Archive

Posts Tagged ‘aladdin houses’

Kit Homes in Kinston - What a Bonanza!

January 25th, 2016 Sears Homes 2 comments

Was I surprised to find 19 Aladdin kit homes in Kinston? My oh my, yes! And those 19 were found during a very quick windshield survey. There are more lurking about, I’m sure.

Last week, my husband and I visited New Bern, and while there, we drove out to Kinston to look at the local architecture. Lo and behold, we found an Aladdin kit home on almost every street in the older neighborhoods. In one memorable area (near Harding and Pollock Streets) we found seven Aladdin homes together.

The older suburbs we visited had many wide-open spaces, suggesting that many of these early 20th Century kit homes have already been demolished.

If you’re new to this website, you may be wondering, what is a kit home? In the early 1900s, aspiring homeowners could order a “kit home” from the Sears Roebuck catalog. Each 12,000-piece kit came with a 75-page instruction book and a promise that the neophyte homebuilder could have the house ready for  occupancy in 90 days. In addition to Sears, there were other companies selling kit homes through mail-order catalogs, such as Aladdin (based in Bay City, Michigan) and Gordon Van Tine (Davenport, Iowa).

Aladdin was bigger than Sears, in business longer, and sold more homes than Sears, but they’re not as well known as Sears. Aladdin had a mill in Wilmington, North Carolina, which explains why Aladdin Homes were so popular in the Southeast.

Based on my research, the overwhelming majority of people living in these kit homes didn’t know what they had, until I contacted them (or they discovered their home on my blog).

What was the industry that promoted Kinston’s growth in the early 1900s, and put them on the map? Industries often turned to Aladdin to supply housing for the workers. It’s likely that someone turned to Aladdin for the houses we’re now finding in Kinston, but who was it?

Lastly, before we get into the photos, I’m hoping some progressive-minded soul in Kinston will contact me about coming back to town to do a thorough survey. Perhaps identifying these bungalows as historically significant kit homes can be a key to revitalizing parts of Kinston.

Let’s hope.

Contact Rose by leaving a comment below.

In addition to the 19 Aladdin homes, I found a lone Gordon Van Tine home: The Peach House Restaurant! And it’s a real beauty! You can read more about that by clicking here!

You can read here about the kit homes I found in New Bern, NC.

UPDATE! We found a Montgomery Ward kit home in Kinston, too!

*

1914 Moosejaw

Aladdin sold more homes than Sears, but was not as well known.

*

1916

What was the industry that promoted Kinston's growth in the early 1900s, and put them on the map? It seems very likely that *that* employer turned to Aladdin to supply worker homes in Kinston.

*

houses

Aladdin had catalogs devoted to "solving the problem of industrial housing."

*

Aladdin 1916

Aladdin was named for the magical genie who built "a house in a day" for his master. Apparently, Old Genie is perusing the latest catalog to find a snappy design.

*

1919

The Shadow Lawn is one of my favorites. It was spacious and beautiful (1919).

*

Shadow two

When I drove in Kinston, the first house I spotted was this Aladdin Shadowlawn on Lenoir Avenue. Looks like it walked right off the pages of the 1919 catalog (shown above).

*

Shadow

During our brief time in Kinston, I initially missed this Shadowlawn (another beauty) on Atlantic Avenue. Shown above is a screenshot from Google Maps. It's another delightfully original house.

*

1916

The "Colonial" was probably Aladdin's biggest (and fanciest) kit home.

*

19 Colonial

And there's one in Kinston! Do the owners know that they're living in a kit home?

*

1919 Classic Bungalow

The Pomona was a classic early 20th Century bungalow (1919).

*

Pollock 805

This was my favorite Pomona in Kinston (which has three of them). This house still as so many of its original features, including the half-timber effect on the porch gable, original windows with diamond muntins and those rectangular eave brackets. And that appears to be an old wooden storm door.

*

305 Washington

This Pomona on Washington Street is also a lovely home, but its windows have been replaced.

*

810 Collge

The years have not been kind to this Pomona on College Street.

*

Carolina 1923

In all my travels, I'd never seen an Aladdin "Carolina." It seems fitting that there are not one but two Carolinas in Kinston, North Carolina. This image is from the 1923 catalog.

*

605 Rhem

This Carolina on Rhem Street is in picture-perfect condition.

*

308 Capitol

This is an Aladdin "Carolina" and it does have its original windows, so that's a plus. It's had some insensitive remodeling. Anything salt-treated on an old house is just not a good plan.

*

Willard 1919

I've not seen that many "Willards" in my travels, but there are two in Kinston (1919).

*

Details

It's also a cute little house with lots of interesting details and features.

*

Willard 413 Harding

And this Willard on Harding Street is perfect - right down to the lattice!

*

Willard on Harding

From every angle, it's a beauty!

*

Porch

And it's astounding that 100 years later, that lattice is still in such good shape.

*

811 Pollock

On an opposing corner, I found this Willard which has had some remodeling, but still looks a lot like a Willard. It's a pity that the guy-wire got in the way of an otherwise perfect picture.

*

1919

The Virginia was a popular house for Aladdin (1919).

*

310 Capitola

This "Virginia" on Capitola Street is next door to the Carolina shown above!

