Sears home on Broadway to be shown
By Annette Aubinger
ASHWAUBENON – You can go to museums any time they are open. You can go to homes decorated special for Christmas. But, for two days only, the opportunity to see a special home, a 1920 Sears home, decorated for the holidays where a family still lives will be open to the public.
The home is located on Broadway Street in Ashwaubenon. The dates are Saturday, Dec. 9 and 16.
In 1908 Sears printed its first specialty catalogue for homes, “The Book of Modern Homes and Building Plans.”
It featured 22 homes with prices from $650 to $2,500. Customers could order the model they preferred by mail, and Sears would ship almost all their materials needed by rail, along with blueprints and a detailed construction manual.
In 1916 the company began operating its own lumber yards and saw mills and ready-made homes were introduced.
All lumber was pre-cut, lettered and numbered to match the blueprints, which reduced the time and skills needed to construct a Sears home.
In 1919 Sears first Modern Homes sales office was opened. Buyers could visit a sales office and customize their homes.
Between 1908 and 1940 Sears offered over 400 house plans. The Don Selner home on Broadway was built from one of those plans. During that period buyers were responsible for transporting the materials from the railroad depot to the building site.
Many were built close to existing rail lines. Several Sears homes are in the Broadway neighborhood in Ashwaubenon, near Cormier because they were near a railroad.
The Sears home on Broadway that will be shown took three years to build by builder Foxy Nelson.
Oren and Emma Constance lived in the home. Their daughter Edith was born there.
The present owners (Selners) knew Edith and kept in contact with her through letter writing.
While Edith lived there, the home was also used as a boarding house during the years the Sugar Beet factory in Ashwaubenon was open.
The Selners moved into the home in 1990 and it remained the same interior from when it was built.
Mary Selner, who lives in the home said the wood in the house is the original wood ordered from Sears.
Sears only used very prime wood. The wood is hard yellow pine know as gum wood.
Everything constructed in the home came from Sears, from the two by fours to the doors, to the nails.
All materials were numbered to fit.
The fireplace has original bricks on the floor and original book shelves are around the fireplace.
The home also features built in cabinets for dishes, original hardwood floors and much, much more that can be seen when the house is opened to the public.
Selner said the upstairs has bedrooms. It is not decorated but what is unique about the upstairs is that artisans painted the woodwork at the factory before the woodwork was shipped. The original painted woodwork still exists.
“I am very happy to open up our house to the community.” said Selner. “It’s remarkable how every board and nail in the house was sent and it was all put together. There was no power equipment. It was all done by hand.”
Another feature that will be shown is an original Sears garage. The door to open the garage is unique.
It is tri-fold. Sears has their branding on the track.
The Ashwaubenon Historical Society is hosting the event.
Tickets will be sold at the Ashwaubenon Historical Society’s museum at 936 Anderson Drive the days of the event,
Dec. 9 and 16. No advance tickets will be sold.
The event is open from 1 to 4 p.m.
The cost is $10 per person and includes a museum tour that has a 1940’s Christmas display and the Sears house tour.
Refreshments will be served, and there will be a sale of boutique items.