Is it or Isn’t it? (Gordon Van Tine #534)

In Summer 2004, I visited the beautiful community of Cape Charles (on the Eastern Shore of Virginia), to give a talk on Sears Kit Homes. The folks there in Cape Charles treated me like a queen, and left me with many wonderful and happy memories of their hospitality and warmth and authenticity.

When I was there, I was driven around nearby communities as well, and in a town “across the street” (Route 13) from Cape Charles, I discovered this fine-looking old yellow bungalow. At first, I suspected it was a Gordon Van Tine kit house (Model #534), but once I got home and compared the photo to my catalog images, I decided it wasn’t a good “fit” and put it out of mind.

And then last month, Sears House aficionado and photographer Donna Bakke sent me pictures of a Sears kit house in Ohio, “The Paloma.”

As I compared that house to the line drawing, I saw that the actual proportions of the Sears Paloma were not a good match to the extant house. In fact, they were dramatically skewed.

And then my friend Rachel Shoemaker commented that she’d also discovered that these line drawings were often not good representations of the house itself.

So last week, I went through my old pictures and dragged out the Gordon Van Tine I’d seen on the Eastern Shore and as I got to studying it, I started to change my thought about the house. Based on what I saw in that Pomona (thanks to Donna), I’m now thinking, this could well be the Gordon Van Tine Model #534.

Ah, and a little PS. This house is on the east side of Route 13, “across” from Cape Charles and a little bit north. It’s in a tiny community and I neglected to get the name of this town. If anyone has any idea where this house is, I sure would be grateful to know!

To see the post on the Sears Paloma, click here.

To read more about the kit homes I saw in Cape Charles, click here.

To join our group (“Sears Homes”) on Facebook, click here.

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Is this the Gordon Van Tine #534? When I first saw this house, I was 80% certain that it was, and then when I really studied the photo and compared it to the catalog image, I changed my mind. And then last week, I changed my mind - again! Now I just hope the house is still standing!


house house

It is exceptionally well planned! But it also looks BIG!



How wide would you guess that house to be?



And if you compare the two images side by side, you'd probably say that the GVT house is much wider than the little yellow house on the Eastern Shore.



If you look at the floor plan, you'll see this house is only 26' wide. Is the yellow house 26' wide? Yes, I'd say that it is. Does the house shown in the line drawing look 26' wide? Nope. It looks much bigger.


house house

So, what if we were to skew the house a bit to make it look more like it was 26' wide?



If you do a side-by-side comparison of the GVT 534 (with the catalog image skewed), they look like a perfect match. If someone can figure out where this house is, I'll go back and get a better picture.



And there's also this fact. The little yellow house has the same windows as the GVT 534 and they're very distinctive windows. Plus, that pent roof is a unique feature. The more I study this house, the more I think it's a darn good match.


Looks lke a match to me!

Looks like a match to me!


To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

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  1. Lara

    This is very interesting. There are some houses I’ve thought might be kits but the proportions seemed wrong.

    Next time I’ll do a closer inspection. I like the way you squished the house! 🙂

  2. Sears Homes

    Lara, now I’m starting to wonder how many houses I have *missed* because of paying too many attention to the line drawing (catalog) and not the actual floor plan.

    Twenty-six feet is not very wide for a house. In fact, it’s pretty small.

  3. Mark

    I agree. It appears that a lot of catalog houses were drawn from photographs or were the actual photograph that had been doctored or altered. I think it’s possibility that this could have happened often.

  4. Rachel Shoemaker

    With my editing software I can turn that in to a Magnolia 😉

    We’ve got to figure out where it is so we can at least see it from our little Google cars.

    The right side might tell us more. I sure think it is the GVT though.

  5. Sears Homes

    @Rachel Shoemaker
    Rachel! I found the address! I’m hoping to go off tomorrow and take some photos (depending on weather, life and some other considerations).


    I may even knock on the door (but I doubt it).

    Do you think they’ll mind if I take a few measurements of the house while I’m right there?

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