Archive

Posts Tagged ‘aladdin in bay city’

Beaverboard: Long Tough Fibers of White Spruce

June 13th, 2014 Sears Homes No comments

The houses that DuPont built for their munitions workers at Penniman, Virginia featured “Beaverboard” interiors. Sounds pretty fancy, but in fact, it was an economical alternative to real plaster walls.

Bill Inge lent me his “Sweet’s Architectural Catalog” (1917) which had a two-page spread on Beaverboard. It answered all my questions (and then some).

Apparently, this wallboard product was quite the rage in the first years of the 20th Century, and was hugely popular in low-cost industrial housing.

In 1981, our family moved into a house built in 1949, and it had Beaverboard on the walls of its small attic room (complete with 2-inch strips at the seams). When we tore it out, it created a massive mess.

Apparently, Beaverboard wallboard was a product that endured for many years.

According to Wikipedia, it can also be used as an artist’s canvas. Grant Wood’s famous painting of the morose farming couple - American Gothic - was painted on a piece of Beaverboard.

What made plaster so expensive? Click here.

To learn more about industrial housing at DuPont’s villages, click here.

Interested in Virginia’s own Ghost City? Click here.

*

Beaver Board

I wanted to title this blog, "Beaverboard: Who Gives a Dam?" but I couldn't bring myself to do it. ;)

*

housing

The houses that DuPont built at their munitions plants had beaverboard walls.

*

Beaverboard

Despite the glowing reports in the Beaverboard literature, this was still an "economical" alternative to plaster.

*

house

The header says, "Foreign Branches." Quite an outfit!

*

house

"Long tough fibers of white spruce...compressed and built up into...panels..."

*

house beaverboard

Is the homeowner weilding a walking stick at the old worker?

*

house

Now that the worker has started putting up Beaverboard, the walking stick has been removed from sight.

*

house

Why bother to put six big beautiful windows in a house and then cover them up? Why not just put Beaverboard right over the windows? If I were queen of the world, I'd make it illegal to have a sunporch shrouded in heavy drapes.

*

beaverboard

"It permits of mural decorations in theaters..." I have my doubts about this.

*

house

Under "Club" it reads, "The club's activities never will be hindered by repairs..." Wow.

*

Denver

Here's a Penniman house that was moved from the munitions factory to Capitol Landing Road (Williamsburg). Was it built with interior walls of Beaverboard? Probably so.

*

Was that house at Penniman beaverboard

How I'd love to see the inside of this Penniman/DuPont house when built in 1918.

*

To learn more about industrial housing at DuPont’s villages, click here.

Interested in Virginia’s own Ghost City? Click here.

*        *        *

The Edison: One of the Prettiest Little Bungalows Ever Built

November 21st, 2013 Sears Homes 3 comments

The Aladdin Edison must have been a very popular house for Aladdin. It was small (600 square feet), affordable ($750 in 1914) and from an architectural standpoint, a real cutie pie. According  to the 1914 catalog, it was “One of the prettiest little bungalows ever built.”

The Aladdin Edison, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

The Aladdin Edison, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

*

In 1914, it was known as the Denver.

In 1914, it was known as the "Denver."

*

There were minor differences

There were minor differences between the floorplan for the Denver (1914) and the Edison (1919).

*

Edison

In the 1919 floor plan, the dining room has been moved to the front of the house and a bedroom has been enlarged. The bathroom got a lot smaller though. Good grief - six by eight? You'd have to step into the hallway to change your mind. Oh wait, there is no hallway. And a bedroom lost a closet.

*

It wasnt until I started putting this blog together that I realized there were some other differences, too.

It wasn't until I started putting this blog together that I realized there were some other differences, too. The dormer on the Denver (right) is not as high on the roofline as the dormer on the Edison (left). That's a significant difference. The Denver (right) has four small windows across the front. The Edison has two big and two small.

*

But

But I'd have to say I like the Edison better. And look at that hammock on the front porch!

*

And heres a pretty little bungalow in Norfolk.

And here's a pretty little Edison in Norfolk. Looking good, too! However, it should be very afraid. It's perilously close to Old Dominion University, and colleges are notorious bungalow eaters. Will it live to see its 100th birthday?

*

It sits next door to this Edison (on 49th Street).

It sits right next door to this Edison (on 49th Street). Will ODU be able to resist gobbling up TWINKIE Edisons? Doubtful. Two little Edisons together - forever. I hope.

*

In 1923, this ad appeared in the Ledger Dispatch (Norfolk).

