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Posts Tagged ‘modern prefabs’

The Grant: A Charm All Its Own

April 17th, 2014 Sears Homes No comments

Recently, Wayne (hubby), Milton (buddy) and I traveled to the National Archives and Records Administration in Philadelphia to do research on Penniman. Along the way, we stopped at Carney’s Point, NJ to check out the houses in that neighborhood.

Carney’s Point, like Penniman, was the site of a World War 1 DuPont munitions plant.

In 1891, E. I. DuPont de Nemours bought the land, which had been owned by the descendant of an Irish immigrant named Thomas Carney. DuPont had purchased the 17 square mile tract so that they could build a plant and manufacture smokeless gunpowder.

When The European War began in July 1914, demand for smokeless gunpowder exploded (so to speak). (World War I began in Europe in July 1914, and was originally known as The European War.)

At Carney’s Point, the population swelled from 2,000 (pre-European War) to 25,000 (1917). In their great rush to provide industrial housing for all these people, DuPont turned to Aladdin to supply pre-cut houses. One of the houses that was built in the Aladdin neighborhood was The Grant.

This is one Aladdin model that I have never seen anywhere else, and yet there’s a surfeit of them in Carney’s Point.

Do you know of a “Grant” in another community? Please leave a comment below!

And please share this link on Facebook or with your old-house loving friends!

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The Grant, as seen in the 1914 Aladdin catalog.

In the 1914 Aladdin catalog, it was called, "The Jackson."

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People on prch

I just love the drawn-in people.

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In 1916, it was renamed

In 1916, the little house was renamed The Grant.

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Pretty basic floorplan

This first floor was 20 by 20 (400 square feet) and had a pretty basic floorplan.

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And perhaps most interesting, no bath

And perhaps most interesting, it had no bathroom (as shown in 1916).

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You can assemble it on youor next stay-cation.

Best of all, you can assemble it on your next "stay-cation" (last paragraph).

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Cutie

This one is easy to spot with the unique window arrangement and Arts & Crafts porch.

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nice house and cheap

This front porch on this Grant is largely original, but covered in siding and screens. The Victorian screen door isn't a good look, but that's kind of off-set by the 1950s wrouught-iron railing.

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unfortunate placement of ac

These folks went with vinyl siding instead of aluminum. Plus, it has a beam sticking out of its eye.

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house house

And this darling little house (which also has its original front porch) is for sale for a mere $112,900, which seems like a pretty good deal (assuming that it has an inside bathroom).

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my favorite

This was my favorite, because it's untouched by the ravages of roving home-improvement companies and vinyl-siding salesmen. I'd love to know if this is the original siding, or if it was added in later years. We do know that some of the DuPont designs were offered with "composite siding" which is a nice way of saying, "crappy asphalt roll siding" (which is what we're seeing here).

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detail

Oh yeah, baby! Original windows! I *love* it!

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detail around porch

And nice detail around the front porch.

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A view of Carneys Point in the late 1910s. .

A view of Carney's Point in the late 1910s/early 20s. This photo was taken in the 200-block of Broadway.

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To learn more about Penniman, click here.

To read about another town filled with Aladdin Homes, click here.

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Remarkable Roanoke Rapids: Full of Aladdin Kit Homes

May 17th, 2011 Sears Homes 3 comments

In late 2006, my dear friend Dale Wolicki drove from Michigan to Norfolk, Virginia to watch me get married. After the ceremony, Dale mentioned that after the wedding, he was heading south to Roanoke Rapids, NC to check out a large collection of Aladdin kit homes in that small town. My newly married ears perked right up.

“Large collection?” I asked.

“No don’t go getting any ideas,” he said. “You have to promise me that you’re not going to make your new husband drive you around to look at kit homes on your honeymoon.”

I smiled.

“I mean it,” he continued. “Promise?”

I couldn’t make any such promise.

My husband knew what he’d signed up for when he married me. We went to Roanoke Rapids on the way home from our honeymoon. It was fabulous, and just as Dale had promised, the area was awash in Aladdin Kit Homes.

