Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Small House Designs from the Architectural Guild of Indianapolis

The popularity in the United States of mail order house kits and plans from companies such as Sear's, Roebuck and Company, Stickley, and the Aladdin Company prompted architects to create organizations that addressed the need for good design in small, modest houses. These catalogs enabled homeowners to order a house design inexpensively and, in the case of Sear's, one could order the entire house kit which would just need to be put together. It sounds a lot like IKEA shopping, only on a much larger scale.

Architects felt the popularity of mail order house plans encroaching on their profession and considered the house designs produced by these coporations as inferior to those made by trained architects. To address these issues, architects formed organizations that catered to average people who needed to build small houses and couldn't afford the traditional architect's fees. Nationally,the American Institute of Architects (A.I.A.) created the Architects' Small House Service Bureau (ASHSB), which was based in Minneapolis. Locally, we had the Architectural Guild of Indianapolis, which was led by some of the leading architects in the city.

This undated brochure from the early 1940s depicts three Guild designs: "The Cottage Beautiful" by the firm Pierre & Wright, "The Little Homestead" by architects M. Carlton Smith and Virgil C. Hoagland, and "The Ranch House" by architect Frederick Wallick. The ideal convergence of good design and value is stressed on nearly every page.

These houses were likely built in Indianapolis, or in neighboring communities. Do you recognize any of the three houses in your neighborhood?

Images: Three New Guild Homes, ca. 1940. (34-9) Fran E. Schroeder Architectural Records Collection. Drawings + Documents Archive, Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries.

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