In April 1923, this ad appeared in the Ledger Dispatch newspaper (Norfolk). My new full-time job is reading through hundreds and hundreds of pages of old newspapers, looking for information on Penniman. In the process, I do find some really unexpected and cool stuff, such as this ad. Even in 1923, it was described as "beautiful." Is it the blue house or the green house there on 49th Street? I wonder. But if you take a close look at this house, you'll notice that it has all the same furniture as the Edison in the 1919 catalog. Oopsie. Looks like J. Wesley Gardner infringed someone's copyright! The ad also says it has a poultry house in the back yard.

*

Heres a cute little Edison in Hopewell, VA.

Here's a cute little Edison in Hopewell, VA. Ah but wait, look at that dormer! It's a Denver!

*

Another Denver in Hopewell, VA.

Another Denver in Hopewell, VA.

*

And another.

This Hopewell Denver has a "sensitive" addition. Looks darn good!

*

Oh NO!!! Blind!

Oh NO!!! It's had its eyes gouged out!!! This poor dear is in Hopewell, too.

*

Oh

The tree in the front yard is dying of embarrassment.

*

Lynch

The Edison seems to be prone to abuse. This unfortunate thing is in Lynchburg. Wrought iron? Really? And I'm not sure why there are two reflectors at the base of the step. Is it so people won't drive into the living room at night?

*

Roanoke Rapids, NC also has an abundance of Edisons.

Roanoke Rapids, NC also has an abundance of Edisons. This one is a little rough around the edges.

*

This one wishes someone would give it an overdose

This one is "all fixed up" (shudder). It's also in Roanoke Rapids.

*

A palate cleanse.

This one needs some love, but the Japanese Lanterns are a nice touch (Roanoke Rapids).

*

Heres a sweet little

And I saved one of my favorites for last. It's a a sweet little Denver in Crewe, VA. Seems likely that the addition (left front) was done when the house was originally built. This house is on Route 460 on the left side heading east. I always wave "hello" when I drive past it. Something about this little bungalow in Crewe always makes me smile.

*

To read more about Penniman, click here.

How many kit homes does Hopewell have? Click here to learn more!

To learn more about Roanoke Rapids and their amazing collection of houses, click here.

To contact Rose, leave a comment below.

*    *    *

Move it! Don’t Lose it! (Fourth Update on the Pop Culture House at BGSU)

August 3rd, 2012 Sears Homes No comments

You might be surprised to learn how often kit homes are moved from their original site to a new location.

Judging by the frequency with which these homes are picked up and moved, re-locating a kit home must be,

1) A do-able (albeit complicated) process

2) Financially feasible

3) Historically sensible

4) Environmentally brilliant.

The Sears Lewiston (which is actually a custom-built Wardway design) at BGSU is threatened with demolition. It currently houses the Pop Culture program at the college. Lovingly known as “The Popc House,” this structurally sound building may soon be reduced to a 300,000+ pound pile of rubble on August 7th, unless the college (Bowling Green State University) reverses its decision.

The Lewiston’s major crime is being in the way of a proposed college expansion. If you want to read more about the house and its history, please click here (Part I), here (Part II) and here (Part III).

Not only can kit homes be moved, but they should be moved.

The quality of lumber seen in these homes is something not easily described. In fact, I devoted an entire blog to this topic. In short, the lumber for these early 20th Century kit homes was milled from first-growth trees in virgin forests. We’ll never seen lumber of this quality again. Period.

Some preliminary research suggests that the Popc House at BGSU can be moved off campus and to another site for less than $20,000. What are the proposed costs to demolish this house? Probably not terribly far away from that $20,000 mark.

It’s time for the college to make a commitment to its own history, to its alumni, to the community, and last but not least, to the environment, and SAVE the Popc House.

The landfills of America already have enough old houses.

Don’t add one more.

This Sears Lynnhaven in Muncie, Indiana was moved in the 1980s. This is one of my favorite photos.

This Sears Lynnhaven in Muncie, Indiana was moved in the 1980s. This is one of my favorite photos. The Lynnhaven and the BGSU house are probably similar in size and girth.

*

Sometime in the 1940s, this Sears Roseberry was moved across town. This is a fairly substantial house and the move took place in a far simpler time. This house is in Alton, IL.

Sometime in the 1940s, this Sears Roseberry was moved across town. This is a fairly substantial house and the move took place in a far simpler time. This house is in Alton, IL.

*

This Shadowlawn (Aladdin Kit Home) was moved in the 1980s when a proposed road improvement project threatened it with demolition. The Shadowlawn was a very spacious home. It now sits in Chesapeake, at Portsmouth Boulevard and Joliff Road.

