Craftsman & Bungalow History
Sears Catalog Homes
Can you even fathom being able to mail-order your cottage or bungalow complete with materials and all for only $1,298? Crazy Right? I absolutely adore the cottages and bungalows that were once sold from a catalog from 1908 to 1940. Their is no official count of just how many Sears catalog homes are still standing today but during that time it is reported that over 100,000 home kits were sold.
The kit pricing included everything required to build the house- right down to the pre-cut lumber, nails and varnish. Each kit would arrive by train and Dads everywhere along with their brothers and uncles would spend the next couple of days putting the home together. Between 1908 to 1940, Sears architects designed 447 different houses. Also sold were farm buildings, barns, outhouses, garages and summer cottages. At different points in time Sears even offered no money down financing and at one time Sears even proclaimed they were the “Worlds Largest Home Builders”.
The first year the catalog was produced, it featured 22 models ranging in price from $650 to $2500.
Some of the most popular models were their bungalows.
In 1886 self-made millionaire Oscar Martin Carter had a vision for a master-planned community located about four miles from downtown Houston, the spot Oscar choose was perfect. Carter’s vision was to create a place where grand Victorian mansions and working class cottages coexist together in harmony. The Heights was an independent city for 25 years before being annexed by the city of Houston in 1918. Named the “Heights” because it’s 23 feet above sea level, which Carter and the other founders thought would be high enough to escape the mosquitoes.
The result today is a charming area in close proximity to the hustle and bustle and convenience of downtown Houston but with small-town feel. With it’s tree-lined streets, eclectic boutiques and community events such as the Historic Heights First Saturday Sale and top-notch public schools, Houston Heights provides something for everyone. Very hip and stylish, the Heights is considered one of the hottest professional artist scenes in Texas. Every Saturday, rain or shine you can visit the Midtown’s Farmers Market and purchase fresh produce, baked breads and newly cut flowers.
One of my favorite things that makes Houston Heights so charming is it’s architecture. Although developers have tore down many of the historic properties in the Heights to build newly constructed homes, the community is still full of the cottages, craftsman’s, bungalows and Victorian’s that were build over a century ago.
Walking down Heights Blvd. is like taking a trip back in time with stately homes, parks and historic churches. The city of Houston designated Heights blvd a “Scenic Right-a-Way”. The Heights effectively keeps it’s “small town” feeling, even though it is only minuets away from downtown Houston.
The American English Cottage may remind you of something you’d seen in your childhood storybooks. They are reminiscent of the rustic cottages you see in Southwestern England going as far back as medieval times.
Considered a subclass of the Tudor style, an English cottage’s interior my feature, irregular shaped rooms, while the exterior sometimes includes dormer windows, sloped, gabled roofs and chimneys, typically made of brick or stone.
Arts and Crafts Movement:
The name “Craftsman” comes from the title of a popular magazine published by a popular furniture designer, Gustav Stickley. The Craftsman was published between 1901 and 1916. True arts and crafts followers believe that a house is only a true craftsman, if it followed the blue prints published and sold by The Craftsman precisely.
Soon the word “Craftsman” came to mean any house that expressed Arts and Crafts ideals, most especially the simple, economical, and extremely popular Bungalow.