co., Chicago (1912 catalog). Page 89
Not only did Mr. Read follow this advice, but he purchased three of the Sears models shown on page 89 for his Greenwood Manor lots.
On Lot 178, he built a Model Home #196. This home is still standing at 11 Franklin Terrace.
On Lot 176, he built a Model Home #194. This home is still standing at 31 Maple Terrace.
And, on Lot 248, he built a Model Home #192. This house is still standing at 19 Berwick Road.
Modern Homes, Sears, Roebuck and Co., Chicago (1912 catalog). Page 90
31 Maple Terrace, Longmeadow, MA. Image from Longmeadow Assessor's Database.