Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Squint Shot 022912

As we are looking at a few more exterior squint shots of the old "Defendorf" house on East Grand River, I thought it would be fun to go looking for some information on that family. Hulda(h) and Byron Defendorf had four, maybe five, children -- doing a quick search on this website showed there were two daughters (Grace and Gertrude) and possibly three sons (Charles, Ernest and maybe Edgar, or a census should have noted him as Ernest).

I found an article about Grace and Gertie (Gertrude) and thought I would pass it along. In 1897, the following accounting of a mishap was published in the local newspaper:

A Narrow Escape~~On Saturday afternoon, Grace and Gertie Defendorf started for Bancroft and when about four miles from this village, they met George Meeker and stopped for a moment to talk with him when a carriage came along and in going past them, caught the rear wheel of their carriage, overturning the vehicle and throwing both of the girls to the ground, but very fortunately neither of them were injured to any extent. Of course, such an accident frightened the horse who ran with the top dragging on the ground and it was soon a total wreck, although the running gear received but little damage. The driver of the carriage that caused the accident manifested no interest in the matter, not even ascertaining if the girls were hurt, but drove off complacently without revealing his identity, probably to avoid a case of damages.

There will be more to follow.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Squint Shot 022812

Here are a couple more shots of the front of the old Defendorf house - both of the southeast corner. Be sure to look back over the last few weeks for inside and outside pictures.
As a little extra history, this house stopped being the "Defendorf" house long before it was moved in the 1920s. In 1916, Dr. Byron Defendorf has sold his residence at Chelsea and may move to Fenton, where his youngest son, Dr. Ernest Defendorf, is now located, having moved there from Chelsea recently, as reported in the local newspaper. When Dr. Defendorf retired from practice in Fowlerville, he sold the house to William Peek, and then moved to Chelsea.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Squint Shot 022712

As I continued to look at the outside of the house at 701 East Grand River avenue, I stepped back from the front porch. As many times as I've driven by this house, I never noticed the way the trim above the door was created to give some diagonal lines.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Squint Shot 022612

As you can see, I have stepped outside the house at 701 East Grand River avenue, and took a picture of the front door. If you head back over the last couple of weeks, you can see some photographs from inside of the house. The front entrance has some wonderful detail in the trim. If you look closely at the following picture, courtesy of Clayton Klein, of the southwest corner of East Grand River and South Second, the house at the left hand side of the photograph is the old Defendorf house before it was moved. The photograph was taken in 1917. The top portion of the front porch is just barely visible but does not appear to have a cover over it.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Squint Shot 022512

This vent may not be particularly old but it beautifully goes with the rest of the house. We are back on the first floor of the old Defendorf house, after checking out the beams in the basement (look back over the last couple of days). Tomorrow we head outside.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Squint Shot 022412

If you check out yesterday's squint shot, there is an additional picture of these hand-chopped beams in the basement of the house at 701 East Grand River avenue. As you can see, some dove-tail work was done to hook the two perpendicular beams together. Tomorrow, we head back up to the first floor for a couple more pictures and then outside. There will also be a surveyor's map from 1922 showing when the house was located at its original spot.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Squint Shot 022312

After checking out the first floor bathroom in the old Defendorf house, the current owner was excited to show me some interesting beams in the basement. We headed downstairs. The basement is beautifully finished with a bright-white ceiling and old, very old beams visible. As you can see from this squint shot, the wood was chipped away to create a square beam. So cool.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Squint Shot 022212

Yesterday's squint shot gave a bit of a glimpse of this window but today's is a better view.
In previous squint shots, I have mentioned this house was moved by the Peek family, after they purchased it from the Defendorfs in the 1920s. William Peek's son, Leslie, served in World War I. In 1917, he was promoted to the position of corporal in Battery A, Michigan Field Auxiliary, and very quickly moved onto acting battalion supply sergeant. Leslie would write back home and these long letters would be republished in the local newspaper, The Fowlerville Review. The first of many letters was entitled "Somewhere in France" and was mailed March 17, 1918:

Dear Dad and All:

Have arrived safely in the land of wine, woman and song, but the place has evidently changed some since it was dubbed the above name. I will be unable to tell you anything about this country, but will write a few lines about some of the things I saw in merry England.

