Saturday, April 28, 2007

kit houses - a blast from the past

I read a story at the Glob of Mucous about Sears homes delivered by rail (in pieces) in the early 1900's. Prices ranged from $400 - $3200, and you had to build them yourself (or hire someone to do it). Cute little houses they were too. Sears would give a ten year mortgage on them with payments of $30-$40 per month. During the Depression, people did default on them. Now, houses, and the monthly payments, are 100x more.

Oh, sweet nostalgia.

Edit - I forgot to mention (from the article) -
The price was cheap. The materials were not. Cypress shingles, bronze door hinges, glazed windows, granite bathtubs. They came in styles and shapes and sizes befitting a wealthy farm owner. They also came in smaller sizes, at prices affordable to even an immigrant coal miner.

They carried evocative names such as The Montrose, a seven-room, one-bath Eastern colonial with green shutters, flower boxes and a hooded gable entrance. "Justly considered a beautiful home in any community, no matter how exclusive," said the catalogue.

Granite bath tubs - fergit yer granite counter tops - those are low-brow.

And the marketing was good then too - according to the catalogue. Evocative names. matter how exclusive. No mention of luxury though.


prawny said...

" Granite Tubs??" the idea is so funny that it must be the next marketing ploy for the GVRD. I'm almost ready to go to work tomorrow now that I've had such a good laugh at that.

Anonymous said...

Man oh man, I want one of those houses - at those prices, of course. Do you know if any of them are still standing?

solipsist said...

jay - yes, granite tubs... I think that things have slid - "luxury"-wise - in the intervening years.

I have been prescient before, so just keep your eye out (not literally) for the granite tub come-back.

anon - yes, there are a fair number of them still standing - per - the article. There is actually a preservation/documentation gruop with interest in them. Good luck on the prices though.

It's a shame that things are not appreciated until they are gone - very much like all the fine Victorian homes that were demolished in Vancouver, to make way for Vancouver Specials. There is a lot of beautiful mill-work, stained and leaded glass, end-grain fir, etc. in BC land-fills as a testament to that.


the pope said...

Wow! Compare and despair indeed!

I'm just going to go and get a luxury plate full of Kraft dinner and watch some luxury television in my 400 sq ft luxury condo.

At these prices how can it not be luxury?

Ryan said...

Screw the tub, I want an entire bathroom complete with fixtures and shower rod carved from a single piece of granite. Now that would be luxury.

solipsist said...

pope - luxury is as luxury does.

Or something.

I think aleks is onto something, and it made me think of a whole freaking condo carved from a single block of alabaster.

Or how about turning Fromme Mountain into a giant condoplex? Imagine the copy - Global warming? Pshaw! You can ski to work! Global warming you say? No snow? No problem! We make the snow!