Sometimes my quest to locate houses purchased as kits through mail order catalogs gets a bit off track. Like usually. The reason is because along with seeing loads of images of kit houses on the internet, you also see loads of catalog illustrations from regular ole’ pattern (0r plan) books.
Pattern books have been around for years and years. According to Houses from Books by Daniel D. Reiff, the first known pattern book available in the United States dates back to the 1750’s. Who knew?
Anyway, since I study mostly 1920’s designs, by choice, I also have studied a few of the pattern books available at that time. One of the largest, and by that I mean the number of plans available in the book, was The Home Builders Catalog.
Coming in at a mere 1,256 pages, it’s a real big book. The first half, or so, is devoted to information and advertisements about products and materials needed to build a home in that day. The second half, or so, of the book is pages and pages of home plans. Almost 600 of them! No way could a person ever think about learning all of those.
But…….some are quite unique, like The Chantilly shown above. And guess what! We’ve got one right here in my hometown of Springfield.
I’ve known about this pattern book home for a few years, but recently it was listed for sale, and today, the Realtor had an Open House. Guess who went?
First, a bit of background. A pattern book home differs from a kit house, in that with a plan book, you are only purchasing the building plans and specifications. All the lumber and other materials you would need to build the home were usually purchased from local businesses. For this reason, the Home Builders Catalog was distributed to prospective home owners through local lumber companies. Today you can buy plan books from big box retailers like Lowe’s and Home Depot.
With a kit house, you not only got the building plans and specifications, but also most of the materials to build the house from a mail order company, like Sears Roebuck.
There was a lot of competition between the local lumber companies and mail order companies, of course, because if you bought a house kit by mail, a lot of your dollars would be leaving your community. In other words, you were NOT shopping local.
Back to our Chantilly model. A couple of summers ago, I researched, wrote and guided a walking tour in a local neighborhood called “The Cedars”.
Springfield has been doing Summer Architectural Walking Tours for over ten years now, and I have been involved with that for five years or so. (Springfield has wonderful architecture. You should visit sometime and see for yourself.) My tours usually focus on middle class neighborhoods, and the Cedars was chosen as a new tour for 2013.
I knew about the Home Builders Catalog when I started researching for that tour, but didn’t know I would actually come across one of the models in that neighborhood. I mean, really, 595 plans in that big ole’ book, and we just happen to have one of them in Springfield? Crazy.
But, we do. In fact, I discovered while researching that we have several Home Builders models in Springfield. But today, I’ll be showing you The Chantilly, and some of the information I discovered about it when I researched for the Walking Tour.
Springfield’s Chantilly model was built in 1929. (It was available in the 1927, 1928, and 1929 Home Builders Catalogs for sure.) It was built as a speculative house by The Petticrew Real Estate Co. for the newly platted neighborhood “The Cedars”.
Yep, you read that right. If you buy the house, you get a car.
“For Your Wife’s Convenience”
And we thought incentives to purchase stuff was a new idea. Not.
The newspaper also was kind enough to do a pretty good size article about the house that listed a lot of details.
Since I had seen this write up about the house when I did my research for the Walking Tour, I was really hoping to see the inside some day.
Someday arrived today.
Whatever the “indirect lighting effect” was about, it’s gone. The house is now full of ceiling fans. Not a surprise, since it’s still on Steam Heat and has no Central A/C.
The mosaic tile is still on the walls in the bathroom.
The “plaster plaque” over the fireplace. Yes! In the first advertisement, it was called a “Harvest” plaque.
The “overhead stair” is pretty cool. It’s a ladder that slides down out of the access panel. It’s easy to get to, since it’s in the hallway on the second floor.
I took a few more photos, inside and out. Here’s the floor plan, so you can try to place the rooms in my pictures.
Overall, the house is solid, but it could use some TLC. Here’s a few of it’s better features.
The walls have a rough stucco look. Ceilings, too. The wrought iron rail on the stairs looks original. The main floor has wide crown molding. Notice the detail where the corners meet.
Original door handles throughout. I love old door handles.
The kitchen is very spacious for a home from the 1920’s. While the decor is vintage, it is bright and open feeling. I loved it.
We’re heading out the front door now for a few more exterior photos.
The two car garage matches the house. A two car garage was very unusual in 1929. I didn’t look to see if there was a Chevrolet inside.
Thanks for following along on this tour of The Chantilly. At the beginning, I mentioned that Springfield has several other models from the Home Builders Catalog. You can see two of them from the yard of The Chantilly.
If you want to see these, and some other cool houses, you’ll be able to do that in the Summer of 2016, when we repeat the Walking Tour of The Cedars.
My thanks goes to the Westcott Center for Architecture + Design, for their support and encouragement of my research.