Property: 847 Baker St., Lansing
Owner: Greater Lansing Non-Profit Housing Corp.
Assessed value: $22,700
Sure, Sears may be the most well known of the American mail-order home companies, but Michigan is home to what was the first and largest: Aladdin Co. of Bay City. Like Kleenex, the Sears brand is the common term for all mail-order homes. If you live in Michigan and reside in a mail-order home, it is highly likely that it is an Aladdin.
The big question is: How do you identify a mail-order home? Unfortunately, it’s difficult.
847 Baker St., recently rehabbed by the Greater Lansing Housing Coalition, is a great example of a home that is likely to be a mail-order and likely from Aladdin because of its strong resemblance to the Addison home in the Aladdin catalog. Rebecca Hunter, author of, “Mail-Order Homes: Sears and Other Kit Houses,” cautions those attempting to identify a house by matching it to its catalog picture. According to Hunter, mail-order houses were not unique and copied popular designs. Evidence on structural members or legal records is the only way to determine if a house is originally a mail-order.
Mail-order homes are highly desirable because they feature well-built design and are highly sought after today. It is impossible to tell if 847 Baker St. is a mail-order home, but the fact remains that it is a classic two-story, American-style home that is a great design and built of superior materials.