Some houses have a facade that only a mother could love. The HB J-6 is one of those houses, and yet, it was immensely popular kit home in the early 1910s. By 1916, Harris Brothers could boast that they’d already sold more than 1,000 of these kit homes.

There were six companies selling kit homes on a national level, and Harris Brothers was probably the least well known. (In addition to HB, there was Sears, Gordon Van Tine, Sterling, Aladdin and Lewis Brothers.

Harris Brothers (Chicago), started out life as a house-wrecking company. Today, we use another name to describe “house wrecking;” it’s “Architectural Salvage.”.

According 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 Harris Brothers issued their last mail-order pre-cut house catalog in 1931. From then until 1958, the company remained in business, selling millwork and building materials through mail order catalogs.

Harris Brothers had some really homely designs, such as this J-6. Even the names were blase.

Harris Brothers had some really "homely" designs, such as this J-6. Even the names were blase.



This HB house is in Camp Hill, PA and it's been "fixed up" with substitute sidings galore. You can just hear this poor old house asking, "Does this fake half-timbering make me look old?" However, note the distinctive turret with its two gable peaks. This is an easy house to pick out in a crowd! (This photo is copyright 2011, Rebecca Hunter and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)


Floorplan of the HB J-6.

Lots of people bought the J-6.

Lots of people bought the J-6.

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