Mail Order Kit Houses – Not just Sears sold these!
This post starts in MS. The Preservation in Mississippi blog has once again introduced me to something I didn’t know about – Aladdin Homes!
The post, The Aladdin Company’s Order Ledger talks about this company that “had a mail order catalog that offered plans and all the lumber you would need to build a house, pre-cut.”
I am familiar with the Sears catalog homes -- “Sears reported that more than 70,000 of these homes were sold in North America between 1908 and 1940.” I didn’t realize that there were several other companies that also produced/sold “Kit House(s).” Sears does maintain an Archive.
Want to learn more about the Aladdin Company and its kit houses? Check out this digital archive (Clarke Historical Library). Via the catalog section, you can get a sense of what homes were available for purchase in 1911 and 1932-1934.
Begun in 1906 by two brothers, Otto and William Sovereign, the family-owned firm continued to manufacture houses until 1981. Over the firm's long history it sold over 75,000 homes to both individual and corporate customers.
Maybe your family purchased theirs from Montgomery Ward (Wardway Homes)? Additional resources can be found at kithouse.org.
You may found that an architectural study has been done that has relevance such as Kit house in southeastern Virginia: architectural documentation of kit houses manufactured by Sears, Roebuck and Company located within the cities of Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Did any of your family live in a “kit” house?
What other resource materials survive for these homes you ordered from a catalog?
Did any form of pre-fabricated and/or kit-type houses exist before the dawn of the 20th century?
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