Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Rosemary Thornton  

Pen Name: None

Genre:

Born: N/A

Sites:


Illinois Connection

Rosmary lived in Alton, Illinois.

Biographical and Professional Information

Since 1999, Thornton has traveled throughout the Midwest studying, researching and learning more about Sears Homes. In that time, she’s written newspaper and magazine articles, in addition to several books. Along with the books she has published, she and Dale Patrick Wolicki wrote a forward to a reprint of ''California's Kit Homes: A Reprint of the 1925 Pacific Ready-Cut Homes Catalog''.Considered the country’s #1 authority on kit homes, Thornton has appeared on PBS (History Detectives), A&E (Biography), CBS (Sunday Morning News) and her book was featured in its own category on Jeopardy. More than 75,000 homes were built from kits supplied through mail order by Sears, Roebuck and Company in the first three decades of the 20th century. The 30,000 piece kits contained everything from lumber and nails, paint, wood putty, window weights and sash cord. About 70,000 Sears homes are believed to remain.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

The Reality of Real Estate
ISBN: 1878901710

Hampton Roads Pub Co Inc. 1993

The Reality of Real Estate is the true story of the experiences Rosemary Thornton went through through, after following the "no money down" way to real estate investing.

It's a funny and engaging book, written in a humorous style, much like Erma Bombeck. However, underneath the waves of humor is the serious underlying message that real estate investing can be a mistake which can cost the unsuspecting tens of thousands of dollars.

One of the leading gurus of the "get rich quick in real estate investing" had his infomercial pulled off the air when the Federal Trade Commission found his "easy wealth" promises were fraudulent and misleading and untruthful.

This book is a must read for anyone considering taking the plunge into real estate.

The Houses That Sears Built; Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Sears Catalog Homes
ISBN: 0971558809

Gentle Beam Publications. 2002

Between 1908-1940, Sears customers ordered about 75,000 houses out of the Sears Roebuck and Company mail-order catalogs. The houses were shipped by rail to city lots and farms all over the country.

Each "kit home" contained 30,000 pieces, including 750 pounds of nails and 27 gallons of paint and varnish. A 75-page instruction book showed home buyers, step by step, how to assemble those 30,000 pieces of house.

Today, these houses are a treasured piece of Americana and nationwide interest in Sears homes is great. The Washington Times recently reported (September 13, 2001) that a Sears home in Chevy Chase sold for $816,000.

My research indicates that only 2% (approximately) of the Sears homes in the country have been discovered. More than 70,000 Sears homes remain undiscovered and unknown.

Because of this, our communities’ best architectural treasures – our grand collection of Sears homes – are being damaged by remuddling and worse, demolished.

I hope that "The Houses That Sears Built" will educate and enlighten people about these hidden architectrual treasures that lie silently within our cities, just waiting to be discovered.

There is tremendous interest in this topic and I hope this book will spur that interest even further. In my part of the country (Southwestern Illinois) these wonderful old Sears homes are still being remuddled and demolished. This must stop.

It is my hope that "The Houses That Sears Built" will inspire folks to find their community’s Sears homes and implement policies and programs to highlight and protect these treasured bits of architectural Americana.

When you have finished reading "The Houses That Sears Built" you will be your community’s expert on Sears homes. You’ll learn how to identify Sears homes from the inside, outside and from courthouse documents. You’ll learn the interesting details of Sears homes’ construction. One chapter is devoted to the $1 million order of Sears homes that was shipped to Carlinville, Schoper and Wood River (Illinois).

Another chapter is devoted to "The Lost Sears Homes." These are Sears homes which appeared only once in obscure Sears Modern Homes catalogs and were not included in "Houses by Mail: A Guide To Houses from Sears, Roebuck and Company," by Katherine Cole Stevenson and H. Ward Jandl. ("Houses by Mail" is the definitive field guide for identifying Sears homes and makes a wonderful companion book to "The Houses That Sears Built.")

Finding the Houses that Sears Built; A Guide to the 60 Most Popular Designs
ISBN: 0971558825

Gentle Beam Publications. 2004

Sears offered more than 370 designs of kit homes from 1908 -1940, but nationally known Sears house expert Rosemary Thornton has discovered that Sears had 60 best selling designs.

In this new book she writes, "If you learn how to identify these 60 designs, you'll discover about 90% of the Sears homes in your community."

Finding the Houses That Sears Built contains more than 190 graphics and photos, as well as comprehensive, detailed and fascinating information on how to identify these 60 best selling designs.

