Saturday, September 17, 2022

Aladdin Colonial in Maysville, Kentucky

As regular readers know, I search Zillow almost every day looking for potential kit houses. One of the searches that I do is looking for houses that have "Sears" in the description. As I've shared, this isn't a very reliable method for identifying houses from Sears Roebuck. I would say that more than half the houses that claim to be from Sears are definitely not from Sears and are likely not kit houses at all. Of the rest, most of them actually are from Sears. But a small percentage of those are models from other kit house companies that are erroneously listed as being from Sears. Such is the case with this lovely example of a "Colonial" from the Aladdin Company of Bay City, Michigan. Let's take a look!

The Aladdin Company of Bay City, Michigan, which sold kit houses under the "Aladdin Homes" brand, was the first and the longest running of the companies that sold kit homes during the height of the kit house era. An innovator in the industry, its ideas like pre-cut lumber and giving models names instead of just numbers were later "emulated" by its major competitors including Sears and Gordon Van Tine. 

Like its competitors, Aladdin sold houses in a wide range of sizes and styles. One of the largest models that Aladdin sold was the "Colonial", a large, two story colonial style house notable for its three small dormers on the front of the house and the large, semi-circular front porch.

Because of its distinctive look, a number of examples of this house have been found around the country. Here's an authenticated example from Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina.

Aladdin "Colonial" - Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina

 The example for sale in Maysville, Kentucky looks equally as nice. 

Aladdin "Colonial" - Maysville, Kentucky

So how did a house that clearly is from Aladdin get labeled as being from Sears? Actually, this happens quite a bit. Over the years, the origin story for the house can get transformed and the fact that it's a kit house from a specific company gets turned into a kit house from Sears because it's the one company that most people have heard of if they've heard of kit houses. Most people don't know about Aladdin or Lewis or Gordon Van Tine or any other of Sears major competitors. I've even read of family members getting the company wrong and labeling authenticated examples from other companies as being from Sears. It happens and part of the work of sharing the story of Sears and Aladdin and the others is educating people on the differences. 

Here's a couple more views of the Aladdin "Colonial" in Maysville. 

As you can imagine in a house this size, the rooms are generous in size and the tall ceilings only add to the impression of the size of the rooms. 

Is this fireplace design an original from Aladdin? It may be! I haven't seen it in the catalogs but it looks appropriate for the era when this house was sold. 

I wanted to finish not with a photo of the house but with a view from the property. Wow! The future owner gets a very unique house in American history and a spectacular view to go with it. 

Interested in seeing more photos of the house? You can see those on the real estate listing

The "Colonial" model was first offered as the "LaSalle" before Aladdin changed the name in 1918. This house has a built date of 1905, which we know is incorrect so if this house was built before 1918, it's technically a "LaSalle". But like other models that had their name changed, the name that sticks is the one that sold the most examples. In this case, we have more known "Colonial"s than "LaSalle"s. If more information comes to light on when this house was built, I'll update the post as necessary. 

The best way for the owners to confirm the build date is to contact the Clarke Historical Library at Central Michigan University where most of the original sales records for the Aladdin company are archived. The staff there may be able to track down the sales record for the house that would confirm the date it was sold (and provide the owners with a lot of cool information about the house from its original sales price to the original paint colors!)

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