Harris Brothers was a Chicago-based kit home company that started out life as a house-wrecking company. Today, we use another name to describe this line of work; something a little more delicate and environmentally friendly, like “Architectural Salvage.”
Of the six national companies, selling kit homes through mail-order catalogs, Harris Brothers was probably the least-well known.
According to fellow researcher Rebecca Hunter, Harris Brothers got their start when they were awarded contracts to demolish exhibitions at the 1893 World’s Fair (also known as The Chicago World’s Fair). That same year, they were first incorporated as The Chicago House Wrecking Company. In 1913, they changed their name and their image: Harris Brothers.
Rebecca‘s research shows that their last mail-order pre-cut house catalog was issued in 1931. From then until 1958, the company remained in business, selling millwork and building materials through mail order catalogs.
Identifying Harris Brothers’ homes is especially difficult because so many of these designs were also offered in popular building magazines and also in planbooks. Outside of the Midwest, one has to be especially careful because it’s virtually impossible to tell – from the exterior – if a house is a Harris Brothers’ kit home, or a house ordered from another source.
To learn more about how to identify kit homes, click here.
To learn more about Rose, click here.
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