Home > Uncategorized > Have You Seen This House? (Part 4)

Have You Seen This House? (Part 4)

Gosh, what a mystery.

We have 16 darling, distinctive little bungalows here in Norfolk that were originally built for (and at) another location, and then moved here (by barge) sometime after The Great War ended in 1918. That’s pretty much all that’s known about them.

And 3,000 miles away in Dupont, Washington, there are  dozens of identical bungalows, built by Dupont for the dynamite factory there.

Thanks to Lee and Joh from the Dupont Historical Museum in Dupont, Washington, I now have some detailed photos of the little bungalows out there in Dupont. And - thanks also to Lee and Joh - I have a vintage newspaper article that says the little houses were built in 1909.

After studying and comparing the houses in Dupont with the houses in Norfolk, I’m fairly confident that these two houses - 3,000 miles apart - are the same model. These houses in Norfolk and Dupont have several very unique features, and now the #1 question is, Did these houses come from Aladdin? Or did they come from another kit home company? And if not, where did they come from?

We know that Dupont often turned to Aladdin kit homes to provide them with houses for their workers. We know that Dupont used Aladdin to provide housing at their sites in Carney’s Point, NJ, Old Hickory, TN, and Hopewell, VA. According to local lore, Dupont also used Aladdin to house workers at their guncotton factory in Penniman, Virginia.

Did these houses in Norfolk come from Penniman? There’s a local legend that Penniman had 600+ Aladdin kit homes, but I can find no written record of this legend. Today, I received a response to my query at the Clarke Library in Michigan (where many Aladdin sales records are housed), and they have no record of 600 houses going to Penniman.

The mystery continues. And so does the quest to solve it.

If you’ve any information to contribute, please post a note in the comment’s section below!



One of our mystery bungalows on 51st Street. Photo is courtesy of David Spriggs and may not be reused or reprinted without permission from David Spriggs.



Good shot of the two bungalows on 51st Street. This photo is courtesy of David Spriggs and may not be reused or reprinted without permission from David Sprggs.


This is one of the houses in Riverview that's in mostly original condition. The little dormer on the side was added in later years.

Close-up of railing

Close-up of railing

Close-up of dormer

This dormer window is a pretty distinctive feature.

another Ethel

Another "Ethel Bungalow" in Riverview

Aladdin promoted itself to companies as a supplier of industrial housing. It was believed that providing housing for workers created a more stable workforce. And that was probably true.

Aladdin promoted itself to companies as a supplier of industrial housing. It was believed that if a company provided housing for its employees, this would create a more stable workforce. And that was probably true. Dupont turned to Aladdin to supply homes for Hopewell, Virginia and Carney Point, New Jersey and Old Hickory, TN. (1919 Aladdin catalog)

To contact Rose, please leave a comment below.

To learn more about the kit homes in Norfolk, click here.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

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  1. April 22nd, 2011 at 11:38 | #1

    Hi Rose,
    I live in MA and I was wondering if you know of any of the sears or kit homes around this area? This is very fascinating. I’d be really happy if you can contact me. thank you!

  2. Mark Hardin
    April 30th, 2011 at 19:37 | #2

    I found more of these Ethel bungalows in Ramsay Townsite in Butte Montana. The townsite was built by Dupont and named after William Ramsay the head of the engineering dept. at Dupont responsible for building these towns. Ramsay died at the time the townsite was being built and it was named after him. Outside of Norfolk Va. the only other Ethel bungalows I have found are in Dupont built towns in Ramsay townsite in Butte Montana, and Dupont Washington. The same florence model homes built for workers in A village in Hopewell Va. also exist in the small three block townsite in Ramsay Montana which leads me to the conclusion that the Ethel bungalows are Aladdin built and where most likely moved from the Dupont village in Penniman Va. after the site was abandoned and ended up in Norfolk Va. It all make sense due to the fact there was a major housing shortage in the Norfolk area as the Navy built up in the area in the late 1910’s.

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