Gray House

1038 Jackson Street, SE

Built in 1927, this home is a charming pattern-book house based on a design by David Betcone who worked for several pattern book companies.

Architectural pattern books were published before the Civil War and continue through current times. Some companies, like Sears & Roebuck, made kit houses, containing everything one needed to construct a home, available for purchase. This particular one was purchased strictly as a plan and sold to builders. The design was first publicized in the 1923 edition of the “The Home Builder’s Catalogue.” Sears recognized a good plan when they saw one, and, beginning in 1926, they began selling these plans (with a few modifications) under the name “Glen Falls.” Although not an exact match, it is clear the builders of this particular dwelling were familiar with those designs. This would not be surprising, as the house was on the cover of Sears’ 1926 home catalogue.

Roland H. Gray, his wife Fannie, and their three children, J. Cranston, Jean Constance, and Anne Louise, lived in the home until 1940. Mr. Gray was the plant manager for the Connecticut Fabric Mill plant, originally located northeast of the Albany District, which made fabric for auto tires. It was later purchased by Goodyear. Mr. Gray was an active community leader and organized the Charity Council for the city in 1929. He also served as the Kiwanis Club’s chairman of the Underprivileged Child Committee in 1931 and as director of the Chamber of Commerce in 1938. He and his family were members of Westminster Presbyterian Church, located one block west of the home.

The house was recently purchased and has undergone an extensive rehabilitation. The new owner addressed substantial foundation and water drainage issues and installed a new roof in addition to new electrical and plumbing systems. That completed, a new kitchen and new bathrooms were installed. During the process, the original picture rail on the walls was uncovered. Picture rail was an ingenious way for owners to hang pictures over plaster walls without compromising the plaster itself. The new owner also restored some original light fixtures and the original windows to operating condition.

This home is available via slideshow in 2020 while it continues to undergo restoration, but it will be on the 2021 Historic Decatur Christmas Tour, up-close and personal, as a completed restoration.

Pay close attention to this slideshow, as the new owner holds a Ph.D. in American Architectural History, a M.S.H.P. in Historic Preservation and a BA in Art History, History and Interior Design. Be prepared to learn from the best and enjoy the slideshow of this home.