LOUDONVILLE -- The barn at Charles Kettering's farm, Crestdale, appears to look like a traditional barn but was actually a modern marvel at the time it was built.
Between 1908 and 1940 over 100,000 kit homes were built in the United States. Made popular by Sears-Roebuck, anyone could order a "kit" home of pre-existing architectural plans and all the supplies needed to build their home. For even $600 a truckload of building materials would be sent to your land and all you had to do was put it together.
The Gordon-Van Tine Company, based out of Davenport, Iowa, was one of Sears-Roebucks main competitors. Gordon-Van Tine started out in 1907 supplying kits for Sears-Roebuck, but in 1912 struck out on its own. In the 1920s the company began to explore new markets and introduced a line up of modern farm buildings including everything a customer would need to start their homestead; including their house, barn, chicken coop, corn crib, and more.
Charles Kettering, after acquiring the farm behind his childhood home, decided to use Gordon-Van Tine to design a modern barn.
While the company already offered over 600 sizes and designs for barns, customers could also submit their own design or have the company's architects design a custom one to suit their needs. It is unknown if Kettering chose an existing plan or if his was custom.
The Kettering barn was a bank design with steel girders supporting much of the weight, and a basement designed to keep livestock cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
The barn also featured steel stalls, fresh air registers and a modern ventilation system. According to a Gordon catalog featuring the Kettering barn, the design "adds a distinctive appearance to this farm, which place it above the ordinary" and "indicates a progressive and prosperous owner."
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