Posts Tagged ‘home builders’

Waterview (Portsmouth, Virginia) and Their Plan Book Houses

October 20th, 2015 Sears Homes 4 comments

An old friend (Margee) contacted me and said that her daughter had recently purchased a home in Waterview, our old stomping ground. Margee and I grew up together on Nansemond Street in Waterview, and we share many happy memories of that place and time.

Margee was wondering if the house was a kit home.

Here’s the answer.  :)

Margees daughter purchased this house in Waterview.

Margee's daughter purchased this 1930s house in Waterview. Like so many Waterview homes, it's a 1920s/30s two-story home with brick veneer and a Buckingham slate roof - the crème de la crème of all slate roofs. These homes are very well built and solid, and with minimal care and some love, this house will last another 100 years.



Here's a view of the house as seen on Google.


And heres a view of the house as seen in the 1927 Homebuilders Catalog.

And here's a view of the house as seen in the 1927 Home Builder's Catalog. Margee's daughter does *NOT* have a kit home, but it is a "Pattern Book" house. Pattern book homes were NOT the same as kit homes, but they were similar.



With pattern book homes (such as "Home Builders" shown here), you'd select the house of your dreams and then you'd receive detailed blueprints and a list of the building materials you'd need for your new home. With kit homes, everything came in a one package - the design, blueprints and building materials.


Brief review:

Kit house - everything in one package: Design, blueprints and building materials.

Pattern book house - design, blueprints and a LIST of the building materials you’d need to purchase to build your new home.



Pattern book homes were hugely popular in the 1920s and 1930s (which is when the house in Waterview was built), and the 1927 book shown here had more than 1,000 pages.



Many thanks to Google for getting the house from the same angle! The house in Waterview is brick, while the image from the pattern book is frame, and the side porch has been enclosed. Nonetheless, I'd say it's the same model.


A little information on the front page tells more about the how-tos of buying a pattern book house.

A little information on the front page tells more about the "how-tos" of buying a pattern book house.


Waterview is awash in pattern book houses, and Ive spent years trying to find the house of my youth (in Waterview) in a pattern book. Heretofore, Ive been unsuccessful.

Waterview is awash in pattern book houses, and I've spent years trying to find the house of my youth (in Waterview) in a pattern book. Heretofore, I've been unsuccessful.


The older I get, the more I realize, Im an old soul lost in a love of all things historic, and thats ever more apparent when I reflect on memories of Margee, my childhood friend. When I think of Margee, this is where my mind travels.

Here's a picture of Margee and me in the late 1960s. That's my brother Tommy on the far left (guitar guy), and then me (sleepy girl), Margee, and my brother Eddie on the far right.


To learn more about the amazing collection of pattern book homes in Waterview and nearby areas, click here.

Do  you think you have a kit home? Learn how to identify these early 20th Century treasures here.

Nostalgia buff? Read more about my own happy memories of Waterview here.


And a $1 Good Faith Deposit…

June 24th, 2011 Sears Homes 3 comments

In the early 1900s, you could sit down with a Sears Roebuck catalog and order a complete house. After selecting the perfect house, buyers were asked to send in a $1 “good faith” deposit to Sears Roebuck and by return mail, the hopeful homeowners receive a Bill of Materials List and full set of blueprints.  If you liked what you saw, you’d send in the balance of your money, and that $1 deposit was credited toward the final purchase price.

A few weeks after the order was placed, a boxcar containing 12,000 pieces of house would arrive at a nearby train depot.

A 75-page leather-bound instruction book, with the homeowner’s name embossed in gold on the cover, gave precise directions on the proper placement of those 30,000 pieces of house. The book offered this somber (and probably wise) warning:  “Do not take anyone’s advice as to how this building should be assembled.”

In anticipation of our big move, I’ve started going through my papers and boxes and sorting things out. I found two of these early 1910s original “Bill of Materials” list. One went to a friend that owns a Sears Modern Home #111; the other went into a pile of items that I have donated to Old Dominion University Library’s “Special Collections” and is now known as “The Papers of Rosemary Thornton” (I love that).

The super-heated attic in my 1925 house was not a proper repository for these priceless, precious old documents and I’m gladdened they’ve gone to better places. And I’m also glad to know that - thanks to modern technology - the originals will be preserved forever and the electronic images of those originals can now be shared with a larger audience through this website (which now gets 500 hits per day).

Look closely at these pages below, and you’ll see a fascinating piece of American history.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.


This document, together with a full set of blueprints, could be yours for $1. If you liked what you saw, Sears credited the $1 to your final purchase price. This was one of two "Building Materials" lists that I found whilst cleaning my attic.

These pages were all hand typed, one by one.

These pages were all hand typed, one by one.

Incredible history within the pages of this 100-year old document.

The pages of this 100-year old document contain an incredible piece of America's architectural history.

Below is a picture of Modern Home #111, The Sears Chelsea.

To read another article on Sears Homes, click here.

*   *   *