Gordon-Van Tine Homes

1929 Homes by Davenport, IA Kit Home Manufacturer

Gordon Van Tine Catalog

Gordon-Van Tine Co. Kit Houses

The Gordon-Van Tine Company was established in 1907 as a subsidiary of U.N. Roberts Company, a millwork manufacturer in Davenport, Iowa. With its previous experience in selling millwork and building materials by catalog, it was a natural progression for the company to expand its operation from millwork to the entire cornucopia of building supplies. From the very beginning, Gordon-Van Tine supplied larger companies, notably Sears Roebuck & Co., with the building materials sold in its catalog. In such a competitive market, the partnership was advantageous for only a few years. By 1912, Sears terminated its relationship with Gordon-Van Tine when it purchased its own mill in Ohio.

Through aggressive advertising, U.N. Roberts and it subsidiary, Gordon-Van Tine, began marketing its own building materials to customers. In 1912, the first house catalog illustrated forty houses with a list of materials for each. This first small booklet showed a number of small houses—bungalows—as well as Colonial Revival style homes.

The manufactured housing business grew by leaps and bounds from 1910 to 1920. To remain competitive in the market, Gordon-Van Tine refined its catalogs and shifted its considerable experience and resources into pre-cut housing in order to compete head-to-head with companies like Aladdin. In 1916, it produced its first entry into the pre-cut housing market with its Ready Cut Homes catalog. By encouraging home buyers to personalize their orders with the variety of upgrades offered, Gordon-Van Tine carved out its niche as a respected manufacturer of pre-cut homes.

Gordon-Van Tine Kit House

GVT Kit House - The Benton

From 1922 to 1932, Montgomery Ward relied on Gordon-Van Tine to produce its Wardway kit homes. A comparison between the Gordon-Van Tine and Wardway catalogs of the 1920s shows that the majority of houses offered were essentially identical, differing only in marketing presentation. This relationship ground to a sudden halt in late 1932 when Wards closed its housing section.

Gordon Van Tine continued in business until after World War II when it's owners sold the company. It ceased operations in 1947 after the new owner cannibalized the company selling its assets off to other companies.

For more information, see kit homes designed and manufactured by Gordon-Van Tine Homes at Antique Home.

Additional resources

For more information about this company, see Dale Wolicki's Gordon-Van Tine website.


117 House Designs of the Twenties, By Gordon-Van Tine Co.

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