Hopewell, Virginia has eight Sears homes in their Crescent Hills neighborhood, but they have dozens of Aladdin kit homes throughout the city. It’s a puzzle why so much focus is put on those eight Sears Homes, while the many Aladdin homes are ignored! If I were a little Aladdin Home in Hopewell, I might feel snubbed!
The cluster of Aladdin homes are definitely more modest than their fancy cousins in Crescent Hills, but these “workers’ cottages” also have an important story to tell. They tell about Dupont coming to Hopewell in the early 1900s and building a factory and creating jobs and investing in modest homes for their workers.
And it’s a part of Hopewell’s history that’s getting lost - quickly. Judging by the landscape in this neighborhood (where the Aladdin Homes are located), countless numbers of these modest homes have already been leveled. Perhaps as people become aware that this is a piece of Hopewell’s history, the rest of these houses might be spared.
Aladdin, like Sears, was a company that sold kit homes through their mail-order catalog. Kit homes sold by both Aladdin and Sears were made with top-quality lumber and builing materials. In fact, Aladdin offered their customers “$1.00 for every knot any customer can find…”
These were good houses, made with building materials the likes of we will never again see in this country. At the very least, the lumber in these homes should be salvaged when the homes are leveled. At the very least.
Take a look at some of the Aladdin kit homes still standing in Hopewell (near the downtown area).
Aladdin Homes came with their famous "Dollar a Knot" guarantee.
The Aladdin Florence, as seen in the 1919 catalog
Close-up of the Florence's floorplan
Close-up of the house itself and the happy people on the front porch.
Hopewell has many Aladdin Florences, in varying states of repair and remodeling.
Aladdin Florence looking basically like it did when built in the 1910s.
This Florence is in mostly original condition! The attic windows are original, too. But hey, where are the happy people on the front porch?
Close-up of the attic windows.
Another shot of the original catalog page.
Another view of the Florence in Hopewell.
This spacious empty lot sits squarely in the middle of the neighborhood with all these Aladdin kit homes. It seems quite possible that many Aladdin kit homes have been razed.
I am qualified to have an opinion on this, and I’m of the opinion that these little houses are worthy of some sort of historical designation, even if it’s nothing more than a city-supplied placard for the front yard! These photos that I’ve posted represent a mere smattering of the collection of Aladdin Homes near the downtown area. And as I mentioned in a prior post, they also tell a story about Hopewell’s history.
Want to read more about Hopewell? Here’s Part I and Part II.
To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.
To buy Rose’s book, click here.
* * *