Was there a 1950's tv show in the US that sold blueprints for houses?
October 4, 2011 8:17 PM   Subscribe

Family legend states that my grandparents had their 1950's, smalltown Ohio house built from (adapted) blueprints they obtained by writing in to a television show. Is this possible? If so, which tv show, and is there any way I can get a copy of the blueprints?

It was always my impression that the television show existed just for this purpose, but I could be wrong. Crappy scanned pics of the actual house are here and here.
posted by unknowncommand to Grab Bag (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Kit houses, also known as mail order or catalogue houses, lasted into the early 1980s. It is possible that your grandparents had a local tv program that went over kit house plans or maybe it was an ad. The following site has a few links for identifying kit houses

As for identifying the TV show, maybe you could try finding out what channels they got in that time period and then figure out what show your local stations might have had. There may be a local historian for the ABC/NBC/CBS affiliate.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 9:03 PM on October 4, 2011

A kit house actually comes with parts. Blueprints, however, are pretty well legion, and have been since the 19th century. My local paper has a syndicated blueprint service that runs a different house plan in the "home" section every week. Some 90% of American houses are built without the assistance of an architect.

Here's an example of a competition from 1945-46 called Georgia Builds. It is simple, contemporary architecture that has much in common with the house you showed us.

As to which television show, the 1950s was littered with game shows and heavily-involved sponsorship of other programming. It's entirely possible that house plans and blueprints were part of some type of giveaway or promotion.
posted by dhartung at 12:02 AM on October 5, 2011

I would start by finding out exactly when the house was built through the local municipality or county; there are many routes to this information. Although its doubtful the public sector retained any records, it might be worth asking at P&Z or code enforcement. However, this is a quirky enough scenario that there might have been an article in the local paper. Perhaps a local reference librarian or, if it still exists, the newspaper's morgue room staff can help.
posted by carmicha at 4:34 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

I remember in the 1960's and 70's the now-defunct Jim Walter homes sponsored a number of TV shows. They did not sell blueprints but would build to varying levels of completion on land you owned with good financing rates. Could something like that be what your grandparents did?
posted by TedW at 7:21 AM on October 5, 2011

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