February 18, 2020

Aladdin Kit Houses Travel the Globe

Logistically it would not have been complicated for the U.S. kit home manufacturers to ship their products abroad. We have ample evidence that kit homes were sold outside the U.S.

The Aladdin Company of Bay City, Michigan, was the king of international sales. In its advertising, the company said, "Aladdin houses stand in every part of the world...". Aladdin customers built houses in Canada, England, France, Switzerland, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Liberia, Iceland, Venezuela, Chile, Columbia, Cuba, Mexico, Hawaii, Philippines, Japan (for the American Red Cross), Australia, and Tahiti.

And... in the Falkland Islands at the end of the earth.

Illustration from the Falkland Islands Development Corporation.

The Falkland Islands are a remote British territory, and have a population of 3,354 (as of 2016). Fishing is the largest industry.

In 1925, the Aladdin Company received orders for houses to be shipped to the Falkland Islands. It is unknown who placed the order--possibly a government agency.

The plan was to ship the houses from Aladdin's plant in Portland, OR. The houses would go through the Panama Canal and back north to Liverpool, England!


From there, the houses would be transferred to a British ship that would cross the Atlantic to the Falkland Islands. A British ship delivered supplies to the islands every two months.

"We are confident this is the longest shipment of houses ever made, and we feel confident there are few shipments of any kind that travel a greater distance to get to [their] destination," said W.J. Sovereign, the president of the Aladdin Company.

I believe that! Portland to Liverpool through the Panama Canal is 8,870 miles. Liverpool to the Falkland Islands is 7,976 miles, for a grand total of 16,846 miles! Was this really the most cost-effective route?

Today there are 930 homes on Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands.

Stanley today. Do you think any of those Aladdin houses are still standing?  Photo from Wikipedia.

1 comment:

Architectural Observer said...

Fascinating! Thanks for this delicious bit of kit-house history!

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