Sam Fitzpatrick, who holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Central Michigan University, is the education coordinator for the Historical Museum of Bay County. He has volunteered with the Castle Museum of Saginaw and worked as a researcher and writer to produce documentaries with Delta College Public Media on the history of the City of Flint. Here, he profiles five of his favorite historic homes in Bay City’s Center Avenue Historic District.
There are many reasons to love Bay City: its amenities, waterfront, entertainment, and quick access to both urban lifestyles and nature escapes. Whether you live here or are just visiting for a few days, it’s worth taking a few moments to appreciate the beautiful variety of architecture on display in Bay City.
Many of Bay City’s finest homes go back to the early days of 19th Century when lumber barons were building mansions and wealth. A little later, 20th Century industrialists settled here and continued the tradition of building impressive homes.
Today, a walk along Center Avenue and its adjacent neighborhoods takes you past numerous examples of Victorian, Italianate, Art Deco, Art Moderne, and Tudor Revival architecture.
Here are five examples of Bay City’s beautiful homes all lying within the Center Avenue Historic District. If you know what to look for, many striking details are easily visible from the sidewalk.This 5,000-square-foot home at 1400 Center Ave. was built in 1887 for Frederick W. and Bessie Bradley. From the sidewalk, walkers can admire the intricate detail on the porch of this Victorian home.1. 1400 Center Ave., the Frederick W. & Bessie Bradley Residence
This 5,000-square-foot home was built in 1887 for Frederick W. and Bessie Bradley, but they only lived here for a few years. In 1891, the home was purchased by another lumberman, Selwyn Eddy, who lived here until 1905 when he moved west to San Francisco.
The cast-iron fence that runs around the perimeter of the property is one of only a few remaining in Bay City. Most of the others were scrapped during World War II as part of the war effort.Frederick W. Bradley was born in 1860 and completed his schooling in town before going off to work for his father, Nathan Bradley, who also happened to be Bay City’s first mayor. Frederick was president of Bradley Milling, which manufactured wooden crates and boxes for the Bradley & Sons lumber business owned by his father. Outside of lumber, Frederick served as the director of both First National and Bay County Savings banks.
The home is a fine example of Victorian architecture. The porch – which its horseshoe arches, turned columns, intricate balustrade, and decorated floral medallions – is one of the most unique you’ll see on Center Avenue. The home also features a variety of balconies, bay windows, and an extravagant octagonal tower. Inside, you can find 23 rooms including two large parlors and a luxurious dining room, each finished in dark mahogany and oak.
Step around the Lincoln Street corner and you’ll an elaborate carriage house finished in ornate stick work and a rooftop cupola.
A cast-iron fence runs around the perimeter of the property. This may not seem like much, but it is reported as being one of the few remaining cast-iron fences in Bay City. Most of the others were scrapped during World War II for the war effort.
The Hyatt-Ewald Funeral Home, built in 1888, is the oldest operational funeral home in the city. It only became a funeral home in 1907. Before that, the structure at 700 N. Monroe St. was the home of Dr. Henry B. and Florence (Fitzhugh) Landon. 2. 700 N. Monroe St., the Dr. Henry B. & Florence (Fitzhugh) Landon House
Landon was born in Monroe, Michigan and graduated from the University of Michigan in 1865. During the Civil War, he served as the assistant surgeon in Company D., 7th Regiment of the Michigan Volunteer Infantry. During the fierce battle of Fair Oaks, Virginia in 1862, Landon was shot through the chest and left arm but survived. He joined the Grand Army of the Republic and was one of the earliest members of the Bay County Medical Society.
Landon operated his medical practice out of the basement. Later, the space served as a rooming house for railroad workers. This home was designed by architects Pratt and Koeppe, famous for a multitude of other structures in Bay City including the Historic Masonic Temple, City Hall, and the Crapo Building. The house was built in 1888 in the Queen Anne style and comes with many chimneys, window bays, and gable roof dormers. When Landon had the house built, he was one of 10 doctors that lived in Bay City. He operated his medical practice in the basement of his home, which would later serve as a rooming house for railroad workers.
In 1907, the next owners of the home, William and Ida Hyatt, converted it into a funeral home. Today, it is considered the oldest operational funeral home in Bay City and is still used as the Hyatt-Ewald Funeral Home and Cremation Services.This colorful 2 ½-store Queen Anne Home was built in 1875. Through the years, it’s been renovated several times. The most recent renovation in the mid-2000s removed aluminum siding, re-constructed the porch, and restored architectural details.3. 1817 Center Ave., the Louis & Nettie Goeschel House
The 2 ½-story Queen Anne home was built in 1875 for John Jones, however little is known about him
In 1887, Louis & Nettie Goeschel bought the home. Louis was born in Germany in 1854 and immigrated to Bay City in 1868. He became a well-known businessman and owned Goeschel & Hodgkins grocers. He was a member of the local Masons and an organizer of the Knights Templar Band, which he also managed. Local architects Pratt and Koeppe were hired in 1888 to perform a major remodel of the home.
The home at 1817 Center Ave. was built for John Jones in 1875, but little is known about him. In 1887, Louis and Nettie Goeschel bought the home. The Goeschel family lived in it for decades.The Goeschels eventually sold the home to their daughters. The home was first sold to their daughter and son-in-law, Nova G & Russell Eddy, in 1929. The Eddy’s – well known as the owners of a large, local lumberyard and shipyard – sold it to their daughter and son-in-law, Marion E. and Paul Wendland, in 1947.