I returned to Roanoke Rapids several times in the next several years, and took many photos. Eventually, Our State magazine did a feature story on this dazzling array of Aladdins there in Roanoke Rapids.

Below are photos showing a few of the many Aladdins we’ve discovered in Roanoke Rapids.

Aladdin Brentwood

Aladdin Brentwood

Close up

Close up

Aladdin Brentwood (one of two in Roanoke Rapids)

Aladdin Brentwood (one of two in Roanoke Rapids)

Aladdin Villa from the 1919 catalog

Aladdin Villa from the 1919 catalog

Aladdin Villa

Aladdin Villa on the main drag in Roanoke Rapids. It's a perfect example of the Villa, which was Aladdin's biggest and best model.

Aladdin Colonial, from the 1919 catalog.

Aladdin Colonial, from the 1919 catalog.

One of the best features of Roanoke Rapids is they have three of Aladdins biggest and best models, such as the Villa, the Brentwood and this house, The Colonial.

One of the best features of Roanoke Rapids is they have three of Aladdin's biggest and best models, such as the Villa, the Brentwood and this house, The Colonial.

Aladdin Sunshine

Aladdin Sunshine

Perfect Cadillac.

Perfect Sunshine, slightly obscured by unfortunate placement of utility pole.

Aladdin Rochester

Aladdin Rochester

Aladdin Virginia

I suspect the house above is an Aladdin Rochester. The details seem right -down to the bumped-out vestibule on the front. The porch has been enlarged a bit, but that's not a major modification.

One of my favorite houses is the Aladdin Pomona

One of my favorite houses is the Aladdin Pomona

And this is one of my favorite Pomonas - right on the rail road tracks - and in PERFECT condition!

And this is one of my favorite Pomonas - right on the rail road tracks - and in PERFECT condition!

From the 1919 catalog.

From the 1919 catalog.

Aladdin Herford

Roanoke Rapids has several blocks of these modest "worker's cottages," alternating the Aladdin Herford (above) with the Aladdin Edison (a couple pictures below). The streets are filled with these two styles of homes. The house above is for sale, but I'm guessing it needs a new central air unit.

Another Herford.

Another Herford. In this image, it was the photographer that was slightly tilted. The house was fine.

Aladdin Edison

Aladdin Edison

The Edison was an incredibly modest house, as you can see from this close-up of the floorplan.

The Edison was an incredibly modest house, as you can see from this close-up of the floorplan.

Aladdin Edison in the flesh!

Aladdin Edison in the flesh! How 'bout those icicle lights!

Aladdin Edison - close-up

Aladdin Edison - close-up

Aladdin Edison

Aladdin Edison. As you can see, some of these houses need a little love.

And some have been blinded.

In better shape, but it's a pity that its dormer windows were obliterated.

Another Edison in Roanoke Rapids

Another Edison in Roanoke Rapids

Aladdin Marsden

Aladdin Marsden

Perfect Marsden in Roanoke Rapids.

Perfect Marsden in Roanoke Rapids.

Aladdin Plaza

Aladdin Plaza

Another perfect Aladdin: The Plaza

Another perfect Aladdin: The Plaza

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

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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Have You Seen This House? (Part 5)

May 2nd, 2011 Sears Homes 3 comments

Here in Norfolk, we have 16 little bungalows that were originally built at another location, and then moved here (by barge) sometime after The Great War ended in 1918. For years, that’s pretty much all that was known about them.

Last month, we learned that 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 a vintage newspaper article that says the little houses were built in 1909.

And now there’s a new wrinkle.

Indefatigable researcher Mark Hardin has found another neighborhood of these “Ethel Bungalows” (our pet name for these little houses) in a little village just outside of Butte, Montana. (It was Mark who found the houses in Dupont, too.)

So, our Ethel Bunaglow in Norfolk (which came from somewhere else) is a spot-on match to the company houses in Dupont, Washington and Butte, Montana.

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 provide houses for their workers at their guncotton factory in Penniman, Virginia.

