It’s no wonder that the Chicago House Wrecking Company changed its name to “Harris Brothers” after it started selling kit houses; the name just doesn’t conjure up a sense of permanence!  Beginning as a salvage operation in 1893, Chicago House Wrecking later began selling mail-order house plans as well as complete kit houses ready to construct.  The name change took place in 1913.  I’m not sure when Design No. 160 was first offered, but it does appear in the Chicago Wrecking Company’s 1910 catalog.  I spotted an example last fall (built in reverse from the catalog illustration) in St. Francis, Kansas.

The catalog describes the house as a “bungalow which is original and correct in every detail.”  Further, “Its well broken lines, porch construction and tower, give it an individuality that is rarely met with in bungalow designs.”  The kit afforded the opportunity for some choice of finishes:  “…it will look extremely well with shingles, cement veneer or siding; either will make a happy combination.”  The builder of this house in Kansas opted for siding.

Like many of their designs, this house reflects the transitional nature of early twentieth-century design and was intended to appeal to the masses.  The front suggests the then- and now-fashionable Craftsman aesthetic while the side – with its abbreviated “tower” – evokes a bit of the faded Queen Anne style which was still in vogue in rural areas.  Fashion and current tastes aside, everyone loves a tower (even if it really is just a bay window with a low-pitched and faceted conical roof)!


Rendering of the house as it appears in the Chicago House Wrecking Company’s 1913 catalog. Image courtesy of


Floor plan. Image courtesy of


The text is a joy to read! The $826.00 price (for all the materials and plans to build this house) should be a giant, waving, red flag as to just how much value the dollar has lost in the past century.  Image courtesy of


Built in reverse from the house depicted above, this house also differs in porch construction. Stone-faced concrete block was used for porch supports and the low wall was eliminated.  409 E. Webster Street, St. Francis, Kansas.

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