Each housing style is given two full pages in this 8.5 x 11 inch book. One page shows the house as it originally appeared in the Sears Modern Homes catalog (with house details and floor plans). An opposing page has two high-quality photos of existing Sears homes.

In preparing to write this captivating book, Rose photographed more than 1500 Sears homes in 11 states. Finding The Houses That Sears Built represents more than five years of intensive research, documentation, travel and study.

Finding The Houses That Sears Built includes:

- 60 catalog pictures, reprinted from original Sears Modern Homes catalogs
- More than 100 contemporary photos of Sears Homes (approximately two pictures per housing style)
- 100-word captions, explaining what to look for when studying Sears Homes in the field
- Additional tips and techniques for finding the Sears Homes in your community
- A listing of the next 35 most popular designs
- A user-friendly format, cross referenced and thoughtfully organized
- And the Top 10 and Top 20 best selling Sears homes are specifically identified and highlighted

The Houses That Sears Built: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sears Catalog Homes
ISBN: 0971558817

Gentle Beam Publications. 2004

This is a newly revised and expanded version of The Houses That Sears Built.

This new edition includes more than 20 new photos of existing Sears Homes throughout the country as well as a plethora of recently discovered information.

This major revision also includes reproductions of newly-discovered original documents from the Sears Modern Homes Department as well as compelling interviews with men who worked at the Sears Mill in Cairo, IL. You'll also hear the fascinating stories from Sears Homeowners who actually built their own Sears Kit Home many decades ago!

Want to learn how to identify a Sears Home? This book contains new graphics, photos and easy-to-reference bulleted points that will tell you and show you - step by step - how to identify a Sears Home.

It also includes four brand new chapters, such as "Chapter 3 - The Amazing Mr. Sears

A Brief Look at The Handsome Genius and His Store," "Chapter 5 - Milling About Sears Homes, A Look Inside the Sears Mill at Cairo, Illinois," "Chapter 8 - Homart Homes, The 'Other' Sears Homes, "Chapter 11 - Those Dandy Houses, Testimonials

Trivia and Reminiscences of Building a Sears Modern Home."

Since the first edition of The Houses That Sears Built was published in Spring 2002, the author has appeared on CBS Sunday Morning News, PBS's History Detectives, A&E's Biography and WGN-TV News, as well as the New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, Dallas Morning News and more than 50 regional publications. As a result of this publicity, Ms. Thornton has received more than 1,000 emails and letters from readers all over the country, telling stories and sharing precious memories about their own "Sears Modern Homes," and she incorporated many of these stories into this new edition.

This new edition of The Houses That Sears Built is more than a revision - it contains a tremendous amount of new information and trivia and wonderful photos that the Sears Home enthusiast will treasure and enjoy!

About Sears Homes: Between 1908-1940, Sears customers ordered about 75,000 houses out of the Sears Roebuck and Company mail-order catalogs. The houses were shipped by rail to city lots and farms all over the country.

Each "kit home" contained 30,000 pieces, including 750 pounds of nails and 27 gallons of paint and varnish. A 75-page instruction book showed home buyers, step by step, how to assemble those 30,000 pieces of house.

Only 10% (approximately) of the Sears homes in the country have been discovered.

Because of this, our communities’ best architectural treasures – our grand collection of Sears homes – are being damaged by remuddling and worse, demolished.

There is tremendous interest in this topic and hopefully, The Houses That Sears Built will spur that interest even further.

When you have finished reading The Houses That Sears Built you will be your community’s expert on Sears homes. You’ll learn how to identify Sears homes from the inside, outside and from courthouse documents. You’ll learn the interesting details of Sears homes’ construction. One chapter is devoted to the $1 million order of Sears homes that was shipped to Carlinville, Schoper and Wood River (Illinois).

Another chapter is devoted to "The Lost Sears Homes." These are Sears homes which appeared only once in obscure Sears Modern Homes catalogs and were not included in "Houses by Mail: A Guide To Houses from Sears, Roebuck and Company," by Katherine Cole Stevenson and H. Ward Jandl.

The Ugly Woman's Guide to Internet Dating: What I Learned From 70 First Dates
ISBN: 0971558841

Gentle Beam Publishing. 2009

In four years, Rose had 70 first dates. Yes, 70.

In her own words:

Life is very different for the woman who thinks of herself as physically unattractive and there are few places in the adult world where these differences manifest themselves in such sharp and bold relief as the world of internet dating.

My tender heart jumped up and down in excitement countless times when I was confident that I d found the man that d wear my wedding ring. Yet looking back, the predominant emotion I felt throughout this internet dating experience was frustration.