*

Capitola

Okay, so we lost the little girl (in the image on the right) and gained a trash can, but other than that, it's a lovely match. And a pretty house, too!

*

Florence 1916

The Florence was a popular house for Aladdin and I've found an abundance of these in North Carolina's mill towns. There are two Florence models in Kinston.

*

Florence

And they're across the street from each other. This is on Harding.

*

406 Harding

And so is this one.

*

1919 BLVD

The Aladdin Boulevard was not a hugely popular house (1919).

*

BLVD

But it is distinctive with that low shed dormer and the window arrangement. The Boulevard has 12/1 windows on the front porch (1919).

*

Street

This was the first "Boulevard" I've ever seen. On this model, someone took out those living windows when they put in that fireplace. There's also an addition on the rear of the house.

*

House

In this picture, you can see those 12/1 windows on the Kinston "Boulevard."

*

1924 Sunshine

The "Sunshine" was a popular house with a really cute name (1924).

*

Sunshine

"You are my Sunshine, my only Sunshine..." This was the only Sunshine we found in Kinston.

*

Street

These four models were lined up like little soldiers in a row on Pollock Street in Kinston.

*

Harassment Street

The Willard is to the far left, with the Sunshine next, the Boulevard beyond it, and the Pomona at the end of the run. Kitty-corner to this Willard was The Perfect Willard, and the two Florences are behind this WIllard. These are the seven Aladdins mentioned above.

*

Bruns 1923

I've been looking for an Aladdin Brunswick for a long time, butt prior to coming to Kinston, I'd never laid eyes on the real deal (1923 catalog).

*

509 Washington

And Kinston has two of them. This house is on West Washington.

*

Brunsh

A distinctive feature of the Brunswick is this window arrangement on the side of the house. The centered window is a staircase-landing window. The small windows are closet windows.

*

Brusnswisk

This is another house that I missed on my first drive through town, and found when I was double-checking addresses via Google Maps. It's in pitiable shape. It's just off Perry and Atlantic, and just around the corner from that stunning Aladdin Shadowlawn. I hope this home has a hope of restoration.

*

GVT

And the Gordon Van Tine #705 was the only non-Aladdin home I found in Kinston.

*

Moo

Now this is a beautiful house - and it's also a restaurant!

*

Gustatory Delights

Had we only been more familiar with the delicious delights offered at The Gordon Van Tine #705 Restaurant, errr, the "Peach House" we would have stopped there for lunch!

*

At the end of the day,

At the end of our trip to Kinston, Hubby was mighty glad to get back to our "home away from home," The Aerie Bed and Breakfast in New Bern. He was tired of looking at houses.

*

You can visit The Peach House website here.

To read about what I found in nearby New Bern, click here.

*

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Real Peach Of A House - in Kinston, NC

January 24th, 2016 Sears Homes 6 comments

It’d sure be fun to learn more about the history of Kinston, North Carolina. When my husband and I were there last week, we found a surfeit of Aladdin kit homes, and yet there in the middle of all these Aladdin Homes, we spotted a Gordon Van Tine #705 in peachy-keen condition!

Later, we learned that this beautiful old bungalow is also a restaurant, known as The Peach House, and better yet, it’s received many rave reviews. When we return to Kinston, I’d love to drop in for lunch!

A little bit about kit homes: In the early 1900s, you could order a “kit home” from the Sears Roebuck catalog. These 12,000-piece kits came with a 75-page instruction book that told the homeowner how all those pieces and parts went together. In addition to Sears, there were other companies selling kit homes through mail-order catalogs, such as Aladdin (based in Bay City, Michigan) and Gordon Van Tine (Davenport, Iowa).

It’s not surprising to find so many Aladdins in this part of the country, because Aladdin had a large mill in nearby Wilmington, North Carolina. Finding a GVT is a bit of a surprise!

Thanks so much to Joni McRae for sharing information on The Peach House and providing additional photos!

We found 19 Aladdin kit homes in Kinston. See the photos here!

You can visit The Peach House website here.

To read about what I found in nearby New Bern, click here.

And there’s Roanoke Rapids, which has a large collection of Aladdin Homes.

*

Gordon Van Tine #705

Gordon Van Tine #705 as seen in the 1918 catalog.

*

Cool

Model #705 featured four bedrooms, but none of them were very large.

*

Now thats a fine-looking house.

Now that's a fine-looking house.

*

And there

That is one beautiful house! And the color makes me swoon. Photo is copyright 2015 Joni McRae and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

A historically sensitive addition was added to the homes rear.

A "historically sensitive" addition created extra living space. Photo is copyright 2015 Joni McRae and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

And even though its an über-crummy picture, it shows the OTHER side of this perfect peach.

And even though it's an über-crummy picture, it shows the OTHER side of this perfect peach. (Yes, it's my photo. I thought I had a moment to snap this picture in peace, and then a car turned in just behind me. )

*

It was a peach of a house 30 years ago, even though it was plain old white.

It was a peach of a house 40 years ago, even though it was plain old white. Photo is courtesy Joni McRae.

*

And you can go inside and have a snack!

Best of all, you can go inside The Peach House and have lunch ! For more information, visit their website at www.peachhousenc.com. The house is located at 412 W. Vernon Avenue, Kinston.