This Shadowlawn (Aladdin Kit Home) was moved in the 1980s when a proposed road improvement project threatened it with demolition. The Shadowlawn was a very spacious home. It now sits in Chesapeake, Virginia at Portsmouth Boulevard and Joliff Road.

*

Shadow

The Shadowlawn measures 28' wide and 30' feet deep, not including the substantial porch.

*

A Sears kit home (The Gordon) was relocated in Florida (forgot which city) in 2002. The story made the headlines in the local paper.

In 2002, a Sears kit home ("The Gordon") was threatened with demolition. After an uproar from the local citizens, the house was relocated to a new site. The story made the headlines in the regional papers.

*

Though not kit homes, more than 50 of these bungalows were moved from Penniman, Virginia to Norfolk, Virginia, a journey of more than 40 miles, and they were moved by BARGE. And - this is even better - they were moved in the late 1910s.

Though not "kit homes," more than 50 of these houses (shown here) were moved from Penniman, Virginia to Norfolk, Virginia, a journey of more than 40 miles, and they were moved by BARGE. And they were moved in the late 1910s. Let's see: If you can move 50 houses 40 miles 90 years ago, I suspect you could move one house a couple miles today.

*

OF the 50+ houses moved from Penniman to Norfolk, Virginia, three of these homes were large two-story houses (such as the house shown here). Again, it was moved in the late 1910s.

OF the 50+ houses moved from Penniman to Norfolk, Virginia, several of these homes were large two-story houses (such as the house shown here). Again, it was moved in the late 1910s.

*

Of the houses moved from Penniman to Norfolk (Virginia), one of them was this

The Penniman/Norfolk houses are shown here, being floated into Norfolk.

*

The Popc House in Bowling Green State University is worth saving.

The Popc House in Bowling Green State University is worth saving. This historically significant home should not be sent to a premature grave.

*

To learn more about the kit homes in Bowling Green, Ohio click here.

To sign a petition to save this house, click here.

If you’d like to send an email to BGSU president (Dr. Mazey), here’s her address: mmazey@bgsu.edu

*   *   *

It’s a Magnolia! Well, Not Really…

July 24th, 2012 Sears Homes 4 comments

Thanks wholly to Rachel Shoemaker, we’ve discovered another fancy kit home, and this one is in Angola, NY. In fact, thanks to Rachel, the old legends surrounding this old “mail-order” house will now be righted - we hope!

For years, the people in Western New York thought this house (shown below) was a Sears Magnolia. In fact, newspaper articles were written about the house, hailing it as an “adaptation of the Sears Magnolia.”

If folks had been paying attention to the details, they would have known that the Sears Magnolia was only offered from 1918 to 1922. The house in Angola, was built in 1927.

Oopsie.

In fact, the big fancy house in Angola is a Sterling Vernon. Sterling (like Sears), sold kit homes through a mail-order catalog. Sears was the largest and most well-known of the mail-order kit home companies, but Sterling was also a pretty significant player. According to Architectural Historian Dale Wolicki, Sterling sold about 50,000 kit homes in the early 1900s.

Thanks to Rachel for finding this house and then (somehow) finding photos of the house - both old and new - which are shown below.

Thanks, Rachel!  :)

To learn more about the Sears Magnolia, click here.

Sears Magnolia? I dont think so. Looks a lot like a Sterling Vernon to me.

Sears Magnolia? I don't think so. Looks a lot like a Sterling Vernon to me. Photo credit is not known. If anyone reading this blog can identify the photographer, please contact me as soon as possible. This photo is apparently from 1982 (according to info found on the back).

*

Original article, date unknown, identifying the house in Angola as a Sears Magnolia. This snippet was affixed to the back of a photograph of the house.

Original article, date unknown, identifying the house in Angola as a Sears Magnolia. This snippet was affixed to the back of a photograph of the house. (Note date at top of page.)

*

The Sterling Vernon was featured on the cover of their 1928 catalog.

The Sterling Vernon was featured on the cover of their 1928 catalog.

*

The Sterling Vernon, as seen on the cover of the 1928 catalog. Youll notice, the house in Angola looks a lot like THIS house! Thats because it came from a kit home company in Bay City, MI known as Sterling Homes.

You'll notice, the house in Angola looks a lot like THIS house! That's because it came from a kit home company in Bay City, MI known as Sterling Homes.

*

Catalog page

Catalog page featuring the Sterling Vernon.

