Initially constructed as part of the May Bonfil’s estate, the Belmar Farm Caretaker’s Residence is one of the few buildings at the Lakewood Heritage Center which is in its original location. The building was abandoned in 1962 when the May Bonfils mansion was demolished. Beginning in 1976, the small structure was used as offices for the Lakewood Heritage Center. In the 1990s, the offices outgrew the space and the building was used for storage until 2008. Since then the building has sat vacant on the Lakewood Heritage Center grounds.
As it was an out-building on a large estate, limited historic information is available for the structure. However, it is clear that the building was constructed in multiple phases and that the earliest section of the building is a kit home.
Kit homes were popular in the early to mid 1900s. It is believed that the original section of the Caretaker’s Residence was a kit home from the Aladdin Company, which manufactured kit homes from 1906 through 1981.
Kit homes were originally shipped via train and later by truck, making them available across the country. Some of the pieces for the kit home were typically stamped to indicate how the structure was to be assembled. Looking at catalogs from various kit home manufacturers the Caretaker’s Residence matches a style in Aladdin catalogs from the early 1900s. As no company name was found as part of the identification stamps, and the style matches the catalog, it is likely that the Aladdin Company was the manufacturer.
The stamped framing members in the Caretaker’s residence were observed during the process of completing a Historic Structure Assessment for the building in 2011. Now that some of the interior finishes have been removed, the stamps are visible on roof framing members throughout the building.
The east and west wings of the building do not have similar stamps and are framed differently, indicating they were constructed at a later date as additions to the original kit home.
We are currently working with Hord Coplan Macht and JVA, Inc. to complete Phase 1 of the rehabilitation of the building. Summit Construction Services and Sandcreek Construction are working together to serve as the general contractor for the project. A second phase of work is anticipated, leading to re-use of the building as a community meeting space, support space for events at the Lakewood Heritage Center, and a home for a small research library and archive focusing on the May Bonfils estate.