*

Last but not least, heres another GVT #705 I found in my Aunt Addies hometown, Lake Mills, Wisconsin.

Last but not least, here's another GVT #705 I found in my Aunt Addie's hometown, Lake Mills, Wisconsin.

*

This factory in Kinston appears abandoned, and yet its surrounded by a surfeit on Aladdin kit homes. Was this an old mill? Id love to know.

This factory in Kinston appears abandoned, and yet it's surrounded by a surfeit of Aladdin kit homes. Was this an old mill? I'd love to know.

*

Thanks so much to Joni McRae for sharing information on The Peach House and providing additional photos!

To read about what I found in nearby New Bern, click here.

And there’s Roanoke Rapids, which has a large collection of Aladdin Homes.

*

New Bern’s Numerous and Nobby Kit Homes (Or “How I Spent My Second Honeymoon Last Week”)

January 21st, 2016 Sears Homes 11 comments

How did New Bern come to have so many kit homes? Is it because of New Bern’s proximity to Aladdin’s largest mill in Wilmington, North Carolina? Perhaps, but how does that explain the grandiose Sears Homes I found on Spencer Street?

It’s a mystery, but I hope it’s one that this community will fully explore!

What is a kit home?

Sears is the best-known name in the kit home business, and they started selling houses through their mail-order catalogs in 1908. These “kits” came in a  boxcar in 12,000 pieces, and included a 75-page catalog that told you how all those pieces and parts went together. Sears promised that a “man of average abilities” could have the house complete and ready for occupancy in about 90 days.

Sears closed their “Modern Homes Department” in 1940, and during a corporate house cleaning, all sales records were destroyed. The only way to find these homes today is literally one by one.

I’m confident that New Bern has many more kit homes than shown below. I saw less than 30% of the town, and I went through that 30% very  quickly! I’d love to return to New Bern soon and do a proper, thorough street-by-street survey.

If you enjoy the information and pictures, please share this link with friends on Facebook and/or via email!

To contact Rose (who art in Norfolk) about returning to New Bern, please leave a comment below!

To read the prior blog on New Bern, click here.

Read about The Peach House in nearby Kinston here.

*

New Bern has many Aladdin kit homes. Is that due to their proximity to a large Aladdin Mill in the southern part of the state?

New Bern has many Aladdin kit homes. Is that due to their proximity to a large Aladdin Mill in the southern part of the state? Most likely, yes. Image is from the 1923 Aladdin catalog.

*

One of my favorite finds in New Bern was the Aladdin Hampshire located in the heart of the historic downtown. This house was offered in the early 1920s.

One of my favorite finds in New Bern was the Aladdin "Hampshire" located in the heart of the historic downtown. This house was offered in the early 1920s.

*

This must surely be infill, because the houses around it all date to the mid-to-late 1800s.

This must surely be infill, because the houses around it all date to the mid-to-late 1800s. It's a beautiful little house in wonderful condition. And it retains its original casement windows!

*

Due to heavy landscaping, I had trouble getting a good shot, but you can see that little bay window poking up from the bushes.

Due to heavy landscaping, I had trouble getting a good shot, but you can see that little bay window poking up from the bushes, and the small fixed sashes flanking the fireplace. It's a thrill to see a 90-year-old house in original condition.

*

What a cutie!

What a cutie! The house in New Bern is "flipped" (the mirror image).

*

The Aladdin Plaza was another very popular house for Aladdin (1919).

The Aladdin Plaza was another very popular house for Aladdin (1919).

*

Is this an Aladdin Plaza? Given its proximity (near other Aladdins), Id say its very likely.

Is this an Aladdin Plaza? Given its proximity (near other Aladdins within Ghent), I'd say it's likely.

*

The Pomona was one of Aladdins most popular homes.

The Pomona was one of Aladdin's most popular homes. I saw two of these in New Bern, and neglected to capture the address of the second one. The first one (in Ghent) is shown below.

*

Its a terrible picture, but it shows a piece of the Aladdin Pomona in New Berns Historic Ghent neighborhood.

It's a terrible picture, but it shows a piece of the Aladdin Pomona in New Bern's Historic Ghent neighborhood, on Spencer Avenue. It's definitely a Pomona, but has endured a great deal of remodeling. The front porch is 100% enclosed.

*

The Aladdin Cape Cod (1923) was another popular kit home.

The Aladdin "Cape Cod" (1923) was another popular kit home.

*

Did someone order an Aladdin Cape Cod from the Wilmington Mill and say, Supersize Me?

Did someone order an Aladdin Cape Cod from the Wilmington Mill and say, "Supersize Me"? It is a nice match to the Aladdin, but it's much too wide. It's likely that this is a pattern-book house, but I haven't been able to find a corresponding match in my collection of early 1900s pattern books. More than 30% of kit homes were customized, so it's possible this was ordered "extra large" from the Aladdin mill.

*

Gordon Van Tine,  like Sears and Aladdin, also sold kit homes through a mail-order catalog. Shown here is the GVT Roberts

Gordon Van Tine, like Sears and Aladdin, also sold kit homes through a mail-order catalog. Shown here is the GVT "Roberts"(also known as the #560).

*

And heres a near-perfect Roberts I found on Rhem Avenue.

