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Posts Tagged ‘the villa’

Eskimo Pies and Something Like the Aladdin Villa!

September 4th, 2015 Sears Homes 4 comments

It’s been known by different names: “Peacock Plantation” (in the 1960s) and more recently, “Bishop Manor Estate.”

I like to think of it as, “The Eskimo Pie House.”

The home’s builder and first owner was Fred Bishop. A transplanted Chicagoan, Fred built this house and estate in St. Elmo, Alabama, in the hopes of building a first-class dairy operation in the South. It was his hope to make and market high-quality ice cream.

As a natural consequence of this, he produced one of the greatest inventions the world has ever known: The Eskimo Pie. According to local legend, people came from far and wide to sample the tasty concoction.

Now that’s a house with a good heritage.

When the Great Depression hit, people stopped buying ice cream and Eskimo Pies and Fred lost his estate in foreclosure. The house passed through many hands and in 1985, it ended up on the National Registry of Historic Places.

At first glance, Fred’s house looks a like an Aladdin Villa, but the Villa didn’t appear until the 1916 catalog.  According to the 1960s brochure (see below), Fred Bishop started construction on his home in 1915. If that’s a good build date (and that’s a big “if”), that raises a whole bunch of questions. However, the National Registry Application gives a build date of 1925. Was that a completion date, or a build date?

If this is an Aladdin Villa, it’s been fancied up quite a bit, with a curved interior staircase, basswood paneling, cherry balustrade and marble fireplace mantle. Plus, the floorplan is not a good match to the Aladdin Villa, but “customization” was common in these grand old kit homes.

And there’s this: Fred and his family were from Chicago. They would have been well familiar with kit homes.

The only photos I’ve been able to find of this house are from the 1985 National Registry application, and studying those photos leave me scratching my head. Is this a Villa? More likely, I suspect there’s a pattern book version of the Aladdin Villa, running around out there and that Fred’s house was probably based on that plan book version.

It’d be fun to find out more about this interesting old house!

If you know anything about The Bishop Manor, please leave a comment below.

To learn more about the Aladdin Villa, click here.

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The Aladdin Villa was first offered in the 1916 catalog.

The Aladdin Villa was first offered in the 1916 catalog (1919 catalog shown).

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A 1960s brochure gives quite a bit of information on the house. Image is credit 2014 some kind soul on Facebook who was a member of a the Lost Alabama group and Ill be darned if I can find their name now. Hopefully, theyll stumble across this blog and give me their name so that I can give proper credit.

A 1960s brochure gives more information on the house. Credit for this image is 2014, via some kind soul on Facebook who was a member of a the "Lost Alabama" group and I'll be darned if I can find their name now. Hopefully, they'll stumble across this blog and give me their name so that I can give proper credit.

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F

The back side of the brochure is full of historical information on the old house. For credit and reprint information, please see above.

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The National Registry information shows a floor plan for Freds house.

The National Registry information shows a floor plan for Fred's house.

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The floorplan (1919 catalog) has some significant differences.

The floorplan (1919 catalog) has some significant differences.

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Heres a picture of an Aladdin Villa in Roanoke Rapids, NC.

Here's a picture of an Aladdin Villa in Roanoke Rapids, NC.

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The Villa is in Scotland Neck, NC.

The Villa is in Scotland Neck, NC.

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Freds house - as seen in the 1985 National Registry Application.

Fred's house - as seen in the 1985 National Registry Application.

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Shown from the side.

Shown from the side.

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An extensively customized Villa in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.

An extensively "customized" Villa in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Photo is copyright 2013 Rachel Shoemaker and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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In conclusion, I suspect there’s a pattern book version of the Aladdin Villa, running around out there and that Fred’s house was probably based on that plan book version.

If you’ve got a notion, please leave me a comment!

To see the rest of the photos of this beautiful old estate in Alabama, click here.

Eskimo Pie - Yummy!

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A “Country House” in the heart of Augusta, Georgia

July 24th, 2015 Sears Homes 3 comments

The word Villa literally means, “country house” and it’s also the name of Aladdin’s finest home.

Just like Sears, Aladdin sold kit homes through mail order catalogs. Aladdin was actually a bigger company than Sears, and lasted longer. Sears sold about 70,000 kit homes during their 32 years in the kit house business (1908-1940). Aladdin started earlier (1906) and stayed in the game for 75 years (1981), and sold more than 75,000 homes.

The houses arrived via boxcar, and probably had more than 12,000 pieces and parts! Each kit came with detailed blueprints (designed for novices) and a 75-page instruction book that told the homeowner how all those pieces and parts went together!

As a resident of Virginia, I can happily report that there are more Aladdins in this part of the country than Sears Homes. Proximity is probably part of this. The Midwest is loaded with Sears Homes. Aladdin had mills in  North Carolina, Mississippi and Louisiana.

Several months ago, someone told me about this Aladdin Villa in Augusta, Georgia. (Unfortunately, I don’t remember who originally provided the tidbit about this Aladdin Villa in Augusta, Georgia. Was it you, Rachel? ) Today I was poking around for a new blog topic and found this older file.

