516 College SE
One of the grandest homes on this year’s tour, the Brayton Mansion still hosts many fine parties and visitors to Grand Rapids as it most assuredly
once did in its heyday. Built by James Brayton in 1889, the house — other than updates and modern amenities — stands today virtually unchanged. From the one-of-a-kind
wall coverings downstairs to the ballroom on the third floor, we imagine a lifestyle only dreamed of today. Even the carriage house, with its generous living quarters
and “turntable” carriage stalls remind us of the opulence of the time.
529 Fountain NE
Originally constructed in the 1870’s, this home has definite Italianate features including tall, narrow windows with elaborate crowns. In the early 1900’s, it underwent
a makeover that gave it several Queen Anne details including the wrap-around porch. The present owners have taken great pains to give the home its third rebirth with
stately, albeit not-so-traditional, decoration befitting the home’s design and their significant art collection. A state of the art kitchen, library, and garden room
are must sees.
310 Union SE
A modest farmhouse, circa 1874, with not-so-modest detail throughout. All the original woodwork and even the living room fireplace are reminiscent of a much finer home,
but typical of a Victorian builder trying to capture the essence of the lavish life on a much smaller budget.
350 Cherry SE
Built in 1874, the quaint English Cottage style appearance of this home belies the roominess of its 3400 square feet of living space. The warmth of each room comes as much from design as of decoration by the current owners. Original features like the decorative trim work and lighting on the main floor to the nickel-plated hardware of the second floor seem only to need a family to fulfill its cozy feeling. The owners own taste and collections (like an exquisite box collection you’ll see throughout) fill the bill perfectly.
559 College SE
The features that represented grandness when this home was first built are still its glory today. This 1906 Georgian Revival is a wood-lover’s dream. From the front porch, through the entryway and on into the foyer, the wood and its design are impeccable. Columns and wainscoting take the visitor’s eye through a world of care and craftsmanship of a bygone era. Leaded glass windows throughout the main floor lend a quiet dignity to each room as they diffuse the light over furnishings and floor.
106 Union SE
One of the oldest homes on this year’s tour, this 1876 home has a definite “stick-style” as the decorative trusses in the gables suggest. The two apartments of this house still maintain the flavor and unique characteristics of the single-family original including an unusual metal-framed skylight, the glazed green tiled fireplace front and the larger bath of the smaller apartment which was the original home’s main bath.
347 Madison SE
Here we see a Tudor-style with craftsman or “stick” influences. Unique to this 1901 home is the fact it and the apartment building to its immediate south were purchased in the 1940’s by the Catholic Church as a home for the Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus. There was an enclosed hallway constructed between the two for the convenience of the Sisters of St. Anne’s Home.
356 Cherry SE
This 1885 home was designed and built by noted architect Robert Charles Coit. Though the house had a wealthy beginning, it’s the survival from desertion and vandalism that makes this tour home special. A resurrection that started in the mid-seventies and continued by the current owners has returned the home to its once-stately opulence tempered by today’s lifestyle.
423 Madison SE
In 1882, Robert Corson, a director for the Berkey & Gay Furniture Company, built this Queen Anne style home. Characterized by the extensive use of wood shingles and long, sweeping roof lines, the “New England” look even incorporated a unique bungalow style porch. Once inside, the ample room and hall sizes contradict the styling of the home’s exterior. Built without indoor plumbing, baths were added around 1900 and have a most unique feature – ceramic tiling not only on the floors, but on the walls and entire ceilings.
450 Madison SE
The perennial Tour favorite! Commissioned in 1908 by a prominent Grand Rapids clothier, this incredible home was designed by America’s most famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. After suffering years of neglect, it was meticulously restored by Steelcase, Inc. in 1987.
115 College SE – the Voigt House Victorian Museum
Built in 1895 by local businessman, Carl Voigt, this opulent structure is really a romantic adaptation of a French chateau. Home to two generations of the Voigt family, the mansion is furnished with belongings the family used over the years. The Voigt House is a property of the Public Museum of Grand Rapids.
Also on tour this year is Central High School, the second oldest high school in the state. Central High alumni include Senator Vandenberg, First Lady Betty
Ford, and astronaut Roger Chaffee.