During the first half of the 20th century, over 75,000 new homes across the United States were plucked directly from the pages of a Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalogue. From 1908 to 1940, the multifaceted company offered a Modern Homes Program which produced a series of standard designs that could be shipped in parts to the nearest train station for fast and easy construction. (After becoming the world’s largest retailer, Sears later filed for bankruptcy in 2018.) Beloved by architectural historians, many of these kit-of-parts residences are still standing, including a 1,400-square-foot Newcastle Model on a steep site in Boston’s Brookline neighborhood. Embracing the home’s historical context and quintessential New England design, Elle Gerdeman, principal of local architecture practice CO—G, led a renovation that updated the modest, three-story home for the 21st century.
Gerdeman began the renovation by removing the home’s segmented framing to open the space for its tenants, a young, dynamic family of five. In the spirit of preservation, CO–G maintained the home’s gabled form and instead focused on the apertures as opportunities for modernization.
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