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:
A bold pattern distinguishes the capitals of these boxy porch supports. The corner fireplaces seem to be a Victorian-era holdout.
Diamond paned sash, a favorite in the Arts and Crafts movement, offers interesting contrast to the banded walls. I love the dining room design and its position at the center of the plan.
This eclectic design incorporates shaped parapet walls, half-timbering and a Prairie style porch.
I just can’t imagine this house surviving without being heavily altered. Not many small houses have such large living rooms – I like it!
Another very eclectic design – the tapered eaves foreshadow rooflines of the 50’s and 60’s.
Everything about his house is odd. While the form is somewhat modern, the detailing is not. Something for everyone, I guess. The roof looks like it would be very prone to leaks.
This one looks a bit like a mausoleum, but I like the plan. It’s odd to see a one-bedroom house with a huge pantry!