Between 1908 and 1940, home buyers were able to order houses through the Sears, Roebuck and Company catalog that assembled like jigsaw puzzles. The company's Modern Homes Department offered about 450 ready-to-assemble designs from mansions to bungalows. Aurora is a haven for Sears homes because they were common in railroad communities. All of the components were shipped by rail cars, and purchasers unloaded their "homes" to transport them to the construction site. The price in the first 1908 catalog ranged from $650 to $2,500, and included plans, specifications, blueprints and materials - down to the nails.
Sears even financed the homes. An owner in Aurora recently found a letter in the attic giving the original homeowner slack on mortgage payments during the Depression. In 1940, Sears issued its last Modern Homes catalog. While the Sears home conjures up the thought of pre-fab, they were not, and included quality materials, built in cabinets, hardwood floors, bay windows and other details ready for installation. The following are a few of the over 140 Sears homes found in Aurora.