Thursday, February 15, 2018

McClure #3063 in Ypsilanti Township, Michigan

Image courtesy of the
Bentley Historical Library
If you have done any amount of research into kit houses, you're probably familiar with the big names in the kit house business - the three Chicago-based companies: Sears, Wardway (Montgomery Ward) and Harris Brothers and the three Bay City, Michigan companies: Aladdin, Lewis and Sterling and Davenport, Iowa based Gordon-Van Tine.  But there were a number of smaller, regional players in the kit house business too including companies like Bennett Homes out of North Tonawanda, New York and the McClure Company of Saginaw, Michigan. Most people have never heard of these smaller companies. But examples of homes from these companies can be found in communities across the country. While there's a fair amount of information about Bennett Homes available online, there's very little documented about the McClure company. To help fill that gap, I'm going to do a series of posts sharing examples of authenticated houses from McClure to help you identify examples in your hometown! Let's take a look!

The first example from McClure is a #3063 located in Ypsilanti Township, Michigan. I located this house by researching mortgages at the Bentley Historical Library. When I first started researching the mortgages in the records of the Washtenaw Abstract Company, I wasn't even aware of the McClure Company. It was only after I had searched a number of volumes at the Bentley that I happened to come across information about McClure homes in Cheverly, Maryland while doing some online research on Sears houses. The folks in Cheverly had done the same kind of research into kit house mortgages as I was doing. Through their research, they were able to identify and authenticate a couple dozen Sears houses built in Cheverly. But they also discovered mortgages for houses ordered from the McClure Company of Saginaw, Michigan. 

Catalog image of McClure #3063
From a Private Collection
May not be used or reproduced without the written permission of the owner
Even though I live in Michigan, I had never heard of McClure. I wondered "Are there McClure mortgages in the Washtenaw County records?" It turns out there are quite a few! In fact, after going back through the volumes I had already searched for Sears and Wardway mortgages, I found over 25 mortgages for McClure houses just in Ann Arbor! But as exciting as it was to find all those examples of McClure homes in Ann Arbor, I soon discovered it was slim pickings elsewhere in the county. I found only one McClure mortgage outside Ann Arbor - this house in Ypsilanti Township, Michigan. 

324 N Clubview - Ypsilanti, Michigan - McClure #3063
Image courtesy of Ypsilanti Township, Michigan
As you can see from this photo of the house, this McClure #3063 matches up very well with the catalog image of the house (and how helpful of McClure to include the model number as the "address" for the catalog image house!) That distinctive porch design is a perfect match and the placement of the windows match as well. While many of the McClure models are modest story and story and a half bungalow style homes, McClure also sold larger two story Dutch Colonial and Colonial-style houses like the #3063. 

Here's the floor plan for the house. You can see in the photo of the house that the porch on the left side of the house has been enclosed. 

Floor plan of McClure #3063
From a Private Collection
May not be used or reproduced without written permission of owner
The Bentley Historical Library has a large collection of information related to the McClure Company, which I discovered while trying to learn more about the company. But after sorting through boxes of material related to the company's operation, it became apparent that very little of it is related to their kit house business. They only have a single catalog of homes designs and this house is not in that catalog. Instead, this catalog image comes from the private collection of a prominent kit house researcher who let me scan the handful of McClure catalog images he had of homes that were not in the catalog at the Bentley. Even between these two sources, I haven't been able to track down all of the house designs that McClure sold. But in this case, we have one that's a match! 

To date, this is the only known example of this house. But McClure sold houses for a number of years so there's likely more examples of this model in the world. With that distinctive porch and hipped roof design, this one should be easy to spot. If you think you've found an example of the McClure #3063 (or any other kit house), share it with us in the comments!

1 comment:

  1. I'm looking forward to more in this series. Maybe there are a few near me!