1593 EAST FULTON: The Mathias Alten Home and Studio, 1890, architect unknown.
Beloved Grand Rapids painter Mathias Alten (1871- 1938) purchased the home at 1593 East Fulton in 1917 for his family. Alten was born in Germany and came to the U.S. at age 17, settling in Grand Rapids. Painting in oils and watercolors, over his lifetime, Alten completed over 3,400 paintings, exhibiting widely throughout the country.
While Alten taught and painted in Grand Rapids, he also traveled extensively throughout Europe and the United States including New York, California and New Mexico and his last painting trip to Tarpon Springs, Florida. At the time he bought the house, Alten had just returned from painting in Spain the first time. He had decided that he needed to live in New York where "there would be greater exposure to art and the artists," according to his daughter ("Memories of Father, Mathias Alten 1871-1938 by Camelia Alten Demmon 1988).
After looking for a place for the family to live for over three months in New York, Alten returned to Michigan telling the family that he had decided that New York was no place for a family to live and they would stay in Grand Rapids. Because they had already sold their family house on Hope and Fuller, they had to look for a new home and found the house at 1593 East Fulton. It was part of a farm on the outskirts of the city and had according to Demmon "three and a half acres of fruit trees, a house, a bar, and a chicken coup." They would hold Sunday afternoon open house at the East Fulton house and always had visitors. Alten's wife Mrs. Bertha Alten would make cakes, there would be music and the company would have a good time. In 2009, the Mathias Alten house was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Through his paintings, Alten captured a long-gone historic era. He loved to paint landscapes, and capture the rural scenes readily available nearby his home. Through his paintings, Alten captured a long-gone historic era. He loved to paint landscapes, and capture the rural scenes readily available nearby his home. A significant collection of his paintings are owned by the Grand Rapids Art Museum and over 70 are on permanent display at the George H. and Barbara Gordon Gallery at Grand Valley State University.