I am in the best of health and am located in an exceedingly fine camp. It is strictly American in every respect. I am picking up French rapidly and will no doubt be able to carry on a little conversation in a month or so.

I have seen some of the most interesting castles in France and England; visited a certain town in England which I will endeavor to tell you something about. I will be unable to mention several names but will give them when I return . . .

He went on to describe in great detail the town founded about 50 B.C., populated with Brittans, Saxons, Danes and Normans. Upon doing a little research, it may have been Colchester, possibly the oldest recorded town in Britain. Leslie Peek returned to the United States, and made it home to Michigan, in 1919. An article regarding a reception held in Bancroft was reprinted in the local newspaper:
Mr. and Mrs. Frank J. Peek entertained 32 of the immediate relatives and friends Sunday in honor of Lieut. Leslie E. Peek, their nephew, who has just returned from overseas with his company, the 119th Field Artillery. Harry Hunter was also a member of this company and during the heaviest fighting, he and Mr. Peek were close together. He was invited as an honored guest. The occasion was a very enjoyable one, long to be remembered.~~Bancroft Commercial.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Squint Shot 022112

Off the dining room in the old Defendorf house on East Grand River, there is a small bathroom. The current homeowners hope to remodel it at some point but, for now, it has this beautiful stained-glass window facing east. Tomorrow's squint shot will be more of a close-up.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Squint Shot 022012

The following squint shot shows a wonderful detail in a door that leads to the basement of the house we have been touring the last week or so. The mirror is beveled and set in the wood of the door, not added and hanging separately. It is a beautiful mirror that makes the dining room seem even larger than it is. In a couple of days, we head downstairs for some interesting pictures.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Squint Shot 021912

Just a few weeks ago, as squint shots showed a few more bits of interesting hardware found in the second and third floors of the Harmon building, I'm showing you some of the hinges found in the house at 701 East Grand River. Everything old -- meaning late 1800s or early 1900s -- had detail that we don't find as often.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Squint Shot 021812

Early last year, I showed a series of squint shots from the old Nellie Glenn house, which is situated at the southwest corner of East Grand River and South Collins. It is a large, red house facing East Grand River. While it was empty, I toured through it and took a number of pictures of hardware, radiators, doors, trim; basically anything that needed to be preserved digitally. Between two large, first floor rooms -- probably one a living room or parlor and the other a dining area -- there were pocket slider doors. Still in great condition.
As I toured the old Defendorf house, the current owner showed me the archway between the living area and the dining room. As you can see, the width of the wall indicates there may have been, at one time, pocket doors separating the two rooms. It is thought that the custom in the late 1800s and maybe into the 1900s was that a visitor coming in the front door would be welcomed into the living room but not necessarily able to see the rest of the house where the family lived. It makes sense to me as it would appear, behavior seemed a lot more formal than we find today.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Squint Shot 021712

As the very old house at 701 East Grand River has been renovated over the years, it would appear the doorknobs and hardware have been preserved. Here are a couple of pictures of doorknobs I found as I wanted through the house with Jamie. I'd like to thank her for her wonderful graciousness to let me take pictures of trim, hardware, and everything else you will seeing in the next few days.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Squint Shot 021612

Before we move onto other areas of the house we are wandering through -- check out the last few days -- here is the trim under the front windows. There are lots of layers of wood creating trim six to ten inches in width.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


As this website grows, I am continuously adding information on the other pages than just the home page. As of yesterday, I have added our first paranormal experience offered by one of my readers.

Also, under the Remembrances tab, you can read a bit about my friend, Bruce BeVier, who passed away late last week. His funeral was yesterday. It was a wonderful celebration of a life well-lived.

Squint Shot 021512

Yesterday's squint shot showed nearly the full window -- one of the front windows of the house at 701 East Grand River -- and today's is a close-up of the painted trim. This house was moved in the 1920s from its original location a few blocks east to its current location. I have to wonder if any of this trim had to be reinstalled after the house was rolled down the street on large logs.

