Nehemiah Chase House

Left: Picturesque Kalamazoo, 1909, page 60;
Right: Photographed by Alex Forist,  April 2006;
  • Location: 533 West South Street, Kalamazoo
  • Survey ID: R-6
  • Designation: Nehemiah Chase House
  • Date: 1871
  • Style: Italian Revival (altered greatly)

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.

The exterior of this home gives little indication of the dignified Italian Revival Villa that Nehemiah Chase built for his family in 1871. Damaged by fire, the steep pitched roof with its Italianate brackets is gone. Modern insulated sheathing has replaced the original narrow wood siding of a century ago. 

But in 1871, Nehemiah Chase stood as one of the important young manufacturers of the day and his home compared favorably with John Edwards' across the street or with Allen Potters' down the block. Chase had built a factory for the production of fanning mills and other agricultural implements in 1858--a business which he continued for thirty years. In addition, he joined with the Taylor & Henry firm in making spring-tooth harrows when Kalamazoo was the national center for that industry. In 1890, he built the "Chase Block"--five stories of offices on the corner of Rose and West Michigan. By the beginning of the twentieth century, he served as President of the Comstock Manufacturing Company (holding an interest along with his neighbor, Frank Lay in the steam engine-building firm); he also served as director of the First National, the Kalamazoo National and the Home Savings Banks. From the first he dealt in real estate, and came to hold extensive farm lands (almost 400 acres in Portage alone in 1906) as well. 

In 1912, the city directory listed Chase as living at the Burdick Hotel. He gradually slowed his business activity until he passed away after a long illness in March 1921. Jay Gould Chase, born in 1880 and the youngest of eight children, moved into the South Street home with his wife, Helen. He and his family lived there until after World War II. The younger Chase served for a time as manager of the Comstock Manufacturing Company, then about 1915 as manager of the Chase Block. For a time in the mid-1920's, he had the Nash Motor Car agency on South Westnedge. Then, in 1929, the city directory listed him as Treasurer of the J. Ryder Coal Company; his brother Edmond was President. He continued with the company through the 1930's, but his health began to fail, and he passed away after a ten-year illness in March of 1949. Mrs. Helen Butman, current occupant of the house, first began to appear in the city directory in 1950. 

Maps:    

1861 hse
1873 Chase hse
1890 same  

Kalamazoo County Tax Rolls:

1869

Nehemiah Chase W 1/2 lot 3 (from J. Dudgeon) 450 (Carder on E 1/2 3 is 1700) Chase also owns W 2/5 lot 101 with 2 new brick stores @ 2200  

212.26
1870

Nehemiah Chase W 1/2 lot 3, homestead 800 (Carder is 3200) lot 101 is 3200  

15.74
1871 Nehemiah Chase W 1/2 lot 3 1000  18.40
1872 same  (Carder 3000) 3000 44.55
1873 same 3000 53.25

Kalamazoo City Directory:

1876 N. Chase Mfg. Celebrated Michigan Fanning Mills (N. Chase & Co.)

1891 same 601 W. South: Chase Mantel Co.; Also Miss Allice; Charles, stud.; James B. (Chase Mantel) (add N. Chase., F. Bush & E. J. Phelps, Safety Deposit, 122 Main)

1893 same, 601 w. South, Capitalist; (Charles E.; Edmond W.; James B.) Chase Mantel)

1895 same, 601 W. South, no job list (Edmond, student, James B.)

1897 same 

1899 N. Chase, 601 W. South, no job list (Charles E.; Edmond W. clerk; Jay G. Clerk) Cwoulbeck, Waldo Co. (hats, caps, mens' furnishings, luggage)

1904 W. Chase (Sarah D.) 601 W. South, no job listed, (Jay G. bds.)

1905 same, But Nehemiah Chase Pres, Comstock Mfg.; Col. Frank Lay, VP; Jay Chase Sec'y; steam engine builders

1906 same 1907 same, but list Jay as "mfg"; Comstock Mfg. Co. is same

1908 Sarah B. (widow Nehemiah) 601 W. South; Jay G. (Helen) at 723 S. Rose; Comstock Mfg. Co. same

1909 Nehemiah Chase (Sarah B) Pres. Comstock Mfg. 601 W. South

1910-1911 same 

1912 Nehemiah Chase res. Burdick Hotel

1913 same and Jay Gould Chase (Helen) res. 601 S. Sec'y & mgr. Comstock Mfg. Co.

1914 no N. Chase, other entry same

1915 Nehemiah Chase bds. Burdick Hotel. Jay Chase, mgr. Chase Block, 601 South

1916  same

1917  no N. Chase; Jay Chase same

1919  W. Chase (Sarah) Burdick, crossed out/ Park American     crossed out/ 601 South

1921  no N. Chase; Jay G. (Helen A); Clk., Kal. Loose Leaf       Binder Co.

1922  no N. Chase; Jay G. (Helen) "mgr." 601 W. South

1924  Jay G. Chase no job listed

1926  Jay G. Chase (Helen) 533 W. South; S-Treas. (John) Wilson Chase Motor Sales (Nash Motor Cars, 126 S. Westnedge)

1927  Jay Chase, automobiles

1929  Jay G. Chase (Helen) Treas. J. Ryder Coal Co. (Edmond Chase is Pres.) Juliet. bds.

1931-34 same

1935  same but Chase is salesman for J. Ryder Coal Co.

1937  same

1939-1948 same, but no job listed

1950  Mrs. Helen Butman (1943 Directory shows Leo T. Butman (Helen) 523 W. South mgr. Asbestoloid Prod.)

1965-1971 same 

U.S. Population Census Rolls:

1880  Nehemiah Chase, 44, Manuf. Fanning Mills. b NY; Sarah B., 41 wife, keeping house, b. NY; George K., 19, son, works with father, b. Mich., Almeda E., 16, daughter, at school, b. Mich.; Jennie, 14, daughter, at school, b. Mich.; Alice, 11, daughter, at school., b. Mich.; James 7, son, at school, b. Mich.; Charles E., 4, son, at home, b. Mich.; Edmond, 2, son, at home, b. Mich., Albert Capper, 21, Servant; Margaret Van Dyke, 20, servant, b. Holland

State Census Rolls:

1894  Nehemiah Chase 60, real estate, b. NY: Sarah B. 56, wife, housewife, b. NY; James B., 21 son, MCRR Freight clerk, b. Mich.; Charles E., 19, son, Paper Manuf., b. Mich.; Edward W. 17, son, in school, b. Mich.; Jay Gould, 14, son, in school, b. Mich.; no servants

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 File

Houses - Kalamazoo - South, W., 533

Articles

"Former Chase house on W. South Street"

  • Kalamazoo Gazette, 10 June 1973, page B5, column 1