Tag Archives: levittown

Forbes picks Nashville #2: Best place to get a job!

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Forbes picks Nashville #2 best place to get a job!

Nicole Kidman described Nashville this way, “It’s the warmest, loveliest community I’ve ever set foot in. For me, it’s the perfect place to live. It’s the best part of America.”

Now the ‘best part of America’ is the second best place to get a job according to a recent report from Forbes magazine. Their calculation methods are somewhat complex, but the bottom line is simple:

Downtown Nashville

“Affordab ility + Quality of Life = Success”

Some other cities that are growing stronger, since the Great Recession, have Technology and Energy to help push the forward but according to Forbes, “… you don’t have to be a huge tech hub or energy capital to generate new jobs. The No. 2-ranked place in our big metro ranking, Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, Tenn., reflects the power of economic diversity coupled with ample cultural amenities, pro-business policies and a mild climate. Nashville’s 3.8% expansion in employment last year, and 7% growth since 2008, has been propelled by business services, education and health. There’s also been a recent recovery in manufacturing, up over 9% last year, as well as retail and wholesale trade. Like the Texas cities, Nashville has registered long-term growth as well, with 112,000 jobs added since 2001, a nice 16.6% increase.”

Nashville has it all with a seemingly never ending supply of restaurants, music, theaters, shopping and streams of celebrities walking freely around town. Sport fans can get their fill with Nashville’s professional teams in football and hockey not to mention great college sport venues from Vanderbilt, Belmont and Tennessee State. Also, a financial attraction to Nashville has to be what the great state of Tennessee always boast about, no state tax!

There are many reasons to visit and consider moving to Nashville, but once you experience their great Southern Hospitality, you will understand exactly what Nichole Kidman meant when she said, “…For me, it’s the perfect place to live.

Air Date 5/11/13: Sears Catalog Homes

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Special Guest:  Rosemary Thornton Author and Authority on Sears Catalog Homes

Do you live in a Sears Home? Learn how to identify a Sears home! We want to hear from You! Mark.Griffith@migonline.com

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Click to buy book!

Sears Catalog Homes:

For more than 10 years, Rose Thornton has traveled throughout the country, seeking and finding Sears Homes. In that time, she’s written countless newspaper and magazine articles, in addition to several books.

Rose is the author of The Houses That Sears Built (2002,) Finding the Houses That Sears Built (2004) and she’s the co-author of California’s Kit Homes (2004) and Montgomery Wards Mail-Order Homes (2010). Rose’s newest book – The Sears Homes of Illinois – was published in December 2010.

Rose has traveled to 24 states to give 200 lectures on Sears Homes, from Bungalow Heaven in Los Angeles to The Smithsonian in Washington, DC. She has addressed a wide variety of audiences from architectural preservationists in Boston, St. Louis and Chicago to kit home enthusiasts in small towns across America.

Rose has appeared on PBS (History Detectives), A&E (Biography), CBS (Sunday Morning News) and her book was featured in its own category on Jeopardy. She is considered the country’s #1 authority on kit homes. Her work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, Washington Post, L. A. Times, Dallas Morning News, Old House Journal, American Bungalow, Blue Ridge Country and about 100 other publications. Twice in the last three years, the story of her unique career was picked up by the AP and in May 2009, she was interviewed on BBC Radio.

Rosemary Thornton
Order your copy today!

Rosemary explains how to identify a Sears Home:

Do you live in a Sears Home? We want to hear from You!  Mark.Griffith@migonline.com

Click here  to see dozens of extant photos of Sears Homes!

The number one question I’m asked again and again – How do you identify a Sears Kit Home?

First, begin by eliminating the obvious. Sears sold these homes between 1908-1940. If your home was built outside of that time frame, it can not be a Sears catalog home. Period. Exclamation mark!

The nine easy signs follow:

1) Look for stamped lumber in the basement or attic. Sears Modern Homes were kit homes and the framing members were stamped with a letter and a number to help facilitate construction. Today, those marks can help prove that you have a kit home.

2) Look for shipping labels. These are often found on the back of millwork (baseboard molding, door and window trim, etc).

3) Check house design using a book with good quality photos and original catalog images. For Sears, I recommend, “The Sears Homes of Illinois” (all color photos). For Wardway, there’s “The Mail-Order Homes of Montgomery Ward.”

4) Look in the attic and basement for any paperwork (original blueprints, letters, etc). that might reveal that you have a Sears home.

5) Courthouse records. From 1911 to 1933, Sears offered home mortgages. Using grantor records, you may find a few Sears mortgages and thus, a few Sears homes.

6) Hardware fixtures. Sears homes built during the 1930s often have a small circled “SR” cast into the bathtub in the lower corner (furthest from the tub spout and near the floor) and on the underside of the kitchen or bathroom sink.

