Friday, March 20, 2020

The Aladdin Franklin

Gustav Barfuss home 448 Bound Brook Rd Middlesex NJ--Aladdin Franklin model built in 1919
Aladdin Homes Franklin model • 448 Bound Brook Rd, Middlesex, New Jersey
1919 catalog image of Aladdin Franklin
Aladdin Franklin in the 1919 Aladdin Homes cataglog No. 32
Isn't this a cool bungalow? This is a kit house from the Aladdin Homes company, out of Bay City, Michigan. Aladdin began selling pre-cut house kits in 1906, two years before Sears began selling non-pre-cut kits, and ten years before Sears began offering their kits pre-cut. Aladdin was a huge name in the kit house industry, selling all over the United States, as well as Canada.

This model I'm highlighting today, is called The Franklin. We haven't found too many of these, possibly because this general style is rather common, and houses like this tend to have porches closed in, and little features like the upper front windows, changed, so we may be zooming right by these houses.

Gustav Barfuss and Henry G. Osterman

This Franklin is most likely the one that was purchased, in 1919, by Gustav Barfuss, Jr., and his wife, Ida. Gustav and Ida were both born in the German-speaking area of Switzerland, and the 1920 census tells us that they came to the United States in 1885 (he) and 1895 (she). Gustav would have been seven years old when he came to the U.S. with his parents, Elizabeth and Gustav Barfuss, Sr. The 1920 U.S. Census tells us that both families lived on Bound Brook Road, and a 1926 newspaper article mentions land owned by Barfuss, Jr. on this road, near Fairfield Avenue, which is about a block from this house. I can't imagine that there is another Aladdin Franklin in Middlesex, on Bound Brook Road, so I'm pretty sure that this house was the one bought by G. Barfuss.

1920 US census on Bound Brook Road: Barfuss and Osterman families
1920 United States Census, showing both Barfuss families, as well as Henry G. Osterman, who is also mentioned in the 1926 newspaper article about land being given over to the state, around Bound Brook Rd and Fairfield Avenue.
(Source: Ancestry.com--click to enlarge)
Here is the 1926 newspaper mention of the lands of Barfuss and Osterman, which appears to be right about where this house sits:
land around Fairfield Avenue and Bound Brook Road granted to state by Barfuss and Osterman families
Source: Newspapers.com

I found this Aladdin Franklin totally by chance. I was looking on Bound Brook Road for the Aladdin Winthrop that H. G. Osterman had bought. Osterman ran a nursery on Bound Brook Road in Middlesex. The address that I found for that nursery, is now built over with a newer building, but, when I opened Google maps, I randomly picked a spot to plop down on, to begin looking for Osterman's Winthrop. The spot that I selected, completely by chance, was right in front of the Aladdin Franklin! I didn't even realize that there was a purchase order on our list for a Franklin in Middlesex/Dunellen, until tonight, as I started putting together this blog post, and I didn't realize that Osterman was the neighbor of Barfuss, until I started looking through census records. I love when things fall together like this.

Osterman Nursery of Henry G. Osterman in 1920 Middlesex NJ city directory
1920 City Directory showing the Osterman Nursery on Bound Brook Road in Middlesex
(source: Ancestry.com)
The house that I was looking for, was this model, seen here in the 1919 Aladdin catalog:
color image of Aladdin Winthrop model, and floorplans, 1919 catalog

Isn't that a great model, too!? I love the Winthrop! I found one in Bristol, Connecticut, that was part of the Bristol Brass Company purchase of homes (you can read about that one, here). But, I thought that we had missed out on Osterman's Winthrop, because I assumed that it was on Bound Brook Rd, along with his nursery. However... remember the newspaper mention of land that Osterman and Barfuss granted to the state, on Fairfield Avenue, off of Bound Brook Road? Well.... look what I just found at 225 Fairfield Avenue: 
Aladdin Winthrop at 225 Fairfield Avenue, Middlesex, New Jersey
Osterman's Aladdin Winthrop, I think... at 225 Fairfield Avenue, Middlesex, New Jersey
I think, once again, that the coincidences are all too great, for these two houses not to be the Barfuss Franklin, and the Osterman Winthrop. Osterman may not have lived in this house... he may have built it for an employee, or for a family member. 

