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House Plans

From Books and Kits — 1900 to 1960

Radford - MaryvilleLatest Additions

The books below are the latest to be published to our online collection with more to be added soon:

About AHS Plans

One of the most entertaining aspects of old houses is their character. Each seems to have its own appeal.

There were hundreds of catalogs and pamphlets produced by different manufacturers and product vendors, which would-be owners thumbed through eagerly dreaming of a home of their own with its garden and white picket fence ... a place of refuge and domestic bliss that provided emotional and financial security. Such were the poetic promises in many magazines and books. This concentrated marketing effort reshaped the way Americans thought about home, imbuing the concept with health, happiness, and contentment.

Kit homes, such as those offered by various manufacturers like Sears, Aladdin, Gordon Van Tine, and dozens more, were designed for affordability. The materials were often top-notch, and nearly 100 years later many of these small, old houses are eagerly sought after.

Most though were plans contained in plan books ... often handed out by lumber dealers to whet the appetites of prospective homeowners. Piracy among publishers was rampant. Everyone "borrowed" from everyone else and it was common for identical plans to appear in different books with only the smallest changes. William A. Radford and C. L. Bowes both published prolifically. Radford employed dozens of designers and architects and left a rich legacy of books and magazines. Bowes licensed his plans to lumber yards for publication under their names. Standard House Plans did the same thing as did the National Plan Service. Even companies like Morgan Sash & Door or Bilt-Well, which were both known for their doors, windows, and trim, offered plans in their catalogs. Architects frequently marketed themselves in the popular magazines of the day with their designs ... Frank Lloyd Wright for example.

Regardless of origin, these plans provided fodder for the dream of home ownership to hundreds of thousands of Americans. In the succeeding decades, as fashions have come and gone, many of these houses continue to charm us.

To make the plans more accessible, we've organized them by year and publisher. Have fun!

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