And here's a near-perfect Roberts I found on Rhem Avenue.

*

Within New Bern, I found two of these Gordon Van Tine homes, but neglected to make a note of the address. The porch on this

Within New Bern, I found two of these Gordon Van Tine homes, but neglected to make a note of the address. The porch on this house and those clipped gables are what first catch your eye. If you find this missing "Mt. Vernon," please give me an address (and a photo)!

*

And now Sears. The Sears catalog identified the Osborn as a bungalow from the West. Its distinctive and easy to pick out in a crowd (1921 catalog).

And now Sears. The Sears catalog identified the "Osborn" as a bungalow "from the Golden West." It's distinctive and easy to pick out in a crowd (1921 catalog).

*

Alson

It's had some remodeling, but it's very likely that this house on Spencer Avenue is the real deal: A Sears Osborn. Check out the tapered chimney, rafter tails and detailing on the porch railing.

*

The Sears Roanoke is another distinctive Sears house (1921).

The Sears Roanoke is another distinctive Sears house (1921).

*

That

That side entry (originally with a pergola) is a unique feature of the Roanoke, as is the wooden awning and symmetry on the home's front. It's so lovely to see that awning still in place. And look to the left. What's that next door?

*

And whats that next door to the Roanoke?

Is that a Sears Chelsea? Hmmm...

*

Boy oh boy, its hard to know for sure.

Boy oh boy, it's hard to know for sure. In that the "Chelsea" (also known as #111) in New Bern was built without a basement, that side with the staircase bay is not going to have a doorway under it (as shown here). I'd have to see this house up close and personal to make a positive ID. For now, I'd say it's a "definite maybe."

*

Just down the street from the Roanoke and Chelsea is something that looks a lot like a Sears Chelsea.

Just down the street from the Roanoke and Chelsea is something that looks a lot like a Sears Saratoga.

*

Is this a Sears Chelsea?

Is this a Sears Saratoga? The Saratoga is 30 feet across the front. This house in New Bern looks much wider than that. Again, was it supersized? It's another house that is a "definite possibility." I'd need to see the interior to make a proper judgement. It certainly is a good match in many other ways.

*

The majestic Milton (1918 catalog).

The majestic Milton (1918 catalog).

*

What a glorious house!

What a glorious house, and it's in such beautiful condition!

*

And just across the street from the Milton is Modern Home #178. Its the ONLY #178 Ive seen in my many years of traveling (25 states and 200 cities).

And just across the street from the Milton is Modern Home #178. It's the ONLY #178 I've seen in my many years of traveling (25 states and 200 cities).

*

What fun to scratch one more house off my never seen this model list! And right in New Bern, North Carolina.

What fun to scratch one more house off my "never seen this model" list! And right in New Bern, North Carolina.

*

The Lynnhaven is a tricky model to identify authoritatively because it had so many kissing cousins that looked very similar.

The Lynnhaven is a tricky model to identify authoritatively because it had so many "kissing cousins" that looked very similar. The position of the shed dormer and the depth of that front-facing gable are good clues for this model.

*

Is this the Real Deal? Might be. It looks like a good match.

Is this the Real Deal? Might be. It looks like a good match.

*

Last but not least is the sweet little Starlight (1921).

Last but not least is the sweet little "Starlight" (1921).

*

Forlorn and forgotten, it sits next door to the RollerLand Skating Rink in the 3500-block of Neuse Blvd.

Forlorn and forgotten, it sits next door to the RollerLand Skating Rink in the 3500-block of Neuse Blvd. Stay strong, little Starlight. Perhaps help is coming. Either that, or you'll be eaten by Kudzu soon, and it'll all be over.

*

If you enjoy the pretty pictures, please share this link with friends on Facebook and/or via email!

To contact Rose (who art in Norfolk) about returning to New Bern, please leave a comment below!

To read the prior blog I did on New Bern, click here.

*

Oh My! Who Knew That New Bern Had So Many Kit Homes!

January 19th, 2016 Sears Homes 1 comment

Fun times in New Bern!

Mr. Hubby and I just returned from a visit to New Bern, NC where we stayed at the Aerie Bed and Breakfast and spent the days seeing the sights (and looking for kit homes).

Within New Bern’s Ghent neighborhood, we found an abundance of kit homes, and (a nice bonus) one turquoise Lustron, (all-steel homes from the late 1940s).

My favorite two finds within Ghent were the Sears Milton, and - just across the street - a Sears Modern Home #178  facing the Sears Milton. And here’s what’s even more fun: In the 1914 Sears Modern Homes catalog, Modern Home #178 was featured on the same page as the Milton.

And I was surprised to find that these two radically different houses - The Milton and Modern Home #178 - share an identical floor plan! I’ve been playing around with Sears Homes for 15+ years and never noticed that before.

The next blog will showcase a few of the two dozen kit homes I found in New Bern, but today, it’s all about the Milton and it’s fraternal twin, Modern Home #178.

To read more about the Milton, click here.

*

The Milton and Modern Home

The Sears Milton and Modern Home #178: Two different models, one floor plan. Sears Homes were given names in 1918. Modern Home #264P210 survived long enough in the catalog to merit a name: The Milton. Modern Home #178's last year was 1914.