The photos shown below are from Steve Bracci Photography. Click on this link to learn more about this artist’s beautiful work.

To learn more about Aladdin, click here.

To visit Dale’s website, click here.

Dr. Rebecca Hunter also has a wonderful website here.

And Rachel Shoemaker shares many rare photos of kit homes here.

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The Aladdin Villa was really their biggest and best home (1919).

The Villa was Aladdin's biggest and best home (1919).

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See what I mean about being big?

The home had a front staircase and a servants' staircase (accessible from the ktichen).

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And its also a genuinely beautiful home - even in black and white!

And it's also a genuinely beautiful home - even in black and white!

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Is there a more perfect house anywhere in Augusta?

Is there a more perfect house anywhere in Augusta? And that's not a rhetorical question. This house is breathtaking, and the color is perfect. This looks like a picture postcard. Photo is copyright 2015 Steve Bracci Photography.

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Oh man.

The landscaping, fence and house create the perfect medley of colors. Mature landscaping and tall shade trees are one of the elements that make older homes so desirable. Photo is copyright 2015 Steve Bracci Photography.

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Everything about this house is beautiful.

Everything about this house is so very beautiful. Photo is copyright 2015 Steve Bracci Photography.

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And once you go inside, it only gets better.

And once you go inside, it only gets better. Photo is copyright 2015 Steve Bracci Photography.

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And better and better.

Inside the home, the colors are equally striking. Photo is copyright 2015 Steve Bracci Photography.

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Inside

Classic Villa staircase, still elegant after all these years. Photo is copyright 2015 Steve Bracci Photography.

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And better.

That fireplace doesn't appear to be original, or it might have been an upgrade, but it's a nice fit for this fancy room. Photo is copyright 2015 Steve Bracci Photography.

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House

The living room is 16x26 and filled with light. Photo is copyright 2015 Steve Bracci Photography.

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Stunning

Can you imagine sunning on this stunning sunporch? If there are houses in heaven, this is the kind of place where I'd like to spend a lot of eternity. Photo is copyright 2015 Steve Bracci Photography.

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House

Typically, I'm not a big fan of red wallpaper with red accents, but this really works. The bright white trim and dark floors are the perfect complement. Photo is copyright 2015 Steve Bracci Photography.

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What a house.

What a house. Like something out of a dream book. Photo is copyright 2015 Steve Bracci Photography.

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And to think it came from a mail-order catalog!

And to think it came from a mail-order catalog!

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The photos shown above are from Steve Bracci Photography. Click on this link to learn more about this artist’s beautiful work.

To learn more about Aladdin, click here.

To visit Dale’s website, click here.

Dr. Rebecca Hunter also has a wonderful website here.

And Rachel Shoemaker shares many rare photos of kit homes here.

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The 1924 Tornado of Lorain and An Aladdin Villa

September 25th, 2013 Sears Homes No comments

The picture tells quite a story, doesnt it?

June 28, 1924, a tornado formed over Sandusky Bay and eventually came ashore in Lorain, Ohio. More than 500 homes were destroyed and about 1,000 buildings suffered damage. The storm caused 85 deaths, and 72 of those deaths occurred in Lorain. Fifteen souls perished when the State Theater in Lorain collapsed. In today's dollars, the damage was well more than $1 billion. Later, it was estimated that this was an F-4 tornado, and 89 years later, it remains the 4th most deadly tornado ever experienced in northern states. Photo is courtesy Dan Brady and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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And look closely at the house featured on this postcard: Its an Aladdin Villa.

And look closely at the house featured on this postcard: It's an Aladdin Villa. Photo is courtesy Dan Brady and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Folks must have been in shock.

Folks must have been in shock as they wandered around, horrified at the amount of destruction. The tornado occurred in June, and yet look at the clothing. Judging by these photos, the storm ushered in some cold weather. The houses around the Villa were mostly leveled, but the three-story Villa is mostly standing (sans roof and attic). Photo is courtesy Dan Brady and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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The Villa was first offered in the 1916 Aladdin catalog.

The Villa was first offered in the 1916 Aladdin catalog. That means that the Villa in Lorain was less than eight years old, at the very most, when it was severely damaged by the Lorain Tornado of 1924.

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Fien house

In addition to being "beautiful and modern," it was pretty sturdy.

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Spacious

The Villa was more than 4,00 square feet, not including the attic. The sunporch has a fireplace.

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Sunporch, as seen in the 1919 catalogs line drawing.

The Villa was Aladdin's finest home, and several interior views (line drawings) were featured in the 1919 catalog.

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Living room

The living room was 26-feet long and 16-feet wide.

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Dining room

The dining room must have been difficult to decorate, with two sets of french doors (into the reception hall and breakfast room), three tall windows and a swinging door into the kitchen.

