Isaac Brown House

Left: Picturesque Kalamazoo, 1909, page 67 
Right: Photographed by Alex Forist, April 2006.
  • Location: 427 South Burdick, Kalamazoo
  • Survey ID: R-37
  • Designation: Isaac Brown House
  • Date: 1867
  • Style: Italian Revival

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.

One of the last surviving residences in the downtown area, the Isaac Brown House is a pleasant example of the irregular "Italian Villa". The rounded windows of the front bay, the "hooded" windows in the second story, the entry porch and doorway all place this building in a tradition which architectural historian Alan Gowan has called "elegant and yet informal, simple in line yet lavish in decoration... the expression of a society growing ever richer, but not yet vulgarly aware of it." (Images of American Living, p.323) A type so popular that Currier & Ives once called it "the American Style," this design is rooted in the suburban villas of the Italian landscape. Transferred to Kalamazoo, it served Isaac Brown for almost forty years. 

dragon-1-240

Dragon carriage steps in front of
427 S. Burdick
Photographed by Alex Forist, April 2006

Brown was forty-five when he and his family came to Kalamazoo in 1862. He had been married for twenty years, had been to California in the gold rush and back a poorer man, had been an agent for the Rutland and Burlington Railroad in Vermont, and now was ready to go to work as an agent for Eastern capital in building up Kalamazoo's downtown business blocks. He built for others, speculated a bit on his own, turned for a time to selling Fire Insurance, and generally established himself as a solid and successful businessman. In 1867, he built the home which he would occupy until his death in 1904.

Kalamazoo County Tax Records:

1867  Isaac Brown 6 rods E side Burdick next to Den Bleyker # 1        900      32.46
1868  Isaac Brown same     2000      84.16
1869  Isaac Brown same     1900      89.78

                                    

                             

                         

Kalamazoo City Directory:

directories show Brown in real estate, living in house until death on Nov. 26, 1904

U. S. Population Census Rolls:

1860 doesn't show

1870 Isaac A. Brown, 52, Fire Insurance Agent, 5000 pers., b. VT, Mary A., 50, b. NY; Bill (sic?), 23, b. Vt.

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

History Room Subject Files

Houses - Kalamazoo - Burdick, S., 427  

Books

Kalamazoo: Nineteenth-Century Homes in a Midwestern Village

  • Schmitt, Peter J.
  • Kalamazoo City Historical Commission, 1976, page 107
  • H 720.9774 S355

Kalamazoo Lost & Found (Brown House carriage steps)

  • Houghton, Lynn Smith and Pamela Hall O'Connor
  • Kalamazoo Historic Preservation Commission, 2001, page 206
  • H 720.9774 H838