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Posts Tagged ‘ready to assemble’

Buster Keaton and Sears Homes

April 29th, 2012 Sears Homes No comments

Did you know that Buster Keaton did a short film about building a pre-cut kit house?

First released in 1920, the 20-minute film shows happy newlyweds (Buster and Sybil) receiving the gift of a “ready-to-assemble” kit home. Driven by jealousy, an old beau surreptitiously changes the numbers on the pre-cut framing members, thus wreaking havoc on Buster’s ability to build his 12,000-piece kit home.

As the saying goes, “True comedy is timeless.”

This is not only true comedy, but an awesome look back at a time when people built these kit homes. And it’s also interesting to think that - in 1920 - kit homes were such a big part of the American scene that moviegoers were expected to understand about “marked lumber.”

That “joke” would likely be lost on contemporary movie audiences because so little is known about this piece of America’s architectural history.

I first discovered “One Week” in Spring 2004, when my dear daughter highlighted this piece in a senior project. I was honored and touched that my daughter was drawn to an old movie about pre-cut kit homes - because of her mother’s career! :)

Click here to see Buster Keaton’s “One Week” on Youtube.

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Buster Keatons pre-cut kit house had a few minor problems.

Buster Keaton's pre-cut kit house had a few minor problems.

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It should have looked a little more like this.

It should have looked a little more like this. (Sears Whitehall under construction in Carlinville, IL - about 1919.)

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Sears kit homes did come with instruction books (as shown above).

Sears kit homes did come with instruction books (as shown above).

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The houses were ordered out of catalogs, such as this (1921).

The houses were ordered out of catalogs, such as this (1921).

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Framing members were marked (as shown) to help facilitate construction.

Framing members were marked (as shown) to help facilitate construction.

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To learn more about Sears Kit Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s latest book, click here.

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Buster Keaton Does Sears Homes

August 6th, 2010 Sears Homes No comments

Released in September 1920, this Buster Keaton short depicts a happy couple (Buster and Sybil) being gifted a “ready-to-assemble” kit home. A jealous old beau alters the numbers marked on the framing members (which were marked to facilitate construction), thus wreaking havoc on poor Buster’s ability to erect the 12,000-piece kit.

On a personal note, I find it fascinating that kit homes were so common in 1920 that movie goers could be expected to have the foreknowledge about these mail-order houses, their “marked lumber,” as well as how they were to be assembled.

All that aside, this is a very cute little short, and I first discovered it in 2004, when my daughter Corey used this piece for a senior project she did for graduation from high school. I was honored and touched that my daughter was drawn to a movie on kit homes - because of her mama!  :)

Buster Keaton\’s \”One Week\”