Sunday, August 19, 2012

Aladdin, Once the Biggest Systems Home Builder in the US

In an age of real craftsmen building homes, there were kit house factories turning out homes as fast as they could produce them.  Aladdin Homes in Bay City, Michigan was one of the biggest.  Founded by two brothers, W J Sovereign and O E Sovereign, Aladdin began selling boat houses, garages and cabins in 1906.

W J Sovereign
They turned to building houses full time shortly after and by 1915 became one of the largest suppliers of kit houses in the US.  In 1918 they accounted for almost 3% of all homes built, a percentage that all the modular home factories in the US are still trying to match.  Their biggest projects revolved around building company towns for DuPont and many others.  

I know of one company town near my hometown in PA that had all Aladdin homes. It was built for a large sand and limestone quarry owner.  The last time I drove past it most of the houses were gone and the remaining homes looked very rundown.  Another Aladdin town was built in the '20s near several coal mines in central PA.

Aladdin’s output of homes began to drop during the great depression from a high of almost 2,000 to less than a 1,000 by 1928.  Production dwindled to about a 100 homes a year but they kept producing homes until the factory was closed in 1982.

They are credited with much advancement in prefabricated home construction.  Even today we are using many of their methods.

CLICK HERE to see about 50 Aladdin house plan catalogs from 1908 thru 1954.  I still find it fascinating that a lot of the modular plans available today are almost identical to a lot of later ones.

1 comment:

Roberts communities said...

Wow homes were really cheap back in the day. I guess that was a'lot of money to during that time.