FULTON STREET TOUR
Explore nearly 200 years of Grand Rapids architectural history on this virtual Fulton Street Tour.
These homes and buildings have stories to tell. They symbolize the prosperity of the lumber days, the boom of the furniture manufacturing era and the growth and current renaissance of our dynamic city. Representing Grand Rapids history, commercial success and consistently strong design sensibility are homes and commercial buildings like the Abraham Pike House (1848), the Loraine Building (1902), the Willard Building (1930) with its stunning terra cotta trim, the ultra-modern Herpolsheimers store (1948) with its popular Santa Train, and the contemporary U.I.C.A. building (2011). Grand Rapids has lost some architectural gems on Fulton Street, and we take time to share some of those as well.
2 FULTON WEST: Urban Institute for Contemporary Art (UICA) designed by Built Form Architecture and built byTriangle Construction, 2011. This contemporary multi-story LEED certified building has a scrolling events calendar, and a broad overhang and vegetation-covered metal screen that shade the Fulton and Division Street exteriors. The stark white interior features more than one staircase, including a dramatic open staircase visible through the glass, in order to encourage walking rather than elevator use. There are multiple performance and gallery spaces, a movie theatre showing top independent films, roof-top garden-gallery and a main-floor retail store. Founded in 1977, the UICA building includes apartments and parking garage, now affiliated with Ferris University-Kendall College of Art & Design.
2 FULTON EAST: Davenport Institute designed by Wilifred McLaughlin, 1948-49. This art deco/moderne building was originally conceived as a six-story building, but just two floors were completed. The light colored brick building features a curved exterior with continuous ribbon windows with metal accents and rounded metal roof overhangs. Designed to be a mixed-use building with retail on the ground floor, past occupants include Junior Achievement, and the Site Lab Art Prize installations. TODAY: Tower Pinkster: Architects & Engineers achieved Platinum LEED certification 1D +C partnering with owners Lotus Development to restore the building. Tower Pinkster occupies the second floor.
FULTON EAST: Grand Rapids Evening Press Building (gone) designed by Albert Kahn with associate architects Williamson & Crowe, 1906. Photo courtesy Grand Rapids Public Library History & Special Collections (GRHSC) Archives. This classic beaux arts design featured a stunning entry arch with elaborate hand-carved fronts-piece. The structure was of poured reinforced concrete, an innovation of the Kahn brothers and trademark signature of Albert Kahn's industrial and commercial buildings. After the Grand Rapids Press moved in 1966 to a new modern building on Michigan Street, owners Booth Newspapers tried unsuccessfully to sell the 1906 building. The building was demolished in 1968. TODAY: 20 Fulton East Apartments will open soon on this site.
8 FULTON EAST: Grand Rapids Herald Building (gone). The building was razed sometime after the Grand Rapids Evening Press Building was demolished in the late 1960's. It is possible that Jacobson's owned the building at that time.
11 SHELDON NW: Monument Square Building designed by Osgood & Osgood, 1917. The gleaming white terra cotta building has a signature diagonal orientation on Sheldon at Fulton. It was in serious disrepair in the 1990's when a group of forward-thinking women raised the funds to buy and improve the building to make it the new home of the popular Grand Rapids Children's Museum. TODAY: Grand Rapids Children's Museum.
LIBRARY: YMCA, Robinson & Campau, Associate Architects on the project, 1914. The 8-story dark red brick building features a classic revival style with Palladian type windows. Ornate limestone door surrounds and trim accent the brick. The cornice is articulated with limestone brackets and more trim. TODAY: Restored and redesigned as The Fitzgerald in 2005 (condominium residences).
98 FULTON EAST: Watson Building, Architect unknown, 1920, 1954 remodeled as the Jacobsons store. Major Amassa Watson built a stately brick home on the southeast corner of Fulton and Sheldon. This later made way for the Watson Building. Jacobson's, a department store based in Jackson, Michigan, opened a store in 1943 on two floors of the Pantlind Hotel when the U.S. Army closed the Miiltary Weather School formerly located there. When the Pantlind Hotel wanted those floors back, Jacobson's bought and transformed the old Watson Building on Fulton into an elegant store with an modern interior of "woods and modern pastels. " The store opened a second location in East Grand Rapids in the Gaslight VIllage area in 1965 because the downtown location needed more space. (Jacobson's: I miss it so! by Bruce Allen Kopytek, History Press, Charleston, South Carolina, 2011) The building sat vacant until the Acton Institute restored and renovated for their offices on the main floor and a creative space on the second level for the West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology on the second level. TODAY: Acton Building and WMCAT
110-116 FULTON EAST: The Metz Building, Architect unknown, 1905. Built by real estate developer Peter Decker and owner George Metz as a medical-dental office. W. Lockwood Martling, Jr., Chicago architect, described it as "...One of the most beautiful buildings I have seen anywhere." It was considered to be one of the first buildings to use colored terra cotta in the trim and cornice details. By 1971 Jacobsons owned the building. By then, it was vacant and in disrepair. They warned the public in a Grand Rapids Press article, that despite concerns of historic preservationists, unless a buyer could be found, the building would be torn down, and it was demolished. TODAY: gone.
