Idaho’s Kit Homes

Idaho must be one of the most beautiful places on earth. It has everything – mountains, wide-open places, clean mountain streams, crisp clear skies, and trees. Lots of trees. In fact, Boise‘s nickname is, “The City of Trees.”

Idaho also has a few kit homes. What is a kit home? Well, Sears was the best-known name in the early 20th Century business of selling kit homes through mail-order catalogs. Sears Homes were offered in prices ranging from $500 to $5000. The homeowner would browse the 100+ pages of a Sears Modern Homes catalog and select a suitable house. Next, he’d send in a $1 good faith deposit to Sears,  and Sears would send him working blueprints. If the homeowner liked what he saw, he’d remit the rest of money.

Upon receipt of the cash, Sears would send 12,000 pieces of house via boxcar. The kit came with a 75-page instruction book that told the homeowner how all those pieces and parts went together. Sears promised a man of average abilities could have the house ready for occupancy in 90 days!

Below are some photos I snapped during a summertime visit to Idaho.

Sears Argyle from the Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Argyle from the Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Argyle in Nampa, Idaho!

Sears Argyle in Nampa, Idaho!

Close-up of porch detail

Close-up of porch detail

Note how the details on this 1910s Argyle have been preserved!

Note how the details on this 1910s Argyle have been preserved!

Boise Bungalow Duplex - from Pacific Ready Cut Homes

This Boise Bungalow is a duplex, and was offered by Pacific Ready Cut Homes, a large kit home company that was based in Los Angeles.

Pacific Ready Cut Homes bungalow in Boise

This image is from the 1919 Pacific Ready Cut Homes catalog. Nice match, eh?


From the 1919 Pacific Ready Cut Homes catalog.

kit home in Nampa

Kit home from Pacific Ready Cut Homes. This little house is in Nampa

And the last house is a mystery. I saw this house a few years back in Boise, near the downtown area and have not been able to find it since!  If anyone knows where it is, I’d love to have the address so I can get a photo. It was within five minutes of the downtown area.

This is a kit home offered by Gordon Van Tine and Montgomery Ward. It’s pretty distinctive with that over sized front porch with dentil molding. Note the heavy-duty clipped gable (where it looks like someone took a bite out of the roof line).


Lost in Boise! Where am I?

And the beauty part of Boise!

Beautiful Boise

Beautiful Boise

Beautiful Boise

Beautiful Boise

To learn more about how to identify Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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  1. Allen


    The Gordon Van Tine/Montgomery Ward home is on Harrison Boulevard. I’ll get the address next time I’m down there. Do you recal the name of the street the Sears home in Nampa was?

  2. Geo Boxoftar

    My niece lives in what my brother swears is a Sears kit home from the 1950s in Auroa outside of Denver, CO.

  3. Andrew Mutch

    Sears stopped selling kit homes before World War II. Other kit home manufacturers continued to sell homes after Sears stopped so it may be from one of those companies. But it’s not a Sears home if it was built in the 1950s.