Blumenberg-Wilson House

Photo by Alex Forist, 18 April 2006
  • Location: 611 West South Street, Kalamazoo
  • Survey ID: R-10
  • Designation: Blumenberg-Wilson House
  • Date: 1904
  • Style: Tudor

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.

All during 1904, carpenters worked in what had been Frank Little's side yard for half a century. Little had passed away the previous fall and his widow, Cornelia, now occupied the house with her daughter, Francis. As the new structure took shape next door it brought a flavor of the fashionable new "Tudor" style to South Street, with stucco surfaces and "half-timber" accents-a simple, yet stately home for one of Kalamazoo's successful young merchants. 

Abraham Blumenberg was born in New York City of German immigrant parents in 1866. He came with his parents to Kalamazoo in 1890 and soon went to work for B. Desenberg & Company in Kalamazoo. In 1894, he married Johanna Solomon, moved to a rooming house on Portage run by an aging, German-speaking widow, Ericka Cohn. In that same year he opened a home furnishing store which he called the People's Outfitting Company. Ten years later, still proprietor of People's Outfitting, but now also President of the Central Bank (Inc. 1905; Cap. $100,000), the second largest banking firm in the city; he was ready to move to the new home on South Street. 

Blumenberg passed away about 1915 and his widow divided her time between Chicago and Kalamazoo during the war years. The city directory for 1921 listed new occupants--James I. Handley and his family. Handley was then President of the new Handley-Knight Company, one of Kalamazoo's pioneer automakers. From 1921 through 1923, Handley produced the "Handley-Knight" and the "Handley" motorcars, but, by 1924, the company had disappeared. In 1926, the city directory listed the house as vacant. It then passed about 1928 to J. Cameron Wilson, Secretary of the Clark Memorial Masonic Association and later manager of the Masonic Temple in Kalamazoo. The Wilsons would occupy it until 1961. In 1962, the directory began to list the current residents, the Charles Suck family. 

Kalamazoo County Tax Rolls:

1904 Abraham Blumenberg Rev. Plat, 16; W4R of N1/2 lot 4 1500 15.00
1905 same same 6000 60.00
1906 same (pers. value $15,000 6000 59.40
1907 same (pers. value $25,000) 6000  
1906 Blumenberg owns People's Outfitting bldg. Water Street 10,000  
1908 Abraham Blumenberg same (pers. 25,000; auto, 1800) 6000  
1909 same same (pers. 25,000; auto, 900) 6000  
1910 same same (pers. 25,000; auto, 1300) 6000  
1911 same same (pers. 25,000; auto, 900 6000  

Kalamazoo City Directory:

1905  Vacant; Abraham Blumenberg (Johanna) Pres. Central Bank
          Inc. Apr. 9,1903) Capital $100,000; also Propr. of People's
          Outfitting Co.

1906  Abraham Blumenberg (Johanna) 617 W. South; Propr.
          People's Outfitting Co.

1907--1915  same

1916  Johanna Blumenberg (Widow Abraham)

1917 same but forwarding address Grand Hotel, Chicago

1919  same and add forwarding address Burdick Hotel, and
          Cooper-Carleton Hotel

1921 James T. Handley (Harriet V.) 617 W. South; Pres. Handley-          Knight Company, 1850 N. Pitcher, auto manuf.

1922  same

1924  same, but no job listed, no Handley-Knight Comp.

1926-27  vacant

1929  J. Cameron Wilson (Maude) 617 W. South; Sec'y Clerk
          Memorial Masonic Ass'n.

1937 same but now add Mgr. Masonic Temple

1939  same

1945  same, but no job listed

1953-54 same

1955 no return

1957-1961 Anne Wilson

1962-1971 Charles Suck (Anna M) in 1964 Mgr. West South Apt's.

State Census Rolls:

1894 336 Portage, Ericka Cohn, head, widow, b. Germany; speaks no Engl., in Michigan 45 yrs.; Harriet Levi, 28, niece, b. Ger., speaks no Eng; Adolf Stern, 19, boarder, b. Germany; A. L. Blumenberg, 27, head, furniture store, 16 years in Michigan, b. NY; Johanna, 24, wife (married between June 1, 1893 and June 1, 1894) 22 years in Michigan; b. Germany

1893  Blumenberg had lived with Meyer Blumenberg, 52, widower, cigar maker, at 156 John

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

Articles

"Blumenberg Home is Oldest of South Street's Tudors"

  • Kalamazoo Gazette, 5 November 1973, page B3, column 3

Books

Kalamazoo: Nineteenth-Century Homes in a Midwestern Village

  • Schmitt, Peter J.
  • Kalamazoo City Historical Commission, 1976, pages 221-222
  • H 720.9774 S355