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The State of Things

Mail-Order Houses


Rosemary Thornton may have driven by your house a few times. She may have even slowed down, whipped out her camera and snapped a few pictures. But, she’s not casing the place. Thornton is documenting history. If she’s interested in your dwelling, it’s likely you live in a kit home, a mail-order house that could be purchased out of a catalog in the early 20th century. More than 70,000 American families across the country purchased kit homes, which were even offered by Sears at one point. A lot of those houses were built in North Carolina neighborhoods. Thornton, author of “The Houses That Sears Built: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Sears Catalog Homes” (2002), joins host Frank Stasio to talk about discovering kit homes in the Tar Heel State.

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