124 FULTON EAST: Loraine Building designed by Architect William G. Robinson, 1902. On the National Register of Historic Places since 1982, the building was planned by businessman and owner Frederick Immen as an exclusive apartment and office building with the most modern improvements and conveniences such as steam heat, hot water, elevator and with the most modern safety equipment. Light and airy rooms were finished in hardwood trim with with chandelier lighting. Another interesting feature was the promotion of having the finest wells of spring water for drinking. The building was named in honor of Immen's wife Loraine Immen. TODAY: Continues as the Loraine Building with apartments and retail space.
136 FULTON EAST: Oliver Bleaks General Store, architect unkown, 1856, 1886 Addition. In 1886, there was an addition to the building and it became H.A. Wilson and T.W. Dwight's Upholstery and Tack Shop. According to the One Trick Pony website, 17 different businesses operated out of this location, and some of the walls in the restaurant, as well as the alley between the two old buildings, are visible in current structure. TODAY: The two buildings and the adjacent building are known as the One Trick Pony, a popular eatery and music venue and the Cottage Bar.
101 FULTON EAST: Veterans Memorial Park established 1833 and dedicated in 1926. Once known as the town square and site of traveling circuses and grazing cows (Fulton E. History Grand Rapids). Notable park features include the memorial pillars designed by architect Ralph Demmon and inscribed with the names of WWI veterans. Names of WWII, Korean & Vietnam veterans were added throughout the park's history.. TODAY: Veterans Memorial Park is in the midst of major site improvements.
150 FULTON EAST: The Willard Building, 1930, constructed by Owens, Ames, Kimball was added to the National Register of Historic Buildings in 2013. The one-story building wraps around the corner of Jefferson and Fulton, and is sometimes referred to as the Peacock Building, due to the elaborate multi-colored terra cotta details with the distinctive peacock motif. TODAY: The WIllard Building is home to a variety of businesses from restaurants to a community theatre troupe to a coffee shop/gallery. The exterior is intact except for one section of the building that sustained damage from a car crash.
207 EAST FULTON: First Place ( First United Methodist Church), architect unknown, completed in 1967. This is a modern commercial building designed in the brutalist raw concrete style. Originally housed an insurance company. TODAY: First Place is an extension of the First United Methodist Church next door.
227 EAST FULTON: First United Methodist Church was designed by Robinson (Frederick) & Campau (Antoine) and was dedicated April 9-16, 1916. The imposing Norman Gothic style church with an exterior of Sandusky limestone was said to be Fred Robinson's favorite career design. It cost of approximately $212,000 to build and includes terrazzo floors inlaid by Italian artisans. The santuary includes original Tiffany Favrile glass windows and stained glass windows designed by the Philadelphia Willet Stained Glass Studios. all with gothic tracery. Names of veterans who served in WWI, WWII and other U.S. conflicts are inscribed on two brass plates in the narthex. The solid oak pews were built and installed by American Seating Company in 1916. TODAY: The church is beautifully maintained, and the sanctuary seats 800. For more detailed information about the stained glass windows and other architectural features link to the church website here: http://www.grandrapidsfumc.org/history
210 FULTON EAST: Iconic commercial building with distinctive brickwork and concrete trim, architect unknown and completed in 1920 with an expansion in 1953 and a 1998 remodel. A unique corner entrance is framed by storefront style windows providing a look at the art within. Over 2,000 square feet of gallery space and an additional 2,200 square feet of workshop space. TODAY: Perceptions Art Gallery.
