The Glover House

 
 

 


Welcome!

Ypsilanti, Michigan, December 2000: What many people call the H. P. Glover Mansion may have for years been calling it the wrong name. Though some accounts suggest that H. P. was involved in the day to day details of its construction, more credible history points to H.P.ís son Charles actually taking the lead in the construction of this home. But even this house wasn't the first house built on this lot.

The pioneer house built at 118 S. Washington was built by Dr. Parmenio and Carlista Showerman Davis on land he bought on April 2, 1850. Dr. Davis also built the home to directly north of the Glover House at 112 S. Washington in 1845 which remains today as one of the oldest occupied private residences in the city. In 1858, when Ypsilanti became a city, Dr. Davis was alderman of the First Ward and in 1861 he was elected Mayor, holding the office for two years. He was again elected Mayor in 1868 and for a third term in 1870.

As Dr. Davis was a leading figure in Ypsilanti, there is every indication that this home had exceptional appointments, especially since the next purchaser, New York banker and investor Simeon T. Keith and his wife Harriet A. Allen, found it to their liking. Though built by Dr. Davis, most historians call this original house the Keith House. The Keith House was a frame structure, possibly of Greek revival architecture. Mr. Keith died April 4, 1875 and left the home to his wife. Mrs. Keith died shortly before February 1892. That is when the Glovers arrive on the scene.

Mr. Henry P. Glover was a successful businessman, banker and was even once mayor of Ypsilanti in the early 1890's. Henry P and Nancy J. Glover lived one block east of this house on the northwest corner of Huron and Woodward. H. P. Glover owned a dry goods store in the 1870's and made his fortune in the 1880's in partnership with Enoch Bowling who had patented a perspiration proof dress stay in 1885. The Ypsilanti Dress Stay Manufacturing Co. employed 170 girls and in two years, the sales amounted to $300,000 and an annual payroll of $30,000. The Ypsilanti Dress Stay Manufacturing Co. was shipping more goods than any other concern in Ypsilanti. Henry P. Glover was also a director in the Ypsilanti Savings Bank, which is now the Ypsilanti city hall.

Charles W. Glover bought Lot 57 and the south half of Lot 58 on February 1, 1892 and on May 11 bought the north half of Lot 58, evidently to provide an adequate site for the new house. Charles apparently began building immediately after purchase of the site and had it well underway when his marriage to Oriska Worden took place on October 20, 1892.

An account of the wedding appears in the October 21, 1892 Ypsilanti Commercial. It reads: "Charles W. Glover of this city and Miss Oriska Worden, a well-known society young lady and graduate of the Normal Conservatory of Music, were quietly married Thursday afternoon, October 20, at a church in Petoskey. They will make their home with Mr. and Mrs. H. P. Glover for a few weeks until the completion of the groom's handsome new residence on Washington Street. A host of Ypsilanti friends wish the newly married pair much happiness."

The talents of the bride were quickly appreciated and on October 28, 1892, it was announced that Mrs. Glover would appear in the leading role of "The Pirates of Penzance" at the local opera house. However, turmoil was brewing.

The home was completed in 1893 but not before the Opera House and Cleary College were destroyed by a tornado which rolled down Michigan Avenue. Glover House was completed at a cost of over $32,000. Newspaper reports, at the time, said the cost was the same as the Methodist Church on North Washington completed that same year. Today, it would be well over $1 million dollars.

Charles ran into financial troubles and by May 4, 1894, he was unable to pay a mortgage on the house. Through a sheriff's deed, title passed to Mary A. Starkweather, long time Ypsilanti patron and philanthropist. A year later on May 7, 1895, Charles' dad, Henry P. and Charles' brother, Hal W., provided a loan which apparently met a lien andadditional financing was provided by Mrs. Starkweather through a new mortgage.

In the meantime, Charles' marriage ended in divorce and he married Ida May Foss on March 15, 1895, in St. Paul, Minnesota. The day before Christmas in 1897, Charles and his new wife received title to the home. During this time, Charles was manager of the Michigan Manufacturing Company at the northwest corner of Babbitt and Grove Streets where they did machine work.

Charles Glover sold the house to Frederick. M. and Emily A. Beall on June 26, 1914. Again, some historians have incorrectly reported this date as 1941. Mr. Beall was, like Charles' dad, a dry goods merchant and he died on January 24, 1928. The will of his widow was entered in probate on January 9, 1945, and the administrator sold it to Genevieve M. Lewright for $11,500.

