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:


Bungalow Book Publishing Company

H. M. Fancher, Architect

For a variety of house plans representative of the first half of the 20th century, including kit houses, check out Antique Home. The site includes definitions of popular architectural styles, as well as images of interior decor and color schemes.




Articles

  • Do you have a Sears Kit Home? by Rosemary Thornton
  • "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.
  • 12,000 easy pieces; Was your '20s house built from a kit? Many local gems came `assembly required.':(HOME EDITION) Gayle Pollard-Terry. Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, Calif.:Jul 16, 2006. p. K.1
  • HISTORY; How the West was pre-built; Prefab may seem modern, but kit homes go way back. Ordered from catalogs, thousands were sold in the early 1900s. How to tell if you own one: Look for numbers on lumber.:(HOME EDITION) Patricia Ward Biederman. Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, Calif.:Aug 19, 2004. p. F.7
  • Back to the Future: Are Bungalows the Answer? Housing: Los Angeles faces a severe housing problem. The flexibility of a century-old architectural style could prove a balm.:(Home Edition) Mike Davis. Los Angeles Times (pre-1997 Fulltext). Los Angeles, Calif.:Apr 26, 1992. p. 6

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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