Farm House

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Features Include:

  • FUNCTIONAL PORCH (straight or L)

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The Balloon Frame:

Prairie settlers were economical in their use of lumber. The great majority of them chose to build balloon-frame houses.

The balloon-frame was a relatively newfangled way of constructing a home, first developed by a Chicago carpenter named Augustine Taylor in the 1830s. Instead of using heavy timbers to frame a house, as was the style in Europe and much of the eastern U.S., the balloon house skeleton consisted of simple 2 X 4s, 2 X 8s, and 1 X 10s nailed together to make joists, studs and rafters.

It didn't require the skills of a master carpenter to erect a balloon frame home. A prairie farmer didn't need to know a mortise from a tenon in order to tack joists together in the shape of a rectangle. The advent of inexpensive nails by the 1880s, made construction all the easier, as did pre-cut, sawmill lumber. These boards came in standard sizes, which meant that adding on to the basic structure of the house was a relatively simple matter, too.

The L:

Typically, the prairie home consisted of two rectangles married in the shape of an L or a T. To step inside one of these houses and do a quick scan was to see pretty much all that there was to see in the way of a floor plan. A living room, a bedroom, a kitchen in the wing off the larger rectangle. A narrow staircase would lead to a couple of bedrooms conforming to the space below and the angles of the roof above.

The house was most often set near the center of a farm's acreage, so that a farmer had the same walking distance to each of the four corners of the property. Windrows were planted to cut the westerly wind, which explains the inevitable clump of trees guarding prairies homes to this day.

The busiest door was the back one, which led to the barn. The busiest room was the kitchen, because it was the warmest and smelled of fresh baked bread. Families led lives of hard work and basic pleasures, entirely befitting the little L houses in which they lived.

End of and era:

Housing styles changed after this first generation of farmers, too. The era of patterned houses began. You could order a blueprint through Sears and Roebuck, or down at the local lumberyard. The homes were a little more grandiose---4-squares with a full second floor and maybe even a little Victorian gingerbread on the front porch. 

Homes on the Prairie, July 27, 2017. <>





Last modified on Thursday, 28 July 2016 04:12
Mark Smith

Thank you for visiting my website. My name is Mark Smith and my design company is located in Stevensville, Michigan where I reside with my wife and two children. 

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Thank you for visiting my website. My name is Mark Smith and I reside in Stevensville, Michigan my wife and two children. I have been interested in Architecture since my boyhood days; however, because of my families business—a lumberyard—I never really got a chance to pursue my dream until later in my career. Read more...


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