There is no reason for me to tell you my story in order, is there? This could be like one of those confusing movies where they jump around in time and you have trouble keeping up. Then it all comes together in the end.
Well…….ha! Who knows when my story will end. And every one of these little blog posts is like a chapter in my Sears House Hunting story book.
Today I am fast forwarding through time by not telling you, my dear readers, about the wonderful Aladdin Home I got a full interior tour of in New Paris, a lovely Sears Lewiston I spotted in Minster, and several Sears Homes I photographed in Columbus, Indiana, all in the last month or two. I will skip back to those later.
Today’s chapter actually is a bit of time travel in itself. Early on in my house hunting hobby, I was only interested in locating houses in my hometown of Springfield. I was in the process of putting together a walking tour of Sears Houses for our local Preservation Alliance, and heard from other sources that the Clarke Historical Library in Mt Pleasant, Michigan had all the sales records from the Aladdin Company, which was based in Bay City. The Aladdin Company sold loads of houses as kits through mail order catalogs, just like Sears.
Hmmm……I thought, back then. Maybe I could find some Aladdin Homes through those records. So off I went, with my daughter along for assistance, to the Clarke.
We spent hours over two days going through records in search of homes connected to Springfield. And we found some. We didn’t get through all the records in the time we had, but it was definitely worth the trip.
A couple years later, I made a second trip to the Clarke for additional research, and that is where this chapter in today’s story starts.
August of 2012.
On that second trip I was already expanding my efforts to locate kit homes outside the Springfield area, so when I came across a sales record for just about anywhere near me in Ohio, I got a copy. I never did get around to locating all the homes from that trip, about 100 sales records in all, but every once in a while I will go back through them, and hunt for one or two.
Well, today, I found ten of them! Almost.
Here’s the details.
In May of 1920, The Foundation Co., of New York City, purchased ten Aladdin Homes and had them shipped to The Champion Engineering Co. in Kenton, Ohio. It is unclear what the connection is between these two companies, but, hey, that’s not my area of interest.
What I do know, from information I got today from two exceptional ladies at The Hardin County Historical Museum in Kenton, is that The Champion Iron Fence Co. was a big employer in the area back in its heyday. They manufactured those fancy iron fences you see around old Victorian style homes, iron stairs, flower vases, weather vanes, chairs……..lots of stuff.
Here’s a link to one of their catalogs.
In 1918, The Champion Fence Co. was bought out by the Champion Engineering Co, which made cranes.
And in 1920, the Champion Engineering Company bought those ten Aladdin Homes I mentioned above.
Before I start telling you all about the Aladdin models, I really must show you the Hardin County Historical Museum. You gotta go there. It is stunning inside and out.
Now for those Aladdin Homes.
It was a pretty common thing in the early 1900’s for large manufacturers to build homes for their employees, especially if there was a housing shortage in the area. Newspaper articles on file at the Historical Museum do state that the Champion Co. built homes for their employees.
Next I made a trip to the Recorder’s Office to find deed records associated with The Champion Engineering Co. The gals at the Museum had already told me where the houses probably were, but I wanted to get documentation. They were right! The Champion Engineering Co had their own plat where the houses were built. There is only one street name for the entire little neighborhood – Champion Ct.
The company purchased, in order of the sales records –
2 Venus, 1 Plymouth, 2 Stanhopes, 2 Maples, 1 Florence, and 2 Yales.
I have copies of the sale records for all ten homes, but I am only going to post one, as an example.
The second Aladdin Yale is located at 52 Champion Ct.
We drove right past one of the Aladdin Venus models……twice…….as we circled the block………and I didn’t recognize it. I spotted it when I got home and was Google driving around the block….again.
The right side of the house is a perfect match to the window arrangement shown in the floor plan illustration.
The other Venus model is located at 1 Champion Ct., but it wasn’t very photogenic.
The other Aladdin Maples is located at 32 Champion Ct. The porch has been enclosed and there is quite a bit of tall landscaping in front so I didn’t take a photo.
I didn’t actually spot The Plymouth model. It may be there, remodeled too much to recognize, but I’m certain it was there on Champion Ct. at one time. So even though I called this chapter “Ten Aladdin Homes in Kenton”, there really are only nine for sure.
But hey……nine out of ten ain’t bad.
Special thanks to Sheena, Director at The Hardin County Historical Museum, for her time and knowledge on my stop there today. And to Brenda, the Hardin County Recorder, for assisting me with the deed records and plat maps I needed to locate the Aladdin Homes.
Thanks for following along!