Of the hundreds of companies that designed house plans during the first half of the 20th century, one of the most prolific was the William A. Radford Company of Chicago, Illinois.
Radford sold a number of books under their name, but also provided their plans to lumber dealers and builders for distribution to customers. Many of those books are unattributed, but they are easy to identify by comparing the plans with the books and American Buildermagazine which was in publication for several decades.
We've included house plans from a 1908 catalog offered by Wilson & Girod Hardware of Van Wert, Ohio and a 1924 brochure distributed by the Argo-Summit Lumber Company of Argo, Illinois. The 1908 plan book was published ostensibly by the National Architectural Association of Chicago and New York, but we've determined that identical plans were published in Radford's Portfolio of Plans (1909). One thing Radford consistently claims is that their drawings are created by "licensed architects."
Radford's myriad publishing efforts resulted a huge range of plan books, but also included books on construction methods and building technologies and materials.
In addition to publishing catalogs, books, and brochures, Radford was always looking for new ways to market construction plans and materials. American Builder magazine was another rich sourch of building information. Designed for contractors and the trades, it was possible to read articles on new tools, learn new techniques, and see the latest house plans.
Many publishers, including Radford, published series or collections. One set of Blue Ribbon Homes was published between 1921 and 1923. In 1924, the collection was published together in a catalog called Radford's Blue Ribbon Homes.
During the mid-1920s, American Builder featured various series of house plans including the color sections that were pulled out for publication and distribution to lumber companies. The "alphabet" series started in 1925 (with the letter "G") can finished with the Color Keyed homes of 1927.
In addition to plans, we've rediscovered many interesting articles that shed light on home building and planning that we think you'll enjoy.
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