Sears played a role in the residential development of Northeast Kansas City

Michael Bushnell
Northeast News

345 Spruce, a Sears “kit” home

347 Spruce, a Sears “kit” home

On the heels of the Sears bankruptcy filing last week, we bring you this postcard of the iconic Sears distribution center that once stood at 15th and Cleveland, just east of the railroad trestle.

The massive 1.1 million square foot mail order center was completed in 1925 and was the catalog distribution center for the entire Midwest region. Children of today will sadly never know the magic of receiving the Sears catalog just prior to the holiday season every year.

Part of the Sears line of products was a line of kit homes under the Honor-Bilt name that the retailer carried from 1908, when the Sears Modern Homes catalog was released, until 1940. The catalog carried homes from the modest Oakdale and Wellington models to the huge two story Magnolia model. Everything that was needed to finish the home was included in the kit from pre-cut and fitted lumber to wall fixtures.

According to the blog “Kit House Hunters,” the kits ranged from a few hundred dollars for the smaller Bungalow-style homes to a few thousand dollars for models like the Magnolia or the Alhambra. Two classic examples of Sears kit homes can be found in the 300 block of Spruce Avenue. The Oakdale model purchased by Mr. Arthur M. Wells at 345 S. Spruce and the home next door at 347, the Wellington Model.

The image on the postcard shows the Sears facility along Truman Road (15th Street) that bisects the photo in the lower right corner. The rail line is seen in the upper right corner, running under what was then called the Southeast Freeway, now I-70. The old Goetz Brewery can also be seen just to the west of the Sears building. The brewery was razed in 1977 to make way for the expanded Sears facility. At 7am in June, 1997 the old Sears building was razed, leaving the newer facility now used by the Postal Service. Roughly 2,700 pounds of explosives were used to fell the structure.

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