Recently I discovered a plan book of houses published by C. L. Bowes of Hinsdale, Illinois, which was copyrighted in 1926. Within its pages was a dead-ringer for the “Rodessa” by Sears. Marketed with the nondescript name of Design 14155-A, this copy-cat design varies only slightly from the Rodessa kit house, which was first offered by Sears in 1919. Given the vast amount of plan-copying going on in the industry at the time, I have to leave open the possibility that even Sears itself may not have originated the design; I have not looked into that yet. Let’s compare the two designs:
This is Design 14155-A as it appears in the 1926 plan book published by C. L. Bowes entitled “Plans for Your Home”. The roof lacks the Jerkinhead gables of the Rodessa but includes stylized Craftsman brackets beneath the eaves. Image courtesy of archive.org.
The “Rodessa” by Sears shows more refinement including Jerkinhead gables, shaped fascia tails, decorative rafter ends which “perforate” the fascias and 12-pane top sashes. Both designs sport trellises between the porch columns. Image courtesy of archive.org.
The floor plan of Design 14155-A is similar, but not identical, to that of the Rodessa. Image courtesy of archive.org.
The Rodessa was offered in two different floor plans – with and without a bathroom, presumably to appeal to both urban and rural customers. Image courtesy of archive.org.
In a comment below, Lara links to this photo – a similar house she discovered in Illinois. Is it a Rodessa or a knock-off? I believe that this house is likely a knock-off from a plan book other than the one by Bowes for the following reasons: 1) The roof has Jerkinhead gables (and they are smaller than those of the Rodessa). 2) The porch has pilasters adjacent to each front window – a detail not found on the other two designs. 3) The fascia boards above the porch have decorative rafter ends attached similar to those on the Rodessa but there are four of them instead of three. 4) The column spacing here is wider than that of the two designs above. So, that leaves us with two possibilities: The house could be a customized version of either the Rodessa or the Bowes plan – or it could have been built from an entirely different plan which has not yet come to light. Given the great popularity of the Rodessa, I think that there is a good chance that the latter is probable.