Kit Houses

E. F. Hodgson Block 1

E.F. Hodgson Company, 1917. Courtesy of Internet Archive.

Which came first, the chicken coop or the house? In the case of E.F. Hodgson Company, it was two lines of chicken brooders, the Peep o’ Days and Wigwarms, launched in 1892. The success of this venture was so great that the company added other agricultural buildings, children’s playhouses, dog kennels, birdhouses, and, when the automobile culture took hold, “auto stables,” or garages. By 1904, the company had expanded to summer cottages and houses.

Located in the small agricultural community of Dover, Massachusetts, the company competed with kit house catalog heavyweights Sears, Roebuck & Co. and Montgomery Ward but offered a distinctly different product. Its assembly line produced sectional houses constructed of six- to ten-foot wall panels that could be ordered with an array of window and door arrangements. The panels were shipped to the site and bolted together at the corners between vertical timbers with a key bolt.