*

text here Tiger Schmittendorf

Now in use as a Funeral Home, this massive old manse in Angola, NY was alleged to be a Sears Magnolia for many years. It was built in 1927, and it's not a Sears House, but a house sold by Sterling, based in Bay City, Michigan. This "Sterling Vernon" is 100% perfect - right down to the Photo is copyright 2012 Tiger Schmittendorf and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

house house

Another view of the Sterling Vernon in Angola, NY. Photo is copyright 2012 Tiger Schmittendorf and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

Schmittendorf

Photo is copyright 2012 Tiger Schmittendorf and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

house

Look at those porches! How pretty!! Photo is copyright 2012 Tiger Schmittendorf and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

Schmitten

Photo is copyright 2012 Tiger Schmittendorf and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

Now this is a Maggy!

The Sears Magnolia was offered from 1918 - 1922.

*

Maggy in Canton

Now THIS is a Sears Magnolia! This is one of seven known Magnolias in the country. This house is in Canton, Ohio. You'll note that this house looks a LOT like the catalog page above. Photo is copyright 2012 Janet Hess LaMonica and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

To see a Sterling Vernon found in Anderson, SC click here.

To read my favorite “Magnolia” story, click here.

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

*  *  *

Modern Home #194: Brighton, Illinois

April 11th, 2012 Sears Homes 1 comment

When I started giving lectures in southwestern Illinois, several people approached me after the talks and said, “You know, there’s a Sears Home on East Center Street in Brighton.”

So many times I drove the length of East Center Street and never saw anything that looked remotely like a Sears House. And so many times I went home and studied Houses by Mail trying desperately to figure out if any of the houses in that field guide matched any houses on East Center Street.

I’ve since learned that 80%, people who think they have a Sears kit home are wrong. Often it turns out to be a kit home from another company, but in 2002, when I was still memorizing the 370 designs offered by Sears, I wasn’t equipped or prepared to figure out if this was something OTHER than a Sears House.

Finally, one day someone gave me a specific address. That helped - a whole lot.

I snapped a photo of the house form several angles and then sat down with my pictures and Houses by Mail and this time, I was not going to give up until I figured this out.

Lo and behold, I found my house. It was a modest little thing, but there it was: Sears Modern Home #194. It had been altered and added onto, but there was no doubt that this was a Sears kit home.

Once I discover and identify a Sears House “in the flesh,” I’ll never miss another one. Seeing these houses in 3-D helps me remember all their architectural nuances. And yet, despite that, I have never seen another #194, or  its close cousins, #193 and #196.

To read about the Sears Kit Homes of Ohio, click here.

To read about the Sears homes I found in Raleigh, NC click here.

To see a short video about my sweet aunt that was killed by her not-so-sweet husband, click here.

Sears Modern Home #193, 194 and 195 (1912)

Sears Modern Home #193, 194 and 195 (1912)

*

Floor plan

This house is so small they don't even have room to spell out the word "pantry" on the floor plan. Maybe it's an abbreviation for the word "paltry"?

*

Flor plan 2

The second floor shows the smallest bath in the world.

*

house

Not a bad-looking little house.

*

house

It's been added onto (quite a bit) and someone placed an exterior door to the cellar stairs (which is a good idea anyway), and it's been clad in the ugly garb of vinyl siding, but this is unmistakeably Modern Home #194.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

*   *   *

Lost in Schenectady!

January 16th, 2012 Sears Homes No comments

In 2004, Dale Wolicki invited me and Rebecca to visit him in Michigan. One of our stops was Bay City, where we saw all manner of Aladdin kit homes, including “The Oxford.” Our wonderful tour guide (Dale), told us that the photograph of the Oxford model (shown in the 1931 catalog) was the very same Oxford that had been built in Bay City. It was the “original model,” and the only Oxford in Bay City.

Sears was the most-well known of the kit home companies, but Aladdin was bigger.  Aladdin was the first kit home company, starting business in 1906. Sears started two years later, in 1908. Aladdin outlasted all the others, remaining in business until 1981. Sears sold about 70,000 kit homes. Aladdin sold more than 75,000.

To learn more about Aladdin, click here.

I’ve only seen two Oxfords in my travels. The first was in Bay City, MI and the second was in Lorain, Ohio. And apparently, there’s a third one in Schenectady, NY (according to the testimony below).

Sch

The flared front gable makes this house very distinctive. Image is from the 1931 catalog.

*

And theres one

And there's one in Schenectady, NY, built by Mr. and Mrs. H. L. Newell.

