10 Responses

  1. Eddie Browder

    YIKES! Gas and water lines have already been located in preparation for the DEMOLITION of the Gordon Van Tine kit house and garage at 501 Palmetto Avenue. This is the home to the west of 509 Palmetto and one of the three GVTs in a row, mentioned in this blog. The man who owns it has dementia. His daughter who has power-of-attorney is concerned about liability issues if one of the many area homeless people is injured while in the house. I don’t know why they cant secure it and offer it for sale. Someone will see the value of owning a GVT w/ matching garage. Any ideas on how to save this home? It is not protected by the City’s historic ordinance. Thank you!

  2. Dylan Serra

    I loved reading this article. It was very fascinating to see how this wonderful “cookie cutter,” home (at the time) was able to be refreshed and revitalized without changing the footprint or the initial design of the home. Seeing this type of preservation is always astounding to me. I find it interesting how back in the day, when the home was brand new and ready to be lived in…it featured several good aspects that people loved: but it was an overall average home and did not showcase much of a “wow,” factor. Now, that the home was taken and revised, the architectural features were emphasized and distinguished, bringing a new and improved look to the house without actually changing anything. Its like the historical preservation quote in the reading we just did, where the protection of historic structures and other properties is completed through their designation and regulation while we improve our growth on lessons of the past! A little reflection on the article itself is the fact that I learned so much about the process of buying then verse now. I could never imagine purchasing a home through the mail. That is an insane investment and gamble to do, especially since I am the type of person that needs to see everything first hand, be involved in the decision making process and selection process, and then…that did not necessarily happen. Also reading on how troublesome revamping these homes can be. Gas lines, electrical, any type of insulation or HVAC service: all of that seems like a huge headache to me and is probably one of the biggest struggles to deal with! All in all, a wonderful article and I love this type of pieces. Definitely historical and love the information provided by the author.

  3. Bradley Hoe

    I did not know much about kit homes before reading this article. It is fascinating to learn about this era of American residential architecture and how it still exists here in Brevard County. What is strange to me is that these kit homes still exist in Florida. Since these homes are made from wood it is surprising that they have not succumbed to the elements, let alone hurricanes. After doing more research I have found that there were eleven major kit home manufacturers in the United States during the early twentieth century. What could explain how Gordon-Van Tine kit homes ended up in Florida is that there was a manufacturing facility in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. What also makes these home especially rare is that not many of them were built. It is estimated that one hundred thousand kit homes were built in the United States between 1908 and 1940. After learning more about kit homes I can see why we need to preserve them and educate the general public about their historical significance. After reading the comments to this post I am sad to hear that one of the kit homes was going to be demolished. This reinforces the aspect of educating the general public about these homes. If someone knew that they owned a piece of Americana they might reconsider tearing it down to build a new home. It would be interesting to see what has happened to these homes since this post was written. I hope that all three Gordon-Van Tine homes still stand.

  4. Brock Heruth

    I think the concept of a mail order home is really interesting. It seems like a very valid idea, especially at that time. Mass produce houses in different designs that can be virtually shipped and put together. It makes for less confusion and complications. I find it very interesting that there are some still around and that there are three in a row in Melbourne. It would be interesting to walk through one and see how the layout is and how well its built. Anything “mail order” I would be skeptical about the quality. Its like buying clothes online, it looks and sounds good in theory but once you get them it might not fit right or you were expecting something else. I can’t imagine going about something as large as a house for that sort of purchase. Either way its fun to think about. What if in the future you can custom make a home online and have it built in a week and move in ready. There are so many possibilities! The other interesting concept about this is maintaing the homes to the original design but still updating them enough to have modern conveniences. Its much more complicated than people think to maintain the original design while updating common things like appliances, air conditioning, and plumbing. No one would want to stay in a beautiful house like that with so much character and lose it to thinks that make life easier. I can’t imagine the work that goes into it.

  5. Chelsea Patrick

    I found this article extremely interesting. I never knew that one could purchase a home through a magazine, through the mail, or anything of the sort. It also amazes me that there are three of these houses in a row in Melbourne!! What I’m most curious about is how these houses are built. Can you switch out walls or floors or window placements? Do these houses come in a package and the owner has to put them together? Or is it just a basic home that someone orders and contractors do the build out? Why was this popular and why was there a demand for quick pop-up homes like this? I guess most of my interest is with how and why and what are kit homes? I think it could be more affordable and interesting as a designer to create a home like this. I think that hrs history behind this is very interesting as well as the possibilities and uses for a home like this. This article provided great information and interesting insight on kit homes and the fascinating fact that we have some right around the corner.