I tried looking online for a picture of a house being moved on logs around this era in the early 1900s. I didn't have any luck but I did find this intriguing picture of large wheels that were created in 1922-23 and used for moving large buildings and houses of all sizes.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Squint Shot 021412

We are spending some time looking at squint shots of a beautiful house on East Grand River -- sometimes still referred to as the "old Defendorf" house. If you check back the last few days, you will see the windows are the front door (including a glass bubble in one window) and the doorbell.
In the living room, I thoroughly checked out the beautiful trim around the front and side windows. This trim was all hand-cut and created by layer different types of trim together. It has been painted over the years and the size of the trim commands the room. Looking closely at the corners that were created, they were not always cut at exact 90 degree angles -- so much of the cutting must have been done by estimation. It is certainly unusual and gorgeous to look at.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Squint Shot 021312

So did you guess that yesterday's picture was the backside of this door-knocker? Before we moved on from the front door of the house at 701 East Grand River -- considered to be the oldest house in Fowlerville -- the owner showed me the "doorbell." When the knocker portion is clanked against the door, it creates an additional sound inside the box on the other side of the door. It is a cool sound.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Squint Shot 021212

This squint shot is a bit of a contest. The first one to send me an e-mail telling me what this picture is of will receive a recycle-style tote bag from the 175th celebration. We had some printed with the logo designed by Dan Whitt -- they are natural color with purple print. You can use the bag for groceries or other shopping and help save the earth just a little bit each time you use it. Contact me by scrolling down the website to my picture and clicking on it to contact me. Good luck.

Tomorrow, the answer will be given.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Squint Shot 021112

A bit of a strange squint shot? Well, if you've been reading this website for very long, you know I like the unusual. Before we moved on from the front door and foyer of the old Defendorf house, a "bubble" of glass was pointed out to me in one of the side-light windows next to the front door.

The current owner of the house, my tour guide through her house, said as far as they knew, this was some very, very old glass. I think we can be fairly certain it is not the original glass since the house is over 150 years old, but it may well date back to the mid-1920s or so. The house used to stand at the southwest corner of East Grand River and South Second and was moved to its currently location nearly 100 years ago.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Squint Shot 021012

Here's a slightly bit of a close-up of one of the front door windows, showing the extensive trim and lattice in the windows. The pictures for the next couple weeks will be showing views of the old Defendorf house, which is now situated at 701 East Grand River. Take a look for the house as you travel East Grand River. It is on the north side of the street, a tall two-story white house with green shutters. I found some interesting things to photograph and hope you enjoy the next few squint shots.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Squint Shot 020912

And, now . . . onto a visit to a very old, quite possibly the oldest, house in Fowlerville. I looked forward to this over a period of two weeks after setting the date with Jamie Hernden of Shear Image. She and her husband live in the "old Defendorf" house at 701 East Grand River avenue.

As a little backstory, this house used to be located at the southwest corner of East Grand River avenue and South Second street. Currently, that lot is a parking area for Chase bank. It has been estimated by Nellie Glenn, a historian for the village until her death at around 90 years old in the 1970s, this house was built around 1855-56. It has been called the "old Defendorf" house on occasion because one of the long-time physicians in the village lived in this house and had his office attached to the house -- Dr. Byron Defendorf. In later years, the house was sold to William H. Peek, who also owned the building directly to the west of the house. He fashioned that storefront into a theatre and showed silent movies, and eventually "talkies," held meetings there, and commissioned live performances for the residents. Mr. Peek was the one to have this house relocated sometime around the late 1920s-early 1930s (sometime I'll post the exact date, when I find it).

According to the current owner of the house, when it was moved to this location, it was rolled down the street on large logs -- can we only imagine what that may have looked like?

In later years, the Eaton family, who originally had the Standard station located where the house used to stand, and then Ron and Tomye Daly owned the house.

Over the next week or so, I will be showing squint shots -- and offering more history on the house -- of what I found intriguing and interesting. Today's picture begins with the inside of the front door. Lots of windows!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Squint Shot 020812

My friend and I finally felt it was time to leave the Harmon building and its two upper -- very interesting, step-back-in-time -- floors. I'm sure I'll be back for another visit because there's just more to find -- I know that for sure. As we stood at the curb talking, I happened to look up from street level. I'm intrigued at the detail the brick-layers gave to this building, even in what looks like a simple line, but must have been somewhat difficult. Were those bricks fired to be curved or did the workers chip away at each one to create this look? We laugh sometimes that I act like a tourist in this town -- but if you see someone wandering around, looking up, holding a camera -- be sure there will be more squint shots of what I find interesting.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Squint Shot 020712

We are now on the second floor of the Harmon building. As I've mentioned the last couple of days, this particular visit to the upper floors was with a curious friend. If you look back through the squint shots for the last week or so, you will see where she found a shade still workable, attached to the canopy where the Masons and members of the Independent Order of Odd-Fellows used to meet. I'm glad she looked a little closer than I ever had.

