The Roaring 20s: The Housing Boom

The opening lines of Home Sweet Home

Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam
Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home

Between WWI and the Great Depression, a nationwide movement was started known as the Better Homes Movement. In 1922, citizens were encouraged to own, build, remodel or improve their homes. Information and advice was distributed on creating home furnishings and decorations. With the advent of electricity, telephones, radios, enameled sinks, tubs, flushable toilets, and new home appliances, etc. many families were striving for this modern home.
The “Roaring Twenties” saw an intensive house-building activity, and Starkville was no exception. In 1920, R. H. Magruder had a half page advertisement in the East Mississippi Times with big bold letters, “Build Your Home Now While The ‘Slump’ Is On.” The ad read, “Many people will be caught on September first without a shelter unless they act RIGHT NOW. Are you one of them? If so, stop a minute right now and face the situation. The house shortage is critical. More houses must be built right now---and the temporary lumber “slump” offers you the great opportunity. Built that home you want, the way you want it---and build it NOW while the low prices make building such a good investment.
Our plant is now ready for any size order for the best SELECTED YELLOW PINE and we take pride in the fact that we produce only quality lumber—that we can guarantee satisfaction. Further, we have one of the best estimators in the state that will gladly help you with your building plans. Just call 34.”
The local newspaper also had an advertisement for Sears Home Building Kits. These kits cost $650 to $2500 and were delivered by trains. The average number of pieces was 30,000 including paint for inside and several coats for outside, hardware, shingles, medicine case, cupboards, ironing boards, breakfast alcove, china closet and windows. Not included were foundation blocks, bricks for chimney or stone decorations. Sears claimed that it would give $100 to anyone finding a knot larger than a dime and that no saw was needed.
By 1929, the “model home” of Mr. James P. Hartness was built on College Drive. The contractors were Lanier and Ramsey. The home was opened to the public for two days as a Model Home Demonstration. MS Ruth Smith, Home Agent, was in charge of plans and arrangement. More than a thousand visitors toured the home during the two-day exhibit.
When approaching the house, a person would first notice the beautiful Johns-Manville roof. The shrubbery in the yard was completely landscaped by the A. & M. College Greenhouse. At the open house held February 15, 1929, the first comment on entering the home was “This wonderful heat!” The heat was produced by an Estate Heatrola and was sold locally by Turner and Pierce.
The beautiful living room was completely furnished by Long Furniture Co. as well as the large bedroom on the front. The dining room and two other bedrooms were beautifully furnished by the Starkville Furniture Co.
The built-in cabinets in the kitchen were filled with Richelieu Canned Goods and Tea Garden fancy goods, etc. The Mississippi Power Company furnished the kitchen with an electric range and electric refrigerator. Long-Bell lumber was used 100 per cent in construction of the home.
Noticeable in the living room was the Majestic Radio installed and operated by Goodman Electrical, a local distributor. In every room, curtains, linen, etc. bore the mark of Goodman Brothers Company and in the medicine cabinet drugs and medicines from the drug store of Hartness and Redus were found. There was a splendid spirit of cooperation manifested by the three banks. The Jackson Building and Loan Association offered to loan the money to buy or improve homes.
The four federated Women’s Clubs of Oktibbeha County (The Sessums Club, The Oktoc Club, The College Club and the Starkville Club) cooperated in planning the exhibit, which was an inspiration to make better homes. Mrs. Charles K. Hartness, District Chairman of State Federated Clubs for Better Homes Week, greeted guests. The Sessums Club was represented by Mrs. J. C. Kean, Mrs. Frank Castles and Mrs. J. B. Kerr. Mrs. J. D. Gaston, Mrs. G. B. Kimball and Mrs. A. Blocker represented the Oktoc Club. Mrs. Duff Maxwell represented the College Club. Mrs. W. W. Magruder represented the Starkville Club.

Mrs. Carson Castles (Iris) Remembers

Mrs. Carson Castles (Iris) remembers winning a home freezer in a State Home Demonstration Kitchen Contest in 1960. In 1959 their dreams of a new house began to materialize. They managed for a loan and got busy drawing up plans for the home.
Since I had been a member of the Sessums Home Demonstration Club for 14 years, I knew where to go to obtain help in planning our home. First, I had a conference with my Home Agent, and then we called in my husband and the County Agent for final suggestions.
I used information from “A Step Saving U Kitchen,” publication. I selected the U-type kitchen and family room combination plan because it seemed to meet our needs and provide maximum conveniences for our family. For the first time, I have adequate wall and base cabinet space. In my new kitchen cabinets, I have fifteen drawers, four of which have dividers. What a joy not to waste so much time looking for things. My rollout cabinet that the contractors nicknamed ‘Lazy Daisy’ is very convenient for storing my deep-well cooker and to hang tea towels. Using a ceiling light, one at the work center and one above the sink to supplement the natural light when needed adequately lights the kitchen.
All these years after climbing slowly from the foot of the hill, at last we are on top of the hill. Now, I can see that my dream of a comfortable convenient kitchen is no longer a vague dream! It is a reality!