Irving E. and Theone S. Dixon purchased the house on January 23, 1946 and Child and Family Services (CFS), now called HelpSource, moved into the house in August 1966 and purchased the home from the Dixon's in 1969. The house survived intact and unchanged until 1981. Because of poor maintenance since 1966, a major restoration was undertaken in 1981. Work was completed in 1982 and while the exterior restoration was quite good, a somewhat muddled renovation was undertaken to reconfigure the interior office space. Ignoring much of the suggestions and plans from their architect, CFS converted the unused basement and attic into office space. After demolishing two closets in the guest bedroom on the second floor, a circular staircase was installed to the third floor. Several doors were relocated; new doorways were cut; a new bathroom installed on the first floor by converting the dining room pantry, and one of the original first floor doors was ultimately ruined when it was cut down to size to enclose the hallway on the second floor. Yet, almost immediately after the renovation, the home began to fall into disrepair from poor maintenance over the next 15 years.

Sadly, in 1997, HelpSource sold the original cast iron bathtub with cherry surround, a spectacular sterling silver chandelier in the entryway along with eight other chandeliers to buy indoor-outdoor carpet and fix some windows. Several of the fireplace mantels were dislodged at the same time most likely with the intent of selling them too. Thankfully, due to an outcry from neighbors and city officials, disassembly of the interior was halted. Five smaller chandeliers that were removed and placed in storage were recovered when the house was sold in 2000. Maggie Brandt and Steve Pierce purchased Glover House in February 2000 and after an extensive restoration is completed, the home will once again be a private residence.

Due to its historical and architectural significance, Glover House has been recognized as an important Ypsilanti building. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, the Michigan State Register of Historic Sites in 1979, and is in the Ypsilanti Historic District.

This five bedroom, ten room house is about 3,900 sq. ft. and was designed by Detroit Architect Malcomson and Higgenbothum. Alexander Malcomson was an original stock holder in Ford Motor Company when the company was founded in 1903.

The attention to detail lavished on the house is still obvious today. Architecturally speaking, the house is an excellent example of the "Queen Anne" style popular in the last decades of the 19th century. The visual complexities of the exterior massing and detailing produce a picturesque quality much admired in the late Victorian period. This is evidenced in the many projecting features of the exterior such as the porches, dormers, chimneys, bay windows, and turret. Also characteristic of the style is the horizontal layering of the textures and surfaces created by the stone foundation, wood siding, shingles, continuous bands at the window sills and heads, and the slate roofing all stacked one on top of the other.

On the interior, the late-Victorian predilection of ornament is lavishly fulfilled throughout Glover House. European craftsmen did much of the handwork, including ornamental plaster, frescoing, tile work, and woodwork. Almost every room is trimmed in different wood including: birdseye maple, oak, mahogany, birch, ash, butternut, sycamore, cherry, and pine. This use of different wood species to create distinct themes in each room is splendid. The sheer complexity of the minute detail evident in the woodwork throughout the house is exceptional. Swag details are repeated from room to room, and even carried outside along the eaves and rails of the home. Hand carved wood details are throughout the home, some of it so delicate, it had to be attached with needles. The original hand-rubbed piano finish wood most visible in the music room is over 100-years old and is still in perfect condition.

All of the stained and leaded glass windows are complete and in wonderful condition. There are two ceiling frescoes in the music room and dining room. Gesso plaster can be seen in the entryway and stairs, and the main bathroom on the second floor. Parquet floors were used throughout the first floor with each room having a unique pattern. There are five elaborate fireplaces and three chimneys. Four fireplaces are on the first floor and the Master Bedroom on the second floor has a fireplace.


House Tour

         The Front Hall and Dining Room (Southwest) are Oak.

         The Front Parlor and Turret are Birdseye Maple.

         The Music Room (North side) is Birch with hand painted ceilings.

         The Library (Center South) is Mahogany and the attached bath is Cherry. The walls are covered with faux leather and hand painted.

         On the second floor the Master bedroom (Southeast) is Ash.

         The middle bedroom is Butternut and the Southwest corner bedroom is Sycamore.

         On the north side, both bedrooms on the second floor are pine.

         The bathroom on the Second floor is Cherry.

 

To learn more about the Glover house and to see the on-going restoration, visit the house on the Web at www.gloverhouse.org.