Thursday, July 2, 2015

Gordon Van Tine No. 560, 535, 536, Glencoe, or Roberts?

Gordon-Van Tine Testimonial House of E. C. Parsch: 2548 Kingston Avenue, Cleveland Heights, OH • 1925
(sorry about the Google map limitations for the photo)
It all started with a "testimonial" letter about this house.

And, it turned into a monumental genealogy search to figure out the Parsch family members of Ohio... led to a bit of a search into the life of Gordon-Van Tine (GVT)'s president, Edward C. Roberts... and ended up including a search for clarity on the actual name of this model (and its variations).

What Is This Model Called?
Let's start there.  What the heck IS the name of this GVT model? This house on Kingston Avenue does not have a side porch... but the earliest version of this model did have a big first-floor porch on the side. Then, within a year or so, a model was added that added a second-story "sleeping porch" on that side, as well. But, in the final listing of this model, it was shown in the catalog without any side porch.
A lovely version of the one-story porch model, at 501 S. Barnard Street (at the corner of W. Fairmount), State College, PA.
(I found this house thanks to a link found on our Gordon-Van Tine & Montgomery Ward Catalog Homes National Database, which was begun by Lara S. of Sears Homes of Chicagoland.  There are many more GVT and Wardway catalog homes out there, so we continue to plug away at adding homes to the database. This home is one of many catalog homes listed on the walking tour brochure for The Highlands Historic Neighborhood.)
All three of those versions had a different name--a number, really. But, the one-story-porch version went by four different numbers over a several-year period: 560, 2560 (if it was ready-cut), 1376 (if it was not ready-cut), and finally 536.  To add to the confusion there, the No. 560 name was assigned, then, to a bungalow. The bungalow retained the model number 560 for a few years, then marketed as 2553/1371, then was changed to the 901, and eventually became The Edison.

1916: The first year for this home (I believe) -- marketed as the No. 560. (click to enlarge)
 The 1916 Ready-Cut catalog, showing the one-story porch model, offered as No. 560.   This model was really glorified, as it was pointed out that the president of the Gordon-Van Tine Company, Edward C. Roberts, had chosen this model as his own home (in Davenport, IA). (Read my blog post, here, about whether or not he really lived there.)
Now... I'm not exactly sure in which years the house was marketed with the two numbers 2560 and 1376, but here they are. I found this on, in a listing for what they label as a 1918 catalog, but thanks to our good friend Lauren's great eye (she of Daily Bungalow ), we now know that catalog to be the 1919-3e-- which I also have. And, in that same catalog, the 2-story porch version (later called the No. 535) is offered as No. 2601 (ready cut), or No. 1391 (not ready cut).

(click to enlarge)

And... here is the bungalow No. 560!
From my 1920 GVT catalog:  This bungalow was listed as the No. 560, beginning in 1920, and continuing at least into 1923 (I've not seen a 1924 or 25 catalog.)
 It later became the No. 901, as seen in the 1926-27 catalogs, and changed to The Edison in 1929.
(According to this catalog page retrieved from, it was also briefly offered as the 2553/1371.)

From my 1926 and 27 catalogs: the No. 560 becomes the No. 901.
(click to enlarge)

From my 1929 catalog: the No. 901 becomes The Edison.
(click to enlarge)
The Two-Story Sunroom Model
The two-story-porch version came along early on, and is usually referred to as No. 535.  But, then an additional floor plan option was added, with some nice changes especially to the stairway and the second floor, and so the No. 535B option was added... for a few years.

Here is the debut (I believe) of the two-porch version, listed in my 1920 (1e) catalog as the No. 535.
This authenticated early No. 535 model is in Pittsfield, MA.  Town records give its build date as 1915, but that may be before the model was offered in catalogs by Gordon-Van Tine, so that date may be off by a year or so.
(You can read more about this "testimonial" No. 535 in this June 2015 blog post of mine.)
Here is our No. 535 model, as advertised in the 1926 & 27 catalogs, along with its new floor plan option, No. 535B.
(You can see a comparison of the two floor plans in that June 2015 blog post of mine, that I cited earlier.)

The No-Sunroom Model
Finally, around 1929 (I haven't seen a 1928 catalog), I believe we have the last appearance of this model, and, at least in my 1929 catalog, the only version shown (and shown for the first time), is the no-side-porch model. Finally, it gets a name, instead of a number: The Glencoe. The floorplan is not quite the No. 535, and not quite the No. 535B-- they continued to change around the staircase design, and the layout of the upstairs bedrooms, closets, and bath.  To see a comparison of the 535, 535B, and The Glencoe, you can go to my previously-mentioned June 2015 blog post.
And, here it is, in 1929 -- The Glencoe.
So, to summarize, I offer this chart. Consider the houses to be used simply to show the style of that model.  I'm not at all sure what model the catalog used when these houses were ordered.

NOTE: This is limited to the catalog years that I was able to search. I have not seen catalogs from the following years:
1915, 1917, 1924, 1925, 1928.
(Click to enlarge)

The Parsch Family of Ohio
In the 1929 GVT catalog, I ran across a "testimonial" for the no-porch model of this house. Interestingly, however, the build date of the testimonial house (the blue one shown at the top of the blog post) is 1925 -- a few years before I see an appearance of the home being marketed without porches. But, there it is, no porch on the side. 

Here's the "testimonial" that spurred my search for the home of E. C. Parsch, and my quest to clarify what the heck this model should be called.
I'll be following up with a new blog post, to tell more about the Parsch family of Ohio.  (Read that follow-up post HERE.)

To be continued....

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  1. Definitely my favourite is a white house..But all are very spacious

    1. Gosia, I love that white one, too. These are great homes!

  2. This model had a long run--whatever you want to call it--and there must have been hundreds built.

    By the way, are you familiar with the Sears "Lara" model? I arbitrarily gave the Sears Lexington a new name. ;)

    1. Haaaaaa haaaaaaaaa, Lara ;) And, on top of it, you can refer to both Lexington models that way!

  3. Do you think this was a variant of the 536? On the address is 529 Morris avenue, Morristown? Do you know of other builders who used similar designs?

    1. Hi Charlotte,
      I didn't find a 529 Morris Avenue on Zillow, but I found a 59 Morris Avenue in Morristown-- is that the home to which you were referring? I can certainly see some similarities, but I don't think that Gordon-Van Tine (or the other kit companies) did variations of a design. I think that the house would have to pretty much look just like the kit-company design, or not be one. Sometimes homeowners make changes over the years, but I don't think you'd have a whole house that has, say, one big window where the original kit design has a double or triple, or maybe a much wider footprint, or a very different look for the porch doorway. This beautiful house at 59 Morris is reminiscent of the GVT, but seems to be a bigger, more elaborately-designed home.

      There is a plan-book company by the name of C. L. Bowes, that published a design very similar to the GVT 535/536/560/Glencoe, but it looks more like the kit version than the Morristown house.

  4. Dale Wolicki, GordonVanTine.comAugust 20, 2016 at 11:32 PM

    Thank you for the credit on the GVT "Roberts" in State College Pennsylvania and I'll take the blame for the misnomer name. Years ago when driving around the country I would find these GVT Houses, but I could never remember the exact model name, so I would take a picture and write down the address and the name "Roberts" recalling the original GVT #560 the Roberts family built for themselves.

    1. Credit where due, of course!
      As for the nickname, I'll say that I do get a little tired, myself, of saying, "It's a 535 or 536 or 560 or... well... you know, one of those." Nicknames among friends, no problem (but, I do take issue with professionals calling these homes by that nickname, in a publication, without clarifying with the real name/number of the model.)


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