This post is the first in a series to identify Aladdin Company kit houses that were manufactured locally and shipped to sites within Mississippi. Thanks to Cindy Catanzaro and the Clarke Historical Library in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan we’ve had an opportunity to see the ledger for the Aladdin Company mail order home plant that was located in Hattiesburg.
If you missed the post discussing the ledger you can check it out here before reading any further.
Aladdin likely shipped kit houses into Mississippi for nearly the entirety of their eighty-one year existence, but the Aladdin plant in Hattiesburg operated for less than three years between 1919 and 1921.
One of the ledger orders was for a Winthrop model requested by a “J H Bassette” to be shipped to Newton, Mississippi. The Winthrop model was offered approximately between 1913 to 1923 by Aladdin, and the company even had a Winthrop model on Adeline Street in Hattiesburg that was available for prospective buyers to tour.
The Winthrop was described in the Spring 1919 Aladdin Company Catalog as follows:
Can you imagine this bungalow nestling among trees and shrubbery on your own lot? A few cobblestones are gathered from nearby fields and when blended with brown stained shingles, natural shrubbery and a setting of velvety green, the observer is fascinated.
A bungalow should always be set close to the ground. When local conditions seem to make this impossible the same results can be secured by terracing close to the building.
The Winthrop is of the pure bungalow type–low, a touch of rough stones, bracketed eave supports heavy timer work, shingles and broken outlines.
And as the real bungalow is always compactly and conveniently arranged inside–you will agree that the Winthrop is typical. The large living room is lighted by three group windows and the fireplace at the end forms an inviting nook. Extra length is secured to the dining room by the interesting bay window. Lots of wall space is available in the front bedroom. The centralized hall, and entrance from dining room, kitchen, bath and bedroom is a good feature. Could a bathroom be better located than this? Can you help falling in love with this interesting bungalow?
I don’t know that city directories were ever produced for small towns such as Newton, but federal census records can do in a pinch. In 1920 there is a James H. Bassett, a 57-year-old insurance agent, and along with his 27-year-old wife Minta, he is boarding at 237 Church Street. This at least gave me a place to start, so I used google street view to take a stroll along Church Street. Lo and behold I came across a house that looks like a Winthrop model.
Mr. Bassett had a grown son, Felix, who was listed as a house carpenter in the very same federal census. J.H. Bassett died in 1928, and his wife was living with three boarders and two young daughters in the 1930 census, but that census only lists the location as Church Street and does not give a street address for the family. The 1940 census is even less helpful, identifying neither the street number or name for the Bassetts, but it does indicate that they were living in the same location in 1940 as they were in 1935. No definitive answer that this is the house from the ledger, but it is likely an Aladdin Winthrop model.
The earliest photo of the house I found was a July 1979 photo from the Newton West Church Street Historic District National Register nomination. The owner given in the nomination is named McGehee, so there is no clear lineage back to Bassett provided in the National Register District Nomination. The house has an added portico to the west, a feature not indicated on the Aladdin plans of the Winthrop, but this may have been the handiwork of Felix Bassett. The chimneys mentioned in the description may have been omitted at the time of construction, and since there are no cobblestones in Newton, a brick foundation and piers is a logical choice. There is also a historic addition on the rear of the house.
What do you think? Could this be the house identified in the ledger as shipped from the Aladdin plant in Hattiesburg to Newton?