Friday, December 18, 2015

Architects who totally get it.

Or got it, as the case may be. Past tense, unfortunately.

 Mr. P hopes to retire within the decade, so he's studying up on the economics of it all: attending seminars, reading articles in newspapers, magazines and online. And I'm building my dream retirement home in the clouds…and googling antique home plans.  (Say what you will about First World Problems, you DO realize that it's a kind of Purgatory for someone who's been mildly obsessed with architecture since the age of 8 to end up living in home designed in the 1970s. With glittery doorknobs.)

Very interesting: most of these homes are small by today's McMansion standards, yet they have 4-6 bedrooms. This was because in the olden days, couples had "children" instead of stuff.  I get a kick out of the homes that have front stairs, back stairs and a servant's room.

How great is the inclusion of a sewing room? 

I could probably forego one of those six bedrooms in order to get a Master bath and walk-in closet

One of the funniest things about these vintage plans is the commentary: 

"To know the value of right environment is one of the first steps in the mastery of self. It is impossible for anyone to think his best thoughts or do his best work when his home life is not in keeping with his ideals. Those who firmly fix their hearts on The Carolina for a home may be assured of the refining influence which its possession will bring."

Which explains at last why I've been unable for the last 50 years to think my best thoughts: my home life has never been in keeping with my ideals.

Then this:

"The feeling of aloneness is almost entirely unknown in small, comfortable homes like The Dover. Mental depression comes, as a rule, from tired nerves and unsightly surroundings. In the small home which has been provided with an abundance of light, life is more cheerful and housekeeping is a pleasure, provided the husband daily expresses his appreciation."

Finally, confirmation of what I always suspected: men are responsible for women's depression because: a) He hasn't given her a cute character home to live in; b) he doesn't daily express his appreciation for her housekeeping.

Oh rats. It's not all up to the men after all…

"Men change only as their environment and associates change. A good home and a good wife will enable any man to become stronger and more efficient. Any man is worthy of the highest trust who saves from his earnings sufficent to build The Englewood, and whose life companion is in sympathy with him and his work."


"The woman who knows that the surest way to a man's heart is through his sense of taste, and that sympathy and appreciation will lead him over mountains while criticism causes him to balk stubbornly on a level, can make any home an influence for permanent good whether it is of The Fulton style of architecture or a more humble cottage."

And it doesn't stop there. Health benefits… of sun (and by extension, home plans that have well… windows):
"Sunshine is to the physical body what joy is to the heart. Those frail of body should seek the sun porches of homes of The Kendall plan, and those frail of heart can find inimitable balm in the building and making complete a new home and a new environment. Health and home joy come to those who prepare expectantly for them."

You said a mouthful, brother!!

Six fireplaces, yes! (That's a lot of wood chopping, and ash-scooping, Mr. P) But oh, the benefits to the little woman!

The hearth that glows with good fellowship warms chilly hearts and drives out the dampness of discord and disappointments. Such hearths are guarded constantly by women who worship sacred home ideals, and who turn a deaf ear to the voice of gossip. The Haverhill will make an ideal home for those who yearn for better conditions in which to demonstrate the power of right thought."

Ha ha! It's not just a home brochure: it's social engineering!

When a normal woman comes to herself at the age of twenty, twenty-two, or twenty-four, according to her physical and mental growth, she realizes that her highest ambition is for a home of her own, affection and children, but her happiness is never complete until the love and home she wins is hers by all equitable and legal rights."


A child seldom becomes a burden on society whose home life has been one of happiness and contentment. The home is the localized center from which initial impulses for good or evil go out. Those who select The Rochester as a home in which to purify the environment for their children may well pay the debt to humanity which all of us owe.

If only we still had 1920s prices, when you could build one of these homes for under $5,000.


  1. Wow, good advertising copy. (And there's more than a grain of truth in the idea that one's physical and mental well-being can be strongly affected by how organized, clean and well-laid out your living space is.)

  2. A splendid home with six bedrooms would set me up forever.

  3. Totally agree on both counts. (Wow, this post has THREE comments!) If only they were from real "readers".

  4. My husband's American cousin lives in a home that was purchased from Sears catalogue in 1928(I think that was the year). Every piece (windows, doors, hardwood floors, etc) came numbered along with the drawings and details on how to put it all together. We visited them last fall at their delightful home and it is similar to the ones you've featured in this post. It even has a sunroom (original). BYW, I'm a "real reader" I think. What is a "real reader?"

    1. Bless you, Joanne! I think a real reader would be defined as someone who comes here voluntarily and isn't related by blood or marriage to Mrs Beazly or myself. I love that you got to visit a Sears house. I think those DIY home-building kits were boffo. Eaton's used to sell them too. I wish we could still buy them.