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This four-mile driving tour meanders through Heritage Hill, a 40-block hillside neighborhood east of downtown. On the National Register of Historic Places, Heritage Hill preserves homes representing over 60 architectural styles. The first home was built in 1845, and by the 1860s, prominent people who shaped Grand Rapids began moving here. It is bordered by Lafayette Avenue (west), Pleasant Street (south), Union Avenue (east) and Michigan Street (north).
From the downtown intersection of Fulton Street and Division Avenue, drive east up the Fulton Street hill.
Halfway up the hill, on the southwest corner of Fulton and Lafayette, is the Women's City Club, 254 Fulton East. This Italian villa has a cupola, wide roof overhangs, ornate cornices and narrow windows. It was built in 1856 as a home for hotel owner Martin Sweet, who went broke in the Panic of 1893 and sold his hotel to J. Boyd Pantlind. Sweet's Hotel was rebuilt as the Pantlind Hotel and renovated as Amway Grand Plaza. Sweet's home eventually became a music school and boarding school. The Women's City Club bought it in 1924.
Continue two blocks east on Fulton, then turn south (right) on College, and take the second driveway to your left (behind the Waters Apartments).
The Waters Estate, 20 College SE, is a brick Georgian Revival mansion built in 1900 for Dudley E. Waters. He was a timber scout, banker, real estate broker, and co-founder of what was once the nation's largest furniture exhibition building, now called the Waters Building (a site on the Downtown Walking Tour).
The Voigt House
On the right is the Voigt House Victorian Museum, 115 College SE. This French Chateau-style home was built in 1895 for Carl G.A. Voigt, who founded Voigt Milling Company and Voigt, Herpolsheimer & Co. dry goods store. (See the store replica at the Grand Rapids Public Museum). The Voigt House is no longer open to the public.
Follow College south beyond Cherry (first light) and Wealthy (second light).
The Amberg House, 505 College SE, is on the southwest corner of College and Logan. David Amberg, a prominent businessman and civic leader, asked Frank Lloyd Wright to design this house in 1910. Though it includes many Wright trademarks, such as Prairie styling and art glass, the design was actually carried out by Marion Mahoney, a Wright associate. The other local Wright house (the Meyer May House, below) was built for Amberg's daughter Sophie and her husband, Meyer May.
Cross the street.
Brayton House, 516 College SE. This 20-room white clapboard Georgian Revival home was built in 1889 for James P. Brayton, a national expert on appraising standing timber. The mansion's next owner, F. Stuart Foote, started Imperial Furniture Company, one of the largest makers of high-quality tables in the 1920s and '30s. The Brayton House has two-story columns and a huge gambrelled gable. Bed-and-breakfast guests here enjoy the home's original moldings, hand-blocked paper and antiques. Phone (616) 451-4849 for reservations.
At the end of this block, go west (right) two blocks on Pleasant, then north (right) on Madison.
Meyer May House, 450 Madison SE, is on the northeast corner of Madison and Logan. This is one of Frank Lloyd Wright's last Prairie-style family homes. He even designed the home's windows, rugs and furniture. Completed in 1909 for clothing merchant Meyer May, then neglected after May's death, the house was meticulously restored in 1985 by Steelcase Inc. Touring it will help you understand Wright's theory of organic architecture, which harmonizes everything - outside and indoors - for a single effect. Open free to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 2pm; Sundays from 1pm to 5pm.
Follow Madison two blocks north, then take Cherry (second light) four blocks east (right) to Union Avenue and turn north (left).
The Friant House, 601 Cherry SE, is on the northeast corner of Cherry and Union. This stone chateau was built in 1892 by lumber baron Thomas Friant. He was co-owner of Ottawa Boom Company, which floated all the logs from Grand Rapids to sawmills down river - causing the great 1883 logjam that destroyed Pearl Street Bridge. The home's current residents - former Grand Rapids Mayor John Logie and his wife Susie, a landscape painter - are long-time Heritage Hill activists.
Take Union north to Fulton, then turn west (left) to begin your return downtown. Two blocks south at Davenport University you'll find:
Warren Hall, formerly known as the White House, 427 Fulton East. This Tudor Revival house was built in 1907 for lumber baron T. Stewart White, co-owner of Ottawa Boom Company. For years this home was the Grand Rapids Furniture Museum; that furniture is now at the Grand Rapids Public Museum.
Continue west on Fulton across Prospect, then turn north (right) on Lafayette.
Philo C. Fuller House, 44 Lafayette NE, is an Italianate villa built in 1855 by John Kendell. It was later home to Philo C. Fuller, a mayor of Grand Rapids and furniture company president.
Continue north on Lafayette to Lyon, then go west (left) to return downtown.