The home went through an extensive modernization during the 1950s where most of the porch was removed and the house was covered with aluminum siding.
In 1964, the home was sold outside the family for the first time. Between 2006 and 2008, the owners re-constructed the porch and removed the aluminum siding to restore architectural details such as the porch railings, drip edges, and posts.
Other features of the house include a hipped roof, bay windows, and a round turret on a front facade that extends from the porch level and breaks with the roofline. The front porch wraps around the entire length of the south side of the home.The Perry House includes more than 30 rooms with six fireplaces, a library, and an elevator.4. 2230 Center Ave., the Ernest & Susie Perry House
This 2 ½ story Tudor Revival home was built in 1913 for Ernest & Susie Perry. Ann Arbor native Ernest Perry was the president of Industrial Works, which was the largest supplier of railroad cranes in the country at the time.
Perry stayed with the company for most of his life, working his way up from a draftsman in 1889 to the president of the company in 1899. He oversaw the merger with Brownhoist Corporation of Cleveland in 1927, forming Industrial Brownhoist. Industrial Brownhoist was located where Uptown Bay City currently stands. Some of the cranes built here went on to build the Panama Canal.
Perry died shortly after the merger and his wife died in 1944. Perry’s successor as president of Industrial Brownhoist, Hoyt Hayes, then purchased the home for himself and his wife, Marie. The couple lived there another 40 years.
The home – built from hollow terra cotta bricks covered in a brick veneer and cypress half timbering – includes five full bathrooms and three half bathrooms.The Perry House may be the largest home built in Bay City.
In the early 20th century, the Eclectic home architecture movement was in full swing and Victorian styles were on their way out. Italian Renaissance, Spanish, or Colonial architecture were on the rise.
Black and gold signs dot the Center Avenue Neighborhood Association, giving visitors details about the history of some of Bay City’s most striking homes.Architect Dillon Prosser Clark, who was known for designing churches, homes, and governmental buildings all over the nation, designed the Perry House in the Tudor Revival style. Tudor style can be traced all the way back to 16th Century England. The Center Avenue home is said to be based on a home Susie Perry saw while traveling through the United Kingdom.
The home features stucco-and-board facades, half-timber framing, and steeply pitched roofs, which are hallmarks of the Tudor Revival style. The Perry House is an example on a smaller scale to that of homes built for Henry and Edsel Ford.
Other features of the home are a side gable roof with flat dormers, an asymmetrical front elevation, various window sizes and styles, and cutaway bays on the ground floor. The living space of the home is 7,000 square feet. The attic and basement of the home have just as much room as the main residence.
The home is constructed from hollow terra cotta bricks covered in a brick veneer and cypress half timbering. It has 13-inch thick concrete between the floors and walls. The home includes more than 30 rooms with six fireplaces, five full bathrooms, three half bathrooms, a library, and an elevator. At one time, there was a buzzer to summon maids.
The cost of the home’s construction was around $43,000, which is $1.15 million in 2020 dollars.
Once, a group from England came to study this Bay City home’s landscaping. At the time the grounds included a variety of spruce trees, white pines, scotch elms, and multiple shrubs planted in an informal English setting surrounded by a cast-iron fence. The original setting of the house came with a Japanese Tea Garden and a tennis court.
Smooth walls, flat roofs, rounded corners and windows that turn with the building are some of the distinguishing characteristics of the Goddeyne House at 2275 Carroll Road.5. 2275 Carroll Road, the Joseph and Sarah Goddeyne House
Art Moderne houses were extremely popular in the U.S. between the 1920s and the 1940s. Smooth walls, flat roofs, rounded corners, and windows that turn with the building corners are distinguishing characteristics of this style. The Goddeyne Home also features many elements of Art Deco, such as a V-shaped window over the front entrance.
The original owner of this home was famed architect Joseph Goddeyne. Born in Bay City in 1889, he attended college at Notre Dame and the University of Michigan where he obtained architecture degrees. Goddeyne’s designs in Bay City range from this house, the Bay County Building, the James Clements Airport Administration Building, and the Farragut School. Outside of Bay City, Goddeyne was known for designing Holy Cross Hospital in Detroit, Hubbard Hospital in Bad Axe, and the Iosco County Courthouse.
The windows of the garage resemble porthole windows on ocean liners or aircraft.Constructed in 1939, this low-profile two-story home is one of the finest examples of this architecture in Michigan. It is truly unlike any other home in Bay City. In its earliest days, architects, designers, and artists visiting the area often stopped at this home.
Several factors make it unique. Goddeyne wanted to implement some of the modern designs coming out of Europe at the time. The house’s most prominent feature is the semi-circular glass block bay window in the front of the home. The window is in the family’s dining room. Over the bay window sits a balustrade and balcony which provides a panoramic view of Carroll Park.
The windows of the garage feature porthole windows, which were common for this type of architecture. The windows are meant to resemble porthole windows on ocean liners or aircraft from the time. Handrails inside the room also are similar in style to ocean liners and aircraft. The house features nine rooms and spreads over 2,800 square feet.
Goddeyne chose this plot of land for his home in order to take advantage of the green areas and trees of Carroll Park.
His wife, Sarah Goddeyne, continued to live in the home after her husband died in 1964. After her death in 1989, another local architect, John Meyer, purchased the home. John Meyer, who was close with the Goddeynes, is an award-winning architect whose restoration efforts include those of Michigan’s House of Representatives in Lansing and Sage Library.