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.

Jud Yoho’s Design No. 418 is shown here as a scale model on a horse-drawn float in downtown Seattle, Washington in the early 20th century. For whatever reason, the fascia boards on this model are much wider than those of the actual house as designed, and are picked out in a harsh white.

Design No. 418 as intended. Much more harmonious than the model shown on the float above! The massive porch supports of river rock seem to grow from the earth like a tree and anchor the house to the ground.

One of Yoho’s “Airplane Bungalows”, so-named for a perceived resemblance to early aircraft. The angular ends of the rafter tails are noteworthy.

Thoroughly modern for the time, the lines of this house seem to anticipate the low-slung and gabled ranch houses of the 1960’s.

Many of Yoho’s houses feature rooflines with an exotic pitch at the gable peaks, reminiscent of architecture of the Far East.

Unusually imaginative porch supports echo the grid patterning found in the gable ends of this attractive house.

Another example of Yoho’s fondness for “battered”, or tapered, masonry — this example being very organic in nature.

Though described by Yoho as “The Aeroplane Type”, a Japanese influence is quite evident in this highly assertive design! The massive heft of the battered porch piers is admirable. Even the window box for flowers pays homage to the Japanese influence. Design No. 634.

Floor plan of Design No. 634.

Another fascinating design influenced by the architecture of the Far East; what a fun-looking house! Design No. 633.

Floor plan of Design No. 633.

Asymmetry is employed artfully here; it’s quite pleasing in this composition. Who wouldn’t love adjacent windows of different heights in their living room?

Though fairly modest in appearance, this design cost significantly more to build than others of similar size. It suggests quality rather than quantity.

This is Yoho’s Design No. 325 — the one which captivated Sears, Roebuck and Company! Marketed as the Argyle by Sears, it was one of their most popular kit houses.

Design No. 412 was the model Yoho himself lived in!

Yoho’s house as it appears today in Wallingford, an early Seattle suburb. Photo credit: Kuow Photo / Isolde Raftery

Jud Yoho.
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