It’s looking more and more likely that our “Ethels” came that guncotton factory in Penniman, Virginia (now the site of Cheatem Annex, a military installation). Dupont built hundreds of houses for the workers, and purportedly, some of those houses were moved after The Great War. This fits nicely with the story of the our Ethels in Norfolk.

Norfolk historian David Spriggs did some digging and found that the Norfolk lots which are now home to our “Ethels” were purchased by George P. Hudson on April 14, 1922, and with a little more digging, he found that George P. Hudson was was listed in the 1925 city directory as “President of Hudson Transportation Co. and New Home Corporation.”  The business of Hudson Transportation Company was listed as, “Lighters and Barges.”

As David says, who would be in a better position to move 16 houses from Penniman to Norfolk than a man who owned a company called, “Hudson Transportation Co. and New Home Corporation”?

And who says history isn’t fun?  :)

And yet, many unanswered questions remain.

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 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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And Who Says Sears Homes are Small and Boxy?

April 6th, 2011 Sears Homes 4 comments

On a recent trip to North Carolina, I found a Sears Elmhurst. And on a recent trip to my attic, I found a picture of a Sears Elmhurst somewhere in a Chicago suburb (first picture below). This was not an especially massive house, but it is an elegant home, and full of classic English Tudor features.

The Sears Elmhusrt - somehwere in the suburbs of Northern Illinois

The Sears Elmhusrt - somehwere in the suburbs of Northern Illinois

The Sears Elmhurst - a fine house!

The Sears Elmhurst - a fine house!

floorplan

The floorplan shows this is not a large house, but it sure is beautiful, and also has a first-floor half-bath.

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.

To read more about the Sears Homes in Rocky Mount, click here.

To read more about the Sears Homes in Northern Illinois, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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Hopewell’s Historic Kit Homes: And They’re Not in Crescent Hills! (Part VII)

April 1st, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

Yes Virginia,there’s an awesome collection of kit homes in Hopewell but they’re mostly kit homes from Aladdin!  Hopewell does have a few Sears Homes. In fact they have eight in their Crescent Hills area.

But the Aladdin kit homes number in the dozens.  And in addition to the Aladdin kit homes in the downtown area, it seems likely that Hopewell might have kit homes from Sterling Homes (yet another kit home company).

And I would never have guessed this on my own, without the help of fellow kit home aficionados Mark and Lisa Hardin.

In downtown Hopewell, there are dozens of Aladdins, but amongst those Aladdins are also several models of house that I’ve not been able to identify.  In Mark’s email, he theorized that at least one of the “mystery models” might have come from Sterling Homes.  After looking at the pictures, I think he might be right.

If he is, this certainly adds even more intrigue to the mystery of those little houses in Hopewell. Are all of them kit homes? We know that Hopewell has kit homes ordered from Sears and Aladdin. Do they kit homes from Sterling , too?

An exampele of a Sears Home (The Puritan) in Hopewell

An example of a Sears Home (The Puritan) in Hopewell

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Pretty little Puritan on City Point Drive in Hopewell

Pretty little Puritan on City Point Drive in Hopewell

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The Aladdin Edison was a modest home, but darn cute. And easy to identify these many years later.

The Aladdin Edison was a modest home, but darn cute. And easy to identify these many years later.

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First, my favorite Edison in Hopewell.

A real-life example of the Aladdin Edison in Hopewell.

The above photos provide two of the many examples of both Sears and Aladdin kit homes in Hopewell.

And then there’s Sterling Homes. Like Aladdin, Sterling Homes was based in Bay City, Michigan. While Sterling was successfull in selling their kit homes nationwide, they were a much smaller company than Aladdin or Sears. To learn more about Sterling, click here.

Pictured below is the catalog page for the Sterling Homes “Browning-B.” The “B” is usually a reference to a different floorplan for the same house design. (Despite looking through my reference materials, I never did find a “Browning-A.)

Compare the catalog page with the Hopewell houses. The roof on the back of the house doesn’t drop down near as far as the front. And look at the pair of gabled dormers, connected by the small shed dormer. Most interesting is the bay window on the front of the house, next to the front door.

Sterling

From the Sterling Homes catalog.

