Monadnock Moments No. 10: Thayer Portable Houses
In this day of pre-fab homes and log cabin kits, it is interesting to note that a Keene firm was advertising portable houses more than seventy years ago. The Springfield Manufacturing Company, makers of the Springfield Portable House, first came to Keene in 1913. By the 1920’s Oscar H. Thayer had become owner and changed the name to the Thayer Portable House Company.
The company, which was located at 171 Winchester Street, manufactured portable and ready-cut buildings of all kinds. Thayer offered bungalows, camps, garages, boathouses, chicken houses, schools, and even churches. Between 400 and 500 buildings were made each year at the Thayer Factory. Many of the building styles were named after local features, such as Chesterfield given to the bungalow model. The firm employed 20 people and did an annual business in excess of $100,000 during the 1920‘s.
The portable houses were built in sections and held together with bolts and specially designed clamps. The ready-cut houses came complete in every detail with not a single additional piece of lumber or hardware needed. All locks, nails, window screens, and even paint were included.
The Thayer Portable House Company disappeared from the city directories in the mid 1940’s.