Every so often, while reading the daily newspapers and/or browsing local news sites, we come across a story that piques our interest and we feel the need to share it with all of our friends. Here on theoldfathergroup.com, that means sharing it with all of you.
And we saw a story on www.delmarvanow.com that certainly falls into that category. The subject matter did not surprise us, but some of the specifics definitely did.
In fact, Rae Tyson’s story on coastal Delaware’s catalog homes was so intriguing that we thought you’d enjoy a summary of what was really an incredibly interesting piece of journalism.
If not for this story, even we would not be aware that many of the homes the writer profiled were, in fact, ordered from a catalog. I mean, if they don’t come up for sale, we’d have no reason to do research on each of these homes individually.
But now when we drive by the Blue Moon on Baltimore Avenue, or any of the other structures mentioned in the story, we won’t be looking at them in quite the same way. In our view, it just adds a little more history to what is already a very historical area of the country.
Now, regarding that history. For many of you reading this - at least millennials who were born in the “Age of the Internet” - you may be wondering exactly what a catalog home is. It’s likely a foreign concept for you, so let us explain.
Before computers and cell phones became commonplace in America, people generally thumbed through catalogs, which were really just large magazines, found what they wanted and then used house phones to call in their orders. The item was then delivered to a person's doorstep in a few days.
During the World War I generation, many people even ordered their homes this way – or at least kits to build their own homes, complete with step-by-step instructions. And these were obviously structures made of high quality materials. I mean, the fact that many of them are still around a century later can attest to that, right?
Watch this fascinating 3 minute video on the one-time popularity of these "mail order" homes.
According to the online story, more than 200,000 catalog homes were sold in the United States between 1900 and 1941. These are spread throughout the country and were sold in varying shapes and sizes, though most of the ones in coastal Delaware were modest sized homes that were used as summertime cottages, long before the rapid growth of the Delaware beach area.
Which made us think…
Here at the Oldfather Group, many of the homes we list these days are located at or near the Delaware shoreline and can cost in the high six figures or even seven figures depending on the location. But it’s nice to look back to a simpler time every so often and remember how things used to be in the area we today call home.
It really wasn’t so long ago that people didn’t want to live near the beach, fearing the seasonal storms and nor’easters that the Atlantic coast is often known for. They preferred to be inland where the threats of heavy rains and flooding were not so prevalent.
Things have changed a lot since those days and the thought processes have certainly evolved as well. Today, people are drawn to the Delaware beaches and want to live here, and land is at a premium.
So to read a news story and then to subsequently look at some of our local structures in a completely different light is a rare treat indeed.
We encourage you to read Rae Tyson’s full story HERE, to learn more about this fascinating coastal Delaware subject matter.
It’s good to look ahead, but it’s also refreshing to take a look in the rear view mirror every now and then. And that’s what this story allowed us to do.