  6. Kara Vonada

    I have always thought Kit Homes were very interesting. I didn’t know much about them before reading this article. The only company that produces kit homes I had ever heard of was Sears. What’s interesting to me is the fact that there are so many still around. The fact that they are made of wood and have survived the elements such as Hurricanes is just astonishing. I am very curious how the mail order homes were chosen. I imagine there were catalogs of the homes, but could you chose different types of materials for flooring, roofing, paint/wallpaper, etc. The idea of a kit home is truly amazing, I mean the fact that you can mass produce a home, send it out, and put it together all while staying in a budget and specific time frame. During the time these were created, it was perfect for families; considering everyone wanted to keep up with the Joneses. What I found to be extremely interesting about this article is that there are several Gordon-Van Tine Homes in the area. After reading a few responses, I realized there was a manufacturer and production branch in Mississippi. Which explains how these homes ended up in the Melbourne area. Purchasing a Kit Home would be super convenient, however I would be very nervous about purchasing a home through a catalog. You never know what it will actually look like, or if the home and products are of good quality. This would stress me out more than anything, I like to be aware of what I am purchasing before hand. Step by step, I would like to make sure my money is going towards something of great quality. This was a great article, which provided a lot of information of the production of kit homes. It would be interesting to see how you can renovate these structures. I would love to tour a few of these homes to compare layout, quality, etc.

  7. Michelle Musick

    I have always thought Kit Homes were very interesting. I didn’t know much about them before reading this article. The only company that produces kit homes I had ever heard of was Sears. What’s interesting to me is the fact that there are so many still around. The fact that they are made of wood and have survived the elements such as Hurricanes is just astonishing. I am very curious how the mail order homes were chosen. I imagine there were catalogs of the homes, but could you chose different types of materials for flooring, roofing, paint/wallpaper, etc. The idea of a kit home is truly amazing, I mean the fact that you can mass produce a home, send it out, and put it together all while staying in a budget and specific time frame. During the time these were created, it was perfect for families; considering everyone wanted to keep up with the Joneses. What I found to be extremely interesting about this article is that there are several Gordon-Van Tine Homes in the area. After reading a few responses, I realized there was a manufacturer and production branch in Mississippi. Which explains how these homes ended up in the Melbourne area. Purchasing a Kit Home would be super convenient, however I would be very nervous about purchasing a home through a catalog. You never know what it will actually look like, or if the home and products are of good quality. This would stress me out more than anything, I like to be aware of what I am purchasing beforehand.

  8. Jennifer Scites

    I found this article about kit homes to be very interesting. For many reasons, but mainly because I never knew such a thing like this existed. To be able to purchase a home through the mail or a magazine is unheard of. I did not know something like this was possible before reading this article. For its time, this does make since to me. I think they look like cute little houses from the pictures. I think it is amazing that we actually have these Kit homes right here in Brevard County and three of them are right next to each other. I wonder if there are even more that we don’t even know about. I wish that I could tour them, to get more of a feel as to what they are like, and what they have to offer as a house, in general. They must be made well, to be able to withstand hurricanes and the weather we have at times here in Florida. Though I find the concept intriguing and convenient, I do not believe I could in fact own a kit home. I like to see what I’m purchasing beforehand, especially something of this magnitude. I think I would be worried of the quality of the products I would be getting and just feel stressed about the whole thing. Overall I truly enjoyed reading this article, because it enlightened me on a subject I knew nothing about. It just adds to the history that Florida already has to offer.

  9. Jennifer Garcia

    It’s incredible the things you will find on the internet. For Mrs. Thornton and Mrs. Shoemaker to take time out of their day to email you to inform you of the Gordon Van Tine kit home was quite sweet of them. I read the other article too, and it’s so helpful to the owner as she tries to restore the home. It also proves how much more rare her home is, an actual Gordon Van Tine Kit home instead of a Sears home that even though rare now a days is still more common. Mrs. Thornton has obviously dedicated a lot of time to these homes and see’s there true beauty, not only has she dedicated 12 long years to finding these home but she’s actually traveled to see them first hand. She is obviously very devoted to the kit homes. As I was browsing to leave my comment I read Eddie Browder’s comment about how one of the homes may be up for the demolition! I find that very sad, such a rare and historic home and one that is accompanied by two others of its kind, that’s even more uncommon. It’s very unfortunate about the owners illness, dementia. I can understand his daughters concern about the liability but I cannot understand why she would not rather sale the rare kit home. In my opinion that should be her best decision, not only to conserve the Gordon Van Tine home but the neighborhood as well. I agree with Eddie and cannot reason why she would rather demolish the home instead of sale it.

  10. Tanya Flynn

    I find these homes very interesting, because growing up my mother has always had these home decorating magazines and in the back and sometimes throughout the magazine, there would be these sales articles on these kit homes, or at least some kit homes. I think that is what got me so interested in architecture and interior designing. I would always do these sketches as a kid, designing my own floor plans of homes and sometimes the interiors of diesel trucks. My aunt and uncle owned a trucking company and they received magazines with the floor plans drawn out and I would redesign my own plans, incorporating ideas from each into my own design. I am particularly fond of the GTV model Braddock, Bristol and Waterloo. I can’t decide which I like better, but I guess I like the long lines of the entryways that curve into a comforting welcome to all, and I also like the rounded tower looking entryway that reminds me of a castle, only smaller and more inviting. I am going to have to go drive around downtown Melbourne and see if I can spot these kit homes that made it affordable for most people to be able to live in a nice comfy home they can call there own. These kit homes are similar to mobile homes except that they are shipped with there materials and plans and built on site, in more of a square plot than a long linear rectangle that was brought in and set down. The cookie cutter homes that were built later in mass neighborhoods where they all looked exactly the same is the next step down from these homes, since they were sold sporadically throughout the country.

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