Rebecca Hunter, Historical Architectural Research
903 Cedar Avenue, Elgin Illinois 60120 847 697-4551
The wooden parts of a kit house were numbered in order to facilitate construction. After the house is built, it is usually possible to see some of these numbers. Presence of part numbers constitutes proof that the house is in fact a mail order kit. The style of the numbering may be a good indicator of which company built the house. The numbers are not visible on every board, so it may take a few minutes and a good flashlight to find one. Look on basement ceiling joists, attic rafters, basement stair risers and treads, wall studs - any visible framing board which has not been painted.
- SEARS part numbers are stamped in dark ink. They are about one inch high, and usually are a capital letter followed by one or more numerals, (e.g. A159, L23, C2). The numbers are usually near the end of a board, on the wider surface (for example, on the 4" side of a 2X4). Sears numbers after1933 may be stamped in red ink or may be 2 numbers separated by a hyphen or slash (e.g 13 - 9). Sears homes before 1915 were not precut kits, and so were not numbered. Model number or order number may be handwritten in grease pencil.
- GORDON-VAN TINE/WARDS numbers are handwritten in grease pencil, usually in the middle of a board. They consist of numerals, hyphenated in groups, e.g. 17-21-19, or 3-5 digit numerals. Part names are stamped in ink, capital letters about 1" high (e.g. "ceiling joist" "top rail"). Delivery address may be stamped or stenciled in ink.
- ALADDIN, LEWIS and STERLING Company numbers are handwritten in grease pencil, usually in the middle of a board. They consist of numerals, usually hyphenated in groups of 2 or 3. Some of the numbers are fractions, e.g. 42-18-11 3/4. Part names may be stamped in ink.
- HARRIS Brothers numbers are stenciled in ink, usually in the middle of a board, and may be numerals alone, or numerals and letters (e.g. 76, HR 50, RI 32). Home model number and/or order number may be handwritten in grease pencil. Part names may be stamped in ink.
- Pacific Homes parts are marked in grease pencil with a 4 digit number, probably the order number, and the names of the parts.
- To date, the format for Bennett Homes numbers is unknown.