This Aladdin Needs A Magic Lamp

Kit Houses in Washington DC

It was an exciting moment last year when we discovered this inconspicuous little 1918 American Foursquare in Silver Spring, Maryland. [Click on the thumb prints for larger pictures.]

After much writing and talking about the many Sears and Lewis mail-order homes we have in the DC suburbs, we’d also been looking for evidence of Historic Aladdin kit houses for a while. In archives, we had found a series of picture ads in the Washington Post from the 1910s. They showed how the company — in the pre-cut kit house business even before Sears — had tried to charm the city’s potential home owners and builders. So clearly, there must have been a bunch of those houses built here.

Eventually, we did succeed in finding some truly amazing specimen (pictures to come soon!) as Aladdin offered some of the largest and most luxurious models  of all kit house companies.

The “Standard” was certainly a more moderate house, but the discovery was nevertheless exciting because it was the first Aladdin we spotted here. The playful, pointed yet swinging pitch of the roof and dormer and its 2-foot overhanging extension were the tip-off. They’re less common in other homes from that time, kit or not.

“BEE-UUU-TI-FUL!” cheered Rosemary Thornton, leading kit house expert and author of a bunch of books on the topic, when I shared pictures in a national kit house forum. What we were thrilled with was the fact that the house appeared – at least from the outside – preserved in almost original form. Despite the vinyl siding, it seemed likely that much of the original structure and detail was preserved.

Well, little did we know. Until a couple of days ago, that is, when I discovered that the house was for rent. Marcie and I ran off to have a look. What we saw was not at all what we had expected. The good news: the house was reasonable well maintained, comfortably and in healthy shape. Floor plan, blue grease pencil markings on the lumber and a few other little details confirmed that it was indeed the Aladdin “Standard.” The bad news: other than the walls and door trim, there was nothing left of the house inside. Absolutely nothing.

Hollow-core doors, epoxy hardware, Pergo floors all over and pseudo-contemporary glass light fixtures made it clear that the owner might have appreciated the house as such, but certainly not for its historic value or beauty. I’m not going to ruin this post with the interior pictures we took (although we ended up laughing so hard that it might warrant a follow-up piece here). You can, however, check out the listing agent’s MLS pictures here.

The “Standard” — off Georgia Ave in Downtown Silver Spring — is currently available for rent at $2,200/month by Josh Andrew of Streamline Management in Bethesda.

3 thoughts on “This Aladdin Needs A Magic Lamp

  • October 27, 2016 at 12:05 pm
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    I own an Aladdin Standard (Roughly 1916-1917) in Trumbull, Connecticut. It has been very well maintained over the last century. Most of the doors are in tact. Sadly the original hardware for the majority of the doors are missing.The original floors are in tact on the second story. The plaster walls have been replaced with dry wall and some of the moldings replaced or repaired. The original floor plan is primarily in tact.. It looks as though the vestibule may have been removed and there was some customization to the kitchen when they assembled the house. Instead of a pantry in the rear of the kitchen the space was moved to the front and was made into a water closet. The original owner also added a bay window similar to the Aladdin Virginia. However, based on the floor plan it is clearly the Standard. The standard had a large master in the front of the home with a very large closet as does my home. I would be more than happy to share photos with you if you are interested in sharing them on your blog.

    Shannon Oddis
    shannon.oddis@yahoo.com

    Reply
    • November 10, 2016 at 11:09 pm
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      Shannon–thanks so much! We’d love to share some pictures. And we have seen a bunch of change orders from Aladdin where people replaced windows or other features with parts from other models, i.e. “Villa” windows on a “Colonial,” etc. The “Virginia” dormers were particularly popular.

      Reply
      • February 22, 2017 at 12:45 pm
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        Catarina – How can I email you the photos? Is there an e-mail address where I can send them? My email is shannon.oddis@yahoo.com if you refer to reach me there?

        Reply

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