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Stop 47: The 1912 James Ambrose Sears & Roebuck kit house

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Lighthouse Books/ABAA Rare Books (Bonus Stop).

     In 1912, James Ambrose “J.A.” Peek ordered a Sears Roebuck & Company home kit from the Sears & Roebuck catalog, and assembled it at the Southeast corner of 5th and Church Avenue. Peek was Mayor of Dade City in 1918. He operated J.A. Peek Seeds. To those who lived in the decades of the 1950s to 1970s, the Sears catalogue was a ‘giant book of wishes’ from a company that could sell you almost anything. In the early days however, they also sold automobiles, groceries, and ready-to-assemble kits to build new homes.

     Offering more than 370 designs for homes during the program’s 32-year history, the kits were shipped via railroad boxcars and often were assembled by new homeowners in similar ways to the traditional barn raisings of farm families in the 1800s.

   One of these kits arrived on the Atlantic Coastline Railroad train to Dade City. original structure was assembled and erected in 1916 and featured two bedrooms plus bathroom, living room, dining room, kitchen, and a back porch. Over the years the 1,000 square foot residence was the home for several families including Charles Homlin, the Lowry family, Sam and Mamie Fallin, and was later expanded by Wyman Hudson for use as flower and gift shop, Wyman’s Flowers. In 2001, Carolyn and Michael Hodges operated Hodges Funeral Home in the space with a subsequent shop of Lois Romain’s Hearts Desire Antiques

   Renovations preserved the original sandstone glass in the windows and the beveled glass in the front door. The Country Tudor Style chosen by the builder is still evident. It is on the historic list of both the Dade City preservation advisory board and the Pasco County Historical Society.

     More than 70,000 Sears catalog homes were sold in North American from 1908 to 1940. Fred and Lizzie Himmelwright ordered one for their homesteads on the west side of Fort King Road in the Lake Pasadena area. 

    Almost as if the next chapter of the Sears & Roebuck house were providential, the house acquired a new proprietor in 2019, that reflects the atmosphere of Dade City. Michael Slicker opened a vintage book store in the historic location. 

     Slicker is an antiquarian bookseller who has spent his life collecting, appraising, and providing books of antiquity. His specialties include books chronicling Florida and Caribbean history as well as maps and other print materials. Sought after for appraising and instruction, Dade City is most fortunate to have the quirky and unusual house with its fairytale type appearance as well as the very knowledgeable. Mr. Slicker and his family as community members.

Lighthouse Books, ABAA in Dade City, Florida (oldfloridabookstore.com)

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