Daniel Jacobs House

Photo by Sara Keller, April 2010
  • Location: 415-417 Oak Street, Kalamazoo
  • Survey ID: R-35
  • Designation: Daniel Jacobs House
  • Date: 1849 (with improvements 1854)
  • Style: Greek Revival "L-shape"

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.

This home must rank as one of the oldest surviving houses in Kalamazoo. The lot had been listed under "Welch's Addition" until Frederick Booher, one of Kalamazoo's earliest settlers and then a real estate broker, bought it and several others in the middle 1840's. The local tax assessor credited Daniel Jacobs with lots 385 and 387 in May of 1848. By May of 1850, Jacobs had completed his homestead on lot 385. A few years later he was assessed for improvements nearly doubling the value of his property - which remained a single-family dwelling until early in the twentieth century when it was remodeled into a duplex.

Daniel Jacobs, then about twenty-nine, and his wife, Anne, about twenty, lived in the house with A. E. Howe, a boarder, in July of 1850. The local Census-taker called Jacobs a "Joiner" then and listed his real property at $600. The Jacobs family lived in the home until about 1863-64. The 1860 Census-taker found Jacobs a "Pattern Manufacturing Machinist", listed real property at $2500 and personal worth at $1000, and included-in the family: Allice, 10; William, 6; and George, eleven months. Another daughter, Nellie, was born about 1861.

After the Civil War, the house passed to Reuben Kipp, a cooper by trade, and later to one James White. Charles M. Hobbs bought it about 1872. Hobbs and his family had come to Kalamazoo in 1860, after living in Chicago for a time. During the War he farmed just north of town, then moved into the village. He served for a time as village trustee and as superintendent of the water works. In the 1870s, he was involved in selling windmills and agricultural implements. The 1880 Census-taker listed him as fifty-two and his wife, Sylvia, as forty-eight, and found three daughters still at home. The Gazette offered "the heartfelt sympathy of the entire community" in announcing his death in June of 1881. Mrs. Sylvia Hobbs continued to live in the home until 1901.

Stylistically, the Jacobs House reflects the national preoccupation with Greek Revival architecture in the decades before the Civil War. Its simple L-shape and story-and-a-half snugness could be seen in thousands of farm and village homes around--the country, This particular design was found so widely that it has been called by several regional names: e.g., "Wisconsin farmhouse", "Indiana farmhouse", "Michigan farmhouse", etc. The front facade approximates its early appearance. The window sashes have been "modernized" at some time and a ventilator added, but the "return cornices", the bay window treatment and the "classical" moldings around the windows on the recessed porch retain the flavor of the mid-nineteenth century. 

Maps: 

1853 - shows

1861 - shows

1873 - C.M. Hobbs

Kalamazoo County Tax Rolls:

1845 Welch Add. non-resident [Welch] lot 85 $5 $.11
1846 Frederick Booher owns 385 and 15 other lots all vacant 150 2.75
1847 same [no Jacobs listed]      
1848 Daniel Jacobs 385 and 387 50 1.39
1849 same same 30 .89
1850 same same, homestead 80 1.92
1851 same same 100 2.59
1852 same same, house 100 1.97
1853 same [assess. incr.] same 400 3.31
1854 same same 400 3.62
1855 same same 600 & 150 5.03
1856 same same 600 & 150 4.75
1857 same same 600 7.77
1858 same same 525 12.04
1859        
1860 same same 475 9.87
1861        
1862 same same 470 11.86
1863 same same 470 12.23
1867 Reuben Kipp 385 of Welches Add. 450 9.99
1868 R. Kipp lot 385 450 18.93
(J. R. White)
1869 James White lot 385 400 18.90
1869 J. White W1/2 436 360  

Kalamazoo City Directory:                                                                            

Reuben Kipp a cooper by trade

U. S. Population Census Rolls:

1850 Daniel Jacobs, 29, joiner, $600 real estate, b. Vt. (census of July, 50), Anna Jacobs, 20; A. E. Howe, 19

1860 Daniel W. Jacobs, 36, Pattern Manuf. Machinist, $2500 real, 1000 pers., b. VT., Ann Jacobs, 35, b. NY; Allice 10; Wm. 6; George, 11 months.

1870 W. D. Jacob, 48, carpenter, b. VT; Ann, 38, b. NY; Allice, 20, milliner, b. Mich; William, 15, George, 10; Nellie, 9.

1880 Charles M. Hobbs, 52, selling, b. NY; Sylvia, 48, wife, b. NY: Cora, 22, daughter at home, b. Ill.; Adelia, 19, daughter, attends school, b. Ill.; Ida, 12, daughter, attends school, b. Mich. lives at 5 Oak St.

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

"125-year-old house built on Oak Street by skilled tradesman"

  • Kalamazoo Gazette, 28 August 1974, page A8, column 4

History Room Subject File: Houses - Kalamazoo - Oak, 415-417