And Then I Found a House I’d Never Seen Before (in Staunton)!!

Several days ago, I wrote a blog about the abundance of kit homes I found in Staunton, VA.

A fine fellow named Frank left a comment at that blog about a possible kit home at 1102 North Augusta Avenue (in Staunton). Thanks to Google Maps and their sharp images, I “drove” to the address (via my laptop). As it turned out, the house he’d mentioned on North Augusta was not a kit home, but then I saw something next door that really piqued my interest!

Next door at 1106 North Augusta was a beautiful home, and I recognized it as a catalog house, but I couldn’t remember WHERE I’d seen it. Was it from a kit or a planbook? I knew I’d seen that house in one of my books, but where?

I closed my eyes and tried to pull up the image mentally, but to no avail. Next, I dug out the catalogs and pored over thousands of images, desperate to find this house.

Still nothing.

Through the days, I’d lie down, take a deep breath, close my eyes and “see the house” (in Staunton) and then try to match it up with the houses in memory. It was not a strong memory.  I could “see” the black and white image in my thought and tried to scroll up on the mental page to see what catalog I was looking at.

No success.

Honestly, it got somewhat frustrating.

Several days ago, I posted the image on Facebook, in our “Sears Homes” group.

And then this morning when I logged onto Facebook, I found a message from one of the most active members, Cindy Catanzaro. She’d found the house in a Gordon Van Tine catalog. I was over-the-moon happy, and my brain was happy, too. No more endless searching for a faint image. No more walking into walls while my tormented mind was on overdrive, desperate to match up the Staunton house with the thousands of images rattling around in my head.

And the best part is, the house in Staunton is a spot-on match to the Gordon Van Tine “Sussex.” It is a beauty!

Now how fun is that?

And how did I miss it? I have a home-made field guide to the kit homes offered by Gordon Van Tine. It’s got about 500 house designs in it, organized by style, but the Sussex was not in my field guide. Complicating matters even more was this: Gordon Van Tine fulfilled all the orders for the Montgomery Ward kit homes (Wardway Homes), but there were a handful of designs that were exclusive to Gordon Van Tine. The Sussex was one of them.

So the Sussex fell through the cracks of my copious collection of kit home catalogs!

Thanks again to Frank for the tidbit that led to me finding this house, and thanks to Cindy Catanzaro for solving the mystery, and thanks to the owners of this house in Staunton (Alan and Sharon) for allowing me to use their photo!

And, I recently discovered that this fine old house is a famous Bed and Breakfast! Click here to learn more!

And, as a side note, this house is currently for sale and if I lived in Staunton, I’d be all over that!  😉

To learn more about this wonderful home, visit the B&B website, here.

If you know of any other kit homes in Staunton (or surrounding areas), please leave a comment below!

Want to learn more about kit homes? Click here to join our merry band on Facebook!

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Sears was the most well-known of the kit home companies, but Gordon Van Tine was a serious contender. They were based in Davenport, Iowa and had mills in Washington State and Mississippi too.

Sears was the most well-known of the kit home companies, but Gordon Van Tine was a serious contender. They were based in Davenport, Iowa and had mills in Washington State and Mississippi too. Sears sold about 70,000 kit homes during their 32 years in the business. Gordon Van Tine probably sold about 50,000 kit homes. (Thanks to Dale Wolicki for the numbers on GVT!)

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As see in the 1929 catalog, heres a copy

In the 1926 catalog, it was Model #628. In the 1929 catalog, it was named "The Sussex."

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Its a bit grainy, but you can see the floorplan here.

It's a bit grainy, but you can see the floorplan here.

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And heres the Sussex, in all its beauty and grandeur.

And here's the Sussex, in all its beauty and grandeur.

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Thanks to Leslie Hayes, I now have a bigger and better photo of the Sussex!

Thanks to Leslie Hayes, I now have a bigger and better photo of the Sussex! What a perfect match this house is to the catalog page! Photo is copyright 2013 Leslie M. Hayes and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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house house house

The Sussex in Staunton from another angle. It's a good looking house from all sides! Photo is copyright 2012 Alan Kincheloe and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Ooh la la, what a match!!!

