We’ve previously had a brief introduction to architect George F. Barber here on MissPres. Barber, who lived in Knoxville, TN from 1888 until his death in 1915, did a significant mail order plan business across the United States. The Knox County Public Library has a large collection of Barber ephemera.
Our featured Barber design today was likely published in the first edition of Modern Dwellings and Their Proper Construction in 1898 and was last published c.1908 in Barber’s American Homes plan book. The earliest document I’ve found referring to the house plan is a blurb in the August 1900 edition of Barber affiliated publication American Homes (not to be confused with Barber’s plan book American Homes.) Here is what was said about the design.
A Colonial Home
A HOUSE which has many features to recommend it to the lover of convenience is the colonial home on the next page. Large, roomy, and yet compact, it is a very ideal either for one who entertains or who lives more quietly. Considering the size and appearance of the structure it will be surprising to find it can be built in most localities for about $2,800. If built on high ground the balcony would be a fine place for one caring for the view; the hall downstairs is a pleasant feature with the rook half hidden from the front door, with the stairs sweeping gracefully up beside it. This plan resembles “A Pleasant Cottage,” in that is has plenty of closet room.
This plan appears again in the 1901 third edition of Modern Dwellings and Their Proper Construction by George F. Barber. The rendering and floor plans labeled Design No. E-23 bears a strong resemblance to the Bond–Grant House, in Biloxi. This plan is accompanied by this text.
The above is a rather peculiar design, but is one of the most fascinating structures when built imaginable. There is a beautiful something about it not found elsewhere. The plans are for a wide lot of not much depth and are so compact and convenient they give lots of room for little money. Simple interior finish is employed to keep down cost. In many localities this house can be built for $1,500. A small cellar, shingled roof, brick foundation. Width of front is 40 feet. Stories, 20 feet and 9 feet 2 inches.
The design number varies per edition and possible per print run of each edition as in a 1905 edition of Modern Dwellings and Their Proper Construction. The design, labeled as Design No. 268, features a much more elaborate interior floor plan, while the rendering remains the same to a fault, as it does not display the same dimensions as the floor plan indicates it should. The text describing the building remains the same. This version of the house maybe my favorite, not due to the modifications of the floor plan but due to the removal of the leprechaun/nymph/garden gnome/pilgrim child entourage from the elevation rendering.
The last publication in the Knox County Public Library collection that the plan appears in is the 1907 fifth edition of American Homes plan book. Here the house reverts back to its pre-1905 floor plan, and the leprechaun/nymph/garden gnome/pilgrim child entourage reappears in the elevation rendering.
Barber’s plans could be modified to suit. One modification of Design E-25/ No. 781 can be seen with the L. E. Roberts House in Aberdeen. The wonderful historic photograph included in the South Central Aberdeen Historic District National Register Nomination indicates the house always had the altered appearance. As we look to more of Barber’s designs, we’ll see that while it may be simple enough to identify a Barber design, it can be difficult to identify what stock plan it originated as.