*

Both

Two houses - one floorplan. The Sears Milton in New Bern (across the street from #178) was customized when built, and does not have the traditional two-story bay window.

*

Two houses - one floorplan.

Both first and second floors are identical in the Milton and Modern Home #178.

*

The Milton was one of Sears finest homes.

The Milton was one of Sears finest homes.

*

Notice

Notice the massive eaves, and cornice returns on this grand house. It's a very distinctive house (thus making it easier to spot). In the Miltons that I've seen, those pergolas have been converted into a roof, covering the expansive front porch. Notice also the dramatic bracketing on the eaves. Dentil molding is found at the top of the columns and around the eaves.

*

The

Absent that two-story bay window, every other detail on this Milton is spot-on.

*

house

Here's a close-up of those distinctive cornice returns.

*

Another view of this

Another view of this grand old kit home in New Bern, NC.

*

Between landscaping obstacles

A surfeit of landscaping obstacles made photographing this old house a challenge. Note the tapered board on the underside of the first-floor porch roof, with a small block at its center. This is also a perfect match to the old catalog image.

*

And just across the street is the Sears Modern Home #178.

And just across the street is the Sears Modern Home #178. Beautiful! There must be s a story here, as to how these two spacious (and fancy) Sears Homes were built just across the street from one another!

*

A view of the Milton, as seen from the front yard of #178.

A view of the Milton, as seen from the front yard of #178.

*

One of these Miltons is not like the other!

"One of these Miltons is not like the other!" On the far left (in blue shirt) is my BFF, Milton Crum, with Jim Silverstorf (holding an antenna tuner). When I first told Milton (blue shirt) about the Sears Milton (white clapboards), Milton said, "Now that's a darn fine name for a house!"

*

My next blog - the OTHER 22 kit homes I found within New Bern, including this little cutie in the 600-block of Broad Street!

My next blog - the OTHER 22 kit homes I found within New Bern, including this little cutie in the 600-block of Broad Street!

*

Isnt it a darling little house?

Isn't it a darling little house?

*

To read more about the Sears Milton, click here.

*

Fenestration Devastation

December 15th, 2015 Sears Homes 5 comments

Years ago

Sometime in 2005 or 2006, a nice fellow named Bill Inge told me about a Sears Alhambra in his town. I'd heard of Bill through several mutual friends, but I had assumed he was some really old guy that wanted only to give me a 4-hour lecture on every thing I was doing wrong in my little career. Plus, 73% of the time, people who report a Sears House sighting are 100% wrong. When I pulled up to this house a little town in western Virginia, I was delighted to see that Bill was right: It was a Sears Alhambra.

*

House

On January 1, 2007, I married a nice fellow named Wayne and moved to Norfolk (from Alton, IL), and that's when I met Bill Inge for the first time. He was not a tottering old man in his dotage (as I had suspected), but he was younger than me. In fact, he was an old soul (like me) who loved old houses and had become Norfolk's #1 architectural historian. And when I started spending all my spare time doing research at the Norfolk Library Local History Room, I got to know Bill. It was nice to meet someone equally rabid about historic architecture. Photo is copyright 2007 Dave Chance and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

In 2007, I married a nice fellow named Wayne and moved to Norfolk, and thats when I met Bill Inge for the first time. He wasnt a tottering old man in his dotage (as I had suspected), but he was a little younger than me.

Everyone loves the Alhambra, and Bill told me that the Alhambra is his favorite Sears House, and there's one in his own neighborhood. How sweet is that? (1925 Sears Modern Homes Catalog)

*

But then yesterday, I started receiving texts on my phone from Bill.

Bill contacted me and said that this lovely old Sears house (built 1923) was now "under the knife." It's always troubling to hear about an old house suffering these indignities.

*

If you look

For 92 years, this house had a set of original wooden windows and then - in a quick moment - they were gone. Judging by this image, we must surmise that Santa was overcome by emotion. Photo is copyright 2015 Bill Inge and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

Apparently some smooth-tongued traveling salesman (perhaps a masher) convinced the homeowner that double-glazed vinyl windows would pay for themselves in 27 years.

Apparently some smooth-tongued traveling salesman (perhaps a masher) convinced the homeowner that double-glazed vinyl windows would pay for themselves in 12 years (which is most likely not even close) or that the repairing the old wooden windows was just a chore (yes, they do need maintenance every 40 years or so), or perhaps the most egregious lie of all: Fancy new windows would give the house more value when it was sold. Photo is copyright 2015 Bill Inge and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

What he did NOT

What he did NOT tell them is that low-to-mid-range vinyl windows typically have a lifespan of 15 years, and then they rot, crack, warp of the seals fail, and there is no repairing them. That's it. You're then on the roller-coaster of replacing those windows every 15-20 years for the rest of the home's life.

*

What he did NOT tell them is that low-to-mid-range vinyl windows typically have a lifespan of 15 years, and then they rot, crack, warp of the seals fail, and there is no repairing them. Thats it. Youre then on the roller-coaster of replacing those windows every 15-20 years for the rest of the homes life.

Bill, being almost as "unique" as I am, attempted to salvage the old wooden windows from the Alhambra but someone beat him to it! I have a sneaking suspicion that they're not going into another Alhambra.

