Monday, February 1, 2016

Lewis Homes in Webster Groves and Ferguson, Missouri

testimonial lewis marlboro
498 W. Lockwood Avenue, Webster Groves, Missouri • 1923 • Authenticated Lewis Homes Marlboro
We have a Lewis Homes testimonial house right here in St. Louis -- in the lovely old town of Webster Groves.

Lewis Homes was a rival kit-home company to Sears, Aladdin, Wardway, Harris Brothers, and Gordon-Van Tine.  In the early to mid 1920s, they seemed to specialize in spacious, solid colonial homes.  One of their largest models was the Marlboro.  A friend of ours, over at Daily Bungalow and Antique Home, recently bought a 1925 Lewis Homes catalog, and shared with us its one single page of testimonials from happy buyers.  Among those, was Frederick M. Henry, of Webster Groves, and this is his beautiful, creamy yellow Marlboro.

Published in the 1925 Lewis Homes Of Character catalog of homes.
I know that some folks think of "Sears Homes" (as all kit homes are sometimes generically referred to-- quite erroneously) as very modest little bungalows, but, let me tell you... no. There are some gracious, stately, very large, very solid, high-quality homes that came as kits... with all of the lumber pre-cut and labeled for ease of construction, all arriving in a series of huge packages, including every little thing you needed to put it together. But, I have learned, that, though some owners had a hand in actually constructing their own kit homes, many of the Lewis Homes of the 1920s were marketed by local Lewis Homes representatives, who advertised that they would arrange every bit of your purchase and construction for you.  It all came as a kit, but you didn't have to figure out much more than where to sign on the dotted line.

lewis catalog image marlboro
The Marlboro as seen in the Lewis Homes of Character 1922 catalog, here.
st louis marlboro webster groves
The Marlboro boasts a wonderful first-floor sun room, seen on the left end of the house here.
Once again, it was thanks to the tip from fellow researcher Andrew Mutch, of Kit House Hunters, that I learned of this testimonial.  Andrew messaged me to come see the Webster Groves testimonial, and then, before I could finish signing in to my account, he had already found Frederick M. Henry's address on W. Lockwood.  And, again, I rolled my eyes and snickered, realizing that I pass this house allllllll the time, and I have looked at it many, many times-- at first, because its lines always made me think of the (smaller) Sears Montrose.   In fact, I drove right past it on my way into Webster Groves, the day last summer when I ran across that Gordon-Van Tine No. 535.

click to enlarge any image
All I can tell you about Frederick M. Henry, is that the 1930 census tells us that he lived here on West Lockwood with his wife, Helene, and their five children.  He listed their home as being worth $20,000, and he worked for a wholesale shoe company.  I would have wagered that it would have been Brown Shoe Company, the makers of those cute little Buster Brown Shoes we all wore as kids, because they were a big shoe company in St. Louis for decades.  Their corporate offices are still in Clayton, Missouri (though they've re-branded to be called Caleres), another beautiful suburb of St. Louis, which happens to be where the Henry family was renting, before moving into their lovely Lewis home.  However, a 1931 city directory tells us that Mr. Henry was Secretary-Treasurer for a rival shoe company, Johansen Brothers Shoes, based in St. Louis since 1876.
The Henry family in the 1930 census.
brown shoe company
Buster Brown Shoes! (Source)
1929 newspaper ad for johansen bros shoe co
Ad from a 1929 newspaper (source).
I know that the Henry family was still in their Webster Groves home in 1935, but the 1940 census shows them living in small-town Sedalia, Missouri, renting, again, and in much smaller accommodations.  Frederick was only in his mid 50s, so I fear that the Great Depression may have impacted their lives. He is listed as working as a government worker.  I wonder if he was doing CCC or some other government-subsidized work.

Here are a few more views of the Lewis Marlboro at 498 W. Lockwood Avenue.  It sits up on a high slope, so that accounts for the angle of my shots.

webster groves lewis marlboro testimonial
webster groves lewis marlboro testimonial
webster groves lewis marlboro testimonial
webster groves lewis marlboro testimonial

A Lewis Homes Winthrop in Ferguson, Missouri
Before learning of the Lewis Marlboro in Webster Groves, I ran across some information about historic homes in Ferguson, Missouri, and found mention of a Lewis Home there.  I found, online, a copy of a 2012 application for consideration for inclusion of several Ferguson homes on the National Register of Historic Places.  The document listed 24 Miller Place as having a 1925 building permit listing Lewis Manufacturing Company as the designer of the home.

application for nrhp

Here is that house:

Using the catalogs I had access to, I was having trouble pinning down what model this house would be.  Side windows weren't matching up to anything, and I needed to find a house with just those two sets of double windows in the upper front dormer.  But, once again, our friend at Daily Bungalow & Antique Home, looked more closely at her 1925 catalog and found that the Winthrop model had a second floor plan option --Plan B-- which fit this one nicely!

lewis homes winthrop model
You can see that the standard Winthrop model has a small center window
on the upper dormer... but, if you look closely at floor plan B, you'll see
that the little center window is not included in that floor plan.  
The Ferguson Winthrop also has an enclosed front porch, and the fireplace
is on the other side of the house. 
Looking at the Plan B layout, you can see the triple window on the left side of the house,
in the living room, and the two separated bedroom windows upstairs on that side.
(Courtesy of Lauren Russell, Daily Bungalow)
I've been doing a little bit of research on Lewis Homes of late, and have more to offer in another blog.  Hope you'll join me to see what I've found.

More Kit Homes in Webster Groves, Missouri
If you're interested in more kit homes in Webster Groves, check out these previous blog posts:
More St. Louis area Sears homes (in Glendale, Kirkwood, Jennings, Overland, and St. Louis City), can be found by using the SEARCH function on the right-hand side of my blog.

More Lewis Homes In the U.S.

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  1. Great looking house! It's a nice addition to the list of houses you've been able to authenticate in Webster Groves!

  2. My family homestead in Middletown, PA looks like this model, but the original owners added an additional sunroom on the kitchen side of the home as well, making it symmetrical. They also used another center section of the house (meaning no sunrooms) as a detached three-car garage, with second floor apartment.

  3. That's my house the one in Ferguson

  4. My house the one in the photo in Ferguson my father enclosed the front porch in the mid 60's and the house never had a fireplace


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