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McClure Houses in Cheverly

2711 Cheverly Avenue

2720 Cheverly Avenue

3305 Cheverly Avenue

3403 Cheverly Avenue

The houses pictured are confirmed as those purchased from the McClure Company of Saginaw, Michigan. The source is the mortgages taken out to build the houses. If there are any more McClure houses in Cheverly, they were paid for in full.

The Washington Suburban Realty Company took out mortgages to build four McClure houses on the following lots.

Lots 16 and 17 in section 2 (2720 Cheverly Avenue).
Lots 391, 392 in section 4 (3305 Cheverly Avenue).
Lots 258, 259 in section 4 (3400 Cheverly Avenue). This is known in some sources as the “Harrelson House.”
Lots 585,586 in section 5. (2711 Cheverly Avenue)

Amy White took out a mortgage to build one house on lot 300 in section 4. This should be 3403 Cheverly Avenue. Lot 300 was among several that were re-subdivided in 2000, and is now apparently part of lot 324.

The only transactions of the McClure Company in Cheverly took place in February and August 1925.

The mortgage records show the building of one McClure house in Decatur Heights in August 1925 and two houses in Pryor’s Addition to Tuxedo in October 1925.

The arrangements seem to have been that the house kit buyer would take out a loan to purchase the house from McClure secured by a mortgage against the land. Therefore two mortgages are recorded, one from McClure, for the house, and one from the National Mortgage Company of Baltimore (a corporation of the state of Delaware), for the construction. The buyer gets part of the money from National Mortgage up front, then in installments, the first when the house is under roof, the second when it is plastered, and the last when it is completed and ready for occupancy. The buyer agrees to complete the house on the property within 6 months, “and that the same will be erected in accordance with the plans and specifications furnished by the McClure Company, of Saginaw, Michigan, and which have been delivered to the said party of the second part, for the purposes of identification by the mortgagor....”

Apparently McClure had to deliver the plans (and the parts as well?) before getting any money.

Amy White’s house cost $1924.09, or at least that’s the amount she owed McClure. She owed National Mortgage $7000.00.

3400 Cheverly Avenue

A  Preliminary Survey of the McClure Company of Saginaw, Michigan

Sources on McClure Ready Built Houses

A Library of Congress item (call number NA7127.M15), now missing in inventory is shown in the online catalog as merely two folded plates in a portfolio.

A more extensive (23 pages) stock plan book is McClure Fabricated Ready to Erect Cottages: A Combination of Sections and Cut-to-fit Parts for the Building of Permanent or Portable Cottages at Surprisingly Low Prices, published 1926. Apparently the only copy is at the University of Minnesota Elmer L Andersen Library, Manuscript Division, Northwest Architecture Archives, 222 21st Avenue S, Minneapolis, 612-625-9825.

The Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan holds the business papers of the Mitchell and McClure Lumber Company records, 1866-1928. The contents list indicates that in Box 11 is a “McClure Company sales manual (home construction).”

The Saginaw Public Library holds family papers of the (William C) McClure family; there is no indication of material on the McClure houses.

Charles W McClure and the company

Charles W McClure was born in Bay City, Michigan, in 1878, and died in 1951 in Saginaw, Michigan.

His father, William Clark McClure (1842-1904) was in the lumber business at Toledo, Ohio until 1869, then organized Mitchell and McClure Company, manufacturers of and dealers in white pine lumber at Saginaw, Michigan. He identified himself as a lumber manufacturer in the 1900 census.

By 1898 William C McClure had formed the Farmers’ Handy Wagon Company, manufacturers of wagons and silos. The Library of Michigan holds some business advertising material, “We, the Farmers Wagon Co. Of Saginaw, Michigan, Were the Originators of Low-Down, Broad-Tire, Short-Turning Farm Trucks.” A 1905 newspaper advertisement in the Homestead of Des Moines, Iowa, refers to another booklet advertising the wagons, “Thinkful Thoughts for Thoughtful Thinkers.”

After his father’s death, Charles W McClure became president and general manager of the company, which became the McClure Company by 1913. Charles appears on the 1910 census as a manufacturer of wagons, and in 1920 as a manufacturer of ready-built houses. The 1919 Saginaw City Directory refers to the McClure Company as silo manufacturers; from 1922 through 1927, “ready cut buildings,” or “ready built houses.” 1927 was the last year ready-built houses were mentioned. In 1923 the silo business had its own name, Saginaw Silo Company; and in 1927 and 1928 it was the National Farm Feed Company, with Charles W McClure as vice-president. A 1913 booklet, The Building of a Silo: An Illustrated Book on Silos, Their Construction and Use: The Saginaw Silo, Its Leadership and How it was Attained, is held among the rare books at the University of Michigan; the National Agricultural Library at Beltsville has a microfilm copy.

Charles McClure held several patents pertaining to the silo business, and trademarks on wood preservatives.

One can see the ready built house business as an offshoot of the original lumber business.

The wagons and silos were sold directly to farmers and shipped by rail. Experience with this method of distribution probably carried over to the ready-built house business.

I have found many advertisements for the wagons and for the silos, but none for the houses.