Gordon–Van Tine Company Historic District

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The Gordon–Van Tine Company Historic District, also known as the U.N. Roberts and Company Buildings, is a nationally recognized historic district located east of downtown Davenport, Iowa, United States. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2017.[1] The Gordon–Van Tine Company manufactured pre-cut, mail-order homes in this facility, beginning around 1916.

Gordon–Van Tine Company
Historic District
Gordon–Van Tine Company Historic District 01.jpg
Gordon–Van Tine Company Historic District is located in Iowa
Gordon–Van Tine Company Historic District
Gordon–Van Tine Company Historic District is located in the United States
Gordon–Van Tine Company Historic District
Interactive map showing the location of Gordon-Van Tine Company Historic District
Location736 Federal & 737 Charlotte Sts., Davenport, Iowa
Coordinates41°31′31.7″N 90°33′48.7″W / 41.525472°N 90.563528°W / 41.525472; -90.563528Coordinates: 41°31′31.7″N 90°33′48.7″W / 41.525472°N 90.563528°W / 41.525472; -90.563528
NRHP reference No.100000718[1]
Added to NRHPMarch 7, 2017

The company was incorporated as a subsidiary of the U.N. Roberts lumber company in 1907. They began by selling construction materials to builders, but by 1910 they offered house plans and became one of the first companies in the United States to offer fully pre-cut houses.[2] The customer could choose from a variety of floor plans, finishes, design features, and equipment choices. The lumber for the houses came from company mills in Davenport, Iowa; Chehalis, Washington; St. Louis, Missouri; and from one of two southern lumber yards, first in Louisiana,[3] and then in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.[4]

The company sold an estimated 54,000 homes under the Gordon–Van Tine name, and provided the lumber for another 20,000 to Montgomery Ward company, who contracted with Gordon-Van Tine to supply materials for their identical line of Wardway homes, beginning in 1917.[5][6] While better known for their houses, Gordon-Van Tine also provided the plans and materials for pre-cut barns and other farm structures.[7][8] Gordon-Van Tine remained in operation until 1946, when it was sold to a Cincinnati salvage firm that liquidated it just as the post–World War II housing boom was beginning.

Two of the buildings in the historic district have been transformed into an apartment complex. The four-story brick office building is the more ornate of the two. The factory was located in a five-story brick building next door. The office building houses 15 apartments, and the production facility houses 98.[5] Commercial retail space was also created in the facility. Revitalization efforts for the $35 million project were begun in 2000 and completed in the summer of 2019.[9]

Gordon-Van Tine in St. Louis, MissouriEdit

Cover of the 1916 Gordon-Van Tine Ready-Cut Homes catalog
Side-by-side images of a kit model offered in the Gordon-Van Tine 1921 catalog, and an advertisement by Goodfellow Lumber Company, showing the same model

The Gordon-Van Tine company advertised that one of their major lumberyards was in St. Louis, Missouri.[10] According to articles in old Lumberman journals and newsletters, that lumber yard did not use the Gordon-Van Tine moniker, but rather operated, first, under the name Funck Lumber. A 1915 issue of Mississippi Valley Lumberman newsletter references the use of the Funk (sic) Lumber yard by Gordon-Van Tine,[11] and the January 18, 1919 issue of The Southern Lumberman , discussing the retirement of George W. Funck, discusses the ownership of the Funck Lumberyard by Davenport's U.N. Roberts lumber company (parent company to Gordon-Van Tine).[12] Gordon-Van Tine offered its first "Ready-Cut" catalog in 1916,[13] and that year coincides with the year that the St. Louis Funck Lumber Company re-tooled their business to add a wood-working plant for the manufacture of "ready cut" houses, as mentioned in the March 13, 1916 Iron Age lumberman journal.[14] According to the above-referenced 1919 newsletter article about the retirement of president George W. Funck, that lumber yard was re-named Goodfellow Lumber , upon Funck's retirement. The Funck / Goodfellow Lumberyard was located near the corner of Goodfellow and Natural Bridge Roads, at 5700 Natural Bridge Road, in the city of St. Louis, in what is now the 63120 zip code. St. Louis City directories and St. Louis newspapers of the era, include advertisements for the company, giving this location.[15] The addition of the "ready-cut" manufacturing section of the lumberyard was a boon for business at Funck Lumberyard, which saw its business revenues triple in 1918 and 1919, according to a January 1920 Southern Lumberman journal article that mentions the change of the company's name to Goodfellow Lumber.[16]


  1. ^ a b "National Register of Historic Places Program: Weekly List". National Park Service. 2017-03-17. Retrieved 2017-03-20.
  2. ^ Marlys A. Svendsen. "Jefferson Street Historic District (Iowa City)". National Park Service. Retrieved 2017-05-21.
  3. ^ "Gordon-Van Tine 1916 "Ready-Cut" Houses catalog, page 6". Archive.org. FM Collection. Retrieved June 22, 2020.
  4. ^ "Gordon-Van Tine Homes 1921 catalog, page 12". Archive.org. JD Collection. Retrieved June 22, 2020.
  5. ^ a b Alma Gaul (April 2, 2016). "Old factory to come alive with new apartments". Quad-City Times. Davenport. Retrieved 2017-03-20.
  6. ^ "R.L. Hunter Press: Mail Order House Research". www.kithouse.org. Retrieved 2020-06-30.
  7. ^ James E. Jacobsen; Cheryl Peterson. "NRHP Inventory Nomination - Iowa Round Barns; The Sixty Year Experiment". National Park Service. Retrieved 2011-02-08.
  8. ^ Gordon-Van Tine Co. (1918). Photographs and letters : some Gordon-Vantine barns and what their owners think of them. Winterthur Museum Library. Gordon-Van Tine Co., Davenport, Iowa.
  9. ^ Alma Gaul (July 13, 2019). "Davenport's biggest apartment renovation in 20 years, Gordon-Van Tine Commons adds 113 units downtown". Quad-City Times. Davenport. Retrieved 2019-08-04.
  10. ^ Gordon-Van Tine. "Gordon-Van Tine 1916 catalog of "ready-cut" homes". Archive.org. Gordon-Van Tine. Retrieved June 22, 2020.
  11. ^ "The Mississippi Valley Lumberman, Volume 46, 1915". Google Books. 1915. Retrieved June 22, 2020.
  12. ^ "The Southern Lumberman, Jan 18, 1919". Google Books. 1919. Retrieved June 22, 2020.
  13. ^ "Gordon-Van Tine's Ready-Cut Homes 1916". Archive.org. Gordon-Van Tine. Retrieved June 22, 2020.
  14. ^ "The Iron Age lumberman journal March 16, 1916". Google Books. 1916. Retrieved June 22, 2020.
  15. ^ "St Louis Post-Dispatch,Jun 4, 1916, page 49". Newspapers.com. Newspapers.com. Retrieved June 22, 2020.
  16. ^ "The Southern Lumberman, Vol 95, Jan 17, 1920". Google Books. 1920. Retrieved June 22, 2020.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Gordon–Van Tine Company Historic District at Wikimedia Commons

Gordon-Van Tine Catalogs OnlineEdit


Other structuresEdit

Building materialsEdit