The William A. Radford Company of Chicago was one of the most recognized names in the plans-by-mail business in the early 20th century. Homes built from their plans can still be found in surprising numbers throughout the country. While perusing their Portfolio of Plans from 1909, I was struck by the number of designs that seemed a bit avant-garde for the day.
Mixed in with the expected Foursquares, Queen Anne Free Classics, and Craftsman bungalows were a handful of designs which were more overtly inspired by the Prairie School. Several of these just seem a bit odd.
I don’t know how many of these more unusual designs were actually ever built and I don’t recall having seen any in person before. I have seen plenty of their more conventional designs, however. Let’s take a look at some of their designs which might make you briefly feel as though you were living in a parallel universe. All images are courtesy of the fantastic Internet Archive:
If dissociative identity disorders can afflict structures, this former Folk Victorian house appears to be symptomatic. The wood-framed structure has had several changes to its exterior since first constructed, likely in the 1890’s. Portions of the house were clad with a brick veneer c. 1950. More recently, synthetic stucco has been used to cover the… Continue Reading
Probably built in the 1890’s, the Merit Building in downtown McCook, Nebraska, went through a radical interior remodeling in the 1960’s. The redesign converted the basement level into a mini-mall with numerous aluminum and glass storefronts. The ground floor remained retail and the second floor remained as office space – but each was updated… Continue Reading
Taking advantage of a sloping lot, the builder of a c. 1920 bungalow achieved 3 goals simultaneously with concrete block: A garage A retaining wall A level lot There is a door at the back of the garage which opens to the adjacent sidewalk. A set of steps leads to the house above. … Continue Reading
At first glance, this house appears to be a rather ordinary Craftsman style bungalow (aside from the 1960’s iron porch supports, vinyl siding and plastic shutters, that is). However, appearances can be deceiving. This “bungalow” is actually an addition to a much older house. The older house, also wrapped in vinyl, appears to be… Continue Reading