*

House

I'm hesitant to name the city where this Fenestration Devastation occurred, but I can tell you this: This old Virginia mountain town is not kind to old houses. This is what happened to an Aladdin Colonial on a dead-end street, not terribly far from the Alhambra. The Colonial was one of Aladdin's biggest and best; key word - WAS.

*

Im hestiant to name the Virginia city where this Fenestration Devastation occured, but I can tell you this: Theyre not kind to old houses. This is what happened to an Aladdin Colonial on a dead-end street, not terribly far from the Alhambra.

The Aladdin Colonial from the 1916 catalog.

*

It’d be easy to write an entire blog on this topic alone: WHY you should save your home’s original windows, but this is a much better piece than I could write. Take a minute and read it.

To read more about the other kit homes I found in this unnamed Virginia town, click here.

*

The Vernon is a Home with Marked Personality!

August 29th, 2015 Sears Homes 10 comments

At first, I thought about titling this blog, “With a little help from my friends,” because - like so much of this research - I wouldn’t have much to write about if it wasn’t for fellow kit-house lovers who are always on the look-out for fresh discoveries.

Becky Gottschall has been finding all manner of wonderful houses in and around Pottstown, Pennsylvania. In my own opinion, the crème de la crème of these discoveries is the Sterling “Vernon” - right in the heart of Pottstown.

The other helper is Rachel Shoemaker, who provided the original catalog images shown below.

Many thanks to both Becky and Rachel for their help!

To read about a less-fortunate house in Pennsylvania, click here.

Did you know there’s a Sears Magnolia in Pennsylvania?

~

Sterling Homes, based in Bay City, Michigan, sold kit homes through a mail-order catalog, just like Sears.

Sterling Homes, based in Bay City, Michigan, sold kit homes through a mail-order catalog, just like Sears. The "Vernon" was featured on the cover of the 1928 catalog.

*

ff

Nice looking houses, too (rear cover, 1928).

*

The Vernon was Sterlings Magnolia: Their biggest and best house.

Personality! So saith the advertising copy in this 1917 catalog. The "Vernon" was Sterling's Magnolia: Their biggest and best house, and it had shutters "savoring of New England." Love the writing!

*

And it was a fine and spacious home.

And it was a fine and spacious home. The kitchen stuck out in the rear for several reasons. Primarily, it provided ventilation on three sides of the room and helped separate this room from the rest of the house. The kitchen was not only hot (due to behemoth stoves and ranges), but it was also considered a hazard to happy living, due to bad smells (ice box, soot and grease), cooking odors, and the heat. Oh my, the heat!

*

The maid

In older homes (pre-1920), you'll often find that the space over the kitchen was a "storage room" or "trunk room," because this space was considered unsuitable for living space. In later years, it was often the maid's room. Guess she was made of stouter stuff than to worry over bad smells, coal soot and high heat. The master bedroom (like the living room directly below) has a fireplace. Pretty sweet!

*

Even if you opted for all the extras, the Vernon would only cost a smidge more than $4,000. Pretty sweet deal - even in 1917.

Even if you opted for all the extras, the Vernon would only cost a smidge more than $4,000. Pretty sweet deal - even in 1917. It really was a grand home (1917 catalog).

*

All of which explains why it was featured on the cover of Sterlings catalogs (1928 catalog shown above).

All of which explains why it was featured on the cover of Sterling's catalogs (1928 catalog shown above).

*

And the one in Pottsdown, Pennsylvania is unusually stunning!

And the one in Pottstown, Pennsylvania is unusually stunning! Photo is copyright 2015 Becky Gottschall and may not be used or reproduced without written permission. Thus saith the law. And the lions. Even if one is tilted just a bit. They are stoned, after all.

*

Its a gorgeous house.

It's a gorgeous house, and in excellent condition. You can see the wonderful detail on the rafter tails in this photo. Photo is copyright 2015 Becky Gottschall and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

Another beautiful view from another beautiful angle.

Another beautiful view from another angle. I'm not sure, but that appears to be a slate roof (at least on the side of those dormers). Photo is copyright 2015 Becky Gottschall and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

Wow

What a house. Do you have one in your neighborhood? (1928 catalog).

*

Many thanks again to Becky Gotschall for providing an abundance of clear, beautiful photos.

Many thanks again to Becky Gotschall for providing an abundance of clear, beautiful photos.

*

To read about a less-fortunate house in Pennsylvania, click here.

Did you know there’s a Sears Magnolia in Pennsylvania?

To read about another Sterling Vernon in New York, click here.

~

The Brentwood: A Home of Impressive Beauty (1952)

April 29th, 2015 Sears Homes 2 comments

Many times, I’ve written a note to someone to tell them that they’re living in an Aladdin Kit Home, and invariably, when they right back they’ll say, “I’m so excited to find out that I have a Sears House!”

In fact, I’d say that this happens 80% of the time.

Aladdin kit homes are not Sears kit homes. These are two different companies.

Sears gets all the press, but there were six other companies selling kit homes on a national level and Sears was neither the biggest, nor the longest lived. Sears started selling homes in 1908 and was gone by 1940. Conversely, Aladdin issued their first catalog in 1906 and closed their doors in 1981. During their 32 years in the business, Sears sold about 70,000 homes. Aladdin sold more than 75,000 homes.

