Vintage

Rickety "Haunted House" Has A Surprising And Valuable History

City of Dust - Facebook

Take a ride down Highway 55 outside of Estancia, New Mexico and you'll drive past a pretty special house.

The trouble is, you probably couldn't guess there's anything special about it.

This ramshackle home is mainly known for being "haunted," and a popular place for vagrants to take a nap.

But the surprising history behind this abandoned home makes it valuable, not creepy.

Homes, Shipped On Demand

Sears Catalog Home
The home in Estancia was ordered from a Sears catalog in the 1920s.KRQE News - Instagram

Locals say they often see "ghosts" hiding behind the windows of this run down home, and they may be right.

But it must be the ghost of an equally run down department store chain, not a former owner.

See, a lawyer named Fred Ayers bought this house in the 1920s. In fact, he ordered the home out of the Sears catalog.

Sears Catalog Homes
At one time, there were almost 450 models of homes available for order.Sears, Roebuck and Company - Wikimedia

Yes, the building is a relic of a time when shoppers could order "kits" that included everything needed to build a home from the Sears and Roebuck catalog.

It may sound odd, but the innovative system of shipping pre-cut lumber and other materials to customers was groundbreaking at the time.

Many of the models even included luxury features like indoor plumbing, electricity, and central heating.

Sears catalog home
The home does not look catalog-ready today.City of Dust - Facebook

The parts arrived at your nearest railway station by boxcar, with IKEA-style building instructions included.

But it was up to the new homeowner to get the 25 tons of building materials (sometimes up to 30,000 individual parts) to their property, and also to put the building together (or hire someone to do it for them).

Antique Homes With History

The Sears Archives say 70,000 kit homes were delivered between 1908 and 1940, and at one point there were almost 450 different models for sale.

Sears catalog home
Homes were shipped to the nearest rail station by boxcar, then assembled by the customer.Sears Archives

Ironically, the home in Estancia is still standing almost 100 years later, while the nearby Sears store in Albuquerque is set to close, following the chain's bankruptcy announcement.

"It looks about the way Sears and Roebuck does right now," former Estancia Mayor Morrow Hall joked.

It's not the only Sears house still standing, and these unusual vintage homes have developed a bit of a cult following.

Sears Catalog home
Sears catalog homes, like this one, have become collector's items.Realtor.com

The kits were shipped everywhere from the East Coast to California. There are even kit homes in Alaska, and many owners have no idea their homes were once ordered from a catalog.

If you can prove your home was built from a Sears kit, it could be worth your while. There's a growing market for these collectible properties, because it's not like there are any more being built!

The most valuable model of all is the Magnolia mansion, the most extravagant Sears kit, since only seven are still standing.

Sears Catalog Magnolia mansion
The Magnolia mansion is the rarest of the Sears catalog homes.Sears Archive

The Estancia home is reportedly still owned by the Ayers family, who use the property to raise cattle.

But if they had a mind to sell it, there's a chance even this "haunted" house could be worth a pretty penny.

[H/T: WKRG]

Did you know about Sears homes?

I write about all sorts of things for Shared, especially weird facts, celebrity news, and viral stories. CONTACT: zachary@shared.com