Beat The Heat: Attic Fans

To commemorate turning on my attic fan for the first time this season, I thought it would be fitting to share some pre-war ads for attic fans.

From the June 11, 1941 edition of the Hattiesburg American. The Hattiesburg Material & Supply Company was selling Reed brand attic fans.

Reed Attic Fan Advertisement Hattiesburg American June 11 1941 page 16

From the July 23, 1940 edition of the Greenville Delta Democrat Times. The McKee Lumber Co, was selling attic fans.

Greenville Delta Democrat Times July 23, 1940

From the June 29, 1939 edition of the Greenville Delta Democrat Times. The Virden Lumber Co. was selling Stakool brand attic fans.

Stakool Attic Fan Greenville Delta Democrat Times June 29, 1939

From the August 10, 1939 edition of the Greenville Delta Democrat Times. The Arkmo Lumber Co, was selling attic fans on installment plans to home owners who were just receiving electricity as part of the Rural Electrification Act or R.E.A.

Attic Fan Greenville Delta Democrat Times Aug 10, 1940

Does anyone else still use an attic fan? Are there any common themes y’all see in these ads?



Categories: Greenville, Hattiesburg, Historic Preservation

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23 replies

  1. We took an enormous boxed attic fan out of the 1922 Greenwood bungalow that we deconstructed. Wish we could have found a new purpose for it. My mother remembered that when it kicked on, the air temperature quickly improved. How about floor furnaces, another ingenious feature lost to progress?

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    • My house, built in 1950, still has a working floor furnace, and in fact, just yesterday I turned off the pilot light for the season. We now have central air and heat, but I prefer the heat of the furnace because it’s not air blowing on you, which always seems chilly even if it is heat.

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      • Before Mr. W.S. F.. Tatum brought natural gas to South Mississippi, oil-fired floor furnaces were notorious for flame-outs that resulted in house burnings. I remember my grandfather ending up with a warehouse full of un-sold units down there at Burkett Sheet Metal Wks. on Newman Street. I suspect the combination of heart-pine wood flooring and oil-fired floor furnaces resulted in the fire-prone buildings in Hattiesburg. I recall my grandfather attributing the burning of the Infirmary to a “flame-out’ in the oil furnace.
        As a crawling toddler, my mother said that I had I had burned my hands and knees after crawling across the floor grating.

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  2. For these to work, you have to be able to open windows/doors. Sadly, given the state of society these days, it requires bars over the windows/doors to prevent getting robbed/killed by the vermin that exist.

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  3. We still have an attic fan in place but it is currently inoperable. We used it until we did a restoration of our home in 2011. I would have loved to save it but it wasn’t energy efficient. So we left in place in the attic but unhooked it, and covered the spot on the ceiling. It could always be restored.

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  4. Such a great and timely topic! Somehow I’ve never come across an attic fan, I wonder if they’re less common on the west coast.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve noticed them quite a bit east of the Mississippi River, but that is where I spend a majority of my time too. out of curiosity, I ran a completely unscientific survey. Querying by state of newspaperarchive.com utterances of the term “Attic Fan” during the attic fan’s heyday from 1935-1965. Texas was number one, but Mississippi was number two.

      Alabama (945)
      Alaska (1)
      Arizona (37)
      Arkansas (9,050)
      California (321)
      Colorado (35)
      Connecticut (573)
      Delaware (0)
      Florida (4,657)
      Georgia (1,294)
      Hawaii (1)
      Idaho (36)
      Illinois (8,560)
      Indiana (2,454)
      Iowa (1,627)
      Kansas (5,759)
      Kentucky (64)
      Louisiana (9,321)
      Maine (27)
      Maryland (539)
      Massachusetts (145)
      Michigan (147)
      Minnesota (95)
      Mississippi (14,030)
      Missouri (6,574)
      Montana (47)
      Nebraska (78)
      Nevada (5)
      New Hampshire (33)
      New Jersey (1)
      New Mexico (83)
      New York (214)
      North Carolina (3,606)
      North Dakota (4)
      Ohio (4,460)
      Oklahoma (13,506)
      Oregon (2)
      Pennsylvania (904)
      Rhode Island (0)
      South Carolina (1,886)
      South Dakota (17)
      Tennessee (231)
      Texas (64,674)
      Utah (83)
      Vermont (6)
      Virginia (761)
      Washington (36)
      West Virginia (747)
      Wisconsin (625)
      Wyoming (0)

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  5. I’m not sure, but it seems to me that first ad for the Reed Attic Fan is selling a little more than attic fans.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Interesting too that all of these ads are for Lumber companies. You can already see the transition to the broader home improvement stores like Hill-Behan that came about later. https://misspreservation.com/2017/11/17/hill-behan-a-new-concept-in-building-materials-merchandising/

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My former residence in Southwest Jackson had an attic fan and we used it occasionally. That house was built in 1966.

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  8. A colleague comments: “If memory serves, ours had a rotary timer switch like a toaster where you could turn it on and go to bed and it would go off in a few hours after things cooled down.”

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    • That timer concept is interesting. Does your colleague recall what era that rotary timer dated to (1930s, 1960s, etc.)?

      I’ve seen a few units with a rheostat for the variable speed motor. I am not so familiar with a timer, It sounds like a great concept.

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  9. I want to say when my parents built their house in 1996, they put one in. It was the first time I’d ever heard of one. The house that I grew up in had the turbans that twirled on the roof.

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    • These are different than roof vents. Rather than evacuating hot air from the attic to the outside like a roof vent does, these attic fans evacuate the hot air from the living quarters into the attic. The first ad image has a through section that shows the vent in the ceiling, and a hood the lead to the fan placed vertically in the attic.

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  10. What is…was…Fabrick?

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