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From the Archive: “The Kitchen,” 1926, Gordon–Van Tine Homes

The recipe for a perfectly modern between-the-wars kitchen may be gleaned from illustrations in Gordon–Van Tine’s book of ready-cut (kit) homes.

A checklist of authentic details, should that be your goal:
1. White-painted, fitted wood cabinets with no toe-kick spaces.
2. Overlay drawers and flush inset doors with simple cupboard latches and bin pulls.
3. Low-hanging upper cabinets running to the ceiling with a small-scale crown moulding.
4. A cheery linoleum floor visible even under a wall-hung drainboard sink on legs.
5. Freestanding worktable, a cast-iron range, and, perhaps, a breakfast nook.

Not every ingredient, though, is palatable to modern taste. Common for the period but harder to swallow are wooden countertops, split hot and cold taps, the single-bulb ceiling fixture as the only light source, and an open under-sink area (where we stow cleaning supplies and trash).

With roots going back to 1866, the Gordon–Van Tine Company took its name from owners Horace Gordon Roberts and Harry Van Tine Scott. It became a preeminent early-20th-century supplier of millwork, building materials, and house plans. Their pre-cut house kits competed directly with Sears and Aladdin; after 1921 the company even produced Montgomery–Ward’s Wardway Homes. Thousands of Gordon–Van Tine houses remain across the country, though few original kitchens survive. 

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