I first admired this house in the late 1990’s when the photo above was taken; the house seemed well-maintained and the exterior paint was crisp and sharp… the colors were perfect for a two-story Craftsman. I wondered at the time if the colors weren’t like those that it had been painted in originally, but I never dreamed that I would one day find the answer.
Located in Russell, Kansas, the other memorable thing about the house (aside from its unaltered, authentic-looking exterior) was its very memorable address: 123 W. 4th Street! I was surprised to see the house pop up on Zillow recently… with the same paint that I remembered.
The real estate listing describes the house as a “Sears and Roebuck home” which it is not, but I did suspect that it could be a kit house by another company. It’s a common mistake people make with kit houses. No matter who produced the kit, over time fading memories invariably attribute them to Sears. With a little bit of digging I found what I was looking for… the house is an example of Wardway’s “Hampden”. While I haven’t verified this, I’m confident that this is a Wardway/GVT product.
Wardway, of course, was Montgomery Ward’s brand of kit house. The kits sold by Wards were actually manufactured by the Gordon Van-Tine Company and were virtually identical to the kits they sold under their own label. Marketed as the Hampden by Wardway and as Home No. 501 by Gordon Van-Tine, the houses were identical – except for the specified standard exterior paint colors!
The house we’re about to look at was built in reverse from the marketed plans (a common option offered by many kit house companies), so I’ve reversed some of the images so that they will better relate to this house as it was built. Let’s take a peek inside!