By Mark C. Peyko
Despite an increased awareness of Craftsman homes, most people don’t know that many of these early 20th century houses were mass-produced and ordered from architectural pattern books. Known as pre-cut homes or kit houses, these structures had made-to-order features like bookcases, china cabinets and kitchen cupboards. Although Sears is widely recognized as a major producer of such housing, other companies included Aladdin, Gordon Van Tine and Montgomery Ward.
In addition to permanent housing, companies offered kits for garages, summer cabins and farm buildings. Each kit came with all the elements needed for a complete house, with optional add-on features costing extra. Although houses were shipped and constructed across the U.S., affordability made it a favorite in budget-conscious, working class neighborhoods. Streets in Youngstown, Warren and Struthers, Ohio all have neighborhoods filled with pre-cut homes.
For more on the subject, visit: http://clarke.cmich.edu/aladdin/aladdincom.htm. There, you’ll find complete Aladdin catalogs in pdf form. It’s one of the best free resources I’ve found on Aladdin homes. Actual catalogs turn up on eBay, but be prepared to compete for a winning bid.