M.D. Woodford House

Left: KPL Photo P-362 
Right: Photo by Alex Forist April 2006
  • Location: 724--726 West South Street, Kalamazoo
  • Survey ID: R-21
  • Designation: M.D. Woodford House
  • Date: ca. 1858-59 with changes ca. 1877
  • Style: Italianate

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.

"Lot H" on South Street changed hands a number of times since the State of Michigan first auctioned it off as part of the "School Section" in 1841. Sometime in the 1840's a house went up on the site of the present structure, and, in 1854, one William White sold it to Carlos Baldwin. In 1857, Baldwin in turn sold it to George Harwood. Harwood, a "Sunday School Agent" in his forties, and his wife were both from Massachusetts. They appear to have built the present structure shortly after they bought the lot. A pleasant, clean-lined building, it has undergone considerable changes. As early as the 1870's, later owners chose to update it with fashionable "Italianate" brackets, under the eaves. A later generation modernized the windows, and in the 1930's, Gerrit Hendricksen, a local building contractor bought it and altered it into a duplex. The simple "L" shape and low-pitched roof were basic to the dominant Greek Revival homes of the pre-Civil War period and to certain of the post War Italianate homes as well.

George Harwood occupied the home all during the Civil War; then, in 1865, he sold it to retired farmer Henry Nesbitt, who lived there while he negotiated with Senator Charles Stuart for the purchase of forty acres in Portage. Nesbitt passed the property on a year later with a healthy profit to Joseph White of Davenport, Iowa. White entered into the hardware business here in town. Three years later, in the fall of 1868, White sold it to Melancthon D. Woodford. Woodford, chief telegrapher and station agent for the Michigan Central Railroad, continued to live there until the 1890s.

In 1894, the Michigan Census-taker found German born clothier Gerson Hecht, his wife and their two young children occupying the home. In the late 1890's, it served as a residence for local factory operator, Gardner Eames. Woodford's widow, Helen, sold the property to Letta Harrison for use as a boarding home in 1901.

H. Elmer White moved his family into the house in 1919. Then Secretary and General Manager of the Globe Casket Co., a major industry, he worked his way up to President by 1926. In 1929, however, the city directory showed new tenants. From then on, with the exception of Gerrit Hendricksen's tenure during the 'thirties and early 'forties, the home passed rapidly from occupant to occupant.

Maps:

1853

shows earlier hse

1861

hse.

1873

hse & M.D. Woodford

1883

shows as is

1890

shows

Deeds Records:

Apr. 8, 1854 (liber x, 590) Carlos Baldwin from Wm. White, S1/2 H for $500
Aug. 11, 1857 (liber 3, 361) George Harwood from Carlos Baldwin, S1/2 H for $1300
Apr. 29, 1859 (liber 8, 233) G. Harwood from W.B. Clark 8' from W I for $100
July 9, 1864 (liber 18,29) Henry Nesbitt from G. Harwood SE1/4  H for $3300 give possession Oct. 15
Oct. 30, 1865 (liber 20, 611) Nesbitt & Eliza N. Sell to Joseph White, Davenport, IA. for $3800
Oct. 29, 1868 (liber 32, 332) Melancthon D. Woodford from Joseph White for $4400
July 10, 1901 (liber 112, 37) Letta L. Harrison from Helen M. Woodford for $2800

Additional deed information:

Oct. 24, 1864, Henry Nesbitt sells 219 acres to Thomas Nesbitt, Town 4,4,12, sec. 9, for $16,500 (liber 18, 441)
Feb. 24, 1865, H. Nesbitt buys from Charles E. Stuart, 40 acres for $2000 in W1/2 W1/4  SW1/4 , sec. 9 (liber d19. 525)

Kalamazoo County Tax Rolls:

1854

Carlos Baldwin

S1/2 lot H

600

 

 

1855

same

same

700

4.69

 

1856

same

same

700

4.43

 

