Manly Davidson -- John McKee House

Photo by Sara Keller, April 2010
  • Location: 319 (now 323) Stuart Avenue, Kalamazoo
  • Survey ID: R-30
  • Designation: Manly Davidson -- John McKee House
  • Date: 1867
  • Style: French Mansard

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.

Young Manly Davidson established himself as a builder in Kalamazoo's Civil War Years. In 1867, he began to construct the solid home which now stands at 319 Stuart. Davidson chose the most fashionable "contemporary" style of the day--the "Mansard" architecture of the French Renaissance. The major sign of this new post-war fashion was, of course, the concave "Mansard" roofline. Davidson added further touches with his treatment of the dormer windows. He sold the house on completion to a purchaser who faulted on his payments; in 1871, the Circuit Court awarded the home to Davidson again. He sold it a year later to successful furniture dealer, John McKee, whose family occupied it for the rest of the century.

John McKee had come to this country from Ireland and entered into the furniture business in Kalamazoo about 1862. Twenty years later, the Gazette put his three stories of "fancy and plain" goods at 45 North Burdick at the head of competition in the region. "He makes a specialty of fine furniture and fancy chairs," said the Gazette, adding, "his display in this line embraces all the latest and most handsome and elegant styles". McKee and his wife shared their home in the 1880's with a son and four growing daughters. In more than one social season, the Gazette recorded social affairs hosted by McKee or his several "McKee girls".

Maps:      

1873 - J. McKee

Kalamazoo County Tax Records:

1865 Non-resident Lot 25, Stuart's Add. sec. 16 75 2.58
1866 same same 120 4.80
1867 Manly Davidson same 200 6.44
1868 same same 500 21.04
1872 John McKee same 1500
1873 same same 1600  

Kalamazoo County Deeds Office:           

1869 L. Fox purchases from M. Davidson for $6,000

1870 L. Fox pays tax

1871 Circuit Court forecloses, Davidson receives house again

1871 M. Davidson pays tax

1872 J. McKee purchases lot 25 from M. Davidson for $6,000

Kalamazoo City Directory:

John McKee is furniture dealer

U.S. Population Census Rolls:

1870 Manly Davidson, 36, carpenter, 7000 real, 7000 pers., b. NY.; Catherine, 34, keeping house, b. Mich.; Ida, 9; Wm., 7.

1870 John McKee, 49, cabinet maker, 2500 real, 22000 pers., b. Ireland; Catherine, 46; Mary, 21; John, 19; Kate, 17; Lizzie, 15; Nellie, 10; Emma, 7.

1880 John McKee, 59, cabinet dealer, b. Ireland; Catherine, 57, wife; Mary, 31, daughter, bookkeeping; Elizabeth, 26, daughter, at home; David, 22, son, clerk at cabinet; Ellen, 19, daughter, at school; Emma, 17, daughter at school

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.

Additional Sources

Books

Photograph of Phi Kappa Tau house

  • Brown and Gold, 1965
  • H 378.774 B881, 1965, page 236

"John McKee, Furniture Rooms"

  • Kalamazoo City Directory,  1876
  • H 917.7417 K14,  1876, p.68-69

"[John McKee] Memorial Biographical Sketch"

  • Michigan Pioneer Collections
  • H 977.4 M62, volume 27, page 124

Articles

"Historic restoration: a question of details"

  • Kalamazoo Gazette, 5 January 1975, page C1, full page

"Chose mansard style"

  • Kalamazoo Gazette, 16 July 1975, page B10, column 1

"[John McKee] Dies at age of 79 years"

  • Kalamazoo Gazette, 16 February 1931, page 1, column 1

"[John McKee] Old furniture dealer here came to city in 1859..."

  • Kalamazoo Gazette, 21 May 1929, page 12, column 2 (copy in History Room Name File)

Files

History Room Subject File: Houses - Kalamazoo - Stuart, 323