*

Heres the house we saw that day with Dale. Its in Bay City, and is the same house shown in the 1932 catalog above.

Here's the house we saw that day with Dale. It's in Bay City, and is the same house shown in the 1931 catalog above. This photo was taken in 2004. Must have been July, because there's no snow on the ground.

*

Flo

I love this floorplan. Notice the "Radio Room" on the first floor! This was a room dedicated to that most important appliance - the radio! Today, we build entertainment centers bigger than this!

*

Secon

The largest bedroom is a mere 12 by 13. Not very big!

*

The 1931 catalog had a two-page spread on the Oxford.

The 1931 catalog had a two-page spread on the Oxford, and yet the captions mention that some of these images are NOT pictures of the Oxford.

*

My favorite feature in this little 1931 catalog are the interior views.

My favorite feature in this little 1931 catalog are the interior views. The caption states that two small bedrooms were turned into one large bedroom.

*

Living

Nice big living room. Love the furniture.

*

Kit

But this classic 1931 kithcen is the best room in the house.

*

And it has a breakfast nook.

And it has a breakfast nook. I have a thing for breakfast nooks. Again, this is apparently NOT the Oxford's kitchen because there's no provision for a breakfast nook in the floorplan.

Click here to read more about breakfast nooks.

The cover of the 1931 Aladdin catalog is a study unto itself.

The cover of the 1931 Aladdin catalog is a study unto itself.

To read more about the cover of this Aladdin catalog, click here.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

*   *   *

The Aladdin Shadowlawn: A Mass of Lights and Shadows

January 3rd, 2012 Sears Homes 4 comments

Did you ever see a more beautiful picture of its kind than the one shown here? A mass of lights and shadows, softening the greens, browns and grays of the foliage; shingles and cobbles delight the eye. You can almost feel the touch of the sunbeams patterning the lawn, and you just want to stroll up the steps and into the inviting shade of the porch.  (From the 1919 Aladdin Homes catalog)

So reads the promotional text for the Aladdin Shadowlawn. And it is a beauty. That Shadowlawn was probably one of Aladdin’s top five most popular designs.

Aladdin, like Sears, sold kit homes through a mail-order catalog. Aladdin started business in 1906, and Sears started two years later in 1908. Sears closed their Modern Homes Department in 1940, but Aladdin continued on until 1981!  To learn more about Aladdin’s history, click here. Thanks to Dale Wolicki for info on Aladdin!

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

The Aladdin Shadowlawn as seen in the 1919 Aladdin catalog.

The Aladdin Shadowlawn as seen in the 1919 Aladdin catalog.

Probably my favorite Shadowlawn, and its right here in Hampton, Virginia. I wonder if these people even know they have an Aladdin Shadowlawn. If theyre like most people Ive encountered, theyre convinced its a Sears Kit Home because theyve never even heard of Aladdin.

Probably my favorite Shadowlawn, and it's right here in Hampton, Virginia. I wonder if these people even know they have an Aladdin Shadowlawn? If they're like most people I've encountered, they're convinced it's a Sears Kit Home because they've never even heard of Aladdin.

Another favorite Shadowlawn, and this one is in Tarboro, NC. Aladdin had a big mill in Wilmington, NC.

Another favorite Shadowlawn, and this one is in Tarboro, NC. Aladdin had a big mill in Wilmington, NC, so it's not surprising that there are many Aladdins in North Carolina.

This Aladdin has had some additions, but it still looks good. Its in Rocky Mount, NC which also has an abundance of Aladdin kit homes (and a couple Lustrons, too).

This Aladdin has had some additions, but it still looks good. It's in Rocky Mount, NC which also has an abundance of Aladdin kit homes (and a couple Lustrons, too).

This Shadowlawn is close to home, and its in Portsmouth, VA (my home town). Its in a section of town known as Port Norfolk (yes, its in Portsmouth), not to be confused with West Norfolk (also in Portsmouth) or South Norfolk (which is in Chesapeake). I live in Norfolk. Period.

This Shadowlawn is close to home, and it's in Portsmouth, VA (my home town). It's in a section of town known as Port Norfolk (yes, it's in Portsmouth), not to be confused with West Norfolk (also in Portsmouth) or South Norfolk (which is in Chesapeake). I live in Norfolk. Period.

Another beautiful Shadowlawn and this one is in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Photo is courtesy of Rachel Shoemaker, and may not be used or reprinted without permission.

Another beautiful Shadowlawn and this one is in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Photo is courtesy of Rachel Shoemaker, and may not be used or reprinted without permission.

Another Shadowlawn close to home, this one is on Elm Avenue in Portsmouth.

