209 Caspers approved for Edmonds Historic Register

By Tim Raetzloff | Oct 27, 2017
Photo by: Brian Soergel The house at 209 Caspers St. in Edmonds is now on the Edmonds Historic Register.

On Oct. 17 the Edmonds City Council approved the addition of 209 Caspers St. to the Edmonds Historic Register. The Edmonds Historic Preservation Commission had recommended the addition at its monthly meeting on Sept. 14.

The house was built in 1922, and is unique in that it was from a kit. One hundred years ago you could order a house out of a catalog. Sears and Montgomery Ward were the best-known kit home sellers, but they were only two of many.

According to Wikipedia, more than 100,000 kit homes were built in the U.S. between 1908 and 1940. Kit houses varied from small modest homes to large, impressive houses. Walt Disney and his brother, Roy, built two kit houses for themselves in 1928. Buster Keaton made a movie about building a kit house and getting it all wrong.

209 Caspers was a Montgomery Ward kit, which was manufactured at the Gordon-Van Tine mill in Chehalis, shipped by rail to the Edmonds depot and then hauled to the construction site by wagon or truck. From 10,000 to 30,000 separate parts made up the home and would have taken one or two boxcars to carry.

All of the parts of a kit house were labeled. Some assembly was required. The claim at the time was that a kit house could be built more cheaply, used fewer resources and had less waste.

According to photos from that era, the corner of Third Avenue North and Caspers was already paved at the time.

Eric Livingston, vice-chair of the Edmonds Historic Preservation Commission, completed much of the research about kit homes in general, Montgomery Ward homes in particular, and this home specifically. Unfortunately, Eric didn't get a chance to see the final approval – he died the week before.

The mission of the Edmonds Historic Preservation Commission is to promote historic preservation and encourage the owners of historically significant properties to voluntarily add them to the Edmonds Register of Historic Places in order to raise awareness and appreciation of local history.
The major responsibilities of the Edmonds Historic Preservation Commission are as follows:

  • To identify and actively encourage the conservation of the city’s historic resources by initiating and maintaining a register of historic places and reviewing proposed changes to register properties;
  • To raise community awareness of the city’s history and historic resources; and,
  • To serve as the city’s primary resource in historic planning and preservation.

Tim Raetzloff, who writes the Taking Stock column for the Edmonds Beacon, is chairman of the Historic Preservation Committee.

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