We so enjoy the Western Minnesota Steam Thresher's Reunion (WMSTR) in Rollag, Minnesota near Fargo held every Labor Day Weekend. The sounds of bustling activity coming from the 1800s era town's mainstreet, a train filled to capacity with the show's attendees chugging around the perimeter of the property, the melodic clunk and swoosh of steam engines running huge machinery as well as the smallest models built to scale, the whine of the sawmill blades slicing logs into lumber combined with the peacefulness of the vast farmland makes a perfect setting. It is Dick's and my tradition... our rhythm developed over the years... a way to welcome the impending autumn season... in vast expanses of farmland... in the rolling hills of western Minnesota to witness firsthand the harvest. My favorite at the show has always been the farmstead.
It was interesting to learn that Sears-Roebuck sold mail order houses in kit form between 1908 and 1940 selling more than 100,000 homes during this time period. An entire house was delivered by boxcar along with assembly instructions. Although this house built in 1990 by WMSTR volunteers is not a Sears design, it is a style representative of 1900 to 1925 farmhouses.
This is the cover of the first Sears-Roebuck catalog of house plans. It was published in 1908. Katherine Cole Stevenson and H. Ward Jandl have written a book about the houses entitled Houses by Mail: A Guide to Houses from Sears, Roebuck and Company that features nearly 450 house models with floor plans. Not to be outdone by Sears, Montgomery Ward had their own line of house kits. Rosemary Thornton has chronicled their offerings in her book, Montgomery Ward's Mail Order Homes. She is also the author of The Houses That Sears Built.