What do swastikas and and Pacific Ready Cut Homes have in common?

First, a little background:  In the early 1900s, Pacific Ready-Cut Homes was a Los Angeles-based company that milled, manufactured and shipped kit homes out of their 24-acre mill in Los Angeles. During their 32 years in the kit home business, they sold about 40,000 kit homes. For a regional kit home company, that’s a phenomenal number. By contrast, Sears sold about 70,000 kit homes throughout the country during the same time period (1908-1940).

Today, thousands of Pacific Ready Cut Homes can be found in countless Los Angeles neighborhoods, such as Whittier, Anaheim, El Segundo, Fullerton, and even Beverly Hills and Catalina Island. Entire blocks of Pacific Ready Cut Homes form some neighborhoods, such as south Central Los Angeles. In short, this was a booming business that sold bunches of bungalows throughout California.

The business, founded by William Butte, took a shift in 1929 when his son (Meyers) convinced his father that they should add a new product line to their ready-cut houses: Surfboards. The first boards made by Pacific Ready Cut Homes were made of Redwood, measuring 10′ long and weighing a hefty 70 pounds. Yes, 70 pounds.

The company chose a simple logo for their surfboards that, according to Eastern philosophies, denoted peace and prosperity: The swastika. When Hitler’s atrocities became world headlines in 1938, the swastika disappeared from Pacific Homes’ surfboards and they adopted a new name: Waikiki Surfobards.

In 1940, Pacific Homes got out of the housing building business but continued to build surfboards into the first years of the World War 2.

To read about Wardway Kit Homes, click here.

To buy Rose and Dale’s newest book on Wardway Homes, click here.

Buy Rose and Dale’s book on Pacific Ready-cut Homes here.

Read full article from Los Angeles Times here.

1919 Pacific Ready Cut Homes catalog

1919 Pacific Ready Cut Homes catalog

Image from the 1925 Pacific Ready-cut Homes catalog

Image from the 1925 Pacific Ready-cut Homes catalog

An image from the 1925 Pacific Ready Cut Homes catalog

An image from the 1925 Pacific Ready Cut Homes catalog

In Pasadena, this Pacific Ready-cut home looks much like it did when built in the early 1920s.

In Pasadena, this Pacific Ready-cut home looks much like it did when built in the early 1920s.

An image from the 1925 Pacific Ready Cut Homes catalog shows how many pieces and parts came with your mail-order house.

An image from the 1925 Pacific Ready Cut Homes catalog shows how many pieces and parts came with your mail-order house.

This Los Angeles-based company sold about 40,000 kit homes during their 32 years in the kit home business. Dale and I made several trips to the West Coast to hunt for real-life examples of Pacific Ready Cut Homes and found entire neighborhoods populated with these darling bungalows.

Nationwide, we’ve found that 90% of the people living in kit homes did not know what they had until we knocked on their door and told them. In the case of Pacific Ready Cut Homes, that number was closer to 100%. In fact, I don’t remember finding one person that knew what they had.

In June 2006, the Los Angeles Times did a feature story (front page in a Sunday paper!) on our work on Pacific Ready Cut Homes and slowly but surely, people are learning more about this fascinating chapter of California’s architectural history. Dale and I have published a book on Pacific Ready Cut Homes and it includes a full reprint of the 1926 Pacific Ready Cut Homes catalog.