The lumber and furniture industries fueled great fortunes in Grand Rapids during the 19th and early 20th centuries - and many of our historic homes reflect the excess of those lavish times.
Heritage Hill. One of the nation's largest urban historic districts is located adjacent to downtown Grand Rapids. Its 1,300 homes date back to 1843 and represent more than 60 architectural styles. This Old House magazine named Heritage Hill the best old-house neighborhood in Michigan.
Meyer May House. One of the crown jewels of Heritage Hill, this dazzling restoration of a 1909 Frank Lloyd Wright design provides the rare opportunity to experience a Prairie-style home just as Wright intended – complete with original furnishings. Free tours are conducted on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Online reservations are required.
The Heritage Hill Association conducts an annual home tour in May. Each year, 7-8 private homes and 2-3 historic buildings are open to the public and staffed by guides who share information and highlight special features. The Association also hosts a garden tour in July.
Of course, you can take a walking or driving tour of the district any day of the year – just download this map as your guide. You can also Google Map your way to these Heritage Hill (and Hill-adjacent) homes commemorated as historic landmarks:
The Castle. 455 Cherry SE. This Chateauesque-style home was built in 1888 as an interpretation of a Scottish baronial castle for lumber baron brothers Ethelbert and Charles Fox. It is currently occupied by commercial tenants.
Mathias Alten Home & Studio. 1593 E Fulton. Built in 1907, this Colonial Revival-style home was purchased by German-born Impressionist painter Mathias Alten, often referred to as the Dean of Michigan Painters, in 1914. He lived and painted here until his death in 1938.
McCabe-Marlowe House. 74 Lafayette NE. Built in 1865 for businessman James Gallup, this Italianate-style home was later owned by several prominent Grand Rapids families. It’s named for Marie McCabe and her niece Wilma McCabe Marlowe, who lived her while they taught at Grand Rapids Junior College in the 1950s.
The Voigt House. 115 College SE. This 1895 Queen Anne-style home is owned by the Grand Rapids Public Museum.
President Gerald R. Ford’s Boyhood Home. 649 Union SE. Located just on the edge of Heritage Hill, this foursquare bungalow was the future president’s home from the time he was 8 years old until the age of 17 (1921-30). Built in 1910, it was declared a historic landmark by the city’s Historic Preservation Commission in 1990.
Benjamins-Spring House. 2359 Madison SE. This stately Queen Anne house, located a few miles south of Heritage Hill, was built around 1886 for clothing entrepreneur Leonard Benjamins. It was purchased in 1924 by Berton A. Spring, one of the region’s first licensed morticians.
Lakeshore Historic Homes
Cappon House and Settlers House Museums. These two meticulously restored homes showcase the "upstairs-downstairs" division of late 1800s life in Holland – one is an Italianate mansion built by a rags-to-riches Dutch immigrant, the other is a simple working-class home. Cappon House is furnished with one of the country's largest collections of early Grand Rapids furniture in its original setting. The homes are open for tours on summer Fridays and Saturdays, and for group tours September through May.
Hackley & Hume Historic Site. This site preserves the homes of Muskegon's most famous labor baron and his business partner. The houses are some of the best examples of Queen Anne residential-style architecture in the country. Guided tours are available.