Saturday, March 12, 2016

Gordon-Van Tine Cabot in Litchfield, Illinois

wardway mount vernon wardway mayflower
1601 State Street, Litchfield, Illinois • Gordon-Van Tine Cabot  (reverse floor plan, plan A)
Welcome to a blog post about a house model with so many names, that I have no idea what to call it.
The GVT Cabot, from the 1936 catalog.
Clipped side gables, sidelights around the door, and double full-size windows.
This house in Litchfield, Illinois, is not documented, but it really looks to be a model that was made by both Gordon-Van Tine and Wardway.  They shared plans -- showing identical images and floor plans in their catalogs, but with different names -- and GVT, in fact, produced the kits that Wardway sold, from 1922-1932 (my source for this, is information on the Arts & Crafts Society website).
arts & crafts society
From the Arts & Crafts Society website
And, both companies changed the model's name in different years (GVT: Cabot and Stratford, depending on the year; WARDWAY: Mount Vernon and Mayflower, depending on the year.), and also had two different floor plans, A and B.

The Other Similar GVT and Wardway Models
GVT also had a very similar version that had almost the same style porch roof, sidelights around the door, but... triple windows in the front (instead of double full-size windows), AND no clipped gables on the roof. I may be wrong, but I don't think that Wardway had a version of this one (I welcome a correction in the comments, if I am mistaken):

gordon van tine oxford
The GVT Chatham was known in some years as the Oxford.
Note the triple windows, and the peaked (not clipped) side gables.
(source )
But, wait! That's not all.

Both companies also offered a version that had no sidelights around the door, one big single window on each side in the front, clipped side gables on the roof, and a porch roof with more of a cornice return look.  GVT called it the Fairfield, or the Tremont, depending on the year:
gordon van tine tremont
The GVT Fairfield was called the Tremont in at least one other year.
... and Wardway called it the Priscilla:
wardway clone for gordon van tine fairfield or tremont
The Wardway Priscilla,
from the Daily Bungalow Flickr album of the 1926 Wardway catalog.
Starting in 1930, Wardway offered the exact same house (same floor plan, same details), but with one little change: double full-size windows in the front, instead of one big-size window. They called it the Potomac:
wardway priscilla sister
Of course, all of these were competitors to the big gun, with its very impressive porch roof, with its big, thick cornice returns: The Sears Crescent:
sears crescent
Sears Crescent, from the 1925 catalog. 
And, there were numerous other lookalikes, marketed by other kit companies and other plan-book-only companies.  If you're interested in seeing a big selection of those, check out this blog post of mine, that starts off with the presentation of a probable Sears Crescent in the St. Louis area.

In the mean time, take a look, in more detail, at what the various porch roofs looked like:
Of course, there were also some lovely, decorative elements that differed between the models' porch roofs, but, the sad reality is, that these many years later, very many of the beautiful porch roofs have been covered over with vinyl siding, and have lost those distinguishing decorative elements.

