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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.

  9. Teia
    August 25th, 2016 at 02:21 | #9

    Hi, I don’t know if you are still interested in Jim Walter homes, but I live in one! My parents got it around 1994/1995 an when my dad passed in 2014 I got the home! Everything on the out side is the same (my dad was not the up keeping type) it’s the same color an every thing.. I have all his paper work! My great aunt had one before she passed that looks the same as when it was built in the 50’s/60’s, There is also 2 story one about 3 houses down from me an another about 5 min’s from me!! I’m sure I can find more! Just let me know if you are interested I can email pictures if you like! I’m in Alabama

  10. Phyllis Asbell
    October 23rd, 2016 at 19:46 | #10

    We own a 2 bedroom Jim Walker home from the 70s . The original owners chose to have it on stilts as it will then provide extra storage and met flood insurance requirements.
    We do not have any of the original paper work or blueprints.
    Phyllis Asbell
    120 Smoakhouse dr.
    Midway, ga 31320

  11. BUCK IRVAN
    October 24th, 2016 at 14:01 | #11

    I actually worked for Jim Walter Homes back in 1970-71. It was my first job in the construction business and today, after all those years, I am still in the same business [albeit a much different part of it]. My branch office [which they called sub-branch] was in Winchester, VA where I was the manager [included VA, W.VA & MD]. People used to call my office and ask for Jim Walter and sometimes I couldn’t resist and played like it was him! Started out selling these homes in Lynchburg, VA, my home town, before I took the management job in Winchester.
    During my career I had my own construction company and built both entry-level homes and custom homes and sort of “copied] one of the Jim Walter ranch homes for my first time home buyers. Very successful with that one. I also purchased one Jim Walter home in Lynchburg that was a foreclosure to rent out but that was as far as it went. My late father actually purchased one also and he dismantled it and brought it to his home in the city and added it onto the rear of his house; still there [2248 Obey Street, Lynchburg, VA].
    If you are interested I could tell you some stories and adventures while working for them as well as reasons I think they did not survive.

    When I think about it today it makes me very sad that a “great” company like that could go from a $2B thriving business, to bankruptcy.

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