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oh Winona

30 September 2013

So, last we talked, I had a 7 month baby bump and newly finished kitchen backsplash tile. Now that baby is 9 months old and run-crawling around our 900SF house!  What happened? I’m pretty sure all I did between then and now was blink.

well, that and change diapers….

but I digress.

We learned a bit ago that this lovely little house that we’ve called home for the past 4 years actually has a proper name – and that name is “Winona”.

[pause for you to think about how adorable that is]

Well, actually, it is THE Winona.


Yup, our home was purchased in 1930 from the Sears Catalogue for a mere $1,742.00.

It’s actually quite a fascinating subject. [or is that just the two architects in this house talking?] The homes were a mail-order, kit-of-parts that included everything from pre-cut/labelled studs, floor joists, and roof rafters, to the exact number of paint cans needed to paint the house from top to bottom. The kit was typically shipped via train and was either built by the family who purchased it, or local builders. My favorite line in the catalogue page above is “The Porch measures 24 feet by 8 feet. The family, especially the children, will enjoy the porch throughout the good weather months.”

Thank you, Sears – yes, we do!

We’ve had our suspicions that our home was a kit home, and finally received confirmation of this when Joey happened across professional photographers setting up outside our home one weekday afternoon. They were collecting images from all of the kits homes around Raleigh to be featured in an exhibit at the Raleigh City Museum downtown. The homes were also the subject of a lecture given by Rosemary Thornton, a writer who has devoted many years to researching and studying kit homes across America.

The story was also featured on NPR’s The State of Things last year. 

We were unable to attend the lecture, but did make it down to the opening night of the exhibit.

winona exhibit

Considering the differing states of disarray our house has been in, on and off, during the past four years, I think we were actually looking pretty good at the time the [unannounced] photographs were taken.

Luckily, I am in complete control of when the interior photos are taken.

winona floor plan

We first fell in love with our house because it is full of original charm and has a fantastically efficient floor plan. The nine-foot ceilings provide relief when the square footage might otherwise feel tight.  The only alterations to the plan since 1930 include small modernizations – the addition of a utility room and a HVAC chase in a bedroom closet. I just love that a house designed and built over 80 years ago still works for the modern family in 2013. [you know, minus the piano…]

Two of my favorite original features of this house are the sideboard in the dining room and built-in medicine cabinet in the bath.


Truly though, I could probably store gnomes in that sideboard and it would still be beautiful.


The medicine cabinet might seem like an odd feature to take notice of, but I just love the trim work paired with the beadboard walls. The shelf we added takes it up a notch as well.  These are the kinds of details that make an otherwise ordinary space feel special.

If I piqued your interest enough to click the link above, you might notice a few other things that look different in our bathroom. Can you name them all??

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Rob permalink
    1 October 2013 1:23 am

    FINALLY. A NEW BLOG POST. How else am I supposed to know what is going on in the everyday life of the Fante’s??? Really interesting about how it was a kit home and all that. Its crazy thinking your HOUSE is just a little bit smaller than our place down at Creekside

  2. Titi permalink
    1 October 2013 10:29 am

    How rich! Your lovely little house now has a name, a story, a history, a family (other kit houses), a beginning and “creator” of sorts … Sears Roebuck and Co., pure Americana!!!! This is fabulous and touching. It takes us back in time …

  3. 1 October 2013 10:43 am

    Love the history of The Winona! It is such a nice and efficient floor plan. I would kill for that sideboard…watch your back Fantes!

    In the bathroom: new wall color, sconces, and faucet?! Did I get them all?! Do I win?! (Love the changes, btw!)

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