Let’s fix this! - 1893, 1896, 1998 & 2022
The first photo for this week’s post is of the amazing David Merrill back in 1981, painting the 1896 James C. Johnson mansion in the Masuk High School library. David is a Monroe native of course and he lived in this beautiful Victorian for a time in his youth. Well, David Merrill and the Monroe Historical Society have something very important to share with you. Are you ready? Are you sure you’re ready? Ok, here we go. THIS IS NOT A SEARS KIT HOUSE!!! Just over 2 miles southwest in Stepney Depot is the Andrew Barnum Curtiss mansion, completed in 1893. And guess what? THAT’S NOT A SEARS KIT HOUSE EITHER!!! Blasphemy!
Just where did people get such an absurd idea in the first place? Well, from the Monroe Historical Society of course. Huh? Yes, it’s true. It all started with the Images of America book that was published by the Monroe Historical Society back in 1998. It’s a great book otherwise, and copies are still available, but there it is in black and white on pages 96 & 108. I suppose someone at the time thought these homes displayed such scale and architectural grandeur that they must have come here in some kit form via the railroad. There’s no question about it friends. This error is ours entirely, and we felt it was high time to not only correct it, but also to apologize, especially to Jimmy Johnson and the greater Johnson family.
How are we so confident today that these are not actually Sears Kit Homes? Well, the Sears Modern Homes division that manufactured kit homes didn’t come to exist until 1908. Just imagine when these grand homes were being built. They were like nothing else in Monroe. They’re still completely unique even today. Surely a great number of the materials for these mansions came in by rail, and some of them possibly even from Sears, but that doesn’t make them kit houses. Don’t be disappointed though. There are kit houses in Monroe. We know of one on Crescent Place, another on Cedar Lane, and we suspect even another on Judd Road. They are out there, and there were a number of other companies offering kit homes besides Sears. Are you aware of any other kit homes in Monroe you’d like to share with us? If so, please post a reply. We’d love to learn more.
So, there you have it friends. Our error is finally corrected after near a quarter century and we’re already feeling better. Now it’s your turn to enlighten others about town of our mistake so this unfortunate error is no longer propagated – even with the best of intentions. It is our hope with this post that Jimmy Johnson may finally enjoy a meal in peace at Bill’s Drive In without having to correct others for our mistake. Sorry Jimmy. Moving on now to our next historic adventure. See you soon.