Author, researcher and lecturer Rebecca Hunter became fascinated with the phenomenon of mail order homes in 1996, and is currently engaged in the study of kit homes and agricultural buildings marketed from 1906-1946 by nine different companies. Hunter has sought these buildings throughout Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and in many other states. She has located mail order buildings in over 400 Illinois municipalities and in 29 other states.
Working with the Elgin Illinois Heritage Commission, Hunter located and photo documented over 250 mail order homes in Elgin, and to date has authenticated over 170 of these. Hunter's books, "Elgin Illinois Sears House Research Project" and “Beyond Sears: Mail Order Homes in Elgin Illinois from Gordon-Van Tine, Aladdin, Lewis, Sterling, Montgomery Wards and Harris Brothers are available in Elgin’s Gail Borden Public Library. Her books Putting Sears Homes on the Map and Sears, Roebuck Book of Barns were published in 2004 and 2005 respectively. She is planning books on Harris Brothers Mail order buildings and Gordon-Van Tine barns.
Hunter has spoken at the American Institute of Architects, the Sears Home Owners Association, public libraries throughout the state of Illinois, and at numerous meetings of historical societies, clubs and associations. She is a speaker for the Illinois Humanities Council Speaker's Bureau. She has done historical architectural consultation for Elgin, West Chicago, Downers Grove, Joliet, Libertyville, Lombard, Berwyn, Crete, and Springfield IL, as well as Minneapolis and St Paul MN, Sylvan Lake MI, Hartford WI and Anderson IN.
Articles about Hunter and her research have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the Christian Science Monitor, the Elgin Courier News, the Daily Herald, and numerous local publications. She has served as a consultant for articles in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Bungalow Magazine. Her work will be featured in an article in Cottage Living Magazine late in 2006 or early in 2007. Hunter has received the Elgin IL Mayor’s Award for Historical Preservation, Elgin Image Award and the Elgin IL Genealogical Society’s Heritage Hall of Fame Award.
For more information, and a list of additional resources please visit Rebecca Hunter’s website: http://www.kithouse.org/