Dear friend and indefatigable researcher Rachel Shoemaker has found an abundance of kit homes in Oklahoma, and now she’s found FOUR kit homes in Tahlequah, Oklahoma!

What is a kit home? Kit houses typically arrived by train in 12,000 pieces and came with a 75-page instruction book that told the homeowner how all those pieces and parts went together.  Each kit included everything you would need to finish your dream home, including 750 pounds of nails, 27 gallons of paint and varnish, 10 pounds of wood putty, 72 coat hooks, roofing shingles, door knobs, lumber, windows, flooring…well you get the idea. It really was a complete kit.

Homes sold by Sears and Roebuck are the most well-known, but in addition to Sears, there were five other national companies selling kit homes through a mail-order catalog (Gordon Van Tine, Aladdin, Lewis Manufacturing, Sterling and Harris Brothers).

Tahlequah also has  kit homes from Aladdin , and Gordon Van Tine, in addition to Sears.

It’s not surprising that Tahlequah has Aladdins, as Aladdin had huge mills in Mississippi and Louisiana. Aladdin (in Bay City, MI) was in business from 1906-1981.  There are more than 75,000 Aladdin kit homes in the country (compared with about 70,000 Sears Homes). Sears started offering homes by mail order  in 1908 (two years after Aladdin), and in 1940, they closed  their Modern Homes Department once and for all.

Tahlequah also has the  fanciest home offered by Gordon Van TineGVT sold about 50,000 kit homes from 1910 – 1945. They were based in Davenport, Iowa, but sold kit homes throughout the country.

Tahlequah, Oklahoma was the original capital of the Cherokee Nation in 1838. According to Wikipedia, Tahlequah became a settlement in 1832. The Cherokees also beat the United States to the punch (so to speak) in adopting prohibition well before the temperance movement was even a gleam in Lyman Beecher’s eye. According to Oklahoma Genealogy, in 1841, Cherokee councils enacted a law prohibiting the sale “ardent spirits” within the Cherokee Nation.

To learn more about kit homes, click here.

To learn more about the kit homes in Oklahoma, click here.

To learn more about Addie Hoyt Fargo, click here.

Aladdiin

The quality of lumber found in these early 20th Century kit homes was first rate. Framing members were #1 southern yellow pine from Louisiana and Mississippi. It was first-growth lumber that grew slowly and naturally in virgin forests.

Aladdin Cape Cod, as seen in the 1923 catalog. This catalog page shows one floor plan (L-shaped), but in later years, it was offered in three floorplans, one of which was rectangular. .

Aladdin Cape Cod, as seen in the 1923 catalog. This catalog page shows one floor plan (L-shaped), but in later years, it was offered in three floorplans, one of which was rectangular.

Close-up of the Aladdin Cape Cod

Close-up of the Aladdin "Cape Cod"

And here it is, in the flesh! An Aladdin Cape Cod in stunningly original condition!  Even retains its original casement windows!

And here it is, in the flesh! An Aladdin "Cape Cod" in stunningly original condition! Even retains its original casement windows! (Photo is copyright 2011, Rachel Shoemaker and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

An Aladdin Wenonah, as seen in the 1917 catalog.

An Aladdin Wenonah, as seen in the 1913 catalog.

Aladdin Wenonah in Tahlequah.

Aladdin Wenonah in Tahlequah. The porch has been altered, but that's not a big deal. Porches are often changed through the years, and this house is probably close to 100 years old. (Photo is copyright 2011, Rachel Shoemaker and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Sears Modern Home #126 looked a lot like an early 20th Century train station.

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Notice the inset porch and chamfered corners.

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Is this Sears Modern Home #126? Sure looks a lot like it to me. (Photo is copyright 2011 Doug Moore, and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

GVT Roberts as seen in the 1921 catalog.

GVT Roberts as seen in the 1921 catalog.

GVT Roberts in Tahlequah, OK

GVT Roberts in Tahlequah, OK, and it's a beauty! Like the house above, this also has the two-story porch on the left side. (Photo is copyright 2011, Rachel Shoemaker and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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The GVT Roberts has had several additions through the years, but still looks much like the catalog page shown above. (Photo is copyright 2011, Rachel Shoemaker and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

Im not sure why this house has a periscope.

I'm not sure why this house has a periscope. (Photo is copyright 2011, Rachel Shoemaker and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

Street signs are printed in both English and in Cherokee language.

Street signs are printed in both English and in Cherokee language. (Photo is copyright 2011, Rachel Shoemaker and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

To contact Rachel Shoemaker, send her an email at [email protected]

Rachel has done extensive research on the kit homes in Oklahoma, and has traveled countless miles, researching and documenting these historically significant homes. We’re both puzzled as to how and why so many kit homes landed here, but it’s time that someone hired Rachel to do a proper survey of this impressive collection of Oklahoma’s architectural treasure trove of kit homes. Heretofore, all the work she’s done has been at her own expense.

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