the making of modern michigan

Browse Collections
Browse by subject
Browse by institution
participating libraries project background
Chapter I, "Everyman's House" book, by Caroline Bartlett Crane
Crane, Caroline Bartlett, 1858-1935, author

Western Michigan University

Architecture, Domestic


Better Homes in America

Item Number

Part of Caroline Bartlett Crane "Everyman's House" Collection

collection, text


EVERYMAN'S HOUSE CHAPTER I A WORD ON THE FRONT STOOP Here is a house built around a mother and her baby. True, we early discovered that it was an eminently satisfactory house for Father and the older children. Nevertheless, Everyman's House was designed, built, furnished, and exhibited to nearly twenty thousand people as a modest cost plan of comfort and convenience for a mother of several children, including a baby; a mother who does all her own work--as 90 per cent.[sic] of American women do. This book is written to the thousands of people who long to build a home of their own but fear they cannot afford to. Also, it is written to those who cannot make up their minds as to just what kind of a house they want. If you, reader, belong in one or both 2 EVERYMAN'S HOUSE of these categories, we want to explain to you the possibilities of comfort, of convenience, and of beauty in our space-saving, step-saving, time-saving, money-saving small house which, as I have said, is built around the mother and baby of an average American family. But if you have no baby; if you have, not one, but two or three babies; if your children are half grown; if you have no children; if your 'child' is an invalid relative; or if you are one of a group of women bachelors wedded only to your several occupations--whoever you may be who longs for a little home of your own--be careful not to put this book aside until you have read the chapter on 'The Adaptable House.' For in that chapter you are likely to be convinced that this house was designed especially for you. Or are you simply looking for ways in which to improve and adapt to present needs the house you already have? We believe Everyman's House will help you to do that. Should you inquire how Everyman's House happened to be built, I reply that it did not happen. Building it was the premeditated act of a town of 60,000 people, responding to the 3 A WORD ON THE FRONT STOOP idea that nothing can prosper if the home does not prosper; and that it would be a valuable public service for our community to unite in demonstrating the best possibilities in home-building and home-equipment at a cost within the reach of a large number of non-home-owning people. We did not think up this idea ourselves. The suggestion arrived in the form of a letter to the author from Mr. Herbert Hoover, Secretary of the United States Department of Commerce, and president of 'Better Homes in America.' However, Mr. Hoover also would disclaim originality. 'Better Homes in America' originated with Mrs. William Brown Meloney, editor of the Delineator. For two years it was successfully developed under her leadership. Then Mr. Hoover and others upon the Advisory Council saw in this private enterprise something so nationally significant that, with the consent of the founder, it was incorporated into the national 'Better Homes' organization, which in 1924 sponsored local Better Homes demonstrations in more than fifteen hundred communities in the United States. 4 EVERYMAN'S HOUSE Mr. Hoover, with all of the commerce problems of the United States in his portfolio, finds time to lead in a national movement for more and better homes. The housing shortage in our own rapidly growing town, and the difficulties of financing house-building, are common topics of conversation, of editorials, and of resolutions by the Chamber of Commerce. These premises led us to a very practical deduction. We chose our Better Homes Committee and set to work. We paid out the sum of twenty-five dollars in building Everyman's House. This was our mistake. Kalamazoo is 'no mean city' and would have trusted us for that water permit--just as everybody trusted us for everything--if we had only thought to ask! For our Better Homes Committee built, decorated, furnished, equipped, landscaped Everyman's House in magical cooperation with the public-spirited business men of Kalamazoo, who cheerfully agreed to furnish anything and everything we wanted, charge it up to us at the regular retail price, and wait for their pay until the house should be used in demonstration and then sold. There might be a loss? All right; 5 A WORD ON THE FRONT STOOP they would take it, pro rata. The Realtors' Association agreed to provide a building site. A general contractor, very busy with big jobs, nevertheless consented to build our little house for us and pay all the labour as he went along. An architect, G. G. Worden, turned the design of the writer into working plans for the contractor's guidance. The building material firms of the city furnished all the construction materials. A plumbing contractor, a heating contractor, and an electrician furnished both materials and labour. A decorator and a landscape artist, carrying out the designs of our special committees, made our house beautiful within and without. The merchants of the city unhesitatingly honoured our every requisition in the way of furniture and equipment. And not one item of direct advertising did any of these men get, or expect, out of their generous contributions. Not even the name of the general contractor was posted on the premises. However, there is no doubt that real estate transfers and building operations--and artistic furnishing, as well--have been much stimulated through the erection and exhibition of Everyman's House. 6 EVERYMAN'S HOUSE On March 13th the ground for the erection of Everyman's House was ceremoniously broken. On March 24th we laid the corner stone, depositing therein Mr. Hoover's letter, a copy of the 'Better Homes in America' Guidebook, and a copy of the speeches we all made on that occasion! On May 12th, the first week day of National 'Better Homes' Week, the foreman drove the last nail at our housewarming ceremonies, and the contractor formally delivered to the Committee the keys of Everyman's House, which were in turn delivered to the Mayor. With joy the great throng entered, to find every detail complete, from the toilet articles on the chiffoniers to the refrigerator in the kitchen entry. And, crowning all, there was the fire ready laid for our dedicatory Lighting of the Hearth. And it lacked yet a day of being two months from that turning the first spadeful of sod! --Everyman's House! Child of a Fixed Date, wedded to a Fixed Idea! And the Book: It is Child of the House, and bears its parent's name. I started out to write a treatise on the anatomy and physiology, as 7 A WORD ON THE FRONT STOOP it were, of Everyman's House. But somewhere about the fifth chapter, the Everymans unceremoniously moved in! I can't help it; I didn't invite them. I have to put up with them. And so, dear reader, will you? As a matter of fact, you will find that they are always explaining things to you which I never in the world would have thought of all by myself. So (it was for your sake) I decided to stop eviction proceedings and let them stay on to The End. [Page NA: BLANK] [Page NA] FLOOR PLANS AND ELEVATIONS OF EVERYMAN'S HOUSE GILBERT WORDEN, Architect Designed by CAROLINE BARTLETT CRANE [Page NA: BLANK] 11 BASEMENT PLAN [Line drawing: LA03a021] 12 FIRST FLOOR PLAN [Line drawing: LA03a021] 13 SECOND FLOOR PLAN [Line drawing: LA03a021] 14 REAR ELEVATION FRONT ELEVATION [Line drawing: WE HAVEN'T SCANNED THIS IMAGE YET] 15 NORTH ELEVATION SOUTH ELEVATION [Line drawing: LA03a020] 16

Chapter I, "Everyman Chapter I, "Everyman Chapter I, "Everyman Chapter I, "Everyman Chapter I, "Everyman Chapter I, "Everyman Chapter I, "Everyman Chapter I, "Everyman Chapter I, "Everyman Chapter I, "Everyman Chapter I, "Everyman Chapter I, "Everyman Chapter I, "Everyman Chapter I, "Everyman

The Making of Modern Michigan was funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services, an independent federal agency that supports the nation's museums and libraries. Through agreement, this site is hosted by the MSU Libraries and therefore is subject to its privacy statement. Please feel free to send any comments regarding this site to