You may have heard of Sears houses, the “kit homes” that prospective owners could select from a catalog and build themselves. But did you know that Western New York was home to another company that designed and sold beautiful house plans and kits? The Ray H. Bennett Lumber Company, established in North Tonawanda in 1902, manufactured a line of Bennett Homes — “Better-Built & Ready-Cut.” Their catalogs featured cottages, bungalows, larger 3- and 4-bedroom Colonial and American Foursquare houses, and two-family homes. The styles will look strikingly familiar to Buffalonians, especially those with homes built in the 1920s and 30s.
A Bennett Homes catalog from 1920 shows not only house plans, but also the interior options, such as styles of doors and bookcases.
Think your house could be a Bennett Home? The Grosvenor Room has three Bennett Homes catalogs: 1920 (no.18), 1925 (no.35), and an undated catalog from circa 1940, each featuring over 50 house styles.
For more plan books, check out this helpful list: Architecture and Design Books: Listing by Architectural Style.