A Closer Look At The ‘Van Tine System’ of Gordon Van Tine

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.

The first step to building your home is to plan your home. Home buyers had the option of choosing from one of Gordon Van Tine's pre-designed plans in the catalog or working with one of the home planners to design their own home. Home owners could sit down with 'expert planners' and design their homes to fit within their budget at no charge for this service.

The first step to building your home is to plan your home. Home buyers had the option of choosing from one of Gordon Van Tine’s pre-designed plans in the catalog or working with one of the home planners to design their own home. Home owners could sit down with ‘expert planners’ and design their homes to fit within their budget at no charge for this service.

 

Step two of the Van Tine System included iron-clad specifications and a contract with the buyer as the master. This method insured no disputes, no unforeseen labor charges, no loss of time and 100% protection and satisfaction.

Step two of the Van Tine System included iron-clad specifications and a contract with the buyer as the master. This method insured no disputes, no unforeseen labor charges, no loss of time and 100% protection and satisfaction.

 

Need financing? No problem! Under the new liberal FHA Loan Plan there is only one mortgage. All the buyer needed was a lot or a modest amount of cash as a down payment. Low interest rates and monthly payments for 20-25 years and they would help plan this too.

Need financing? No problem! Under the new liberal FHA Loan Plan there is only one mortgage. All the buyer needed was a lot or a modest amount of cash as a down payment. Low interest rates and monthly payments for 20-25 years and they would help plan this too as part of the Van Tine System.

 

Harvey Asmus built his Van Tine System home in Fort Atkinson Wi just a few houses from where he was renting a home. Harvey was an accountant. His home was purchased with an FHA Home Loan

Harvey Asmus built his Van Tine System home in Fort Atkinson Wi just a few houses from where he was renting a home. Harvey was an accountant. His home was purchased with an FHA Home Loan.

 

Harvey and his wife Elfrieda raised two children in their Gordon Van Tine home. It was built by 1935. They lived in the home until they passed away, Harvey in 1981 and Elfrieda in 1991. In 1937 their home appeared in the Gordon Van Tine Homes catalog as the Bel Air. There may be more like this house out there somewhere!

Harvey and his wife Elfrieda raised two children in their Gordon Van Tine home. It was built by 1935. They lived in the home until they passed away, Harvey in 1981 and Elfrieda in 1991.
In 1937 their home appeared in the Gordon Van Tine Homes catalog as the Bel Air. There may be more like this house out there somewhere!

 

The 1937 Bel Air model was actually the home that Harvey Amus had designed in late 1934 or 1935. I wonder if the "A" on the chimney stood for Asmus? I think so! I think Gordon Van Tine should have named this model the Asmus. Don't you?

The 1937 Bel Air model was actually the home that Harvey Amus had designed in late 1934 or 1935. I wonder if the “A” on the chimney stood for Asmus? I think so!
I think Gordon Van Tine should have named this model the Asmus. Don’t you?

 

The other Van Tine System home was built for Bruce Ivan Ryder, a medical doctor, in Henry Illinois.

The other Van Tine System home was built for Bruce Ivan Ryder, a medical doctor, in Henry Illinois.

 

Dr Bruce Ryder's home is still there. the only thing worse than a screen shot is an aerial shot....but it was the best I could do and it shows it IS there. Bruce lived here with his wife Bessie and their one son.

Dr Bruce Ryder’s home is still there. The only thing worse than a screen shot is an aerial shot….but it was the best I could do and it shows it IS there. Bruce lived here with his wife Bessie and their one son.

 

This small Van Tine System home built by William and Grace Bushman is in Dixon, Illinois.

This small Van Tine System home  built for William and Grace Bushman is in Dixon, Illinois.

 

The Bushman's 1938 Van Tine System home is only 912 square feet. The Bushmans were self employed as a painter and decorator.

The Bushman’s 1938 Van Tine System home is only 912 square feet. The Bushmans were self employed as a painter and decorator.

 

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 searshomes@yahoo.com

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.

Advertisements

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
This entry was posted in Kit Homes Around the Country and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A Closer Look At The ‘Van Tine System’ of Gordon Van Tine

  1. I own a Craftsman home in Wichita, Kansas, that originally had either cedar or cypress shake on the roof. For obvious reasons, we don’t want to put that back on, but neither do we want to put on asphalt. Do you know of any Craftsman Bungalows that used metal like the Loudoun County Sears 119? I have applied to your group, but couldn’t wait to ask

    Like

    • Sears homes did not come with metal roofs or shake shingles. Craftsman is a style and not one in the same as a home from Sears Modern Homes.
      If you are needing help identifying your house post photos in the group. IF it is a kit home we can identify it for you.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s