Another Shadowlawn close to home, this one is on Elm Avenue in Portsmouth.

The fake Shadowlawn shown in the planbook has a much higher pitch to the roof. Look at the position of the eave brackets here.

The "fake Shadowlawn" shown in the planbook has a much higher pitch to the roof. Look at the position of the eave brackets here.

Is this a Shadowlawn in Maryland?

Is this a real Shadowlawn in Maryland or another fake?? Porches come and go, and sometimes, they're never built in the first place. The windows sure look right, but look at that roofline. It's much higher and steeper than a true Shadowlawn. I'd have to say it could be the planbook house (shown above). To be sure, I'd have to go inside the house and measure the rooms.

This house in Lombard, Illinois is definitely NOT a Shadowlawn. The roof is way too steeply pitched, the eaves are too small, and the brackets are in the wrong place.

This house in Lombard, Illinois is definitely NOT a Shadowlawn. The roof is way too steeply pitched, the eaves are too small, and the brackets are too small and not placed where they should be. This is a "faux" Shadowlawn. There was also a plan book design that looked a lot like the Shadowlawn. It's possible that this house came from a planbook.

Is this an Aladdin or Plan Book house? Id lean toward Aladdin, mainly because Ive found so many Aladdins in this part of Norfolk (Lafayette/Winona).

Is this an Aladdin or Plan Book house? I'd lean toward Aladdin, mainly because I've found so many verified Aladdins in this part of Norfolk (Lafayette/Winona section).

Located on Alby Street in Alton, IL, this probably is a Shadowlawn, despite the slightly different window arrangement. The brackets are right, the roofline is right and the house just looks like an Aladdin Shadowlawn. The living room stretches across the entire front of the house, so changing the windows around a bit wouldnt be too problematic.

Located on Alby Street in Alton, IL, this probably is a Shadowlawn, despite the slightly different window arrangement. The brackets are right, the roofline is right and the house just "looks" like an Aladdin Shadowlawn. The living room stretches across the entire front of the house, so changing the windows around a bit wouldn't be too problematic.

Another favorite Shadowlawn, this one is in Concord, NC.

Another favorite Shadowlawn, this one is in Concord, NC.

Another favorite, this is in Baton Rouge, LA. For years and years and years, everyone thought this was a Sears House, but no one knew the model name. When they drove me out to this house and said it was a special Sears House, I couldnt help but giggle. Way too often, Aladdin kit homes are called Sears Homes, just because Sears was a more well-known name.

Another favorite, this is in Baton Rouge, LA. For years and years and years, everyone thought this was a Sears House, but no one knew the model name. When they drove me out to this house and said it was a "special" Sears House, I couldn't help but giggle. Way too often, Aladdin kit homes are called "Sears Homes," just because Sears was a more well-known name.

And this Shadowlawn in Baton Rouge had a matching Aladdin Garage.

And this Shadowlawn in Baton Rouge had a matching Aladdin Garage.

The Peerless Garage, offered by Aladdin as a match to the Shadowlawn.

The Peerless Garage, offered by Aladdin as a "match" to the Shadowlawn.

The Aladdin Shadowlawn was very spacious.

The Aladdin Shadowlawn was very spacious.

A precursor to the Aladdin Shadowlawn was the Massachusetts.

A precursor to the Aladdin Shadowlawn was the "Massachusetts." (1914)

To learn more about Aladdin, click here.

To learn more about identifying kit homes, click here.

*   *   *

Have You Seen This House (part 2)

April 15th, 2011 Sears Homes 3 comments

Norfolk is home to 16 of these little bungalows (see below), which were moved to their resting place in Riverview and Highland Park from another location.

They’re fairly distinctive little houses, and the $64,000 question is, where did they come from?

Did they come from Hopewell? That’s one popular story, and it’d be especially interesting because Hopewell had hundreds of Aladdin kit homes, ordered by Dupont for their workers. (The factory in Hopewell manufactured gun cotton.)

Maybe they came from Penniman, Virginia, where DuPont built 600+ homes for their workers (now Naval Weapons Station Yorktown and Cheatham annex). DuPont again turned to Aladdin to supply those houses, as well. (And this was one of the largest collections of Aladdin Homes in the country.)

Despite searching throughout my old Aladdin catalogs, I have not been able to identify these Norfolk bungalows as Aladdin kit homes, but it’s possible that Aladdin created some custom designs for these large orders for Dupont.

