Waterview (Portsmouth, Virginia) and Their Plan Book Houses

An old friend (Margee) contacted me and said that her daughter had recently purchased a home in Waterview, our old stomping ground. Margee and I grew up together on Nansemond Street in Waterview, and we share many happy memories of that place and time.

Margee was wondering if the house was a kit home.

Here’s the answer.  🙂

Margees daughter purchased this house in Waterview.

Margee's daughter purchased this 1930s house in Waterview. Like so many Waterview homes, it's a 1920s/30s two-story home with brick veneer and a Buckingham slate roof - the crème de la crème of all slate roofs. These homes are very well built and solid, and with minimal care and some love, this house will last another 100 years.



Here's a view of the house as seen on Google.


And heres a view of the house as seen in the 1927 Homebuilders Catalog.

And here's a view of the house as seen in the 1927 Home Builder's Catalog. Margee's daughter does *NOT* have a kit home, but it is a "Pattern Book" house. Pattern book homes were NOT the same as kit homes, but they were similar.



With pattern book homes (such as "Home Builders" shown here), you'd select the house of your dreams and then you'd receive detailed blueprints and a list of the building materials you'd need for your new home. With kit homes, everything came in a one package - the design, blueprints and building materials.


Brief review:

Kit house – everything in one package: Design, blueprints and building materials.

Pattern book house – design, blueprints and a LIST of the building materials you’d need to purchase to build your new home.



Pattern book homes were hugely popular in the 1920s and 1930s (which is when the house in Waterview was built), and the 1927 book shown here had more than 1,000 pages.



Many thanks to Google for getting the house from the same angle! The house in Waterview is brick, while the image from the pattern book is frame, and the side porch has been enclosed. Nonetheless, I'd say it's the same model.


A little information on the front page tells more about the how-tos of buying a pattern book house.

A little information on the front page tells more about the "how-tos" of buying a pattern book house.


Waterview is awash in pattern book houses, and Ive spent years trying to find the house of my youth (in Waterview) in a pattern book. Heretofore, Ive been unsuccessful.

Waterview is awash in pattern book houses, and I've spent years trying to find the house of my youth (in Waterview) in a pattern book. Heretofore, I've been unsuccessful.


The older I get, the more I realize, Im an old soul lost in a love of all things historic, and thats ever more apparent when I reflect on memories of Margee, my childhood friend. When I think of Margee, this is where my mind travels.

Here's a picture of Margee and me in the late 1960s. That's my brother Tommy on the far left (guitar guy), and then me (sleepy girl), Margee, and my brother Eddie on the far right.


To learn more about the amazing collection of pattern book homes in Waterview and nearby areas, click here.

Do  you think you have a kit home? Learn how to identify these early 20th Century treasures here.

Nostalgia buff? Read more about my own happy memories of Waterview here.



  1. Jenny Downs

    So neat!!!!!! I will share on my Facebook.

    We love EVERYTHING about our new house!!!! Thanks for the post.

  2. Margee Downs

    My very dear friend Rosemary continues to amaze me the breadth and depth of her expertise!!

    What a delight to get this snapshot of the home’s history along with our own ‘blast from the past’ that includes a rare sighting of her big brother’s tolerating our mere presence. 🙂

    What a wonderful touchstone…those halcyon days in ol’ Waterview! Thank you my friend!

  3. Laura (So Ca)

    Rosemary, you rock. How on earth do you have room for all your memorabilia?

    It astonishes me. Let alone, that vast database brain.

    Pattern Homes, another data point of yesteryears SFH history.

    Maybe it’s time you teach a class at the University level for Architecture students, or a seminar for an Architecture Association Convention. You’re too fabulous to waste.

  4. Sears Homes

    @Laura (So Ca)
    Thanks so much for your kind words, Laura.

    I’d love, love, LOVE to teach SOMETHING to architecture students somewhere, but no one has ever asked. I’ve spent 15 years reading and learning and studying kit homes, and my books probably contain 5% of what I know on kit homes. I do wish there was an opportunity to share my knowledge with students eager to learn.

    Thanks again for your lovely comments. They make my day. 🙂