When I wrote my first article about kit homes in early 2000, many folks had never even heard of Sears Homes, so perhaps in time, people will come to appreciate (and know about) Aladdin. From an architectural standpoint, it’s a more interesting company, just because of the variety of housing styles offered through the decades.

And many thanks to Dale Wolicki and Rebecca Hunter for finding the beauty featured below! You can visit Dale’s website here, and you can learn more about Rebecca here.

To learn more about identify kit homes, click here.

*

The Brentwood was featured on the cover of the 1952 catalog.

The Brentwood was featured on the cover of the 1951 catalog.

*

Aladdin was actually a bigger company than Sears, and longer-lived, but today, it seems that fewer people are aware of this company.

Aladdin was actually a bigger company than Sears, and longer-lived, but today, it seems that fewer people are aware of this company (1951 catalog).

*

Picture

Close-up of the picture from the page above. The text explains why it's simple to build with the Readi-cut system. I was hoping that those are Aladdin houses in the background, but I don't think they are.

*

Thanks to the modern marvel of machinery (and electricity), one man can now do the work of six!

Thanks to the modern marvel of machinery (and electricity), and a central site for pre-cutting all the framing lumber, one man can now do the work of six!

*

The Brentwood was a dandy house.

The Brentwood was a dandy house with four floor plans with some variation.

*

FP1

Floorplan one is the only house with a fireplace.

*

FP21

Floorplan two is down to two bedrooms, but has a bigger kitchen/DR.

*

FP3

Floorplan 2 and 3 have the same layout, but 3 is a smaller footrpint.

*

FP4

Floorplan 3 and 4 are the same footprint, but with three bedrooms carved into the small space.

*

FP4

This appears to be Floorplan #1, as it has a fireplace and a planter under that bedroom window. Apparently, the houses in this subdivision have tremendous water pressure. The guy with the house is being pushed backwards.

*

Then again, he also looks like Americas first metrosexual.

Then again, he also looks like America's first metrosexual.

*

Thie

Located in Elm Grove, Wisconsin, this gorgeous Mid-Century Modern Ranch is a perfect match to the catalog image. My favorite feature is that over sized, dramatic fireplace (which appears to have several flues). Photo is copyright 2015 Dale Wolicki and Rebecca Hunter and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.

What a house!

What a house!

*

You can visit Dale’s website here, and you can learn more about Rebecca here.

*      *      *

Veritable Veneration for the Aladdin Venus

April 25th, 2015 Sears Homes No comments

Last week, Elisabeth Witt of Wisconsin contacted me and said she thought there were a few kit homes in Shorewood, Wisconsin. I went to Realtor.com and entered Shorewood to do a quickie search, and one of the first hits was an Aladdin Venus! Click here to see the listing.

The Aladdin Venus was a popular house, but what makes this house in Shorewood so interesting is that it’s the only Venus I’ve seen that retains its original wooden awning.

And before we get to the pictures, I wonder if the Realtor knows it’s an Aladdin kit home? If so, there’s not a peep about it in the listing!

Thanks so much to Elisabeth for sending the photos!

To learn more about Aladdin, click here.

*

Located in Shorewood, Wisconsin, this is the only Aladdin Venus Ive seen with that wooden awning intact!

Located in Shorewood, Wisconsin, this is the only Aladdin Venus I've seen with that wooden awning intact! And the rest of the house is in lovely condition, minus the windows on the side. Best of all, this house is for sale and if you click on the link above, you'll find an abundance of interior photos. Thanks to Elisabeth Witt for getting this photo!

*

Detail of that wooden awning.

Detail of that wooden awning.

*

The Aladdin Venus was a beautiful house.

The Aladdin Venus was a beautiful house, with a lot of fun details, like those paneled columns, the L-shaped front porch, and the star-pattern of windows on the home's left side (shown here). It also has oversized eaves and the roof slopes over those upstairs windows. When you look at the interior photos, that slope is dramatic on the 2nd floor. (1919 catalog)

*

The Venus was offered in two floor plans.

The Venus was offered in two floor plans. Venus #1 was smaller (18 by 24).

*

One house

Venus #2 was 20' by 26' and a couple other minor differences.

*

House

"It continually attracts attention from people walking by..."

*

The Aladdin Venus, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

The Aladdin Venus, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

*

What a pretty little Aladdin Venus!

What a pretty little Aladdin Venus! But the removal of four windows is a curiousity!

*

Heres a tired Aladdin Venus in Newport News, Virginia.

Here's a tired Aladdin Venus in Newport News, Virginia.

*

Another weary Venus, and this ones in Norfolk (38th Street).

Another weary Venus, and this one's in Norfolk (38th Street).

*

Heres an Aladdin Venus just outside of Roanoke Rapids, NC.

Here's an Aladdin Venus just outside of Roanoke Rapids, NC.

*

If those other Venuses (Venii?) are tired-looking, this ones exhausted. Its on 35th Street, in Park Place. At one time, Park Place was solid working class and many classic bungalows. Now its a blighted, high-crime area thats trying to come back. In the meantime, the many bungalows in this neighborhood can be had for a song.

