In addition to the many large kit home companies, regional players also entered the housing market during the first couple decades of the 20th century. Ready Built House Company and Hewitt-Lea-Funck (HLF) were two players in the Pacific Northwest.
It's interesting to note the testimonials in the both catalogs, which were heavily biased toward buyers in other states especially where timber wasn't available. HLF, whose lumber mill was located in Sumner, Washington, seems to have been particularly popular with the residents of Rocky Mountain and high plains states like Montana and the Dakotas as well as Arizona. It appears that the success with the Dakotas and Montana may have been in part due to its success in silo manufacturing.
How many HLF homes were built in the Northwest is unknown and the longevity of the company is also murky. It appears that timber baron, Henry Hewitt's far-flung business interests allowed his sons, John and Henry, to establish the Hewitt-Lea Lumber Company in about 1903. It supplied the Bungalow Company with much of its building material. According to sources at the Tacoma Public Library, Hewitt-Lea-Funck was in business from about 1910 to until at least 1929.
Principals of the Hewitt-Lea-Funck Company were John J. Hewitt and Henry Hewitt, president and secretary-treasurer respectively. Charles W. Lea, married to Clara Hewitt (John and Henry's sister), served the company in some capacity though his role is not clear. The final participant, William G. Funck, is at this time an unknown quantity, but it appears that he was general manager for a few years. In 1916, he and the corporation were indicted in District Court for false billing. The company and Funck were fined, and the Federal prosecutor requested a prison sentence against Funck. Presumably, after this fiasco, the company severed its ties to Funck, though it retained his name for the corporation.
Whether this episode was responsible for redirecting its efforts toward manufacturing and selling silos is a subject for further research. With an extremely competitive kit home market, it was a tough business in which to recover one's corporate name. This book of Prize Plans may represent the company's only catalog-driven foray into the kit home market.
© 2011 — Bungalow Home Style