46 years of Aladdin Home catalogs

1954-aladdin-home

WOW, THIS IS AN AMAZING TREASURE TROVE: An online archive of 46 years of Aladdin Home Sales Catalogs, courtesy of Central Michigan University and its Clarke Historical Library. I’m serious: Complete catalogs: Page through for hours and watch the history of middle-class housing styles in the first half of the American 20th century unfold. The catalogs were the principal marketing method for the houses…. So also you get all kinds of little detail that paints a picture of how people lived, what they considered when looking for a house… See the dramatic shifts during the Depression and wartimes, for example. They are little social history books.  Aladdin’s were kit houses… manufactured houses like the famous Sears’  models. These kinds of homes are EVERYWHERE across America.

1954-aladdin-home-colonial

The series starts in 1908, with cottages and $98 hunting lodges and one house, at about $600. As the years progress we see bungalows, capes and Dutch Colonials…barracks during WWII…on into the 50s. The images here are from ’54, the last year for catalogs posted, but the bio says Aladdin, which was based in Bay City, Mich., manufactured homes until 1981.

1954-aladdin-home-honeymoon-cottage

Here’s some history about the firm:

  • 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.
  • The records of the Aladdin Company were donated to the Clarke Historical Library in 1996. The almost complete run of company catalogs, full set of sales records, over 15,000 post-World War II architectural drawings, and various other company records create an extraordinary historical resource.
  • The Aladdin Company records are open for use by the public, having been arranged and described through a grant made by the National Endowment for the Humanities. (Mount Pleasant, by the way, is on the far western side of the state, just north of I-94 where it starts to bend around the Lake. Full-text copies of the annual sales catalogs were scanned through a grant by the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs.

1954-aladdin-home-flamingo-model

1954-aladdin-flamingoMany thanks to all these great folks! I for one cannot wait to start wading through every single catalog. I love love love this every-person kind of house…I am so excited! My guilty secret, though: I seriously thought about not posting this story, afraid I’d never get you back, like, you’ll be Alice fallen down the rabbit hole into retro-wonderland. But there. I’ve gone and done it anyway.

View the website and catalogs here. … I’ll miss you all. 🙁

SeeAllOurVintageCatalogsSMALL

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Comments

  1. says

    My husband and I just bought an Aladdin home Sept ’08. We fell in love not only with the home but also with the neighborhood built by DuPont in the 1920’s. Our lovely gem of a neighborhood is just outside Nashville,TN. I also found a vintage doorknocker that the Aladdin company gave away as Christmas gifts in 1926!! The one thing I cannot find in the online Aladdin catalogs is a pic of our specific home. I am wondering if the homes built for large companies such as DuPont were not listed in the published catalogs. Does anyone know about this?

    • Ruth says

      I also live in an Aladdin home built by DuPont. A large portion of Hopewell VA was developed by DuPont around it’s factories. The early neighborhood was developed around WWI and my neighborhood just before WWII. My house was built in 1939. I too have looked for the exact design of my house in the catalogs to assume that the industrial village homes were of a certain type. Norfolk VA also had DuPont build homes. More here: http://www.searshomes.org/index.php/2012/01/10/the-boom-towns-of-dupont/ After more searching I then found the exact plan of my home online. Unfortunately I just copied the pictures and not the web address, however I remember it was from Tennessee. Labeled simply 6-room bungalow. Good luck searching.

  2. HollyDolly says

    I have an old 1920s Aladdin catalog, from the early Twenties,as well as a reprint of one of their catalogs from Dover Publications,plus an original late 1920s one. Aladdin did provide industrial housing to companies like Du Pont and others. They also in the reprint of one of their industrial catalogs,have church buildings,school,hotel and store buildings.
    As far as the Rustic from 1923, you can contact Dale Paul Wolicki.He is an architect and also invovled with the Bay City ,Michigan Historical Society and is an authority on Aladdin Homes. Antique Homestyle also has on their website catalogs from some other companies who also provided kit homes.
    There was Bennett Brothers and Louis Bossert of New York, Sterling Homes, Sears Roebuck,Montgomery Wards,Gordon Van Tine ,Pacific Ready Cut and a number of other companies. The L.E.Crain Company operated out of Houston,Texas. I need to start looking in some of the second hand and antique stores in the New Braunfels and Seguin area to
    see if I can find one.

  3. Betty Brain says

    I have a home in Portland, Oregon built in 1941. I think it is cottage style. It has cove ceilings with picture moldings, a couple pointed archways, a central fireplace and is built over the garage and a very leaky basement.

  4. PeterJ says

    We recently discovered that we live in Aladdin’s “The Bristol” (first picture on this page), Floor plan B, from 1952. Very well constructed, tough little home that the original owner lived in and cared for painstakingly for 50 years. We appreciate the charm and character of our home, even more now that we know its name and something of its design history.

    • Tammy says

      We also own “The Bristol” floor plan B. We purchased it from the original owner 29 years ago. Very little has been done to the house. It’s rather small by today’s standards but it has, and continues, to serve us well. (I knew this was an Aladdin home because we found all the blueprints for it in the basement after our purchase.)

      I’m so glad I found your site.
      Thanks,
      Tammy

  5. Jamie says

    I live in historic Lakeview Oregon. We were the first to do any remodeling on our 1930s kit house We didn’t realize it was a kit til were took down a ceiling joist stamped “ceiling joist”! I believe it is an Aladdin Madison. I have been looking for the original catalogue it was listed in. I want to see the options for lighting, kitchen, and bath. Our toilet and tub were stamped “1929”

    I started a facebook page to share pics and info on vintage kit/readi-cut homes called “Vintage Kit Homes”

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