It may be over 100 years old, and it’s been decades since horses lived in the carriage house, but Dr. Brian Purchase and his wife, Dr. Rosarita Rullan, say when it rains, they can still catch the scent of the horses in the old stables attached to their home.
The Clements mansion was razed in the early 1950s and the property was subdivided. Left behind was an English Style carriage house, which was sold as a single-family residence. In 2000, the Purchase-Rullan family bought the home.
In 2000, Purchase and Rullan became the fifth owners of the carriage house at 105 Parkwood Court. The house originally was part of the William Clements mansion. Over the years, Purchase and Rullan have renovated the home, transforming it into the perfect place to raise their sons, Jordan and Logan.
Throughout the renovations, the family kept reminders that in the early 20th
Century the structure was home to three horses and several carriages. The 4,000-square-foot structure also once housed employees of William Clements, a banker and rare book collector.
A century ago, the 4,000-square-foot building was primarily for storage, housing a stable for horses and carriages.
The original mansion, built in 1908, took up much of the block between Parkwood Court and Center Avenue. It was razed in the early 1950s and the property was subdivided. Left behind was an English Style carriage house, which was sold as a single-family residence.
The historic home is well-known throughout the community, even becoming part of historic home tours.
The Purchase-Rullan family discovered the home almost by accident.
Neither of the doctors is native to Bay City. They first saw the home when they were driving home to Clio from a trip Up North. They had stopped at an open house on nearby Fourth Street and decided they liked the area and neighborhood. That first home, though, wasn't in their future.
After buying the home, the family updated all the existing living spaces and added more space in what was once an attic.
“We saw the house, walked through it, and thought it was an amazing house for the price," Purchase says. "It was pretty reasonably priced. We like the region, the neighborhood, and as we were driving down Park toward Center, Rosarita peeked down the court and said ‘I want that one.’ I said, ‘Good luck with that one because there’s no for-sale sign on it.’ ”
This porcelain sink is rumored to have been part of the original structure.
They learned that lack of a sign doesn’t always mean the house isn’t on the market.
“We get home, and logged onto the internet and went to the Bay Real Estate website, and she goes ‘Guess what? It’s for sale!’ ”
Albert Kahn, who designed the Parkwood Court home, also is responsible for the Jennison and Bay City Times buildings in Downtown Bay City.
The house didn’t have a for sale sign because the owners didn’t want their kids to be tipped off just yet to the fact that they’d be moving. The owners were on vacation in Florida.
“We came back and looked at it two more times and by the end of the week, we put a purchase agreement on it and they accepted our offer while they were still in Florida.”
The Purchase-Rullan family kept many of the original features in the building, which was converted into a home in the 1950s.
They knew the nearly century-old home needed some work. “But we were willing to do that.”
Today, the house at the end of Parkwood Court is two stories with dormers on the second story. Two large bay windows and a front porch welcome those who walk along the cul-de-sac near the home.
What were once stable doors are now entrances to a garage.
Behind a privacy wall, carriage bays have long since been converted into garage openings and the main entrance to the house off the driveway.
A third large bay window overlooks the back yard, where Purchase says there used to be an above-ground swimming pool. A deck has replaced that and serves as a place for respite.
The clay tile roof – with a lifespan of about 300 years – is original to the house, as are the stucco and stone walls outside.
Inside the house, a few of the original features designed by industrial architect Albert Kahn remain. It's also still easily recognizable as one of the largest carriage houses in one of Bay City’s best-known historic districts.
Kahn is known for numerous buildings in Michigan including the Belle Isle Aquarium in Belle Isle Park, the Ford River Rouge Complex in Dearborn, and the Fox Theatre in Detroit.
In 2000, Purchase and Rullan became the fifth owners of the carriage house, which originally was part of the William Clements mansion.
In Downtown Bay City, he designed three floors of the Jennison Building, including Studio 23/The Arts Center at 901 N. Water St. Khan also designed the former Bay City Times building, which is now The Times Lofts at 311 Fifth St.
On Parkwood Court, Purchase and Rullan began their renovations with the kitchen, master bedroom, and bathrooms. They re-arranged walls and moved appliances, re-purposing the spaces inside the home.
Barely noticeable in the floor is an old trap door that used to have hinges and a pulley system that hoisted the buggies up for storage.
What’s now the master bedroom was originally two bedrooms with a bathroom in between. The family enlarged one of the bedrooms, updated the bathroom, and added lots of storage space on the other side.
Sliding barn doors preserve the original character of the home, which was built in 1908.
The next projects were to increase the living space, re-claim some of what was once part of the carriage bays, and create storage in the loft above the carriage bays.
They also updated bedrooms and bathrooms and changed the flooring in parts of the house. Originally the living room had a parquet floor, which they removed and put in heated tile. In the upstairs, previous owners had put down green shag carpet. They removed the carpet and re-finished the wood floors beneath.
In some parts of the home, it's easy to see its history.
“We’ve updated all the existing living space, but in the space that was an attic, we added a bathroom and more living space,” Purchase says.
Throughout the project, they preserved what they could.
The space was designed by Albert Kahn, known for numerous buildings in Michigan including the Belle Isle Aquarium in Belle Isle Park, the Ford River Rouge Complex in Dearborn, and the Fox Theatre in Detroit.
An oversized porcelain sink in the master bathroom is rumored to have been part of the original mansion, and there are a few banisters that Purchase and Rullan were able to keep.
There are also two large carriage bay doors that are original to the house, as are the hardwood floors that creak underfoot. Rullan says the creaking is one of her favorite features.
They brought one of the large sliding barn doors into an upstairs living space to divide it from the bedrooms.
The roof is also original to the house, as are the stucco and stone walls outside. Purchase says the clay tile roof has a lifespan of up to 300 years, and has about two-thirds of that left.
They also kept the trap door that connected the ground floor to the loft. Barely noticeable in the floor, the door used to have hinges and a pulley system that hoisted the buggies up for storage.
Despite the home’s long history and past life as a stable, Purchase and Rullan say they got lucky and there were few surprises as they renovated.
One of the large sliding barn doors was also brought up into the upstairs living space to divide it off from the bedrooms.
“The door was originally downstairs. It closed off a second entrance to another area and was leaned up against the wall. We decided to lug it up here and found the parts for it and hung it up here.”
Even thought it's been decades since the former carriage house was a stable, the family says they can still catch a faint scent of horses when it rains.
A second sliding barn door still hangs between carriage bays in the garage and can be used to divide the large stalls.
Despite the home’s long history and past life as a stable, Purchase and Rullan say they got lucky and there were few surprises as they renovated. For years, the home and property have served the family well.