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Mail Order, Kit or Catalog Houses

Beginning in the early 1900s through the 1940s, many homes were bought as kits from companies like Sears, Aladdin, and Montgomery Ward. A number of mail order homes were constructed in St. Charles. 

In 2013, the St. Charles Historic Preservation Commission worked with architectural historian Rebecca Hunter to conduct a street-by-street survey of St. Charles to identify possible mail order homes marketed by Sears Roebuck, Gordon-Van Tine, Montgomery Ward, Harris Brothers, Aladdin, Lewis, and Sterling. A total of 68 homes were identified. 

Owners of the mail order homes identified in the survey were asked to provide any additional information that could help verify whether their home was built from a kit. The homes shown on this map were verified as mail order homes based on available evidence such as Kane County mortgage records indicating financing by mail order home companies and survey responses from homeowners. Pictures of these homes can be viewed here. This document lists the homes that have yet to be verified. 

The City of St. Charles has copies of the catalog images that appear to correspond with each house, or the catalog page can be found by searching web pages where the catalog pages may be posted, such as the Sears Archive


The Historic Preservation Commission would appreciate your help in determining if a house is, or is not, a mail order house. The origin of the house can be documented from information such as part numbers or other markings on the wooden elements such as joists or rafters, correspondence, mortgage records, blueprints, shipping labels, oral history, measurements of the outside dimensions of the house, floor plans and room dimensions. Click here to complete the survey. 

updated Jun 27, 2016