1857

same

same 

homestead 600

7.77

57-59 J. M. Edwards drops 1700 to 1300; Frank Little drops 1000 to  675

1858

same

same

homestead 800

18.35

1859

G. W. Harwood

S1/2 H & strip of I

1000

17.98

1860

same

same, with house thereon

900

18.70

 

1861

same

same

homestead 900

17.45

 

1862

same

same

homestead 900

22.72

 

1863

same

same, two houses

1400

9.61

 

1864

same

same, homestead & 2 houses

1500

21.32

 

1865

Henry Nesbitt

same

700

24.11

 

1866

Joseph White

same

650

25.98

 

1867

same

same

675

16.09

 

1868

same

same

675

28.34

 

1869

M.D. Woodford

same

650

30.71

 

1870

same

SE 1/2 H and 8' of W I

homestead, 1000

19.67

 

1871

same

same

1000

18.40

 

1872

same

 

 

 

 

1873

same

same

1000

14.85

 

1874

same

same

1000

17.75

 

1875

same

same

900

21.43

 

1876

same

same

850

22.34

 

1877

same

same

950

25.66

 

1878

same

same

950

20.47

 

1879

same

same

1000

20.23

uniform jump

1880

same

same

2400

21.70

 

Kalamazoo City Directory:

1860-61

G. W. Harwood, Sunday School Agent, res. N. side South, W. of college

1867-68

M. D. Woodford, Superintendent, Michigan Central Telegraph and Chief Train Dispatcher, lives at 175 Kal. Ave.

1867-68

Joseph H. White (Dudley & White hardware) h. 78 South

1869-70

M. D. Woodford, Supt. MC Telegraph, h. 78 South

1871-72

M. D. Woodford, same, plus "de ot"

1873

no Woodford

1876

M. D. Woodford, no job listed

1878

1881

M. DeWitt Woodford, Genl. Manager, Jackson and Fort Wayne RR 78 South

1883

same Manager, Wheeling & Lake Erie and Lake Erie & Cleveland RR

1887-88

same, but no occupation

1889

Mrs. M. S. Woodford, Burdick Hotel

1894-95

Gerson Hecht, Clothier, 723 W. South

1897

Gardner T. Eames

1899

same G. T. Eames Co. (part, with Geo. Fuller) Mfg. Machinery & Yankee Twist Drill grinders, SW cor. Mich. and Asylum

1902

Cora Harrison, boarding

1916

same

1917

Albert Shirly (Garnett) no job

1919

H. Elmer White (Ella M.) 728 South, Secy' and Gen. Mgr. Globe Casket Co.

1921

same but include Euphemia C. Widow-of Nicholas, and Ona B., teacher

1922

same

1924

same, but V-P Globe Casket (four Whites work for Globe)

1927

same

1929

Mr. S. Florence Holmes, no job; Willard Kirby, salesman Holland Furnace Co.

1931-45

Gerrit Hendricksen (Minnie), bldg. contractor turns into duplex

1947-71

rapid turnover--in 1971, 724, Sadie Ormond; 726 Ethel Donovan

U.S. Population Census Rolls:

1860

George Harwood, 45, sabbath school agent, $4000 real; 2000 pers., b. Mass.; Julia T., 40, b. Mass.- Ann (Osawood),15, servant

1870

DeWitt Woodford, 31, Telegraph Supt. $5000 real; $2000 pers., b. NY; Helen, 31, keeping house, b. Mich; Edith, 3, b. Mich

1880

DeWitt Woodford, 41, G.M.J.W.RR, b. NY; Helen M., 41, wife, keeping house, deaf, b. Mich; Edith, 12, at school, b. Mich; Dora Peters, 20, servant.

1894 State Census

Gerson Hecht, 41, clothier, b. Germany; Lena P., 26, wife, b. NY: Louisa B. 1, son, b. Mich; Rita J. 4/12, b. February, 1894, in Mich; Samuel, 24, cousin, clothiers clerk, b. Ohio; Nellie McMullen, 24, servant, b. Netherlands

 

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 115-117
  • H 720.9774 S355