Kit Home Information

Where can I find out more about "Kit Houses" (sometimes referred to as Sears houses)?

Kit houses were produced in the United States beginning in the first decade of the 20th century. Their popularity lasted into the 1950s, but their heyday was in the 1910s and 1920s. Seven national companies operated during in the period, along with many regional and local companies selling homes in kit form. Including:

  • Aladdin Homes of Bay City, Michigan
  • Bennett Homes, North Tonawanda, New York
  • Lewis Homes/Liberty Homes of Bay City, Michigan
  • Sterling Homes/International Mill and Timber, Bay City, Michigan
  • Sears Roebuck, Chicago, Illinois
  • Montgomery Wards, Chicago, Illinois
  • Pacific Ready Cut Homes, Los Angeles, California
  • Harris Brothers, Chicago, Illinois
  • Gordon Van-Tine, Davenport, Iowa
  • Ready Built House Co., Portland, Oregon

For a variety of house plans representative of the first half of the 20th century, check out Antique Home.

Articles

  • "Aladdin's Magic Catalog" Robert Schweitzer and Michael Davis in Michigan History, Jan/Feb 1984.
  • "Lewis/Liberty Homes - 59 Years in the Ready-Cut Homes Business," Robert Schweitzer and Sally Linvill Bund, Michigan History, Volume 79, Number 2, March 1995.
  • "Ann Arbor's Kit Houses," Robert Schweitzer and Grace Shackman, Ann Arbor Observer, January 1991.

Catalogs

Several kit house catalogs have been reproduced by various publishers:

The Sears company maintains an archive in its Chicago home office. The Avery library at Columbia University in New York City has a large collection of kit house catalogues (comments and questions to www.avery@systems.cul.columbia.edu) as does the Winterthur Library, Winterthur DE 19735, Telephone: 302.888.4681 or email: Laura Grutzeck, lgrutz@winterthur.org, Librarian, The Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera; Winterthur Archivist.






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