Bembridge House in Long Beach is thought to be a designed by Gordon Van Tine, as a kit house. “There are quite a few kit homes in Wilmore City”, according to Long Beach Historical Society’s Karen Clemens.
Gordon Van Tine was focused on creating a market for its building materials, ready cut houses, and kit homes. The company was established in 1906 as a building materials distributor in Davenport, Iowa.
Pacific Ready Cut Homes based in California is believed to be the manufacture of Richard Nixon’s birthplace, as well as the 1928 homes of Walt Disney and his brother Roy. The houses, on Lyric Avenue in Silver Lake, walking distance to the studio are still there.
On Route 66, Standard Oil of Indiana made mail-order history in 1918 when they placed a $1 million order with Sears Roebuck & Company for 192 Honor-Bilt® homes. It was purported to be the largest order in the history of the Sears Modern Homes department. Standard Oil purchased the houses for their workers in Carlinville, Wood River, and Schoper in southwestern Illinois. Of those 192 houses, 156 went to Carlinville, 12 were built in Schoper, and 24 were sent to Wood River. Back then, mail order was today’s equivalent of buying on-line.
Los Angeles-based Pacific Ready-Cut Homes Inc. — once the biggest home builder in the West — dominated the pre-cut market in Southern California during the company's pre-Depression peak. Eight decades later, many Pacific Ready-Cut houses still stand in. In most cases, not even the current owners know they are living in a kit home. From 1908 to 1940, Pacific Ready-Cut sold 37,000 ready-to-assemble homes based on 1,800 plans.
Like the Sears houses, Pacific Ready-Cut's kit homes arrived via boxcar. The 12,000 pieces included lumber, nails, doors, windows, screens, hardware, paint and a thick instruction manual. Homeowners spent about a month building the houses with help from relatives.