Collaboration has helped me identify another pattern book home built right here in my hometown of Springfield.
Well, sort of.
Recently I was included in a group text message between a few other Sears House researchers, asking for input about a brick home that one of said researchers had questions about. “Did anybody recognize it” “Was it from Home Builders?
I imagine I was included in the group text because I have identified quite a few homes here in Springfield that were built with plans purchased from the Home Builders Catalog Co. of Chicago. These were not kit homes, like those offered by Sears, Roebuck. Instead, for twenty dollars, you received two sets each of blueprints, specifications and contract forms, along with a sixteen page guide listing materials. All the lumber, and everything else you needed to build the home would have purchased through a local lumber company, which many times was the place you went to look through the catalog in the first place.
So…..even though I was pretty sure I hadn’t seen the house included in the text message in my Home Builders Catalog collection, I went ahead and pulled out my 1928 and had a look anyway. Home Builders had a good selection of plans for brick homes, so I looked primarily in that section of the catalog. Sure enough, I didn’t see the house my fellow researcher was hunting for, but I did stop at a page that had a house that looked really, really familiar.
Near the west edge of Springfield is a street full of homes that face our wonderful Snyder Park. Many of those homes were built in the 1920’s, and one in particular, sits proudly on a corner lot and shouts “Look at me!” to everybody who drives, bikes, runs, jogs, or walks the dogs past it. I know, because every single time I go down that street I have surely looked at it. For years…..
Guess what it is?
A Home Builders Davenport!
Let’s have a look at the floor plan and then match up the windows on the sides to see if it looks like the same room arrangement.
On the first floor, left side, behind the Terrace, is the entry door to the vestibule. While you can’t tell how large the window is in the vestibule by the catalog illustration, hallway windows are generally small, just enough to let in some light. Directly behind the entry is a half bathroom, a pretty uncommon feature in houses from the 1920’s. That means the home was considered pretty upscale for the time period. Again, a bathroom window would generally be small and high, to offer privacy. Sometimes Dining Room windows are also small and high, if the designer thought the wall would have a buffet or a window seat there.
On the second floor, left side, is the main bathroom, and a bedroom. This plan calls it a “Chamber”. Again, the bathroom window would be small and high, for privacy.
Looking down the left side of the house on Harshman, all the windows would match the catalog floor plan. One thing that doesn’t quite match up is the window that faces the Terrace. In the catalog floor plan, that window has four sashes. The house on Harshman has only three there, but that would have been an easy alteration at time of build.
The windows on the front of the house match perfectly, with the main floor sashes having 18 panes, and the second floor having diamond grids.
The windows on the right side of the house also match the catalog illustration, from what we can see that isn’t concealed by landscaping. There is an addition on the rear of the house, so don’t count that when you match them up!
The home also has a double flue in the chimney, as shown in the floor plan.
Now, the fun part. Since the house is currently for sale, I have some interior photos to share, all from Realtor websites.
The door across from the entry door should be access to a small half bath, according to the floor plan. That doesn’t appear to be the case in this house, but those double doors are certainly not original, so maybe that has been converted to a closet. There appears to be a full bath on the main floor now, in the addition at the back of the home, based on some of the other realtor photos.
Those triple windows are the set on the front of the house, and how about that woodwork around the fireplace! Remember that this house wasn’t a kit, so interior details would have been determined by the builder at time of construction.
I’m thinking I should try to become more familiar with the Home Builders plans, as I continue to stumble across them here in Springfield. I know I will never be able to memorize them, as there were more than 500 in the 1928 catalog alone. One of our local lumber companies may have been offering the plans, and I have already determined that one local developer built several as model homes in a new neighborhood.
I have already featured The Chantilly from Home Builders in a previous blog post, and will have an update on that house soon.