December 24, 2010

History of This 1840 House

This 1840 house was the original post office of Whitneyville in today's Alto, Michigan.  Let's talk about Whitneyville first.

The Whitneys were among the early settlers in Cascade Township. The families of Zerah Whitney (1784-1873), a Connecticut native, and his sons Ezra (1815-99) and Peter arrived in the 1841-42 period and took up land at the site of what soon became known as Whitneyville. The hamlet acquired the township's first post office in 1849 and eventually contained a sawmill, grist mill, store, blacksmith shop, church, and a few scattered houses.[source]

Whitneyville was the final stop of a stagecoach line connecting Battle Creek and Grand Rapids till around 1870, and this 1840 house served as a stagecoach stop for a period of time.  Its significance declined after the building of a railroad to Grand Rapids in 1888. [source]

Judging by the trim work of the house, it was a fairly upscale house in the 1800s.  Over the course of the next 170 years, numerous remodeling and additions were added to this house.  By 2009, the house was in a destitute condition and was bought by the Ko family (blog authors) through a foreclosure.

Street View - Entry to the Old Post Office on the Left

This Living Room is Probably the Original Whitneyville Post Office - Entry to the Side Enabled Better Room Utilization
The Second Floor East Bedroom

The Ancient Oak Tree
We quickly recognized the historical significance of this house, and tried to find the balance of preserving the "oldness" of this house, making the house livable, and doing all these within our budget. In the next few posts, we will share the design considerations, special characteristics, and the building process of this 1840 house.