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Thematic: Bungalow, Colonial Revival, Vernacular, Catalog House

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Concept of a Thematic District | Bungalow — Description | Bungalow — Architectural Overview |
Catalog — Description | Colonial Revival — Description | Colonial Revival — Architectural Overview

Catalog - Description

The properties included in the historic district were supplied by mail-orders from general merchandise firms. Several major firms, most notably Sears, Roebuck and Company, and Montgomery Ward, through Gordon-Van Tine, a subcontractor, each offered dozens of styles and sizes of houses through their catalogs during about forty years up to the end of World War II. The properties thus represent a specific era in the U.S. housing industry, and a major initiative by the housing industry to bring affordable and yet distinctive housing to middle income Americans in the first half of the 20th century. Approximately 78 possible catalog homes from four mail order suppliers have been identified, but not confirmed, within Joliet’s city limits.

Customers would buy a home in much the same way as they would any other merchandise from the catalog, i.e. by mailing their order. Their purchase would arrive by rail and truck, and would include every piece of wood, glass, and metal needed for the completed home, and an assembly instruction booklet. Each piece would be numbered. Courageous buyers might assemble it themselves, but many buyers used construction contractors for the job. The assembly numbers may still be seen on the undersides of rafters, joists, and many other components. The homes are remarkably sturdy and well-constructed and, except for the tell-tale part numbers, are difficult to differentiate from conventionally acquired and built homes.

Two properties are included in this nomination: 1410 Frederick Street and 1503 Sterling Avenue. The properties hereby nominated have also been listed as landmarks on Joliet’s Register of Historic Places.