A Cosy Six Room Cottage by Gordon Van Tine not Sears Modern Homes

Gordon Van Tine was a competitor in the mail order kit home ‘business’.  Sears Modern Homes first offered homes in 1908, Aladdin Ready Cut in 1906 and Gordon Van Tine in 1907. The Gordon Van Tine Company was located in Davenport Iowa and was actually the UN Roberts sawmill before they sold kit homes.  In short, UN Roberts sons incorporated in 1907 and thus the Gordon Van Tine Company was begun. You can read all about the history of Gordon Van Tine here at the website of Dale Wolicki.

I just happen to have a Gordon Van Tine 1907 catalog! And, it is in pristine condition. This first catalog from 1907 offers plans free with the purchase of their lumber and materials. Sears did the same thing in 1908. What houses were offered in this first catalog? The plans offered were thirty plans from the William Radford architect firm in Chicago, Illinois.

I just happen to have a Gordon Van Tine 1907 catalog! And, it is in pristine condition. This first catalog from 1907 offers plans free with the purchase of their lumber and materials. Sears did the same thing in 1908. What houses were offered in this first catalog? The plans offered were thirty plans from the William Radford architect firm in Chicago, Illinois.

Several of the homes offered by the mail order kit home companies in the early years were patterns or plans acquired elsewhere and not in house designs. That’s not my “knee jerk reaction” as other detractors have claimed. It’s common knowledge and proven by those who started this research years ago.

Catalogs from the very early years of Gordon Van Tine are rare and hard to find but between Dale Wolicki and me it’s pretty well covered as to what was offered and when.

In the very early years, 1909-1910, Gordon Van Tine first offered this 'cosy six room cottage' .

In the very early years, 1909-1910, Gordon Van Tine first offered this ‘cosy six room cottage’ .

You can see that you paid a $2.50 upfront for the plans and upon purchase of materials you would be credited. Sears Modern Homes had the same offer in 1908 and the earliest years.

You can see that you paid a $2.50 upfront for the plans and upon purchase of materials you would be credited. Sears Modern Homes had the same offer in 1908 and the earliest years.

The specifications always clue you in to what came with the kit. In the earliest years they weren't really

The specifications always clue you in to what came with the kit. In the earliest years buyers selected most of their millwork and upgrades. You can see that they make suggestions. The interiors of these early homes are likely going to be different such as I noticed in several of the Sears Modern Homes no 118’s I have found.

My first encounter with a possible Gordon Van Tine 107 was a few years ago. Mark Hardin, Rosemary Thornton and I were looking for a Gordon Van Tine 560 in Wheeling, Va featured in a testimony. yes, we found it and Rosemary got photos and wrote a blog. But, during that search I came across a house in a real estate listing that I thought might be a Gordon Van Tine 107. Since there weren't any documented 107's it's really hard to say. Thanks to a Sears Homes Group member for getting photos recently! This photo is courtesy of Stephanie Curto and may not be used without her written permission.

My first encounter with a possible Gordon Van Tine 107 was a few years ago. Mark Hardin, Rosemary Thornton and I were looking for a Gordon Van Tine 560 in Wheeling, WV featured in a testimony. Yes, we found it and Rosemary got photos and wrote a blog. But, during that search I came across a house in a real estate listing that I thought might be a Gordon Van Tine 107. Since there weren’t any documented 107’s it’s really hard to say. Thanks to a Sears Homes Group member for getting photos recently! This photo is courtesy of Stephanie Curto and may not be used without her written permission.

A view of the sides show that the Wheeling, Va house is a strong possibility for a Gordon Van Tine 107. That dining room bay may have been altered due to the obviously too narrow lot.

A view of the sides show that the Wheeling, WV house is a strong possibility for a Gordon Van Tine 107. That dining room bay may have been altered due to the obviously too narrow lot.

A comparison of the fenestration of the house with the floor plan from the catalog suggests that this is a Gordon Van Tine 107.

A comparison of the fenestration of the house with the floor plan from the catalog suggests that this is a Gordon Van Tine 107.

When Stephanie offered to get real photos for me, as opposed to the blurry real estate photos, she asked me what to get. I requested the back view because I knew it was match as well and it was easily accessible without stepping foot on to the property. This photo is copyright Stephanie Curto from the Sears Homes Group on facebook and it may not be used without written permission from her as well

When Stephanie offered to get real photos for me, as opposed to the blurry real estate photos, she asked me what to get. I requested the back view because I knew it was match as well and it was easily accessible without stepping foot on to the property. This photo is copyright Stephanie Curto from the Sears Homes Group on facebook and it may not be used without written permission from her as well.

My 1913 catalog shows a testimony for a 107 built in likely late 1911 by AR Gale in Illinois.

My 1913 catalog shows a testimony for a 107 built in likely late 1911 by AR Gale in Illinois.

This is the home of Ambrose gale in Chillicothe, Illinois. It is a Gordon Van Tine 107 no doubt.

