Dr. William H. Johnson House

Left: Photo by Sara Keller, April 2010
Right: Kalamazoo Public Library, Local History Photograph File, P-840
  • Location: 209 (now 211) Woodward Avenue, Kalamazoo
  • Survey ID: R-28
  • Designation: Dr. William H. Johnson House
  • Date: 1864
  • Style: Italian Villa

The following material is from the 1973 Initial Inventory of Historic Sites and Buildings in Kalamazoo and was made available for use here by the Historic Preservation Coordinator of the City of Kalamazoo. See Introduction to an Initial Inventory for details about how the survey was conducted.

In the last years of the Civil War, Dr. William H. Johnson built one of the distinguished examples of Italian Villa design in Kalamazoo. Its regular features: the hooded doorway, the elaborate double hooded windows, the bracketed eaves and sophisticated observatory make this particular building an excellent illustration of the fashionable suburban architecture of mid-century.

Dr. Johnson, born in New Jersey in 1814, came to Kalamazoo during the Civil War and established himself as a prosperous physician and druggist. In 1864, he built his home next to F. E. Woodward's estate in what was then the "best" residential district on the edge of the village. With him were his wife, Louisa, born in Canada, and his step-daughter, Madelon Stockwell. The 1870 Census-taker declared him one of the wealthy men of the village, with a total worth of $42,000.

Madelon Stockwell attended Albion College (where a library was named for her parents) and earned the first literary degree given to a woman from the University of Michigan (where a dormitory was named for her in 1939). She married Charles Turner, a lawyer who soon died of consumption. When Dr. Johnson passed away in 1883, Madelon continued as mistress of the house. She taught art at Kalamazoo College for a time, but soon withdrew from village life. She managed her estate carefully, though almost a recluse, and when she died in 1924, left behind some $200,000 most of which she left for a building at Albion College.

The house then passed to M. C. J. Billingham, prominent Kalamazoo architect, who occupied it as home and office for more than a quarter of a century. 

Maps:      

1861 - no house

1873 - house

Kalamazoo County Tax Rolls:

1862--1864 no W. H. Johnson    
1865 W. H. Johnson a lot of Summer St., next to F. E. Woodward's homestead, Woodward & Trask add. homestead 1400
1866 " " 1400
1867 " " 1700

Kalamazoo City Directory:          

1860 no Johnson

1867-68 Dr. William H. Johnson, 7 Woodward Ave

Kalamazoo Gazette: Kalamazoo Landmarks, 1945

Madelon Stockwell, step-daughter of Johnson, lived in house, attended Albion (where library is named for her parents) and was first woman to receive literary degree from U. of Mich. where dormitory named for her in 1939. She became mistress of house when parents died in 1880's and lived there until 1924, when she died. House then passed to M.C.J. Billingham who occupied it in 1945.

U. S. Population Census Rolls:

1870  William H. Johnson, 55, druggist, 2200 real, 20000 pers. b. New Jersey; Louise, 51; Madeline Stockwell, 24; Ella Campbell, 20, servant; Ed. Waldron, 19, drug clerk.

1880 William H. Johnson, 64, physician, b. New Jersey; Louisa, 60, wife, b. Canada; Charles Turner, 37, son-in-law, attorney, b, NY, consumption, unemployed; Madelon S., 34, daughter, housekeeper, b. Mich

This report was converted from a typewritten document to a digital text document in September 2004. Other than punctuation and spelling corrections, and the addition of BOLD type site address and names, no changes were made. Minor formatting changes were made for use on this website, but the text was not altered. Original survey dated 1973.

Additonal Sources

Books

"Johnson House" : Kalamazoo Lost & Found 

  • Houghton, Lynn Smith
  • Kalamazoo Historic Preservation Commission, c2001
  • H 720.9774 H838, p.232

Kalamazoo: Nineteenth-Century Homes in a Midwestern Village

  • Schmitt, Peter J.
  • Kalamazoo City Historical Commission, 1976
  • H 720.9774 S355, pp.100-101

Biographical sketches : recollections of the earliest days and pioneers of Albion, Michigan, and its surrounding towns

  • Palmer, Elmore ; compiled by Frank Passic.
  • H 977.422 P173, Sketch #5

A Michigan childhood : the journals of Madelon Louisa Stockwell, 1856-1860

  • Stockwell, Madelon Louisa
  • Albion College Library and Albion Public Library, 1988
  • H 921 S866

Articles

"Madelon Turner home; widow secluded herself here 40 years"

  • Kalamazoo Gazette
  • 1 July 1945, page 4, column 5

"Doctor's office and home boasts famous 'daughter'"

  • Kalamazoo Gazette
  • 9 July 1975, page B8, column 1

"This ol' house is some kind of place" 

  • Encore
  • November/December, 1986, pages 6-19

"Home of the Week: Victorian outlook" 

  • Kalamazoo Gazette
  • 9 April 1989, page C1, column 1

History Room Files

Subject File: Houses - Kalamazoo - Woodward, 211

Name File: Turner, Madelon L. Stockwell