The Talk of the Town: Kit Manufacturers Negotiate the Building Industry, 1905-1929 Academic Article uri icon

  •  
  • Overview
  •  
  • Research
  •  
  • Identity
  •  
  • Additional Document Info
  •  
  • View All
  •  

abstract

  • Urban historical scholars have neglected smaller urban centers, including their residential environments and the forces that shaped them. For a time, one of these forces was the mail-order kit home. Kit manufacturers sold houses to families throughout the United States and Canada but enjoyed their greatest success in small towns where detached single-family homes were the norm. They worked to insert themselves into local building industries: They challenged lumber dealers and ignored architects but strove to mollify the contractors on whom they and their customers depended. They attracted considerable attention and met with initial success: Emerging rapidly after 1905, they had hit their stride by 1914 and enjoyed a heyday in the 1920s. They were stricken by, and failed to recover from, the Depression in large part because lumber dealers had learned how to compete with them.

publication date

  • November 2010