Ooh la la, what a match!!!

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To read more about the kit homes of Staunton, click here or here.

To learn more about what makes these kit homes so valuable (and such an important piece of America’s cultural history), click here.

To contact Rose, please leave a comment below.

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15 Comments

  1. Cindy Catanzaro

    I have decided that my brain can only hold so many house images.

    So now, whenever I see a new one, an old one disappears from my mental bank.

    At least, that is how I explain not remembering all of them. 😉

  2. Dale Wolicki

    Wow! There is a Sussex in Davenport Iowa where GVT was based but this is the only other Sussex I know of.

    The GVT website is down for repairs but I’ll have it back online in a few days.

  3. Sears Homes

    Yeah, I was pretty excited when Cindy made the identification!

    I’m hoping to return to Staunton in a few weeks to get a better look at the town. Last time I was there, I was with the Waynester and he gets car sick so bad, so we had to cut short the trip and head to the hotel.

    Next time, I’ll be driving myself and will probably end up wandering around town for DAYS!! 🙂

    But I agree – this is pretty cool find!

  4. Rachel Shoemaker

    On page 12 of the 1931 Gordon Van Tine catalog there is a testimony for Harold F Read. The house is still there at 3 Eversley, Norwalk, CT. Looks like it was on the market recently. http://www.trulia.com/property/3042308229-3-Eversley-Ave-Norwalk-CT-06851

    Harold was at this address from 1929 until the mid 1950’s at least. He and his brother and sister are listed here in the 1930 census. Ages 42, 35 and 37. He and his brother worked at a hat factory, Harold was a clerk there.

    That’s probably TMI 🙂 But, you know me!

  5. Sears Homes

    @Rachel Shoemaker
    Wow, what a find!! On page 12 of that 1931 catalog, is there a photo of the house? I love looking at the original images.

  6. Dale Wolicki

    Rachel is correct. There is a Sussex in Norwalk CT. I don’t think the Sussex was a big seller.

    Not sure when it was introduced but housing sales slid throughout 1930, 1931, 1932, and into the spring of 1933.

    Eventually GVT redid their house catalog and offered smaller homes that would qualify for government backed mortgages

  7. Will West

    It is so neat to see a picture of this house. I think there is actually one where I live, but it has been modified throughout the years by additions.

    The address is 329 North Main Street Oneida, TN.

  8. Sears Homes

    @Will West
    Thanks for that info, Will. Can you send me a photo of the house from front, and two sides? The google image is pretty grainy.

  9. Leslie

    The Sussex in Staunton is for sale! It’s so cute.

  10. Sears Homes

    I thought so too, Leslie! I love it! And thanks so much for taking a photo for me!

  11. Terry

    Hi Rose,

    With interest, I read your account of the Sears home in Lewisburg, as well as the fine kit home in Staunton. You may be aware of a Sears home in the town of Beverly, WV. If not, here’s a link for the house. It’s included in our historic walking tour.

    Thanks,
    Terry Hackney
    Coordinator
    Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike National Scenic Byway

  12. Sears Homes

    @Terry
    Terry, I’ve featured that house on my blog a time or two. My husband and I frequently go to Elkins (where he has family), and we pass that house along the way. There’s also a Lustron in Beverly as I recall.

    And there’s an enormous Harris Brother’s house in Buckhannon. http://wardwayhomes.com/blog/2011/07/its-a-bungalow-its-a-victorian-its-two-houses-in-one/

    BTW, the house you’ve shown in that link is a Sears Sunbeam. 🙂

    And did you see the blog I did on Elkins? https://searshomes.org/index.php/2011/06/13/of-houses-and-hubbies/

  13. Joe

    I came across a house in Bexley, OH that is a little bit like the Sussex, built in 1930. It has a nearly identical floorplan, but looks rather different and smaller on the outside:

    http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/104-South-Ardmore-Road-Bexley-OH-43209/2112384775_zpid/

    I don’t think it’s technically a Sussex, but I’m looking for any info I can on its origin. Another Gordon-Van Tine house? A different year model? Any info would be appreciated.