Before Amazon and the Internet, people still ordered items and waited for the packages to come in the mail. Massive catalogs were a mainstay of every American household.
People would buy whatever they couldn’t easily get close by. This may be tools, specialty equipment, or home goods. The largest item that a family could buy was a house.
In the early 1900s, it was prevalent for a family to send thousands of dollars to Sears Roebuck and wait for their home to be delivered. The 1,200 pieces would arrive by train, and the family would have the work of putting them together.
Carlinville, Illinois, is regarded as the megacenter for these Sears homes. The entire neighborhood comprises over 150 houses that were ordered by catalog.
Retired teachers, Ben and Mary, paid $6,500 for their home in 1962. They just celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary, and their Sears home still stands, strong as ever.
Carlinville became this tourist attraction of Sears home due to its history as a housing development for coal miners. The oil company purchased several homes to house its miner. Each home came with 12,000 parts, hundreds of pounds of nails, and a 75-page instruction book.
Every year, many people visit Carlinville to see all of the Sears homes lined up in the neighborhood. The houses were once called The American Dream in a kit. You can visit Illinois to view all of the catalog homes.