Getting Back to Our House in Litchfield
The (probable) GVT Cabot (that's just what I'm going with, but it could be a Wardway) in Litchfield, fits the footprint and window layout for the smaller floor plan, Plan A, though with a reversed floor plan (see where the fireplace chimney is-- opposite to the catalog side).  Plan A has a slight extension on the back of the fireplace side of the house, for one of the two bedrooms.  It is 32' deep on that side, 28' deep on the opposite side, and 36' wide:
wardway mount vernon mayflower lookalike
GVT Cabot A floorplan, as shown in the 1936 GVT Book of Homes catalog.  This house is listed on the Montgomery County Illinois assessor's website as having a 1935 build year (though build year information is sometimes wrong).
Thanks to Dale Haynes, resident of a Sears Roseberry in  Carlinville, Illinois, for this info from the Montgomery County (Illinois) assessor's website.
Let's take a look at the photos I took today of the house on State Street, in Litchfield. Notice how the number and placement of side windows, on each side of the house, match up to the floor plan diagram shown in the catalog, including the back of the house, with its back door that leads into the kitchen area:
wardway mount vernon
The side bedroom window is the one right over the second basement window.
wardway mount vernon
The lone, big window under the gable, is to the bedroom on that side.
You can also make out the kitchen door,
and the farthest window is to the kitchen, too.
The window to the right of the kitchen door, is one of a pair, in the 2nd bedroom. 
wardway mount vernon
The larger side window, toward the front, is for the dining room.
The two little windows are in the kitchen, probably over the sink.
The Plan B Layout & a GVT Cabot In Bristol, TN
wardway mount vernon
From the GVT 1936 catalog.
I thought I'd check our National Database of GVT and Wardway houses (it's significantly shorter than our Sears list), to see what other Cabot/Mount Vernon examples I might be able to show you. Here's a really nice example, from Bristol, Tennessee, because it still has its original front entryway porch roof and decorative touch over the doorway:
2405 Anderson Street, Bristol, Tennessee. It's not authenticated, but it sure looks good for a Plan B Cabot.
wardway mount vernon
The windows and large extension in the back, show us that this must be
a Plan B floor plan, with the addition of a screened-in porch, over a garage.
(Click to enlarge.)
But, wait! I just realized that this house, though it fits the size and layout of the GVT Cabot B, has detailing that looks rather like that Federal style detailing over the front door, that ONLY the GVT Chatham/Oxford has (and, remember, I don't think there is a Wardway equivalent).  And, there is no dentil decoration around the eaves of the front porch.  But, the house is not a Chatham/Oxford in any other way. The best I can say, is that we can rule out Wardway on this one, because Wardway has no front doorway ornamentation like this.
Well.... it looks similar... but, on closer inspection, it doesn't match the catalog decoration.
Maybe this house isn't either GVT or Wardway!

While In Litchfield: Ariston Café
Litchfield is a small town, with an exit right off of Highway 55, about an hour north east of St. Louis. If you go just a few blocks off of exit 52, you'll run into famous Route 66, and I highly suggest a stop at family-owned, historic, Ariston Café, right there on the corner, across from McDonald's. Ariston Café is thought to be the oldest restaurant on Route 66, and it's a good, old-fashioned spot, with typical, good quality old-fashioned menu items (you know, don't expect goat cheese-mushroom crêpes, with kale-and-edamame salad). It's a really nice break from the world of chain restaurants, even if it is located rather unceremoniously among the fast food restaurants and high-traffic businesses on that stretch of road right off of 55. But, it is, technically, on the corner of Route 66! And, it's only about 10 blocks from our little GVT Cabot.
From someone's interesting blog post about a trip to Litchfield, here. It includes
some nice inside shots of the restaurant, as well as more about the town.
Ariston's website explains that it began in 1924 in nearby Carlinville, Illinois -- and Sears House aficionados will remember that Carlinville is home to the largest concentration of Sears homes in the United States, with blocks full of homes that were built for employees of Standard Oil, in the late 19-teens. By 1935, it was settled into its present location in nearby Litchfield.
Good background from the Ariston Café website.
Click to enlarge.
I had a good time on my little day trip to Litchfield, and enjoyed seeing my first GVT Cabot... or Wardway Mount Vernon.

If you're interested in looking at the floor plans of any of the models mentioned in this post, you can find links to many of the Gordon-Van Tine and Wardway homes catalogs, on this page of my website. Enjoy!


  1. Glad I could help and I would go with the GVT Cabot just because it is closer to your last name. Btw I like the little blurb about the Ariston and Route 66. Although I never went there yet and I lived in Litchfield for years.

  2. Hi, Judith! Are you familiar with a plan book knockoff of the Cabot? I've seen a wider version and a version that appears to be the same width but has diff interior layout. I have no idea what they are, though.

    1. No, but I bet I've seen that one, too, and wondered the same thing. If you find out, let me know!


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