Home > Uncategorized > Albert Brown’s Awesome Old House in Mechanicsburg, Ohio

Albert Brown’s Awesome Old House in Mechanicsburg, Ohio

In 1912, Albert Brown of Mechanicsburg, Ohio sent a lovely letter to Gordon Van Tine (a kit home company), praising House #126, which he’d recently purchased of them.  Albert was so enamored of the house that (he said in  his letter), it was his intention (in 1912) to buy and build two more houses and one barn from Gordon Van Tine (based in Davenport, Iowa).

In fact, Albert asked Gordon Van Tine for a placard for his house, identifying it as one of their own homes.

Gordon Van Tine published Albert’s letter in their 1913 mail-order catalog (and Albert’s letter is shown below).

We don’t know if Albert ever purchased or built those other two houses, or if Gordon Van Tine ever provided him with a placard for his house, but we do know that Albert bought his barn, and built it at the back of the lot, adjacent to House #126.

It’s pretty darn fun to rediscover this lost piece of history and “connect all the dots,” based just on a name and a short testimony found in a 1913 mail order catalog.

So, are there two more Gordon Van Tine houses there in Mechanicsburg, thanks to Albert? I’d love to know!

Thanks to Rachel Shoemaker for digging into this story and finding this amazing house (and getting an address!), and thanks to Cindy Goebel Catanzaro for taking so many wonderful photos!

To learn more about Gordon Van Tine kit homes, click here.

Want to learn how to identify kit homes? Click here.

hosue

House #126 as it appeared in the 1913 Gordon Van Tine catalog.

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house 2

Close-up of the house that Albert selected (1913).

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testimony

Albert Brown's testimony appeared under #126 in the 1913 catalog.

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house 3

And here is Albert's house as it appears today. It's a real beauty, and a lovely match to the 1913 catalog image. If you look at the lower right of this photo, you can see the barn that Albert purchased in later years. (Photo is copyright 2012 Cindy Goebel Catanzaro and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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hosue 4

Notice the oval window in the front gable, and the small vestibule.

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house

This house in Mechanicsburg is in wonderfully original condition. I wonder if the current owners know about Albert, and his story? I wonder if they realize that they have a kit home? (Photo is copyright 2012 Cindy Goebel Catanzaro and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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hosue detail

Close-up of that ornamental window. (Photo is copyright 2012 Cindy Goebel Catanzaro and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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house six

And a view from the side of the house. (Photo is copyright 2012 Cindy Goebel Catanzaro and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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And my favorite photo of all!  Cindy managed to get inside this house and found a vintage photo hanging on the wall. Is this Albert and friends? Oh, how Id love to know!!

And my favorite photo of all! Cindy managed to get inside this house and found a vintage photo of #126 hanging on the wall. Is this Albert and friends? Oh, how I'd love to know!!

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Close up of the folks. Who are these people?

Close up of the folks. Who are these people? They obviously love their dogs!

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barn too

Albert was so dazzled by the House #126 that he purchased this barn in later years.

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house house

Nice barn!

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house hosue barn

And here is Albert's GVT barn, sitting on the back edge of the lot. (Photo is copyright 2012 Cindy Goebel Catanzaro and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Again, many thanks to Rachel Shoemaker for finding this house in Mechanicsburg (with a little help from Ancestry.com) and thanks to Cindy Goebel Catanzara for running out to Mechanicsburg to get these wonderful photos!

Want to learn more about Gordon Van Tine? Click here.

Read more about these amazing kit homes by clicking here.

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  1. Rachel Shoemaker
    June 27th, 2012 at 12:04 | #1

    Great news! I have located another testimonial house from the GVT 1913 catalog! GVT #108 that Ward Bloss was so pleased with is alive and well in Salem, Wisconsin. It is a MOST interesting story :)

  2. Colleen Chuipek
    June 27th, 2012 at 14:14 | #2

    I am trying to find what style my home is.

    It was built in 1912 in Salem Wisconsin, and the old folks tell me that it’s a Sears.

    When I took off all the paint and stain from the original molding, I saw the name Gordan Van Tine on them and then did research, and was told that they supplied lumber to Sears.

    The best part is that I still have the boxcar this house came in and it was converted into a cottage many years ago.

    I have transferred it into my pigeon coop, but never knew that it was the boxcar involved in the delivery of the house.

    Found out about all this on Saturday from all the old timers who were across the street at a John Deere auction.

  3. June 27th, 2012 at 14:16 | #3

    Colleen, it’s possible that Sears and Gordon Van Tine shared suppliers for building materials for a very short time in 1909 or 1910, but I really don’t know much about that. I do know that Sears opened their mill in Cairo, IL in November 1911, and that mill provided an abundance of materials for Sears.

    My point is, if they did share suppliers, that “arrangement” would have ceased by 1911. And Sears probably sold very few houses between 1908-1911 (as in, fewer than 3,000).

    That aside, it’s very interesting that Rachel has found the original testimonial for this house!

    Hopefully you’ll share some photos with us soon!

    And I see that you’ve now discovered that your “Sears House” is actually a Gordon Van Tine #108 (again, thanks to Rachel’s research). How fun to have the ORIGINAL testimonial written by your homes original builder!

  4. Dan Miele
    June 27th, 2012 at 16:10 | #4

    Hi Rose! I’m not sure where the best place to post a general comment or question to you is but I recently found out that I likely own a Sears home.

    I had an unexpected visit from one of the home’s original occupants who was two years old at the time her father built the house in 1929.

    I have yet to find any definitive clues, but there are several beams in the attic that have what looks like XB1297 written on them by hand in faded marker. Do you have any thoughts on what that code might indicate? Thanks!

  5. Rachel Shoemaker
    June 28th, 2012 at 01:30 | #5

    @Dan Miele

    XB1297 is not a marking or labeling of a Sears house or any catalog kit home company/mail order company that I have ever seen or read.

    Where is this house? It could be from a local company. Those marks could be the plan number.

    It could be house/model #XB1297 from a local company. I’d research that. I looked through my 1929 Home Builders Catalog that has a few hundred plans and I didn’t see your house.

    Maybe Dale will read this blog and have an idea.

  6. Janet Elwer
    March 25th, 2013 at 19:01 | #6

    Thank Dale and Avanelle Roach, my parents, who bought the house in 1972. It was in dreary condition.

    They spent the next 20+ years getting it in good shape. Randy and Jodi, the current owners, will continue to keep it in great shape.

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