A couple of weeks ago, the post “Brick Bungalows and Plan Books” showed how house builders, using plan books and newspaper advertisements, sold the Craftsman style and more generally the bungalow’s “modern” open plan to middle-class buyers. Today and next week we’ll look at a different kind of outfit that also sold bungalows to the middle class, but on a much larger scale and using an industrial model to factory-produce pre-cut house kits. The Gordon-Van Tine Company was based in Davenport, Iowa, but had a large sawmill and factory in Hattiesburg. From looking at the 1925 Sanborn map, I know that the factory was located in the long block between W. Pine and Finlo Drive, and checking that area on Google maps, it appears that it was completely redeveloped somewhere in the 1950s or so.
From the Hattiesburg mill, the company marketed at least one “Southern Homes” catalog to complement its full roster of “Plans for Everybody” catalogs that also included farm buildings and millwork (there is a website dedicated to Gordon-Van Tine and you should check out the page that shows the catalog covers from 1895-1946. Interestingly, I don’t see the Southern Homes catalog in that roster.)
The “Southern Homes” catalog probably dates to 1922 and goes to great lengths to explain why Southerners should buy these house plans and kits:
Every Home Shown in this Book Planned for the South, by Architects who live in the South and Know Local Needs and Conditions
These homes are not northern plans, nor are they make-shift attempts to doctor northern homes up to “make them do.” They are real homes for the south, planned from the ground up for this book, and supervised by architects who have lived all their lives in southern states. Features of these homes which will interest you are: Ten-foot ceilings throughout; seven foot doors, with transoms above, providing excellent circulation of air; large windows, carefully placed to insure best of light and ventilation; large rooms, carefully arranged for convenience, ease of communication and thorough ventilation; latticed rear galleries; construction provides for either lath and plaster or ship lap for inside walls, drop siding used for outside walls; fire-places provided in the important rooms, and optional fire-places for the other rooms, where wanted; doors and windows of finest material, will not warp, check, or rot, and will always hang true and not bind; built-in features in every home, such as kitchen cases, linen cases, dining nooks, etc., these features, combined with excellent quality of material throughout, careful planning to gain the desired effects at a minimum cost, and ready-cutting at our factory of all framing material, make these homes thoroughly well fitted for the south.
Architects and builders may also find interesting this little detail showing how the kits fit together.
Almost all of the houses offered in “Southern Homes” are Craftsman bungalows. There are also some tenant houses in the back that I’ll show in another post, but these are the first set of plans in the catalog. I’ll bet if we all start comparing these to Craftsman houses in our communities, especially in the Hattiesburg area and along the Gulf Coast, we’ll start to find some matches.