Sterling

There are several of these models in Hopewell's downtown area, interspersed with Aladdin kit homes. Is this the Sterling "Browning B"? It sure is a perfect match. The only flaw is the size of the eaves on the dormer window. Everything else is perfect, and that's remarkable, because this is a very unique house.

Aladd

Another Sterling Browning-B in Hopewell? Appears to be!

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Sterling

A close-up of the house as it appeared in the catalog.

Another one

Side-by-side comparison of the two houses.

Thanks again to Mark and Lisa for this find! I don’t think I’d ever have thought to check my Sterling field guides to identify these houses in Hopewell, Virginia!

Part I can be found here. Part II is here. Click here for Part III.

The fourth series is here. And number five is here. And after you read the sixth part, you’ll be all caught up.

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.

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Close-up on the windows

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

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Close-up

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

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Comparison the two houses

Comparison of the two houses

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House

The Aladdin Detroit

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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.

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Beyond Standard Addition (Carlinville’s OTHER Kit Homes)

January 20th, 2011 Sears Homes 2 comments

I get lots of interesting notes from lots of interesting people. Unfortunately I find that amongst those many emails and letters, there are a lot of common misconceptions about Sears Homes.  One of the more persistent myths is that Carlinville has the largest collection of Sears Homes in the country. This is not true. Elgin (in Illinois) has the largest known collection (with more than 210 Sears Homes), and that word “known” is an especially important one.

Is it possible that some community has more than 210 Sears Homes? Absolutely!!  I am personally acquainted with three serious researchers who have devoted themselves to this work:  Dale Wolicki (Bay City, Michigan), Dr. Rebecca Hunter (Elgin, Illinois), and myself (Norfolk, Virginia). We’ve traveled tens of thousands of miles visiting towns throughout the country. We’ve literally traveled from sea to shining sea looking for these kit homes. Personally, I’ve been from Chicago to Baton Rouge and Boston to Los Angeles on research trips.

My point is, in all our travels, we have not discovered any city that can beat Elgin’s 210 Sears Homes. But we haven’t been to every city in America. In fact, I’d guess that the three of us together have seen fewer than 10% of all the kit homes in America.

With that as a backdrop, let’s go back to Carlinville, Illinois. Interestingly, there are a handful of Sears Homes outside of Standard Addition (the 12-block area with 152 Sears Homes). And there’s a Gordon Van Tine house in Carlinville! (Click here to learn more about Gordon Van Tine.)

To read more about Sears Homes, click here.

Heres a Gordon Van Tine Roberts in Carlinville. GVT was another kit home company that (like Sears) sold entire houses from a mail-order catalog. GVT was based in Davenport, Iowa.

Here's a Gordon Van Tine "Roberts" in Carlinville. GVT was another kit home company that (like Sears) sold entire houses from a mail-order catalog. GVT was based in Davenport, Iowa.

Gordon Van Tine home in Carlinville, not far from the Standard Addition neighborhood.

Pictured above is a Gordon Van Tine home in Carlinville, not far from the Standard Addition neighborhood. This was a popular home for GVT and was known as "The Roberts."

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Sears Beaumont in Carlinville, Illinois

Sears Beaumont in Carlinville, Illinois, and it's a beauty! I didn't know about this Sears house until early 2003, when someone attended a lecture I gave in Carlinville and told me that there was a Sears Beaumont "near the college"!

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Sears Sunbeam, as shown in the 1919 Modern Homes catalog

Sears Sunbeam, as shown in the 1919 Modern Homes catalog

Sears Sunbeam in Carlinville.

Sears Sunbeam in Carlinville.

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Sears Lebanon from the 1919 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Lebanon from the 1919 Sears Modern Homes catalog

This little Sears Lebanon is outside of Standard Addition, but the Lebanon was one of eight models found in Standard Addition. The other houses were the Roseberry, the Warrenton, the Roanoke, the Langston, the Gladstone, the Whitehall and the Madelia.

