Henry Montague House

Photo by Sara Keller, April 2010
  • Location: 814 Oakland Drive, Kalamazoo
  • Survey ID: R-47
  • Designation: Henry Montague House
  • Date: 1861
  • Style: Greek Revival

This simple but spacious brick home built on the eve of the Civil War, suggests its identification with the popular Greek Revival by its side-lighted and pilastered doorway and the hint of an entablature under the eaves. It was built in 1861 by one of Kalamazoo's earliest settlers, Henry Montague, who served as Steward of the Asylum from 1859 to 1884.

Montague left his family home in Hadley, Massachusetts, at the age of twenty-two. He settled first in Washtenaw County, where he married his wife, Abigail, in 1836. Then, late in 1836 or early in 1837, he took up a farm on "Grand Prairie", near Kalamazoo. He farmed there for twenty-one years and actively supported the Republican Party, the abolitionists and the temperance reformers. He traveled to Jackson for the founding of the Republican Party, to Ann Arbor for the first abolition meeting in Michigan, and helped organize the temperance platform in the state. In the fall of 1854, his neighbors elected him to the State Legislature for a term. There he actively campaigned to have the State Hospital placed in Kalamazoo. He became Superintendent of the building committee, and was named Steward of the Asylum in 1859. He bought property adjoining the hospital and, in 1861, began constructing the home which his family would occupy until 1917.

Montague continued active in local affairs, speaking at the laying of the cornerstone for the old Kalamazoo College Building, serving as a Trustee of the village, helping to organize the County Pioneer Society. His son, Calvin, enlisted at the outset of the Civil War as Fourth Sergeant of the local "Blair Guards". Later, when President Lincoln agreed to the recruiting of black troops, Calvin served as Captain of Company K, 102nd U.S. Colored. Ultimately, he left the army with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He tried his hand as a photographer for a time in Kalamazoo, then left for a clerkship in Washington.

The Gazette took notice several times of Henry Montague after his retirement, recording his eightieth and ninetieth birthdays, and announcing his death at ninety-six on June 2, 1909. A daughter, Helen, continued to live in the family home until 1917. It then became a residence for State Hospital officials, particularly Dr. George Inch and, after 1926, Dr. Roy A. Morter.

Maps:

1861, not shown

1873, shown

Kalamazoo County-Tax Rolls:

1861 Henry Montague Blank lot on W side of road leading to Asylum 100 1.94
1862 same same 1000 25.96
1863 same same 1000 26.05
1864 same same 1000 16.40
1865 same same 800 27.55
1866 same same 1000 36.05
1867 same same 1000 42.08
1868 same same 900 42.35

Kalamazoo City Directory:

1878-1917 Montague family occupies--1917 is Helen Montague with address change Henry Montague is Steward of the Asylum 1899 City Directory has 5 year history - July 29, 1893, "Henry Montague 80th birthday celebrated" April 3, 1898, d. of Mrs. Henry Montague, 80

U. S. Population Census Rolls:

1860 Henry Montague, 42, Steward of the Asylum, $3000 real, $500 pers., b. Mass., Abby Montague, 39; Calvin, 22, student; Mary, 16; Helen, 4; Willis Foster, 11 1850 Henry Montague, 37; Abby Montague, 33; Calvin, 13; Francis; Mary; Charles; Samuel

Kalamazoo Gazette: December 22, 1929

Came to Kalamazoo County (Grand Prairie area) in mid-1830's elected to State Legislature in 1850, instrumental in getting Asylum located in Kalamazoo. Served as President of the County Pioneer Society and also of the Farmer's Mutual Ins. Co.

U. S. Population Census Rolls:

1870 Henry Montague, 56, steward, Mich. asylum, b. Mass.; Abby, 52, keeping house, b. Mass.; Mary, 25; Calvin, 30, photographer; Helen, 14; Eddie, 8.

1880 Henry Montague, 66, steward of asylum, b. Mass.; Abigail, 62, b. Mass.; Helen, 24, daughter, at home; Henry 3., 18, son, at school

Additional Sources

Books

Kalamazoo: Nineteenth-Century Homes in a Midwestern Village
  • Schmitt, Peter J.
  • Kalamazoo Historical Commission, 1976
  • H 720.9774 S355, pages 62-65
Compendium of History and Biography of Kalamazoo County
  • Fisher, David
  • Chicago: A. W. Bowen & Co., 1906
  • H 977.417 F53, page 197

Articles

"House tied to hospital"

  • Kalamazoo Gazette, 24 July 1974, page B6

"Montague House returns to its original look"

  • Kalamazoo Gazette,  27 January 1985, page F3, column 2

"Hours of hard work went into Montague House room"

  • Kalamazoo Gazette, 28 April 1985, page F3, column 1

"Designer Showhouse living room shows team effort in design"

  • Kalamazoo Gazette, 6 May 1985, page B3, column 1

Files

History Room Subject File:  Houses - Kalamazoo - Oakland, 814

History Room Name File: Montague, Henry