Posts Tagged ‘precut kit housing’

A Magnolia in Alton, Illinois?! Sort Of!

September 24th, 2013 Sears Homes 6 comments

About 1999 or so, my [then] husband and I went to an open house in Alton, Illinois where we saw a darling house.

Last month, while I was looking through a 1952 Aladdin Homes catalog, I [re]discovered that darling house! The house my husband and I had toured in 1999 was actually an Aladdin kit house, “The Magnolia.”

In other words, this house - from Aladdin Homes in Bay City Michigan - came from a mail-order catalog and was shipped to the Alton train station in a box car. The house arrived in about 10,000 pieces and came with a detailed instruction book and a promise that an average fellow could have the house assembled in 90 days.

For the next few days, I really struggled to remember where I’d seen that house, and to the best of my recollection, it was not far from our home in Upper Alton (on Pine Street). Memory can be fickle, but I’d bet money that we saw the house on a little cross street not far from Edwards Street.

In 2006, I left Alton and moved to Norfolk, VA (which makes it harder to find kit homes in Southwestern Illinois).

Last week, I was in Alton visiting family and put more than 80 miles on my rental car, criss-crossing the short streets in Upper Alton. I had Garmin set on “slime trail” so that it left a light-blue line on every street that I traversed. (Have I mentioned how much I love my Garmin?)

Despite driving throughout this area many times over a course of several days, I never did find the Aladdin Magnolia. Now I’m starting to wonder if I saw this house in Godfrey (next door to Alton).

This Magnolia would have been built in the early 1950s, and when we saw it in 1999, it looked much like the house shown in this image. In other words, it had not been “remodeled,” so it should be easy to find. I distinctly remember the oversized living room window and the cantilevers under that second-floor balcony. I also remember the scalloped trim on that front gable.

But where is it?

Please leave a comment below if you know this home’s location. And please feel free to share this link with others who might know the answer to my mystery!



The cover of the 1952 catalog.

In 1952, sales of Aladdin kit homes were probably booming. Sears was out of the kit-house business and WW2 was over, and our nation came into a time of previously unknown prosperity and growth. (1952 catalog cover)


Boxcar stacking

One of my favorite images from the 1952 catalog is this line-drawing showing a "phantom box car." The sides of the box car were invisible to showcase the intricate stacking of 10,000 pieces of kit house (1952 catalog).


Alton has a Magnolia

Alton has a Magnolia, just like this, but where is it?


Altons Magnolia

Detail of the first floor. It's a small house, but has a half-bath on the first floor.


Alton FP

The second floor has three small bedrooms and an oddly-shaped bath tub.



Close-up of the Magnolia in Alton. Or is it Godfrey?



Whoever invented the "slime trail" feature of Garmin is my hero. Back in the day, I used maps and highlighters to figure out which streets I'd traversed. This shows the early hours of my search. By the time I left town Sunday night, almost every street in Upper Alton had the blue slime trail.


Have you seen the Magnolia in Alton? If so, please leave a comment below.

To learn more about my other discoveries in River Bend, click here.

To see pictures of my favorite Alton kit house, click here.

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The CLH, by Sears (Part II)

February 12th, 2013 Sears Homes 1 comment

Yesterday, I talked about the CLH, which is an acronym. Sometimes, it meant, “”Cute Little House”!

Other times it was short for “Compact Little House.”

And other times it was our abbreviation for “Crummy Little House.”

Sears offered quite a few of these very modest, very plain and tiny bungalows but finding them today is quite difficult because they were so modest, so plain and so tiny.

Further complicating the issue was that all the major companies (SearsLewis ManufacturingWardwayGordon Van TineAladdinSterling andHarris Brothers), all offered several versions of the CLH.

Because these homes were so small (less than 600 square feet), homeowners would add additions to the sides, the front, and the top, making identification even more difficult!

Because of this, I don’t have any photos of CLHs, but thanks to Mark Hardin, I have now seen a photo of a Wayside (featured in yesterday’s blog). He found it in Stockton, Ohio.

Click here to read CLH, Part I.

Want to learn more about how to identify these homes? Click here.

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"Four Rooms - Two Porches." What more do you need? Maybe an indoor potty? You'd think that a house named "The Rest" would have a Rest Room, wouldn't you?



The living room is 10 by 12. That chair must be about the size of a dinner plate. (1921 catalog)


Oopsie, where have we seen this living room before? Why its the same photo as is seen in the 1919 catalog image for The Wayside.

Oopsie, where have we seen this living room before? Why it's the same photo as is seen in the 1919 catalog image for The Wayside.


In fact, comparing these two side by side, youll see that just about the same house.

In fact, comparing these two side by side, you'll see that just about the same house. The Wayside is on the left and The Rest is on the right. That back porch (with cellar entry) is about the only difference.


They sure do look alike!

Why, even the shrubbery is the same! The Rest is on the left.


How many of these Rests have I driven right on past? Probably a few.

Several of these same cities were shown as having a "Sears Wayside" as well. Did Sears just decide that these two houses were close enough to consider them the "same model"?


The Rest, like the Wayside was a very simple little house (1919).

The Rest, like the Wayside was a very simple little house (1921).


Are you near the cities listed above? Would you be able to get me a photo of a Rest?

Please leave a comment below!

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