The Gordon Van Tine Company of Davenport Iowa was originally established in 1865 as the UN Roberts & Company, a sawmill owned by UN Roberts. In 1907 the sons of UN Roberts, Edward and Horace, incorporated and formed Gordon Van Tine. They published their first book of plans in 1907 with the promise of “free house plans” with the purchase of lumber and millwork.
You can read more about the Gordon Van Tine Company here on the website of Dale Wolicki.
Fast forward to 1942. By 1942 Sears Roebuck and Company was out of the Modern Homes business, completely. The last Sears Modern Homes catalog of kit homes was published in 1940. They built a few more custom order homes through their Modern Homes Division before closing those doors for good. Sears 1908-1940
1942 Gordon Van Tine lives on!
A paragraph from the website of Dale Wolicki: “The Federal Housing Administration did little to assist the pre-cut housing industiy during depression. Relying on the recommendations of staffarchitects, a profession that had always resented any intrusion into their practice, the FHA initially refused to approve mortgages for pre-cut and manufactured houses. Gordon-VanTine continued to offer pre-cut homes despite the lingering Depression although their catalogs featured fewer models, most of which were smaller and simpler than those offered in previous years. Evidence indicates that during this time the majority of U.N. Roberts sales were for building materials, noting that most residential construction was for repairs and renovation. By 1938 the economy had recovered sufficiently that Gordon-VanTine launched an ambitious advertising campaign to promote sales for the upcoming building season. The March 6.1939 issue of the Davenport Democrat & Leader featured some twenty Gordon-VanTine houses that had been recently erected in the area. Many were model houses featured in the most recent catalog but a few were custom designed residences meant to illustrate the architectural skills of the Gordon-VanTine staff. Sales for 1939 and 1940 showed a significant improvement in sales over previous years. The 1941 building season was hampered by concern that the United States would be drawn into war with Germany and Japan. As the year passed restrictions on building materials needed by the defense industry, primarily metal and electrical components, created difficulties for Gordon-VanTine. During World-War Two Gordon-VanTine manufactured barracks and temporary housing. Edward C. Roberts died at his California residence on April 11,1944, leaving brother Horace G Roberts in charge of the three U.N. Robert companies.”
My previous two blogs featured homes built by the Van Tine System. Let’s take a closer look at the Van Tine System and then a few more homes built from this option.
That’s seven homes now from the Van Tine System brochure. Come back for my next blog to see a few more and more information about the Van Tine System!
Thanks again to Dale Wolicki for sending me more fun and contributing to my addiction!
Do you have a kit home to share or that you need help identifying? If so email me at email@example.com
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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!
Oklahoma Houses By Mail by Rachel Shoemaker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.