The two dozen internet-dating books I had read never mentioned the frustration factor. Looking at the authors bios on these internet dating books, it was evident that these books were written by and for the beautiful people. What could they know about the pain of being rejected (again and again), solely because of your looks?

The amount of rejection I experienced in the virtual world of the internet was massive. It eroded my self-worth and diminished my self-confidence to a point where I had to withdraw periodically and recharge.

The cycle was almost comical. Sign up at one of the online dating sites. Write a new profile. Read new profiles. Invest hours in finding suitable men, emailing men, phoning men and then, finally, a face-to-face meeting with The Man. Then a second date, a third and a fourth. And then become smitten with said man. And then get heart broken by man. Cry a lot. Eat a little. Lose some weight. Get happier. Get distracted with work. Get happy with life. And then the lonelies would start. And then I d tell myself, Well maybe if I just tried one more time.

My dogged persistence was fueled by a simple motive: I longed to be mired in romantic love. I wanted to know how it felt to be cherished and respected and adored and admired by a man. I wanted to have a man that I could cherish and respect and adore and admire. I wanted a man who d call me pet names like Peachblossom. I wanted to have someone to call with my happy news, and someone who d let me cry on his shoulder when there was bad news.

During this four-year period, I became disgusted with the overly simplistic, one-size-fits-all advice I found in the mainstream books on internet dating. When you re a woman of a certain age and a woman of a certain size and a woman with a certain look, much of the advice offered in these books is bad advice that will leave you with a heart that s been broken in too many pieces to count. If your heart does survive the experience intact, chances are your self-esteem won t be so lucky. Dating via a medium that judges you by nothing more than your profile picture is hard for everyone and it is emotional torture for women who feel that they re less than beautiful.

The so-called experts also claim that profiles with photos generate eight to 20 times more response than photo-less profiles.

My profile generated more responses and better responses without a photo.

Depressing? Yes. Look what I said about it in my journal: Feel rejected and dejected on every side. So many guys have looked at my photo and then rejected me. I wonder if I will ever find a man who loves me.

You need to know that my story had a good ending, because many parts were dark, depressing and heartbreaking.

And my good ending was what I learned about myself, and what I learned about real love, true beauty and thumbnail pictures. Come sit with me for a time, read my story, and let me tell you what I've learned.

Montgomery Ward's Mail-Order Homes; A History and Field Guide to Wardway Homes
ISBN: 0971558868

Gentle Beam Publications. 2010

Have you always wondered if that boxy little house across the street is a kit home? Or maybe you've wondered about your own home? There's only one way to find out. Order your copy of Montgomery Ward's Mail-order Homes today!

Five years in the making, Montgomery Ward's Mail-order Homes was researched and written by America's top experts in the field of early 20th Century kit homes: Rose Thornton and Dale Wolicki. Learn more about this fascinating chapter of our country's architectural heritage. Open this book's pages and rediscover this amazing time in history when American men and women ordered their dream home from the pages of a mail-order catalog.

When Dale and Rose started publishing books and articles on kit homes, there was very little information available on Wardway Homes, but as interest in this subject increased, people started sharing their stories with us, and sharing their historic documents, blueprints, catalogs and more. And that's the reason we wrote this book

to create a reference book for people who want to know more about the mail-order homes of Montgomery Ward.

Montgomery Ward's Mail-order Homes includes a field guide to Wardway Homes, with easy-to-read drawings and floorplans, vintage illustrations and original catalog images, contrasted and compared with contemporary photos. Organized by housing style, this field guide will allow readers to quickly determine if their home could be a Wardway Home.

Montgomery Ward's Mail-Order Homes provides a fascinating look into the early 20th Century kit homes that were ordered from the Ward's catalog.

Sears Homes of Illinois
ISBN: 1596299398

The History Press. 2010

From 1908 to 1940, Sears, Roebuck and Co. sold nearly seventy-five thousand homes through its mail-order Modern Homes program. Families across the nation set about assembling the kits, using the thick instruction manual to puzzle out how twelve thousand pieces of house might fit together. The resulting dwellings were as durable as they were enchanting, swiftly becoming icons of the American landscape. Follow leading expert Rosemary Thornton through a lavishly illustrated history of the homes many Illinoisans don't know they are living in. Recognize your own front porch on a page in the Neo-Tudor section of the style gallery and tell your plumber he's helping to preserve a Barrington.


Awards

-- Rosemary was honored at the 2004 Illinois Authors Book Fair sponsored by the Illinois Center for the Book and the Illinois State Library in Springfield, Illinois.