Kit Houses

Chronology 6 A Plan Plus G. Barber


New Model Dwellings, 1896, Design No. 65, George Barber


Emulating George Palliser’s mail-order plan concept, Knoxville, Tennessee, architect George F. Barber produced the Cottage Souvenir catalog series beginning in 1887. Barber’s catalogs included price lists and order forms for plans, an estimate of the cost of materials, and sometimes featured a photograph of a completed house.  Over two decades, Barber’s firm of thirty draftsmen produced more than 800 designs and sold about 20,000 sets of plans. There is some evidence that the company occasionally crated and shipped construction materials and other elements like staircases, windows, and doors to the site—a harbinger of the kit house phenomenon to come. Barber’s clients represented the growing middle class that would patronize the kit house companies in the early 1900s.