Thursday, April 2, 2015

Hattiesburg Homes

In the early 1920s, the Aladdin Company -- headquartered in Bay City, Michigan -- maintained regional divisions in the West, Southeast and South central United States. Boasting awards from the Panama-Pacific Exposition (San Francisco), Aladdin developed a "Readi-Cut" construction system. Using machine-cut timber to reduce labor costs and lumber waste, Aladdin could supply house kits to buyers nationwide. The Hattiesburg, Mississippi office shipped Aladdin homes to customers in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.
The company's so-called "Board of Seven" approved individual plans for its products. Once accepted, plans were named and marketed, and then printed into catalogs which were distributed with "Dear Friend" letters via direct mail.

Homes such as "The Franklin" (shown above) could be purchased for less than $3,000.(1) The company also had various rear and side dependencies which buyers could order to harmonize with their desired kit houses. At additional cost, Aladdin supplied kitchen and bathroom cabinetry, mantle book cases and buffets. Customers could also purchase the works, an entire home, its fixtures and furnishings.

It would be interesting to analyze the diffusion of the Aladdin Readi-Cut Homes across the country. Aladdin's corporate records, including those of its Order Department, are housed at the Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University. Sears Home and Plan Books researcher Cindy Catanzaro has done extensive work with the Clarke's records, and would be better equipped to discuss Aladdin "hotspots."

In New Orleans, M.E. Messenger established a business relationship with the Aladdin Company to build its Readi-Cut dwellings. Interested parties could inquire at the 6-room Readi-Cut "Pomona" model bungalow located at 122 Polk Street in Lakeview.(2)

(1) Pricing 1 April 1920. The Aladdin Company. Aladdin Homes: Sold by the Golden Rule. Bay City, Michigan: The Aladdin Company, 1920. Catalog Number 32. NA 8480.A5 1920
Architectural Trade Catalogs, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

(2)Advertisement. The Times-Picayune 13 November 1921.

Images above from the publications cited above, with the exception of the 11 April 2015 photograph of 122 Polk Street. K. Rylance.

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