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Seen in 1919

The Aladdin Villa, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

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house house house

If you look closely at the sun porch here (facing the camera), you can see the masonry fireplace in the center of the room. For all the sadness and horror occasioned by this terrible storm, this real-life example proved pretty clearly that Aladdin Homes were strong, sturdy, well-built homes. Photo is courtesy Dan Brady and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Photo is

Today, this house is a shining jewel in Lorain, Ohio and there's not a hint that anything bad ever happened to this almost-100-year-old Villa. Photo is copyright 2012 Dan Brady and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Scotland Neck

Just for comparison, I've included a Villa in Scotland Neck, NC.

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Lorain

I have a special fondness for Lorain, Ohio. Sometime in 2003 (as I recall), I visited Lorain, Ohio courtesy of Valerie Smith at the Lorain Public Library. I had a wonderful time and I must say, it was quite a thrill to see my name "in lights" on the historic Palace Theater! And while in Lorain, I was also the guest of the Kaczmarek family. Lawrence Kaczmarek built a Sears Westly in Lorain County in 1919.

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I met the family

I met the Kaczmarek family when Richard Herman, a descendent of Lawrence Kaczmarek (misspelled above in the testimonial) sent me a letter shortly after my first book was published in 2002. Richard, if you're reading this, I wish you'd contact me. I'd love to hear from you again! Sadly, Mr. Kaczmarek's Westly was torn down in the 1960s (as I recall) to make way for a bridge expansion project.

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To visit Dan Brady’s wonderful blog, click here.

To read another blog about kit homes surviving natural disasters, click here.

To contact Rose, please leave a comment below!

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So Many Kit Homes in Charleston, South Carolina!

May 31st, 2013 Sears Homes 1 comment

Several weeks ago, Charleston resident and Sears House aficionado Kevin Eberle contacted me and said that there were several kit homes in Charleston, SC.

Oh sure. I’d heard that one before.

Actually, what I typically hear is, “Why, this town is just FULL of Sears Homes! As far as the eye can see!”

But Kevin wasn’t making that claim. He was saying that he’d found several kit homes in Charleston.

Did I dare to hope?

And then, when I saw the photos, I did a little happy dance.

Kevin really had found an abundance of kit homes in Charleston and most of them are in beautiful condition.

Does Charleston have even more kit homes than is shown below?

It’s possible! If you know of a kit home in Charleston, please leave me a comment!

Many thanks to Kevin for supplying *all* of the photos in this blog. I posted the pictures (below), but Kevin did all the research and legwork.

To learn more about kit homes in South Carolina, click here.

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Roanoke 1921

The Sears Roanoke as seen in the 1921 catalog.

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The Roanoke in Charleston is in picture perfect condition. Photo is copyright 2012 Kevin Eberle and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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At least 80% of the time, these 90-year-old houses are missing that wooden awning over the front windows. However both of the Roanokes in Charleston still have that awning. Photo is copyright 2012 Kevin Eberle and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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house house 1920

The Sears Belmont is a classic 1920s bungalows (1920 catalog).

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house house house

And there's a stunning example of a Sears Belmont in Charleston, SC. This is only the 2nd Belmont I've seen "in the flesh." Photo is copyright 2012 Kevin Eberle and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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house house 1921

The Saratoga was one of their larger homes. The floorplan shows a living room that is 14' wide and 29' feet long. Both living room and dining room have beamed ceilings.

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Saratoga

This is a fine-looking Saratoga in Charleston and in mostly original condition. Photo is copyright 2012 Kevin Eberle and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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house house house house

This Saratoga's good looks have been somewhat diminished by the substitute siding, but at least, it's still standing. Photo is copyright 2012 Kevin Eberle and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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house house house

Comparison of the orginal catalog image and the house in Charleston. Unfortunately, they show two different sides, but it's most certainly a Saratoga. Photo is copyright 2012 Kevin Eberle and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Aladdin 1933

The Capitol, as seen in the Aladdin catalog (1933).

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house

Kevin even found this Aladdin Capitol, despite the fact that it was built sideways on the lot! Photo is copyright 2012 Kevin Eberle and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Aladdin Villa 1919

Aladdin Villa, as seen in the 1919 catalog.

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Aladdin Villa maybe

Is this an Aladdin Villa? I'm honestly not sure, but it'd be fun to find out! Photo is copyright 2012 Kevin Eberle and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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house Roberts 192f

The Gordon Van Tine Roberts (1924 catalog).

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house house house

The Gordon Van Tine Roberts is easy to identify because it's such a unique house and (as far as I know) this particular design was never replicated by other companies. Photo is copyright 2012 Kevin Eberle and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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GVT 534

The Gordon Van Tine 534 was a very popular house (1919 catalog).

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GVT 2003

Kevin found this GVT #534 in Charleston. This photo was taken in 2003. The house has been remodeled since this photo was taken. Photo is copyright 2012 Kevin Eberle and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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The Sterling Sentinel, as seen in the 1916 catalog.

The Sterling Sentinel, as seen in the 1916 catalog.

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house house Charleston

This was my favorite of the whole bunch. It's just a spot-on match to the Sterling "Sentinel"! Photo is copyright 2012 Kevin Eberle and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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house compare

Comparison of the two houses. What a perfect match!

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Thanks again to Kevin Eberle for sharing all these wonderful photos!

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