The indefatigable researcher and fellow kit-home aficionado Mark Hardin just discovered an old article that states, “Late in the fall of 1918 the nearby munition plant (The Penniman plant in DuPont) began gradually to decrease its activities, and by March 1, 1919, there was quite an exodus of population from Williamsburg and the county…”  (The Great War ended in November 1918.)

The article goes on to say that the “ready cut houses” in Penniman “were knocked down and moved great distances on trucks and barges to many different localities, a number of them being most attractively re-erected in Williamsburg and the county.”

Here in Norfolk, we’ve long heard that our 16 bungalows arrived by barge. That old legend, coupled with the story above, suggests even more strongly that these houses were part of the 600+ houses that Dupont ordered from Aladdin sometime in the early 1910s.

Now it’s time for me to go to Williamsburg and see if I can find the rest of the collection. If anyone has any idea where I might start find early 1900s bungalows in Williamsburg, I’d be grateful to hear!

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

House

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.

Another

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.

house

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 dormer

This dormer window is a pretty distinctive feature.

another Ethel

Another "Ethel Bungalow" in Riverview

porch

Close-up of the original porch railing.

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 and Penniman, Virginia. (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.

* * *

Rocky Mount is High on Sears Homes (Part II)

April 1st, 2011 Sears Homes 5 comments

As mentioned in a prior post, I went through Rocky Mount, North Carolina several months ago and found a handful of kit homes, but apparently (without my handy dandy Garmin), I missed the good stuff. Today, I returned to Rocky Mount and this time (thanks to Garmin), I found all kinds of treasures in neighborhoods that I didn’t even know existed. (Read Part I here.)

All of the houses (below) are located in Rocky Mount, and most likely, the people living in these early 20th Century homes don’t realize that they have a kit home that came from a mail-order catalog.

The Aladdin Pasadena was a popular house, and a distintive one, too!

The Aladdin Pasadena was a popular house, and a distintive one, too!

This Pasadena has seen a few changes, but still retains the look of its original design.

This Pasadena has seen a few changes, but still retains the "look" of its original design.

The Aladdin Pomona was one of Aladdins most popular houses!

The Aladdin Pomona was one of Aladdin's most popular houses!

The siding people have had their way with this Aladdin Pomona, but fortunately it still retains its original railings!

The siding people have had their way with this Aladdin Pomona, but fortunately it still retains its original railings!

The Aladdin Shadowlawn was another very popular house for Aladdin.

The Aladdin Shadowlawn was another very popular house for Aladdin. The eaves on this house are quite spectacular. Notice also the diamond muntins on that small second-floor window.

Despite a pretty substantial addition to the side, this Shadowlawn is still easily recognizable!

Despite a pretty substantial addition to the side, this Shadowlawn is still easily recognizable!

Heres an older Shadowlawn. Note the little window with the diamond panes.

Through the years, the Shadowlawn went through some changes! Is this an earlier model Shadowlawn? I'd say - probably it is. But it's not a spot-on match like the house above.

Aladdin Plaza

Aladdin Plaza

The dark colors hide its true beauty, but this Aladdin Plaza is in wonderfully original condition.

The dark colors hide its true beauty, but this Aladdin Plaza is in wonderfully original condition.

This Aladdin Plaza is NOT in wonderfully original condition.

This Aladdin Plaza is NOT in wonderfully original condition yet it retains some of its original features.

Aladdin Sherburne from the 1931 Aladdin catalog

Aladdin Sherburne from the 1931 Aladdin catalog

Unfortunately, Im not able to scan an original image of the Aladdin Sherburne right now, but you have to trust me. It looks just like this.  :)

Beautiful Aladdin Shelburne on a beautiful lot!

Aladdin Detroit, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

Aladdin Detroit, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

A nearly perfect Detroit in Rocky Mount!

A nearly perfect Detroit in Rocky Mount!

Aladdin Winthrop from the 1919 catalog.

Aladdin Winthrop from the 1919 catalog.

Slightly hidden behind a tree, this Aladdin Winthrop is still easy to spot with those small windows in the gabled bay, the four porch posts (two of which have no columns atop them) and the four windows across the front.

Slightly hidden behind a tree, this Aladdin Winthrop is still easy to spot with those small windows in the gabled bay, the four porch posts (two of which have no columns atop them) and the four windows across the front.

And finally, my two favorite finds of the day!

The first is the Aladdin Williamette. This house was offered only in the 1920 Aladdin catalog, and this Williamette in Rocky Mount is the only Williamette I have ever seen. And it’s just a perfect match.