This is the home of Ambrose Gale in Chillicothe, Illinois. It is a Gordon Van Tine 107 no doubt.

This is the home of Ambrose gale in Chillicothe, Illinois. It is a Gordon Van Tine 107 no doubt.

This is the home of Ambrose Gale in Chillicothe, Illinois. It is a Gordon Van Tine 107 no doubt.

The six room cosy cottage, design 107, was last offered in the 1916 Not Ready Cut catalog. What does that mean? It means that the number 107 won't have precut lumber and therefore looking for numbered lumber will not help. However, when Gordon Van Tine shipped their millwork and lumber each bundle was stenciled with the to and from destination as well as the purchaser name. Sears used paper shipping labels. That makes identifying this model difficult, or proof I should say. this testimony seals the deal. Mr Bosworth built a 107 in Manly Iowa.

The six room cosy cottage, design 107, was last offered in the 1916 Not Ready Cut catalog.      What does that mean? It means that the number 107 won’t have precut lumber and therefore looking for numbered lumber will not help. However, when Gordon Van Tine shipped their millwork and lumber each bundle was stenciled with the to and from destination as well as the purchaser name. (Sears used paper shipping labels.) That makes identifying this model difficult, or proof I should say. This testimony seals the deal. Mr Bosworth built a 107 in Manly Iowa.

In Manly Iowa, Mr Bosworth's cosy six room cottage thanks to the assessor website we can see that it is still there!

In Manly Iowa, Mr Bosworth’s cosy six room cottage thanks to the assessor website we can see that it is still there!

Then, another accidental discovery several months ago while looking for another house in New Jersey, I stumbled on this house in Butler, NJ. It had recently been on the market and I'll be darned if the interior wasn't like the interior of the Wheeling, Va house! It even had the same newel post which was a newel post I could trace to Gordon Van Tine millwork. I would put money on this one too! Special thanks to Geoff Wyatt in our Sears group who recently went after photos of a handful of houses for me. This photo is copyright of Geoffrey Wyatt and may not be used without his written permission. Without his generosity I would have to use screen shots or realtor shots which I will do when desperate LOL

Then, another accidental discovery several months ago while looking for another house in New Jersey, I stumbled on this house in Butler, NJ. It had recently been on the market and I’ll be darned if the interior wasn’t like the interior of the Wheeling, WV house! It even had the same newel post which was a newel post I could trace to Gordon Van Tine millwork. I would put money on this one too! Special thanks to Geoff Wyatt in our Sears group who recently went after photos of a handful of houses for me. This photo is copyright of Geoffrey Wyatt and may not be used without his written permission. Without his generosity I would have to use screen shots or realtor shots which I will do when desperate LOL

Thanks to Geoff we can see that the right side matches the floorplan exactly! Geoff also asked what shots to get and he did a wonderful job as well! Please do not use this photo without his written permission.

Thanks to Geoff we can see that the right side matches the floorplan exactly! Was this house slightly customized too?  The front windows form a small bay.                      Geoff also asked what shots to get and he did a wonderful job as well! Please do not use this photo without his written permission.

Unfortunately our view of this side is obstructed by the landscaping. I think you can make out the bay window as seen in the plans, that's the dining room. This photo is copyright of Geoffrey Wyatt and may not be used without his written permission.

Unfortunately our view of this side is obstructed by the landscaping. I think you can make out the bay window as seen in the plans, that’s the dining room.
This photo is copyright of Geoffrey Wyatt and may not be used without his written permission.

Since you can not step in to someone's yard to take photos, some law about trespassing I guess ( :) ) Here is a back view of what I suspect is a Gordon Van Tine 107.

Since you can not step in to someone’s yard to take photos, some law about trespassing I guess ( 🙂 ) Here is a back view of what I suspect is a Gordon Van Tine 107.  This image is from the real estate listing.

Now that you have seen two confirmed Gordon Van Tone 107’s and two very strong possibilities what do you think? Maybe you have seen one somewhere! If so, drop me an email at searshomes@yahoo.com or leave me a comment below.

A very special thanks to Sears Homes group members Stephanie Curto and Geoffrey Wyatt for taking time from their busy lives to get photos for me! Rose’s facebook group has been a blessing in so many ways.

You can see other wonderful homes and blog posts of both Rosemary Thornton and me on facebook if you click here.

And, you can join our closed Sears Homes group on facebook too if you want to learn how to recognize kit homes and pattern book homes!

Tulsa Oklahoma Houses by Mail, Sears Homes, Wardway, Aladdin and more

Creative Commons License
Oklahoma Houses By Mail by Rachel Shoemaker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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About Rachel Shoemaker

I've been hooked on finding and or identifying mail order homes since 2008. I'm not picky, kit homes from Sears Modern Homes, Aladdin Ready Cut, Gordon Van Tine, Wardway Homes, all of the major companies as well as the popular pattern and plan book homes built from about 1900 and on. Could you be living in one of these homes? Send me an email: searshomes@yahoo.com
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