Hundreds attend Dowagiac Home and Garden Tour

Published 2:23 pm Wednesday, June 26, 2024

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DOWAGIAC — People from Dowagiac and beyond turned out in droves Saturday to view homes rich with architecture and local history.

More than 340 people participated in the 2024 Dowagiac Home and Garden Tour Saturday in Dowagiac. The tour committee was chaired by Crouse and includes Alicea Rodriguez Cole, Allexia Money, Dana Sandoval, Jessica Shank, Zena Burns, and Ruth Ausra. The tour was sponsored by Matt and Ale Money with D. Mottl Realty Group, Chicago Title, and Imperial Furniture. 

According to Crouse, people from  South Bend, St. Joseph, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids and more descended on Dowagiac to experience the tour.

“We had a great turnout on one of the hottest days we’ve had this year,” Crouse said. “Not only did that many people come out but everyone was in really good spirits and very happy to be participating in this. In a time where it’s hard to get people to come together, it was universally a positive experience for everyone involved,” she said. “You can’t ask for more than that.”

This year’s Home and Garden Tour features six properties, including the Arthur Beckwith house on Oak Street, the Blish House on Center Street, the Hubbard House on Main Street, the Cullinane House on Indian Lake Road and a rare viewing of the upstairs of the Wounded Minnow. Another highlight will be the Rockery on High Street, built by Fred and Kate Beckwith Lee in the 1890s.

Crouse said that the home and garden tour showcased the architectural diversity and unique character of Dowagiac, as well as the dedication of the homeowners in preserving the historic nature of their homes.

“It becomes their hobby, their passion, their love,” she said. “I’m very grateful to the homeowners for opening their doors and being willing to allow 340 people to walk through their house on a Saturday in June. To be able to share their passion with people who appreciate it is very gratifying. When you think about how much they put into the house, they get to showcase what they’ve done.”

Crouse said the next tour will take place in June 2026 to allow for more time for the planning committee to plan.

“Planning the tour is a huge undertaking and is taxing on homeowners,” Crouse said. “This gives us more time to network and plan. We want the tours to be fantastic experiences.”

The 2024 Home and Garden Tour homes are as follows:

The Blish House

This Italianate home was built for Daniel and Julia Blish in 1875 by Homer S. Thomas. The front stairway and wainscot are made of black walnut and the burled panels are birdseye maple. The interior trim is butternut and walnut with nine-foot solid walnut doors throughout the first floor.

When owned by Dr. Wm R. Lyman 1919-1929 it was the location of the first clay tennis court in Michigan. In 1964 the marble mantel was brought in from Chicago and the kitchen pantry was relocated from the Lee Mansion on High Street.

Updates and a major kitchen renovation was done by Tim Weber, who owned the home from 2014-2017. The current owners purchased the home in 2020 and have invested significantly on the exterior including walkways, a fire pit and landscaping.

The Hubbard House

This 1902 Queen Anne/Foursquare with a Prairie School influence was built by E.L. Paxson of Dowagiac in 1902. His signature stone work adorns the porch. He also designed and handmade all of the windows.

This home was built for Charles S. and Ida Hatfield Hubbard. Charles ran a successful horse and carriage livery stable in Dowagiac as well as one of the largest ice harvesting businesses in the State of Michigan.

It was also owned by Dickinson and Mary Lee Bishop. Mary, who was one of the wealthiest women in Michigan and heiress to the Round Oak Stove Company, died in the home from childbirth complications at the age of 22. Dickinson and his second wife Helen survived the sinking of the Titanic.

Elk’s Temple

Built for the Fraternal Order of Elks NNo. 889 in 1912. The style is Tudor Revival commercial architecture with strong Arts & Crafts/Craftsman influence.

The architects were Normand S. Patton and Grant C. Miller of Chicago. Patton & Miller designed over 400 buildings, including 20 Elks Temples and 100 Carnegie Libraries. The estimated cost of plans, specs and construction was $35,000 which translates to $1.1 million today.

The building was a 3-story, mostly fireproof construction that including rentable retail space on the first floor, a social room, office, bathrooms, billiards room, smoking room, kitchen and dining room for use by the Elks on the second and a large auditorium on the third.

The building, currently operating as the Wounded Minnow Saloon, has recently been approved for a Brownfield plan which will renovate upper floors into ten luxury apartments. The restaurant will remain in the lower level and the total capital investment for the project is expected to be more than $3.6 million

The Lee Mansion

The Lee Mansion, nicknamed “The Rockery,” is a Romanesque built of locally harvested uncut fieldstones. Each of the 5 stone chimneys is over 40 tall. The roof and turrets are made of red tile, and the home has copper eaves.

The Rockery was designed by W.W. Brown of Chicago and built for Fred and Kate Beckwith Lee. The Lees were the heirs of two of Dowagiac’s most influential families.

Kate died only five years after the home was completed. Fred remarried and after he and his second wife died, the home was gifted to the Sisters of St. Joseph with the intention of it becoming an old persons home. However, in 1963 it was sold and converted into apartments.

The Beckwith House

This is the second year that this has been on the tour and in its third year of restoration. Built in 1887 in an Eastlake Stick style, it also has Turkish, Moorish and Anglo Japanese styles incorporated. It was built for Arthur K. Beckwith and his wife Bessie. Arthur was an orphan and the adopted son of Philo D. Beckwith, founder of the Round Oak Stove Company.

Each have three dimensional ornamentation. There are 3 different siding profiles, 6 different shingle patterns, 3 different beadboards, 4 different moldings, rosettes, a sunburst, cut out spindles and carved lilies. There were 450 separate pieces of ornamentation on the original moorish front porch which will be recreated during this project.

The Cullinane House

The Cullinane house is one of the finest and most intact examples of Greek Revival farmhouse architecture in Cass County. It has a Greek temple front design with side wing and rear ell. The main temple front design has a full triangular frieze and cornice in Greek fashion.

The wing of the house has trademark Greek details such as the recessed porch and the small frieze windows. The outside of the house has 6-over-6 paned windows with hand blown glass and functional shutters.

The foundation of coursed cobblestone is a rare technique used by Ohio Valley stone masons for only a few years. The house was owned by the Cullinane family since it was built in 1854. The current owners began restoring it in 2014.

In the future, Crouse hopes to have a guestbook people can sign and share stories and insight on the homes. Anyone with information about the homes featured on this year’s tour can email Crouse at