Hindsight in 2020: NeighborWorks Moves Mail-Order House in 1992

As we celebrate our 40th anniversary, we will share a series of stories uncovered from our past as we reflect on all we have done and all this community has allowed us to do. We are humbled by the generosity of Great Falls that has enabled us to impact more lives than we can count. To kick off the Hindsight in 2020 series, we will start with a 25-year-old story of how NeighborWorks moved a 2-story Sears home. This story is an excerpt from the Great Falls Tribune on December 29th, 1992.


There was a time when you could find almost anything in the catalog. Thumbing through a wish book, you could even pick out a house. From 1908 to the 1940s, the catalog outfit offered more than 400 floor plans ranging in price from $600 to $6000 and at least one such house was constructed in Great Falls. Now, Neighborhood Housing Services is refurbishing the house at 522 8th St. S., and will move it a few blocks to 726 Seventh Ave. S. The house eventually will be offered to a low-income home buyer and at the same time help revitalize the lower south side of the city.



The house is about 800 square feet at the foundation and is 2 1/2 stories. On the main floor are four rooms. The kit for this house sold for about $1,500. Until recently the house was owned by an absentee owner and had been divided into apartments. Then it was left vacant for several months and squatters trashed the interior.


For the last six years we have been trying to get our hands on (the house) which has been a major problem property," said Nancy Stephenson, executive director of the NHS. "We were finally able to acquire it in a foreclosure situation this fall."


The Sears house will be gutted, according to David Anderson, contract administrator for the NHS, to make it as light as possible for the movers. Vick's House Moving will move the house at a cost of between $5000 and $6000. Anderson said the house will be returned to its original configuration with the apartment accouterments, such as an upstairs kitchen and gas fireplace housings, removed.


According to a calendar commemorating the Honor Bilt homes, 37,500 of the homes were delivered by 1927, and about 25,000 of those were built by owners themselves.



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