Sunday, June 14, 2009

Our Historic Homes: 118 S. Huron

Part of a series of profiles of area homes, as requested by their owners. Click a photo for a larger image.

Today's post focuses less on the home's history than on the personal recollections of one of its recent owners. Before we explore them, here is a quick mini-history:

The stately white house just south of City Hall, on the west side of Huron, is one of Ypsilanti's oldest. Built in 1837 by Charles Moore, the house passed to his daughter Josephine in 1879. She sold it to Nancy Glover in 1882, whose husband, H. P. Glover, was an influential Ypsilanti businessman. Readers may recall that their home included the domestic Bertha Wiederhoft, who wrote a memorable 1906 letter. Mrs. Glover bequeathed the home to her son Hal in 1920. After his death, Hal's widow Annie Glover remained in the house with her daughter Natalie and Natalie's husband Lorenz Kisor. For most of its history, the Moore-Glover-Kisor house was owned by only two families. Posted below, for more information, is a 1968 article about Josephine Moore, a 1977 article giving a more general history, and a detailed 3-page history.

Here is one former owner's recollection, posted with permission:

"As I mentioned, I have owned three old houses in Ypsilanti. The first one was 118 S. Huron (HP Glover's old house). When you mentioned being the collective memory of just reminded me of so many things. For instance, one day I was having a yard sale at 118 S. Huron and one of my neighbors, [name redacted], came to introduce herself. She was the former owner of the house during the mid 80s I think.

"She told me about a woman Ann Lee who lived in the Gilbert Residence (she was young to be there - suffering from MS I believe) who grew up in the house. It was Ann's parents, Natalie and Lorenz Kisor who turned the house into a single family to a duplex during WWII. Natalie had lived there all her life - the last generation in her family to live there.

"I met with Ann in 2000 to hopefully get more of a history of the house. She remembered much less than I would have hoped (given her health I assume) but she gave me an article written about the house in the 60s that showed that although the deed said it was built in 1901, it was actually built in 1837 (some have said it would make it one of, if not the oldest house in Ypsilanti on its original foundation). I have the article around somewhere (but have not located it yet). It was quite an interesting house. Unfortunately it had been seriously let go and my now ex husband and I did a great deal of interior work on it (the interior is beautiful) and as much exterior work as we could, but it was a monster to keep up with! My ex, [name redacted], still owns it.

"I was in love with that house. And we had some funny things happen. For instance, not long after I met with Ann Lee (and I was pregnant with my daughter at the time), my son who was 3 was in the room when my family and I were talking about baby names for the baby I was expecting. As we rattled off names, my son insisted that we name the baby Larry. Larry is not a very current name - I don't know where he would have heard that name and I asked him and he didn't know. We thought it was funny because he was so angry and insistent about it whenever we would suggest a different name.

"The other thing is that when we were pregnant with him three years earlier not knowing he was a boy we were considering the name Natalie. Finding out later that Natalie (Ann's mom) was the last of her family who had lived there for a few generations. So knowing more history, and then later knowing I was expecting a girl we planned to and did name our daughter Natalie because we originally liked the name and now it had a special significance to the house we loved.

"A few weeks after our Natalie was born, I was outside raking leaves and an elderly man I did not know walked by (he used to live in the neighborhood) and he started talking about our house and mentioned knowing the Kisors. He spoke of them calling them Natalie and pronounced Lorenz as "Lawrence". I mentioned it to my now ex husband and as soon as I said Lawrence a light bulb went off and I said, "I wonder if they called him Larry." So the first chance I had, I spoke with one of my other neighbors who lived next to the house when the Kisors were there and he said they did call him Larry. We joked that the ghosts of Natalie and Larry were living in the house and influencing our choices for names for our children and they must have been talking to our son who was insisting we name the baby Larry.

"Our tenants would often comment that they felt like the house was haunted, but in a nice way :). There was only one other incident that made the house feel haunted to me...once we were watching a movie and my son's Big Bird toy starting saying "patty cake...patty cake." We stopped the movie and looked at the toy. There was nothing around it and no way to make it do that without physically clapping its hands together. That was the only other haunted moment we experienced. We were kind of freaked out!

"I don't argue for or against the existence of ghosts, but I am fascinated by and love hearing ghost stories. And it's part of the romance of living in an old house. I love telling my stories about 118 S. Huron because people don't expect me to believe in ghosts, but we never felt threatened or scared in the house and our tenants said that whatever was there was harmless. I believe these were probably amazing coincidences..."

Many thanks to this kind reader for sharing her recollections of this beautiful home!

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

When owning an old house so late in its history, it is fun to feel even the smallest connection to its past...