In addition to its popular J-6 kit house, the Harris Brothers Company of Chicago offered a slightly larger version which it called the J-16. This upgraded version was two feet wider and two feet longer. I recently ran across this example of the house on Zillow – it’s in Laramie, Wyoming, and currently on the market. It’s noteworthy because unlike the previous J-6 houses I’ve posted about, this one does not appear to have been buried in some form of replacement siding! However, it did not escape unscathed; if not for its iconic and stubby turret, the numerous alterations to both exterior and interior would have made it virtually unrecognizable. First we’ll take a look at period advertising depicting the house as it was marketed. Then we’ll follow up with the realtor’s photos showing how this particular example of a J-16 looks today…
This is how the J-6 and J-16 were intended to look. An open porch spans the width of the house and the turret hovers above two bay windows. Image source: archive.org
The floor plan shows a cased opening between the living and dining rooms. There are no built-ins in the dining room. The staircase has a straight run. Image source: archive.org
The extra two feet of width of the J-16 allowed for the later addition of another window on the second floor; the original window appears to have been replaced with a door opening onto a new deck above a wider-than-full-width enclosed porch. A colorful sunburst design has been added above the attic window.
The side elevation looks a little more familiar. Note how the deck balustrade veers to avoid a window on the turret. Window headers have been connected by a continuous piece of trim which is not original to the house. Image source: zillow.com
At first glance, this woodwork appears to be old. It’s not, however; this photo depicts the new entry in the enclosed porch. Much of the woodwork in the house appears to have been recently made. Image source: zillow.com
The former living room has been re-purposed as a billiard room! A modern interpretation of a colonnade takes the place of the original cased opening. The bay window has received a seat. Image source: zillow.com
The floor plan shows a single window centered in the back wall of the dining room. Today, a built-in buffet of recent origin spans the wall. Image source: zillow.com
The staircase sports recently made box newels and balusters. It has also gained a landing and turn of the steps. The original front door and adjacent small window were once where a picture and doorbell are now. The existing door is a later alteration and leads onto the part of the enclosed porch which goes beyond the side of the house. Image source: zillow.com
View of the turret’s side from the rooftop deck. Image source: zillow.com
The attic has been finished out and includes more new woodwork inspired by early twentieth-century examples. Image source: the listing on zillow.com where even more images of this house may be seen!