Aladdin Williamette from the 1920 Aladdin catalog

Aladdin Williamette from the 1920 Aladdin catalog

And here it is: The Aladdin Williamette in Rocky Mount, NC. More than 90% of the people living in these homes dont realize that theyre living in a kit home!

And here it is: The Aladdin Williamette in Rocky Mount, NC. More than 90% of the people living in these homes don't realize that they're living in a kit home!

The second house is the Sears Elmhurst. This was also a very rare house and looks nothing like a typical “kit” home. This neo-tudor is both spacious, grand and ornate, and has lots of fine features you won’t find on your average Sears House!

The Sears Elmhurst - a fine house!

The Sears Elmhurst - a fine house!

Sears Elmhurst in Rocky Mount. This really is a beautiful match, and the only difference is, the house in Rocky Mount has had an addition put onto the side.

Sears Elmhurst in Rocky Mount. This really is a beautiful match, and the only difference is, the house in Rocky Mount has had an addition put onto the both sides.

And heres a very sad little Lustron (post-WW2 prefab), suffering greatly from carbuncles of the skin. Lustrons were made with 2x2 20-gage metal panels, with a porcelain enamel coating. Painting a Lustron is exactly like trying to paint the top of a 1960s Lady Kenmore washing machine. Never a good idea.

And here's a very sad little Lustron (post-WW2 prefab), suffering greatly from carbuncles of the flesh. Lustrons were made with 2x2 20-gage metal panels, with a porcelain enamel coating. Painting a Lustron is exactly like trying to paint the top of a 1960s Lady Kenmore washing machine. Never a good idea. There are about 2,500 Lustrons in the country, and they really were ahead of their time. It's heart-wrenching to see one of these remarkable homes abused and abandoned.

Too sad for words.

Too sad for words.

Aladdin

I'd love to know what this building is! It's massive and appears empty. If you know its original (or current) purpose, please leave a comment below.

Enjoy the photos, and if you know of anyone in Rocky Mount who might be interested in learning more about these amazing and delightful discoveries, please share this link!

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

* * *

Customized Kit Homes: A Puzzle!

March 29th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

About 30% of kit homes were customized when built. That’s almost one out of three, and that’s one of the things that makes identification of these homes so difficult. And that doesn’t count modifications and remodeling!  Today, some of these kit homes - first built in the early years of the 20th Century - are almost 100 years old. Lots of things can change in 100 years, especially when it comes to old houses.

Below is a picture of a house in Dublin, Virginia (Pulaski County) taken by Mike and Bev Pinkerman. As a kindness to me, he went through town snapping photos of several old bungalows, and this is one of the photos that he took. And Bev has been faithfully sending the photos to me via email!

At first glance, I thought, “Well, it kinda looks like an Aladdin Detroit.”

Like Sears, Aladdin was another kit home company that sold entire kit homes from their mail-order catalog. The 12,000-piece kits were then shipped by boxcar. The homes came with a 75-page instruction book, detailed blueprints and a promise that a “man of average abilities” could have the house ready for the wife and kids in 90 days.

Looking at the Pinkerman’s photo, I started thinking, “This is a Detroit, but one that’s been modified.”

If you look at the catalog image, you’ll see a small shed dormer. If you look at the Dublin house, you’ll see it has an enlarged shed dormer, but what’s really interesting is that those unusually shaped windows - in the center - are a spot-on match to the Detroit’s dormer windows. And while the center window is a perfect match, the extra windows (on either side) are more traditional double-hung windows!

An interesting find, to say the least! And yes, I think it is an Aladdin Detroit, with extra space on the second floor!

Click here to learn more about identifying kit homes!

Click here to buy Rose’s book!

Aladdin Detroit from the 1919 catalog

Aladdin Detroit from the 1919 catalog

Aladdin Detroit in Dublin

Aladdin Detroit in Dublin, Virginia. Photo is courtesy of Mike and Bev Pinkerman.

Floorplan

Adding width to that shed dormer on the second floor would have the effect of giving more square footage to the second floor bedrooms and also adding one window to each of those bedrooms.

*

Close-up on the windows

Close-up on the windows shows that it is the same casement windows as used in the Aladdin Detroit.

*

Close-up

Close-up of the catalog image of the Aladdin Detroit.

*

Comparison the two houses

Comparison of the two houses

*

House

The Aladdin Detroit

*

A perfect Aladdin Detroit in Chesapeake

A perfect Aladdin Detroit in Chesapeake, Virginia. This one has an addition on the rear of the house. Notice how the foundation changes at the same point where the roofline changes.

To read the next article, click here:

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

*   *   *