If those other Venuses (Venii?) are tired-looking, this one's exhausted. It's on 35th Street, in Park Place (Norfolk, VA). At one time, Park Place was solid working class neighborhood with many classic bungalows. Now it's a blighted, high-crime area that's trying to come back. In the meantime, the many bungalows in this neighborhood can be had for a song.

*

Lets end on a happy note. :)  Many thanks to Elisabeth for the wonderful photo. And someone should tell that Realtor that this is the real deal - an Aladdin (not Sears) kit home!

Let's end on a happy note. :) Many thanks to Elisabeth for the wonderful photo. And someone should tell that Realtor that this is the real deal - an Aladdin (not Sears) kit home!

*

To learn more about Aladdin, click here.

*      *      *

My Only Blog With an “R” Rating!

April 6th, 2015 Sears Homes 5 comments

Before you start reading this, please usher the children into another room and/or tell them to cover their ears and hum.

Sears only offered two models of kit homes that had a sink in the closet. One was their fanciest house (”The Magnolia”) and the other was one of their simplest designs (”The Cinderella”). Why put a sink in the corner of a dressing room or a closet? Running the necessary plumbing, drain lines and vent would have added some expense, so what’s the point?

There were a few obvious reasons: It gave the lady of the house a place to wash her “unmentionables” and it also gave the man a place to shave when the couple’s seven kids were hogging the bathroom.

But there might have been another lesser-known reason.

Are those kids gone? ;)

In the early 1900s, male prophylactics were “re-usable.” It wasn’t until the 1920s that latex was invented, and these particular items became single-use.

By the way, this particular insight as to the purpose of that master-bedroom sink is not my own, but was sent to me by a faithful reader of the blog. Best of all, it makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? I’d love to give proper credit to the reader who shared this info with me, but I can’t remember who it was! Argh!

To learn more about The Cinderella, click here.

There are only nine known Magnolias in the country. You can read more here.

*

house 1921

The Cinderella was a very modest house and apparently, they didn't sell too many of these. It was priced at $1,500 and yet only had a single bedroom. The dressing room was located off the living room.

*

Cindy 1921

Close-up of the floorplan shows a sink in the dressing room.

*

Cindy

Roll-away beds were heavily promoted for use in the Cinderella. Here, you can see the lady of the house has used the dressing room sink for washing out her delicate undergarments.

*

DuMont

The DuMont was a pattern-book house offered in the 1920s. It also featured a sink in a closet.

*

Dumont

Close-up of the sink in the DuMont off the master-bedroom.

*

Sears Maggy 1921

Sears biggest and best house (The Magnolia) also had a sink in the closet.

*

South bend

The Sears Magnolia in South Bend, Indiana has the original built-in cabinets, and an original closet sink, together with original faucets. Quite a find, and a testament to the quality of the materials.

*

South Bend

Close-up of the sink in the South Bend Magnolia. It also has its original medicine chest and light fixture. This picture is almost two years old. I hope the new owner does an honest restoration of the old house. In all my travels, I've never seen a three-sided sink like this.

*

West Virginia

The Magnolia in West Virginia also has its original cabinets in the closet, but the sink has been replaced. Interesting that the sink is placed right next to that window.

*

To learn more about The Cinderella, click here.

There are only nine known Magnolias in the country. You can read more here.

*        *      *

Orlando in Nebraska

April 4th, 2015 Sears Homes 1 comment

Last year, I was watching the movie “Nebraska” with my daughter Corey, when I asked her to hit pause for a moment. I jumped up, grabbed a camera and took a picture of the tv screen.

My daughter quietly asked, “Sears House?”

Montgomery Ward,” I replied.

We continued with our movie.

As mentioned in a prior blog, I can’t just watch movies or television like normal people. I’m forever looking at the architecture. Doesn’t matter if they’re Sears Homes or not, I like looking at houses. When I was single, I kept hoping to find a dating site that featured pictures of men’s homes, rather than their faces. Some things are so much more important than looks. And then I ended up marrying a guy who lived in a concrete filing cabinet for people.

And then we moved to a fine home after we got married.

Shown below is the house I spotted in the movie “Nebraska.”  As movies go, it was okay, but pretty slow.

However it did have a nice house. Looks like it might be a Montgomery Ward “Orlando.”

Maybe.

To read more about how to identify kit homes, click here.

*

Movie

This foursquare was featured in the movie "Nebraska" with Bruce Dern

*

Dare I hope

Is it a Montgomery Ward Orlando? Might be.

*

house

Montgomery Ward and Gordon Van Tine were one in the same. Montgomery Ward relied on GVT to handle all facets of sales, from catalog publication to order fulfillment. What's the difference between a Montgomery Ward house and a Gordon Van Tine house? Not much. Image above is from the 1918 catalog.

*

house

I love reading this stuff.

*

house

Classic foursquare, with one difference: No entry foyer. Instead, that extra space is used for a small den or first-floor bedroom. Notice also that it has "good-morning stairs" in the kitchen. Nice touch!

*

house

This is the only Orlando I've ever seen, and it's in Beckley, West Virginia.

*

House

My friend Ersela found this house in Beckley. For years, people had said it was a Sears House. They were close!

*

To learn more about Gordon Van Tine, click here.

*       *        *