Historic Michigan Kit Houses by Mail

The Rochester-Avon Historical Society presents “Kit Houses by Mail” Melodie Nichols, Curator of the Clawson Historical Museum 

From 1906 through the 1980s it was possible to purchase an entire house through the mail. There are many of these kit homes in downtown Rochester and in surrounding communities. Join fellow local history enthusiasts at the Rochester-Avon Historical Society’s monthly meeting on Thursday, February 1 at 7:00 p.m. at the Rochester Hills Public Library, 500 Olde Town Road, to hear Melodie Nichols, curator of the Clawson Historical Museum, discuss and identify mail order or kit homes, which represent a unique architectural period in American history.

Image of a two-story Kit Houses by Mail

Kit Houses by Mail

Among the first kit house companies in the country was the Aladdin Company, based in Bay City, MI. It sold large orders of kit houses to companies in the extraction and manufacturing fields and were used to create neighborhoods for employees of those companies. By 1918, 2.4% of all U.S. housing starts were kit homes purchased from Aladdin.

Three Michigan-based companies manufactured kit homes for decades. Nichols will share the history of these companies and some practical tools to aid in researching these houses, which came in a variety of styles. There are still a few original kit houses in downtown Rochester.

Nichols earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Oakland University and a graduate certificate in historic preservation from Eastern Michigan University. She has written two books on local history and on Clawson’s kit houses. She also won a Main Street Oakland County award in 2015 for a downtown Clawson history tour in partnership with Downtown Clawson.

This event is free and open to the public. No registration is required.

The Rochester-Avon Historical Society (RAHS) was founded in 1969 to help preserve, collect and interpret the history of the greater Rochester area for present and future generations.

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