Down on Main Street, Part 1: A 1920 Aladdin House in Graham, $285,000

Three remarkable houses on three different Main Streets came up for sale last week. They’re all worth looking at. The first: The Barefoot-Tate House, 507 N. Main Street in Graham. What’s particularly wonderful about this one is that it’s a kit house manufactured by the Aladdin Company of Bay City, Michigan, and shipped to Graham to be assembled on site. (They also were referred to as “knock-down” houses; Aladdin used the term “Readi-Cut”).

“Manufactured housing” meant something different 100 years ago compared to today. Aladdin houses were affordable but substantial structures, made to last and designed for a variety of neighborhoods. Aladdin was the first mail-order home company, established in 1906. Its competitors eventually included Sears, Montgomery Ward and, briefly after World War II, the late, lamented Lustron.

The Barefoot-Tate House is the Aladdin “Colonial” model. The original price was about $1,895; the 2021 price is $285,000. It has 4 bedrooms and 2 1/2 bathrooms in 2,915 square feet, just $98 per square foot. The lot is 0.67 acre. Pictures with the listing indicate that it looks to be in great condition. It’s in Graham’s North Main Street Historic District on the National Register.

“The two-story, five-bay, frame Colonial Revival house with three gabled dormers features scalloped cornice brackets, a semi-circular front portico supported by Doric columns, an exterior end brick chimney, and a one-story side porch, apparently enclosed at a later time,” the district’s NRHP nomination says. Sadly, vinyl siding and replacement windows have been added.

The home has had distinguished owners. “The house was built for Dr. J.J. Barefoot, a local physician, in 1920,” the nomination says. “… Later the house became the property of Allen D. Tate, Sr., an executive of White’s Mill and mayor of Graham in 1953 to 1955.”

The Aladdin Company

Aladdin’s best years came before the Depression. It sold many models, including Craftsmans, bungalows, four-squares and Cape Cods. It produced 1,800 homes in 1918. Hopewell, Virginia, was originally a town of Aladdin homes, built by DuPont for its workers there. A bad bet on the 1920s Florida land boom nearly ruined Aladdin, but it carried on in a reduced state until the 1980s. It ultimately manufactured 75,000 homes, thousands of which are still standing. Developer J.E. Latham of Greensboro built a dozen of them in and near what is now the Fisher Park Historic District, as detailed by the invaluable Sears House Seeker blog (here’s some background on the blog).

More on Aladdin:

507 N. Main Street, Graham

507 N. Main Street, Graham, Alamance County
The Barefoot-Tate House
contact pending November 9, 2021

  • $285,000
  • 4 bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms, 2,915 square feet, 0.67 acre
  • Price/square foot: $98
  • Built in 1922
  • Listed November 5, 2021
  • Last sale: $282,500, April 2018
  • Neighborhood: North Main Street Historic District

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