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. Come back soon!

  1. Pam Kueber says:

    Robert, the bold blue text at the bottom of the story is a hotlink that will take you to the archive of Aladdin houses. Start digging in, I bet you will find it.

  2. LK Ins2 says:

    I also live in the Bristol built in 1960 according to the abstract for my property. Not much has changed it is still fairly vintage. I noted all stamping as I was painting in the basement and exploring the attic. I was very excited to be able to put a company and name with my home. It has seen a few owners and was a rental so I was excited that it still maintained an original kitchen minus the cabinet doors that had been replaced. I am very glad that there are still people who preserve the past of these very unique treasures.

  3. slythwolf says:

    Mount Pleasant is smack in the middle of the Lower Peninsula, not on the western side of the state by any means, and nowhere near I-94.

  4. Debra says:

    My dad & mom built an Aladdin home in the early 70’s. The name of the home was, “The Berkeley”. They had a few changes, the fireplace was put in the basement, and instead of siding, stone was put on the exterior. Loved the home, and it is still here today!!

  5. Diane Paxson says:

    My parents Aladdin house is for sale. It is the Avalon model built in 1936. It has been standing empty for at least 10 years but has all the original fixtures. I wish I could afford to fix it up as I have a lot of fond memories living there. I have the blueprint, shipping bill of lading, list of items and instructions how to construct it. It is in Pennsylvania, Berks County.

  6. Lee Justice says:

    I found an Aladdin Home plan for my sister in the mid-seventies. I don’t recall the name but I do remember the style and floor plan. It was a split entry, bi-level home with a porch and four columns on the front.
    If anybody has any info on this house I would very much appreciate knowing.
    Thank you in advance!

  7. Pam Kueber says:

    Click to the blue hotlink at the bottom of the story to get to the whole archive of catalogs!

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