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What are Mail Order Homes

Mail order homes from catalogs were popular from the early 1900s until the 1980 s. Three companies were headquartered in Chicago: Harris Brothers, Montgomery Ward and Sears, Roebuck. Sears, Roebuck and Co. sold an estimated 65,000 homes in over 400 different models from 1908-1940 . In addition to the Chicago companies, there were also 5 other major mail order companies that sold mail order homes during that time. Many of these homes are still standing today.

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Exploring Mail-Order Homes Along the Old Chicago and Northwestern Railroad

The Melrose Park Library partnered with four area libraries/historical societies conducting surveys to identify mail-order homes. Mail order homes are a little known phenomenon, yet are most likely prevalent in these communities due to the proximity of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad since they were shipped to buyers using boxcars. After the surveys were completed, public programs were hosted in each community to discuss the results of the survey and the historical context of the homes.

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