James Kent House

Photo by Sara Keller, April 2010
  • Location: 331 Douglas, Kalamazoo
  • Survey ID: R-33
  • Designation: James Kent House
  • Date: 1865
  • Style: Italian Revival (irregular 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.

James A. Kent, a local builder, lived for half a century on this commanding site looking down the length of Kalamazoo Avenue. He had come to Kalamazoo a young carpenter in 1856. A year later he became full partner in the sash-and-door company of Dewing and Kent.

As the Civil War came to an end, Kent bought an acre of land from Charles Stuart and built for himself and his young family a pleasant suburban cottage in the fashionable "villa" style. The pagoda-roofline and double hooded windows are particularly well done. A few years later, Kent ended his partnership with William Dewing and went into homebuilding on his own. He worked on fine homes in Kalamazoo and as far as Jackson in the years following. Then, as the century drew to a close, he slowed his business and settled into retirement, even calling himself a farmer on his suburban acre in some of the city directories.

Frank Little, Kalamazoo's local historian, described him in 1903, as "one of the city's best known citizens and business men". Kent and his wife lived on in the house until 1915. Kent died in that year and his wife moved on to Los Angeles, passing away there in 1920.

Maps:

1861 - nothing

1873 - shows

Kalamazoo County Tax Rolls:

1865 James A. Kent Lot 13, North side of Kalamazoo Ave.    
1866 James A. Kent 1 a. purchased from Charles Stuart 350 $14.60
1867 James A. Kent same 500 11.10
1868 James A. Kent same 500 21.04
1869 James A. Kent same 500  23.63

Kalamazoo City Directory:

1878 - 1914 James A. Kent and Mary Kent at 331.

1915  inked note "deceased" for James Kent, Mary Kent living in Los Angeles

U. S. Population Census Rolls for 1870:

1870  James A. Kent, 35, Door Sash, etc. , b. NY; Charlotte, 8 (sic), Keeping house; P... ?, fem., 8, at school; Frank, 5; Nellie, 2.

1880  James A. Kent, 45, builder, b. NY; Jennie Kent, 43, wife, b. Mich; Bertha, 18, daughter, Franklin, 15, son; Nellie, 12, daughter; Charlotte, 9, daughter; one servant, horse and colt

James Kent, b. New York, 1835. apprentice carpenter for four years came to Kalamazoo, 1856; worked for 1 yr. as carpenter with Dewing and Scudder, then became partner with Dewing and Kent (planing mill, lumber) from 1857 to 1872, then in business for self as a "builder" until retires in 1900. City directory did refer to him as "farmer" also.

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.

Sources

Books

Kalamazoo: Nineteenth-Century Homes in a Midwestern Village
  • Schmitt, Peter J.
  • Kalamazoo City Historical Commission, 1976
  • H 720.9774 S355, pp.148-149

Articles

"Post-Civil War house was home of builder James Kent"

  • Kalamazoo Gazette, 16 March 1975, page B1, column 1

"Traditional methods are necessary for restoring roofline of Douglas home"

  • Kalamazoo Gazette, 27 June 1984, page B4, column 1

Files

History Room Subject File: Houses - Kalamazoo - Douglas, 331 (327)