Saturday, April 30, 2011

Learn More About Mail-Order Houses

Most people have heard of the mail-order kit homes sold by Sears & Roebuck in the early part of the twentieth century. A prospective homeowner could shop for a home design in the Sears catalog and then order the pre-cut building materials and instructions shipped to him at the nearest railroad station. The home kits were designed so that a homeowner and a few family members or friends with basic building skills could assemble the house quickly and easily and save money on construction costs.

Sears houses can be identified in towns across the United States. But did you know that there were other very successful kit home companies, some of them based right here in Michigan? Aladdin Homes in Bay City was another well-known provider of mail-order homes, as was the Togan-Stiles company in Grand Rapids. Togan-Stiles started out marketing kits for garages, outbuildings and summer cottages, then branched out to offer small bungalow homes. The advertisement shown here from the Rochester Era edition of August 6, 1920, tells us that the Rochester Realty Company was an agent for the Togan-Stiles kits homes, so we may have some of these right here in Rochester.

The Rochester Avon Historical Society will offer a program on kit homes at its meeting on Thursday, May 5 at 7:00 p.m. at the Rochester Hills Public Library. Michael W.R. Davis, co-author of the book America's Favorite Homes, will present "Kit Homes in America." The program is free and open to the public, and everyone is welcome.

1 comment:

  1. Do you have addresses for kit homes by Sears or others in the Rochester area?


    Andrew Mutch