220-22 FULTON: E. Truman Lyon House, 1845, architect unknown. Rusticated Gothic revival cottage, and one of the few remaining homes made of Grand River limestone. HISTORY: The home was built for Truman Lyon, a prominent local citizen who served as a state senator from 1853-54. It was restored following an early morning fire in 1971. TODAY: Offices
230 FULTON EAST: The Abram W. Pike House, 1845, architect unknown, is older than the other homes and buildings on this site. The Pike House is known as Grand Rapids most distinctive example of the Classical Greek Revival style and has been on the National Register of Historic Buildings since 1970. Pike (1814-1906) moved to Michigan from his Ohio farm in 1827, and in 1838 came to Grand Rapids in charge of a store established by the Port Sheldon Company. According to an article in the Michigan Tradesman, materials for the Pike House were brought here piece by piece in 1843 by ox team, including the distinguishing front pillars, from the remains of the Old Ottawa House Hotel at Pigeon Lake on the east shore of Lake Michigan, eight miles north of Holland. It was considered a very well-built home with the four by four timbers used for posts and six by six timbers at the corners of the home. "...snowy woodwork was correct to the time, and long folding doors separate the rooms." (Grand Rapids Herald 7-4-1920) Abraham Pike worked as an Indian agent and a guide and it was said in the Michigan Tradesman that he was well-like by the Indians and often had a large number at his home on Fulton. In 1920, Emily J. Clark, owner at the time, donated the house to Grand Rapids Art Association on the condition they raise at least $18, 800 for its use as a gallery, and $60,000 for the construction of an addition on the back of the building to increases the size of the gallery. TODAY: The Pike house has been used for a variety of offices including an architectural office and currently a law firm.
302 FULTON EAST: Historic Aaron Dikeman House, architect unknown, 1849, with an addition in the 1960's. Like the Abram Pike House, the Dikeman house is one of the very oldest homes along Fulton, and was designed in the Federal style, very popular at the time. Notice the open balustrade above above the second story window and the twin dormers each with pediment roof. Also typical of the time is the wing with the two story porch. A fun historical note from the recent past: this was the home of the O'Bryon & Knapp Architectural Offices from 1955-1961. They created many modern residential and commercial designs including over 300 developer homes for Albert Builders and were the local architects on the Temple Emanuel construction and the Grand Rapids City Hall and County Administration Building. The daughter of E. John Knapp remembers exploring the attic of the house and finding a large elaborate possibly original chandelier being stored there. TODAY: Currently being renovated most likely for another commercial tenant.
320 FULTON EAST: Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York., architect unknown, 1963. Modern 2-story commercial building with flat roof, large continuous band of windows and a facade of brick veneer - a departure from the architecture of the area. TODAY: Clinic.
254 FULTON EAST: Martin J. Sweet Family home built in 1860, architect unknown. The Martin J. Sweet House is a brick 2-story Italianate villa that was designed for the Sweet family. It features a disntinctive square windowed cuppola, a hip roof with large paired brackets. and tall Italiante windows with deorative trim, including a first floor bay window. TODAY The Women's City Club located in 1927 to the former Sweet house. In order to continuously maintain the building, the Women's City Club established a foundation for that purpose. They have a regular schedule of programs and events for members and remain one of the most popular Art Prize venues.
422 FULTON EAST: George W. Gay House, 1883, architect unknown. George W. Gay (1837-1899) moved to Grand Rapids from New York state in 1857, and in 1866 bought half of Berkey's interest in what would become Berkey & Gay Furniture Company. In 1883, he purchased the old Louis Campau and Sophie de Marsac mansion, built in 1838, and had it moved, although it felt apart in the move from the weight of the heavy timbers.. Gay built a 19-room Victorian mansion and carriage house with beautiful hardwood floors and triim, and ornate interior ceilings. In 1948 sprawling mansion and carriage house were converted to 14 apartments. In 2007 new owner James Rybeck was honored by the city for the restoration of the house. TODAY: It continues to be a multi-family property.
HISTORICAL NOTE: Campau established an Indian Trading Post on the Grand River by 1826 paying $90 for 72 acres of the heart of Grand Rapids. According to the George Fuller History of Kent County, when they moved the house, they found that the cupola of the Campau house was papered with the notes of a failed bank owned by Campau.
233 FULTON EAST: Masonic Temple designed by Osgood & Osgood, Architects, 1915. This monumental brick building, of neoclassic and beaux arts design, looms large over the Fulton Street approach to the downtown. The imposing front entry features pediment and bracket trim and there are massive three-story Greek columns across the front facade setting off one and two-story banks of windows. The building is topped off with an ornate cornice featuring Masonic symbols. Sydney and Eugene Osgood, a well-known father/son architectural team, received the commission to build the Temple after designing both the Battle Creek and Adrian Masonic Temples. Both were high-ranking Masons, and Eugene was just 34 years old at the time. TODAY: The building has been in continuous use as a Masonic Temple since it was built.
