Lewis H. Kirby House

Photo by Alex Forist, April 2006

  • Location: 708 West South Street, Kalamazoo
  • Survey ID: R-16
  • Designation: Lewis H. Kirby House
  • Date: 1911
  • Style: English 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.

Things had changed a great deal in the forty years that Charity Potter had lived in the big house on South Street. When Allen Potter built it in 1870, Kalamazoo was still a village, its major industries still unborn. Now, in 1911, it was a growing city. The paper mills were expanding; the Kalamazoo Stove Company employed four hundred workers and manufactured sixty thousand stoves a year. But South Street still remained a fashionable residential district in that year, and Charity Potter had new neighbors. 

Lewis H. Kirby had lived for several years in Kalamazoo with William Kirby who was active in the Kalamazoo Savings Bank. For some time, he and his wife, Winifred, had occupied the house next to the Gilmores on the corner of South and West Streets. Then he called himself simply "Capitalist" in the annual city directories. Now the Kirbys were building for themselves an attractive home and carriage house in the same English Tudor style that the Gilmores had used in 1908. Cut field stone on the ground floor gave a distinctive touch; latticed windows gave a feeling for the distant past, as did the "gothic" ornamentation of the gables and the front entranceway. Even when it was new, the home had a feeling of age, of permanence. It suited the Kirbys and their growing children well. The children had all left home in the 'thirties, but Kirby and his wife stayed on. Then, in the late 'forties and early 'fifties, the city directories listed only "Winifred, widow of Lewis.

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

Kalamazoo: Nineteenth-Century Homes in a Midwestern Village  

  • Schmitt, Peter J. 
  • Kalamazoo City Historical Commission, 1976, pages 226-227
  • H 720.9774 S355