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A Home in a Box

A Home in a Box

Pasadena Craftsman

I was just reading Petrea Burchard’s post about a Pasadena bungalow that she photographed and was reflecting on the fascination that many of us have over these beautiful bungalows that make Pasadena so special.

What draws us to these homes?  Is it because they were so affordable and yet so beautiful?  Most of the homes in the Bungalow Heaven historic landmark district literally came out of the box.  In the early 1900s, you could buy a bungalow kit from Sears Roebuck if you lived on the East coast or on the West coast from The Ready Cut Bungalow Company.  These bungalow kit homes were priced from as little as $650.  Of course, the owners needed to throw in an extra $150 towards plumbing fixtures and a lot of sweat labor.

Or, is it because a lot of these Pasadena bungalows, also known as, California Bungalows, were built in the early 1900 when the Pasadena population was growing at an enormously fast rate?  Pasadena’s Bungalow Heaven saw its population quadruple to 45,000 in 1920 from 10,000 in 1900.

I think that our love for the Pasadena bungalow is simply due to the simplicity and beauty of the bungalows design – kit or no kit.

So what is a Bungalow kit home?

Rosemary Thornton, co-author of the book about kit houses answers:


“Kit homes were sold via mail order catalogs and shipped to the wanna-be homeowner in about 10,000 pieces. These complex do-it-yourself kits came with a 75-page instruction book that told you how all those pieces went together. Kit home companies promised that a man “of average abilities” could build his own kit home in about 30-90 days.”


Can you imagine ordering your home on-line and then having to go through a 75-page manual and 10,000 separate pieces to put it together?  To me, that is a monumental achievement! 

So maybe, it’s not only the charm of these Pasadena bungalows that have us enthralled, but the love and strength that it took to build them, to achieve that ultimate dream – a dream of homeownership, that keeps us in awe.

PS The photo above is a home on Holliston Avenue in Historic Highlands.  It is not a kit box house.  I just think it is one of the more beautiful craftsman homes in Pasadena.  I’ve taken the liberty to post it here.  I will be posting photos of California Bungalow homes in this post later. 

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Posted on August 26th, 2008
Posted in Pasadena
Posted by: Irina Netchaev

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