7) Goodwall sheet plaster. This was an early quasi-sheetrock product offered by Sears, and can be a clue that you have a kit home.

8 ) Unique column arrangement on front porch and five-piece eave brackets (see pictures below).

9) Original building permits. In cities that have retained original building permits, you’ll often find “Sears” listed as the home’s original architect.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.
To read another article, click here.
Lumber was numbered to facilitate construction

Lumber was numbered to facilitate construction

Numbers

The numbers are usually less than an inch tall and will be found near the edge of the board.

The Sears Magnolia was also known as Model #2089

See the faint markings on this lumber? This mark was made in blue grease pencil and reads, “2089” and was scribbled on the board when the lumber left Cairo, Illinois. This was a photo taken in a Sears Magnolia in North Carolina. The Sears Magnolia was also known as Model #2089

Sears Magnolia was also known as #2089

Sears Magnolia was also known as Model #2089.

Shipping labels can also be a clue that you have a Sears Homes

Shipping labels can also be a clue that you have a Sears Home.

“The Sears Homes of Illinois” has more than 200 color photos of the most popular designs that Sears offered and can be very helpful in identifying Sears Homes.

Ephemera can help identify a house as a Sears Home

Ephemera can help identify a house as a Sears Home. This picture came from an original set of Sears “Honor Bilt” blueprints.

Ephemera

Ephemera and paperwork can provide proof that you do indeed have a Sears Home.

Goodwall Sheet Plaster

Goodwall Sheet Plaster was sold in the pages of the Sears Modern Homes catalogs. This was a “fireproof” product that was much like modern sheetrock.

About two dozen of Sears most popular designs had a unique column arrangement that makes identification easier. The Vallonia was one of those 24 Sears Homes with that unique column arrangement.

About two dozen of Sears most popular designs had a unique column arrangement that makes identification easier. The Vallonia was one of those 24 Sears Homes with that unique column arrangement.

Close-up of the columns.

Close-up of the columns.

And in the flesh...

And in the flesh…

Houses should be a perfect match to original drawings found in the Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Houses should be a perfect match to original drawings found in the Sears Modern Homes catalog. This is where people get into trouble. They ignore the details.

Sears Mitchell in Elgin, Illinois.

Sears “Mitchell” in Elgin, Illinois.

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The Sears Winona, as featured in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog. The house in Raleigh (see below) is just a spot-on match, a rarity in a house of this age!

The Sears Winona, as featured in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog. The house in Raleigh (see below) is just a spot-on match, a rarity in a house of this age!

Sears Winona in Raleigh, looking PERFECT!

Sears Winona in Raleigh, looking PERFECT!

Sears Auburn in Halifax, NC

Sears Auburn

And a dazzling Auburn in Halifax, NC.

And a dazzling Auburn in Halifax, NC.

Sears Pheonix from the 1919 Modern Homes catalog.

Sears Pheonix from the 1919 Modern Homes catalog.

And a lovely Sears Pheonix in Newman, IL. Photo is courtesy Rebecca Hunter.

And a lovely Sears Pheonix in Newman, IL. Photo is courtesy Rebecca Hunter.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.
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Send Rose an email at thorntonrose@hotmail.com
To read more about Sears Homes, click here.
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Mortgage Delinquency Rates Fall!

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Remember how Bob Newhart’s last show called  Newhart ended? Bob’s character, Dick Loudon, had bought a small Vermont Inn full of zany characters. Newhart became so frustrated with everything going on at the inn, that he stormed outside where he was struck in the head with a golf ball and  knocked unconscious. When he finally awoke, he was in bed with TV wife Susan Pleshette from the original Bob Newhart Show that ran 12 years earlier. This TV history making scene stunned America and brought back the fond memories of a previous time. Watch the full scene:


The Housing crisis that began in 2007 is one of those  dreams everyone wishes they could wake up from. But there is great news in recent reports suggesting, at least in one regard, that one aspect of the housing crisis may be back to pre-2007 levels. Our national nightmare could be coming to an end.

New mortgage payment delinquency data released from  Lender Processing Services (LPS) gives reasons to hope. The LPS reports that new problem loan rates in March (seriously delinquent mortgages that were current six months ago) have fallen below 1%  for the first time since 2007. This means that these delinquency levels have reverted to levels that have not been seen since the Great Debacle  began. The key factors for the decline in delinquencies are: home equity increases which are rising due to the improving housing  market, increasing home values, and over all improvement in the economy.

A new report from Corelogic states, “Home prices nationwide, including distressed sales, increased 10.5 percent on a year-over-year basis in March 2013 compared to March 2012. This change represents the biggest year-over-year increase since March 2006 and the 13th consecutive monthly increase in home prices nationally. On a month-over-month basis, including distressed sales, home prices increased by 1.9 percent in March 2013 compared to February 2013.” Corelogic also reports that April will see excellent home value increases. Delinquencies and foreclosures, which were once the nemesis for our country and the housing market, may be a thing of the past.

