August 10, 2021

The Montgomery Ward Kelton: a Fresh Note in Modern Architecture

244 N. Harvard, Villa Park. Photo from Realtor site.

Montgomery Ward Kelton.

The Kelton from Montgomery Ward is a "fresh note in modern architecture," according to the catalog copy. This Kelton in Villa Park is a reverse floor plan (which was an option with most models). The house has not been expanded and has its original shutters and wood shingles.

The rear of the Kelton is not flush. Photo from Realtor site.

The Kelton was a compact bungalow. It was the cheapest house in the 1929 Wardway Homes catalog at $1,397.

The "cheery" living room. The house still has the original front door and closet door. Photo from Realtor site.


The telephone cabinet. Photo from Realtor site.


The Kelton did not have a formal dining room, but did have a dinette area off the kitchen. Photo from Realtor site.


This must be the front bedroom, because the rear bedroom does not have a closet! The Kelton is a tiny house. Photo from Realtor site.

Warner L. and Hannah Rhode purchased the house in July 1931 for $3,850, with financing from Montgomery Ward. Warner was a distributing clerk for the post office.

Montgomery Ward had a Wardway Homes sales office in Elmhurst, which is likely where the Rhodes purchased the Kelton. This might also explain why there are so many Wardway kit homes in the Western suburbs.


Warner died in the 1970's, and Hannah lived in the house until her death in 1991 at age 96.



Architectural Observer said...

The Kelton may have been the least expensive model in 1929, but it looks quite livable and offered many perks (who wouldn't want a built-in phone niche?) for the financially-conservative buyer.

I "get" why the kitchen was remodeled, but personally I would have found a way to retain the two original arches defining the ice box and dining nooks.
The back bedroom does, in fact, have a closet -- and it's larger than the one in the master bedroom! It is above the basement staircase... right behind the kitchen range and chimney on the floor plan.

Stained wood shingles (which appear to have been the original intended exterior) would give the house a bit more substance and dignity than the current yellow paint. The Kelton looks like a house I could easily live in today; I like it a lot. The fact that the original shutters are still intact is nothing short of amazing!

Sears Homes of Chicagoland said...

I am always astonished when these tiny bungalows are still standing in the Chicago area. As you said, the Kelton design is very livable, and this the quality that has likely kept it around almost 100 years.

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