This little Sears Lebanon is outside of Standard Addition, but the Lebanon was one of eight models found in Standard Addition. The other houses were the Roseberry, the Warrenton, the Roanoke, the Langston, the Gladstone, the Whitehall and the Madelia. This house is one of two Lebanons outside of Standard Addition.

To learn more about Standard Addition, click here.

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Old Kit Homes in New England

November 1st, 2010 Sears Homes 1 comment

Recently, I was reading the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog and found this testimonial, written by D. S. Chase of Grafton, Massachusetts. He built his Sears Maytown somewhere in Grafton, Massachusetts.

The Maytown was one of their better homes and fairly distinctive with that cantilevered turret on the front. It’d be interesting to know if this house is still standing in Grafton!

If you know of it, and/or have an address, please leave a comment below.

BTW, notice that Mr. Chase’s home has a shake roof and shingled siding (instead of clapboard)?

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

If you’re here to learn about Aunt Addie mysterious murder, click here.

Sears Maytown

Sears Maytown in Grafton, Mass, as pictured in the 1921 Sears catalog.

Testimonial as it appeared in the 1921 catalog

Testimonial as it appeared in the 1921 catalog

Testimonial of D. S. Chase from 1921 catalog

Testimonial of D. S. Chase from 1921 catalog

Sears Maytown

Sears Maytown as shown in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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All Things Vallonia

October 25th, 2010 Sears Homes No comments

The Sears Vallonia was the classic Craftsman-style bungalow, with its lone gabled dormer sitting atop a side-gabled bungalow. It’s a cutie for sure and one of the most enduring designs that Sears offered. It was first offered in the mid-1910s and also appeared in the final Sears Modern Homes catalog in 1940.

Through the years, it changed a bit. Here’s a picture from the 1920 Modern Homes catalog. Note how the dormer is small and has only two diminutive windows.

There’s a wonderful Sears Vallonia in Springfield, Illinois - right next to the Amtrak train tracks! If anyone knows the address, please leave a comment below!

Click here to read All Things Vallonia, Part II.

Sears Vallonia from the 1916 catalog.

Sears Vallonia from the 1921 catalog.

In 1922, the Sears Vallonia changed its appearance a bit. The dormer now has three casement windows. The Vallonia maintained this look with few changes for the next 18 years.

Sears Vallonia as shown in the 1922 catalog

Sears Vallonia as shown in the 1920s

What year

The Vallonia also showed up in an early 1920s SEROCO paint catalog - and in color! Seroco was Sears own brand: SEars RObuck Company. Cute, huh?

Sears

Close-up of the Sears Vallonia

A perfect - and I mean PERFECT - Sears Vallonia in Columbia, Illinois.

A perfect - and I mean PERFECT - Sears Vallonia in Columbia, Illinois.

Sears Vallonia in Greenville, IL

Another perfect Sears Vallonia in Greenville, IL

Sears Vallonia in Aurora, Illinois

Sears Vallonia in Aurora, Illinois

And heres a perfect Vallonia in Grafton, Illinois.

And another fine-looking Vallonia in Grafton, Illinois.

Vintage photo (circa 1920s) of newly completed Sears Vallonia in Illinois

Vintage photo (circa 1920s) of newly completed Sears Vallonia in Illinois

Click here to read Part II of “All Things Vallonia.”

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Click here to read about the Sears Martha Washington.

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Poor Little Westly in Northern Illinois

October 22nd, 2010 Sears Homes No comments

In 2003, my friend Rebecca Hunter drove me to an Midwestern suburb and showed me this Sears Westly (see pictures below). She made me close my eyes as we pulled up to the house. Sitting squarely in front of it, I exclaimed that it looked like a nice little Westly. Then she giggled and pulled forward, so I could see “The rest of the story.”

I gasped in horror. Incredibly, someone built a neighborhood behind this once-darling Sears Westly.  Sears Homes are a piece of America’s architectural history and should be cherished and appreciated and valued. They deserve better than this.

To read more about the Sears Homes in the Midwest, click here.

To buy Rose’s book (and get it inscribed!), click here.

Sears Westly from the 1919 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears Westly from the 1919 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Westly in Midwestern suburb

Westly in Midwestern suburb