If the old saying “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” is true, then Jud Yoho should have been mighty flattered! Anyone who has spent any time poking around search engines looking for information on Craftsman bungalows has likely run across his name. Sadly, however, it’s a name which remains surprisingly unknown. Yoho was a successful (and agressive) self-promoting designer and builder of Craftsman style bungalows in Seattle, Washington, in the early twentieth century. Because of his mail-order plans, examples of his designs can be found across the United States and in Canada.
The Texas native’s designs were very popular; so popular that they were often imitated and published without credit by competing plan-book publishers. His work even caught the eye of Sears, Roebuck and Company which, to the company’s credit, compensated Yoho when they licensed the plans for his Design No. 325 and marketed them as a kit house named the Argyle. The Argyle, as it turned out, may have been the most successful of all of the many kit house offered by Sears! An earlier design offered by Yoho in 1912, Design No. 424, is somewhat more sophisticated and may have been the prototype for No. 325.
Yoho’s designs seemed to capture the essence of the Craftsman style in a way that few competitors could. While not as polished as Greene and Greene, his work was a lot more refined — and original — than what most builders were offering at the time. His houses were joyfully expressive, particularly when it came to masonry and roof details. His most adventurous designs played up the more exotic origins of the Craftsman aesthetic and at times paid homage to Japanese traditions. Much of his work had a naturalistic, even organic, aspect to it. His designs were all interesting, even the most mundane of them.
Sometime around 1911 Yoho teamed up with Edward L. Merritt and Merritt’s brother-in-law, Virgil Hall, to found Seattle’s Craftsman Bungalow Company. And the rest, as they say, is history…
So why isn’t the name of Jud Yoho more familiar? Good question! While he’s better-known now than twenty years ago, his work still remains surprisingly unknown outside of the Pacific Northwest. I’ll leave that mystery to the historians out there. For now, let’s take a look at some of the remarkable work produced by Yoho and, in later years, Yoho and Merritt. Unless otherwise noted, all images are courtesy of archive.org.