Aladdin Winthrop at 225 Fairfield Avenue, Middlesex, New Jersey
Obviously, the front porch has been enclosed, but this looks, otherwise, just like the Winthrop in Bristol, CT

Aladdin Winthrop at 225 Fairfield Avenue, Middlesex, New Jersey
You can just make out the bumpout there, on the right... though, it looks oddly like the roof is bumped out, but the wall isn't... not sure what's going on here. Thinking more about it, I bet that, when this house was re-sided, and new windows added, they cut off the bump out... easier (and cheaper) to apply the siding. This house was being used as a rental property when it was last listed for sale, so choices like those are more likely.
Getting back to the Barfuss Franklin, let's take a last look at the house, from the front and side:
Gustav Barfuss home 448 Bound Brook Rd Middlesex NJ--Aladdin Franklin model built in 1919
448 Bound Brook Road, Middlesex, New Jersey • Aladdin Franklin
catalog image of Aladdin Homes Franklin modelThe Franklin has a nice bank of three windows, on the right hand side, for the dining room, with a pair of small windows behind that, for the kitchen. We can see that on this 1919 catalog image, and on the house itself, in the photo below that:

Gustav Barfuss home 448 Bound Brook Rd Middlesex NJ--Aladdin Franklin model built in 1919
This is the view of the Barfuss Franklin, from the back of the right side, looking up toward Bound Brook Road. So... double kitchen windows, then triple dining room windows, then two windows around the chimney. Obviously, big dormer added, as well as space in the back of the house.

Aladdin Franklin 3d floorplan
Here's a great view of the layout of the Aladdin Franklin.

Aladdin Franklin floorplan layout
Simpler drawing of the floorplan of an Aladdin Franklin
Two Other Franklins
We have just a few other Aladdin Franklins on our list, and two of those are very nice, so I've got a few photos to share, of those. One was found by me, and the other was found by Andrew Mutch, researcher extraordinaire.

Let's start with Andrew's find, which is in St. Clair, Michigan:
Diamond Crystal Salt Company's Aladdin Franklin in Saint Clair Michigan
Aladdin Franklin • 1540 Goffe Street, St. Clair, Michigan

Diamond Crystal Salt Company's Aladdin Franklin in Saint Clair Michigan

Diamond Crystal Salt Company's Aladdin Franklin in Saint Clair Michigan
Authenticated Aladdin Franklin
This Franklin in St. Clair, Michigan, was originally part of a purchase of several houses, by the Diamond Crystal Salt Company, in 1919. We haven't found the other houses from that purchase order. It was pretty common for large factory companies to buy set up areas of housing for employees, and they often turned to our kit companies, for those houses. Aladdin offered at least a 10% discount, for a large order of several houses. Sometimes the companies then rented out to their employees, or sometimes the home was part of the wage of the employee. Occasionally, too, the companies sold the houses to their workers.

Our last Franklin to show, also has some good interior shots, so I saved it for last. This one isn't authenticated, but it matches up well. It's in Franklin, Nebraska.
Franklin Nebraska kit house: probable Aladdin Franklin on 19th Avenue
Probable Aladdin Franklin • 614 19th Avenue, Franklin, Nebraska
Franklin Nebraska kit house: probable Aladdin Franklin on 19th Avenue
Looks like a bumpout was added for the dining room.

Franklin Nebraska kit house: probable Aladdin Franklin on 19th Avenue
Windows look pretty good, but not perfect... the front should have triple windows on either side of the front door, and these are pairs of windows. That may have been a cost-saving measure, or... this may not be an Aladdin Franklin . The upper set of windows in front, should be several slim windows, but this has two larger ones, which could be a change that was made during replacement of the windows... or, it's not a Franklin.
left side view of Aladdin Franklin model as shown in the catalog


Let's take another look at the floor plan, and then see how some of the rooms follow that.
floorplan of Aladdin Franklin model as shown in the catalog
This home was for sale in the recent past, and you can see the listing that these photos came from, here.
living room and front door view of Probable Aladdin Franklin in Franklin, Nebraska

dining room view of Probable Aladdin Franklin in Franklin, Nebraska

kitchen of Probable Aladdin Franklin in Franklin, Nebraska

bedroom of Probable Aladdin Franklin in Franklin, Nebraska

Back view of Probable Aladdin Franklin in Franklin, Nebraska
This enclosed back porch will have been added on. Aladdin offered several add-ons like this... or, it may have been added later on.
I have a few other newly-found kit houses from Sears, Wardway, and Gordon-Van Tine to show you in the coming weeks, so check back! If you know of any kit houses, please leave me a message (and include your contact info).

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