Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Early 1900s Part 4: Mail Order Homes

When I drive around Utah, and on trips when we've seen the east coast, the Midwest, the west coast, and Florida, I want to know the history of almost every home that I see!  How is it that in my neighborhood, most homes being built are the same garage-dominated house with arts and crafts influence???

"New House Plans Deliver . . . "
Well, back in the early 1900s, homeowners were drawn to a different styles of houses than we are today.  Many homeowners built these homes using kit home manufacturers, or maybe the kit home manufacturers copied the homes that were being built by many people ;)  These historic catalogs are a way to document the history of popular home architecture styles from 100 years ago.

1910 Sears Home Catalog Cover,

There were many home catalog businesses in the early 1900s.  Montgomery Ward was the first company to every offer a catalog, beginning in 1872.  Sometime before WWI they were selling home kits (see  Sears and Roebuck started selling pre-fabricated homes in 1908.  Aladdin Company started selling home kits in 1908.  Lewis Kit Homes at first was the major supplier for Aladdin Company, and then struck out on their own in 1914.  (See "Montgomery Ward", "Sears Catalog Homes", "The Aladdin Company", "Lewis-Liberty Homes")

Kit homes were permanent, and constructed just like a custom home on site, just with materials that were bought in bulkd, pre-cut, and shipped to the customer, saving customers money. We should keep in the mind though, that the owner of a kit home would end up spending 2x as much as the catalog price on labor and foundation, plus the cost of the land. (See "Kit Houses in North America")

1908 ad in Popular Mechanics, "Kit Houses in North America"

There are a few typical home styles from the early 1900s.  The first is the simplified farmhouse plan with a gable roof, often 2 story, siding, a covered porch at the entrances--often with wood railing, and simple rectangle windows centered on the face of each side of the home:, "Sears Homes 1915-1920"

The next is a Dutch Revival, with a gambrel roof, siding, gabel-end chimney, dormers (see "Dutch Colonial Revival Style--1890-1940"):

1910 - The Bungalow Book - No. 414, "1910 Dutch Colonial Revival"

Another style was the Craftsman Bungalow, with long eaves/cross-gabled roof lines, board and batten roof materials, cobblestone exterior materials at the bottom of the home, shake siding above, hefty pillars holding the roof for the covered porch, this one is a quintessential California Bungalow (see "Design No. 658")
1910 - The Bungalow Book - No. 658R, "1910 Artistic Craftsman Bungalow"

The Foursquare with its boxy shape, front porch, 1.5 or 2 stories, hipped roof, and simple details:

1916 Sears Home No. 264B179, later "The Woodland",

Lastly, the Tudor, which appealed to the busy businessman.  Characteristics include a steeply pitched roof, board and batten siding, herringbone brickwork, mullioned windows, high chimneys, an overhanging first floor, pillared porches, dormer windows (see "Tudor Revival"

1908 Western Home Builder, "Design No. 50",

This concludes the 4 part series on the Early 1900s.

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