These are wonderful signs that point to a housing recovery in full swing. But unlike Hollywood, where the scene can magically take us back to a happier place and time; our happy place will not be facts and figures that point us to the past, but an economic recovery that points us to an exciting future.

The History of American Suburbia

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By Mark Griffith Mortgage Investors Group  Branch Manager- Oak Ridge Co-Host of The Housing Hour
Mark Griffith
Mortgage Investors Group
Branch Manager- Oak Ridge
Co-Host of The Housing Hour

The History of American Suburbia

by Mark Griffith

May 8, 1945 changed the history of housing in America. Although, at the time, nobody was actually thinking in those terms; everybody was too busy dancing and celebrating V-E Day. But within 18 months of V-E Day, over 4 million service men and women would be making their way home. That many people descending on cities across the country created several difficult challenges. The returning veterans were confronted with finding jobs and adjusting to civilian life, along with housing shortages and scarcity of all types of goods and services. On the other hand, one thing that had no shortages was marriages. The marriage rate in the US soared to the highest levels in our history, and all those marriages produced the biggest baby boom the world has ever seen. As a result, all of these families needed a place to live and the demand was urgent. That same mentality and ingenuity which created the unstoppable war machine, would soon kindle the conversion of the war factories and technologies into the largest peace time economic boom in the history of America. Historians call this great expansion, ‘The Golden Age of Capitalization’ or the ‘Long Boom’. Veterans simply saw it as the fruits of peace; it was a time in which prosperity reigned, jobs were plentiful, technological advances were making life better, and housing started to flourish.

levittown1
“…thousands of newly built homes, appointed with the most modern technologies of the day and financed through the government GI and FHA loan programs.”

The  high demand for housing required new creative ideas for communities and a method to build them. In 1947, the first large suburban planned community was developed by William Levitt, who is known as the father of American suburbia.Levitt designed and completed the first American dream subdivision in New York. It was comprised of thousands of newly built homes, appointed with the most modern technologies of the day and financed through the government GI and FHA loan programs. Levittown as it was named, was created by a highly efficient, assembly  line method of production with  limited choices for the buyer. This innovative concept of construction was developed by Levitt while he was serving in the Navy and responsible for the construction of military housing. The need for quickly built housing inspired Levitt to streamline construction techniques and plan building designs with interchangeable parts. This method allowed Levitt to meet the demands of military housing during the war. He was able to use  this knowledge to produce the largest ‘peace time’  housing  development project the US had ever seen.

house materials
“Lumber was pre-cut and delivered to the building site…”

It is estimated that over 1,000 Levittown homes were sold within a couple hours after being offered to the public.The Levitt floor plan was a functional design, allowing for the most effective way of construction. Lumber was pre-cut and delivered to the building site, plumbing was designed in a common wall that could serve a bathroom on one side and the kitchen on the other, reducing building cost and saving construction time. The kitchen was placed at the front of the house over looking the front yard where children would be playing.The floor plan created  closeness in living conditions which was duplicated across the country and helped transform the American family. The 750 square foot houses sold for the low price $7,000 to $10,000 with house payments  under $70 per month.By the time Levittown, NY building construction ended there were close to 17,000 homes and the community had their own postal delivery, schools, grocery stores and also street lights. Levitt and Sons had already started building a new town, Levittown, PA.

levittshowrm
“…. over 1,000 Levittown homes were sold within a couple hours…”

In 1951, Levittown, Pa was a continuation of the NY development but offered 6 home  designs and various other simple options while still maintaining full automated control. Several other community amenities were added like pools, playgrounds, parks and shopping. By the time the Pennsylvanian community was completed in 1958, close to 18,000 homes were built. However, for the first time since the end of the Korean war, the country was moving into a recession which would last until 1961.  But recession or not, Levitt & Sons continued building their third community in New Jersey. It was complete with over 11,000 homes in eleven sections each having a park and elementary school. The design of the new suburbia homes, neighborhoods, and communities created a closeness and connection with others. People raised in this time recall fondly the friendships of all the neighboring children.

The social impact of Levittown on family life, as well as the physical impact on suburban home developments are still being felt today. Urban sprawl has given great opportunities to Americans in realizing the ‘Dream’ of home ownership while creating  significant sustainable community challenges to the suburban lifestyles as the baby boomers move back to the inner cities. However, there is one certainty gleaned from the WWII and the post WWII generations: whatever the challenge, Americans will   rise to it.

Listen to this song recorded in the early 60’s poking fun at the modern subdivision.

Little Boxes by Pete Seeger:

 

Download (PPTX, 1.95MB)

Click on this great site:

Levittowners