11 PROSPECT NE: Regency Apartments sits on Prospect on a high perch overlooking the Fulton street corridor to downtown, and was designed by architect Emil Zillmer for Albert Builders, 1937. This rare brick moderne apartment building has a high style stone door surround and Chicago style three part windows. The most distinctive feature is an art deco two-story glass block window. Zillmer designed a similar window for a moderne cement home in East Grand Rapids. TODAY: The building is still the Regency Apartments, part of a group of locally owned apartment buildings called the Heritage Collection.
15 UNION SE: Stoner Apartments designed by F. P. Allen & Son, 1916. Between 1900 and World War I, a number of elegant small (by today's standards) apartment buildings were built in the downtown, Heritage Hill, Cherry Hill, and Wealthy Street Theatre neighborhoods. Often designed for 4 - 8 families, with sturdy brick facades and classic features such as column, arches, center entrances with elaborate door trim and staircase trim and elegant balconies. The building names were usually etched in stone on the upper level. Many have been developed as condominiums, such as the Stoner Apartments. TODAY: The building has been developed as condominiums.
20 COLLEGE SE: The Dudley Waters Mansion built by lumberman Dudley Waters, architect unknown, 1898-1900, with an extensive remodel in 1930. This a massive Georgian Colonial Mansion in the Adam neoclassical style with an imposing two-story semi-circular portico. It has a graceful Palladian entry with a leaded fanlight. The house in 12,000 plus square feet, and was converted into four apartments in 1960-61. The remodeled mansion has an intact exterior and is rented out as apartments. The older original Waters house on the site, was torn down to make way for the large apartment buildings on the same site. TODAY: The buildings continue as apartments.
846 FULTON EAST: Community Automotive Repair, original builder and original date built to be determined. In 2016, a LEED renovation and expansion was designed by architect Jim Winter-Troutwine with Catalyst Partners as sustainability consultants. Purchased by Richard Zaagman in 1974, the auto shop went from a two-stall operation to a business servicing about 100 vehicles per week, now taking up four city lots. TODAY: Community Garage in 2016 became one of three automotive garages nationwide to receive LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. The building has white floors and walls with frosted glass panel garage doors, more than 100 windows and a white roof to reduce heat absorption reducing the need for air conditioning in summer. The shop is heated with two-high-efficiency furnaces that burn waste oil. Rain and snow are diverted away from city storm drains and into underground leach basins. Waste recycling is emphasized (Grand Rapids Press 8/14/2016).
909 FULTON EAST: Hoekstra Medical designed by architect Edgar Firant, 1966. This is a moderate-sized classic mid-century modern office building with an asymmetrical front glable designed in the "Atomic Ranch" style. TODAY: It is the home of the Pyrski Law Office. To read more about architect Edgar Firant link here: http://wmmodern.com/august-28-tour-home-of-architect-edgar-r-firant-aia/
919 FULTON EAST: Modern two-story commercial building, architect unknown, 1959. The origins of this classic 1959 building are yet unknown. Designed in the George Nelson commercial building style, it is a two-story structure with a light-colored brick facade, floor to ceiling glass storefront windows and flat roof. In this classic multi-level structure, you must either go up or down when you enter, using the using the floating stairway visible from the street. TODAY: This is the Cakabakery, boutique bakery building, and was formerly the Acorn Studio.
940 FULTON EAST: Daverman Building, 1914, designed by J. &. G. Daverman, one of the oldest architectural firms in the city, established in 1904 by Johannes Daverman, a Dutch immigrant. Architecture became a family profession. Daverman's son George joined him in the practice, and in the 1930's George's son's Herbert and Joseph became partners. With nephews Edward and Robert, they formed a powerhouse firm that built modern buildings downtown during the urban renewal period and then expanded the firm nationally and internationally. This pretty commerical building is a two-story brick structure with a retail space on the main level, and two apartments on the upper level. The Daverman name is etched in stone on the building's exterior. TODAY: The Daverman Building is a commercial building housing Salon Re.
955 FULTON EAST: Van's Pastry Shoppe, architect Unknown, 1929. Dutch immigrants brought their baking expertise to the United States. Van's is an institution in the Fulton Heights Neighborhood. Check out their cookie jar collection. The building is very typical late 1920's - early 1930's one-story design with large plate glass windows and deep canopy overhang. TODAY: Continues as Van's Pastry Shoppe.