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Jim Walter Homes - Where’d They Go?

In 1978, soon after my first husband and I were first married, we sat down and looked through a Jim Walter Homes catalog. The idea of building a kit home was hugely appealing to us. In the end, we decided to buy an existing home, but throughout the years, the idea of building our own sacred space held a special appeal.

In 1999, I was asked to write an article about the Sears Homes in Carlinville, Illinois. As a freelance writer scrambling to make a living, I gladly obliged. Once I laid eyes on those 156 Sears Homes in a 12-block area, I was completely and hopelessly in love. The 1000-word article that should have taken a few hours took a few weeks. The editor asked for “a couple photos” and I submitted 96 photos. This was back in the days of film, and those 96 photos represented FOUR ROLLS of film!

When that first article appeared, I was suddenly “the expert” on kit homes. I didn’t know that much about kit homes, but I did have a passion for the topic. I went looking for a book on the topic and found very little. “Houses by Mail” (a field guide to Sears Homes) was a fascinating book, but had very little textual history. And that’s how I came to write “The Houses That Sears Built.”

Within 90 days, my book was featured in The New York Times and then I was asked to appear on PBS’ History Detectives, A&E’s Biography, CBS Sunday Morning News and more. From there, it was off to the races.

And that’s the “back story” of how I came to be an expert on kit homes.

Now, I’m interested in learning more about Jim Walter Homes, based in Tampa, Florida. For the last six weeks, I’ve been tirelessly searching eBay for ephemera from this company but I’ve found nothing. If anyone has any ideas on how to get some info on Jim Walter Homes, please drop me a line! I’m also interested in finding pictures of existing Jim Walter Homes.

To contact me, please leave a comment below!

To read more about Sears Homes, click here.

Cover of the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Cover of the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog

G

Pictured above is a Gordon Van Tine kit homes catalog from the late 30s/early 40s.

W

Wardway Homes catalog, about 1931.

Aladdin Homes, about 1916

Aladdin Homes, 1917. I'm not sure, but I think that's the genie going back into the bottle, after building a house for his master. Love the post-apocalyptic orange sky!

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  1. amie
    January 10th, 2013 at 13:34 | #1

    I’m not sure if you’re still interested in Jim Walter Homes, but my parents have one in Ft. Myers, Florida; my dad lives there and has all of the original plans.

  2. January 14th, 2013 at 09:32 | #2

    Hi Amie,

    Yes I am still interested in learning more about Jim Walters. Tell me what you know!!

    You can reach me at Rosemary.ringer@gmail.com

  3. Glenda Smith
    September 9th, 2013 at 13:46 | #3

    I’m not certain, but I believe that Jim Walters Homes are now call Pennyworth Homes, of Jacksonville, FL

  4. teia
    July 14th, 2014 at 00:46 | #4

    I don’t know if you are still interested about Jim Walter homes but I live in one. When my dad passed away in 1996, I got the house. I don’t know if they are pennyworth homes or not. I know a company bought out jim walter’s homes.

  5. Lloyd Young
    August 2nd, 2014 at 12:57 | #5

    Hello,

    I was employed by Ted Saylor Photography in Tampa Florida who was the Photographer for Jim Walter Homes, Celotex, US Pipe, etc.

    This might be a lead for your efforts… I don ‘t know if Ted is still living, but thats my imput to your request.

    Lloyd in Ft Walton Beach, FL

  6. alice boysen
    August 5th, 2014 at 11:32 | #6

    There was a Jim Walter sales location in Fredericksburg, VA that was located near Route 95 on Route 17.

    That whole area is now built up and the site is covered with the usual junky highway exit architecture, motel, fast food, etc.

    It was open during the 1970s because i looked at what was available then.

  7. Priscilla
    June 24th, 2016 at 10:51 | #7

    Hi,
    I’m not sure if you’re still interested in Jim Walters Homes and photos. I am currently an owner of a 1992 2b1b 1104sqft (under-air) Jim Walters stilt home. I’ve owned it for only 3 years but I do have some information about them and some other homes in my area that are Jim Walters stilt homes. A few of the stilt homes in my area have been closed in underneath and no longer look like Jim Walters stilt homes. My home has the complete underside open with cement halfwalls around back due to the septic and a complete poured cement foundation. Meaning underside of my house is completely usable, porch, storage and play area for our kids. An extra 1100 sqft is awesome!!! Was a big plus for us when we bought it. I love our house, although we have had a few issues like the critters and the snakes making way up onto our porch and balcony upstairs and our biggest concern with them into our floor through cracks in the underside of our home. And the biggest issue the leaking flashings underneath the sliders, from being improperly install. I’ve heard this is common with this model (model name I’m not sure of). There are some old listing photos online and older satelite images. Any questions or if you’d like the locations of some that I know of just email me back!

  8. Priscilla
    June 24th, 2016 at 11:43 | #8

    2821 Fountainbleu ave sw Palm Bay Florida; 3211 westover ave Palm Bay Florida; 549 Lambright st sw Palm Bay Florida; Degroodt Rd sw and fitchburg St sw Palm bay, on the corner(the underneath is closed in). Also 2144 ocean Ave SW Palm Bay, this home had some major remodeling and garage added to it, but it too was a stilt home. You can barely tell now, but if you know what your looking for you’ll see the obvious signs, the way roof is made, back slider in upstairs in back of the house(opens to nothing now, where there used to be a porch connected), Windows on side of house and of course only visible inside the house in some places the stilts. There are many more in Palm Bay and the Melbourne area. Let me know if you’d like more address. I can try my best to help out.

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