By Bud Dietrich, AIA
Kit houses were America's first mass-produced, prefab homes, sold by Sears, Montgomery Ward, Gordon Van Tine, Aladdin and a few others. The materials for these homes, ordered straight from a catalog, were delivered to the building site by rail and truck. Remarkably, all of the parts, from lumber to windows to the kitchen sink, were delivered ready for assembly by a local contractor or even the owner.
As the popularity of the kit house grew, so did the available styles and sizes. Sears and others were able to produce homes that catered to every pocketbook and every taste. More than 70,000 were sold throughout America, and many of these homes are still standing. In fact, there are several communities from Maine to Illinois to California that boast a large, intact collection of kit homes.
Like the bungalow
, the kit home started with the dawn of the Auto Age and the ensuing growth of first-ring suburbs.
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