So the same thing happened here. A heavy green oilcloth hangs over a slatted door. She lifted it up to expose the slats to see how this door must have been very secure at one time from any break-ins. There are even two locks on it. It is an inside door so I'm curious what may have been in this room and why was it so important to lock it in or those out from it.

We let the oilcloth drop back in place and it was obvious there was no way to see through the door. Very interesting to me.
Any thoughts?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Squint Shot 020612

If you check out the last few days of squint shots, you will see that my friend and I, as we wandered through the upper floors of the Harmon building late last summer, rummaged through an old wooden bin that had a bunch of pieces of wood as well as what appears to be a hand-carved candle-holder. We also found a few small bird and animal skeletons! But I also found another interesting piece of hardware on the windowsill behind the bin, and if you've read this blog before, you know things like this catch my eye. This latch was layered with dust but the pattern still showed beautifully.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Squint Shot 020512

Okay, so now maybe we are getting a little crazy, but as my friend and I checked out what else might be in the wooden bin of trash -- where we found the candle-holder that we've looked at the last three days' of squint shots -- we found this rope. It may be very old but just how would someone judge the age of rope? It was coiled braiding, somewhat stiff, but sturdy feeling. Of course, the rope wasn't the only thing we came across -- there were also a couple mouse skeletons and at least one bat skeleton! At about that moment, I was wishing I had some heavy-duty gloves!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Squint Shot 020412

The last two days' worth of squint shots have shown what appears to be a candle-holder that may have been used as a ceremonial item by one of the organizations that used to meet on the third floor of the Harmon building. As my friend and I looked at it closer, as you can see, the top has been hollowed out to hold something. Upon closer inspection, we did find what appears to be very old wax -- hardened but still slightly pliable. In the early days of Fowlerville, there were numerous men's organizations -- the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) Post 114 consisted of Civil War veterans, the Odd-Fellows met in this building, the Masons also met here until it was decided to add a third floor to the building at the corner of Power Street and North Grand which now houses the township offices (as a side note, originally that building was only going to be two stories but the Masons wanted a new "home" and so they offered to subsidize the cost of adding a third floor). Now it would appear there are only two organizations that remain today -- the Masons, who meet in their current building on the east side of the village, and those that meet at the VFW hall on Veterans Drive.

Once again, I am asking if anyone knows what this may have been used for, I would love to have you either contact me or leave a comment.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Squint Shot 020312

If you go back to yesterday's squint shot, you can check out a lengthy post as well as a full picture of what appears to be a long-handled candle-holder. After you read yesterday's article, come back to this one and check it out a little bit closer. Tomorrow's photograph will show another close-up. Anyone have thoughts if this may have been used by the Independent Order of Odd-Fellows or the Masons?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Squint Shot 020212

Here is a new mystery . . .
As my friend and I were wandering about the third floor of the Harmon building, my friend began scrounging around with the contents of a big, wooden bin that appeared to contain wood trim and miscellaneous due to be discarded. She pulled out an odd, very smooth, and slightly curved stick. Of course, I immediately tried to figure out how to photograph it. It leaned nicely against a wall.

Upon closer inspection, the top is carved out about 3-4 inches deep. Tomorrow's squint shot will show a close-up.

Knowing a little bit of the backstory of this building, we started trying to figure out what this might have been used for. Both the I.O.O.F. (Independent Order of the Odd-Fellows) and the Masons (before moving over to the third floor of what is now the Handy Township building) used to hold monthly meetings on the third floor of the Harmon building. It was then known as the Palmerton block and in later years, the Sidell block.

To our untrained eyes, it looks to have been some sort of a candle-holder that may have been held by a member leading in the procession of members -- anyone's thoughts? I have tried repeatedly to get information from the modern-day I.O.O.F. organization with no response. I haven't had a chance to determine if the Masons may have used it either.

If anyone has any information on what this unique piece of wood may have been used for, I would love to hear from you. We may just have an interesting piece of history that could have landed in the landfill if it weren't for my friend.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Squint Shot 020112

Here's a close-up of the suitcase handle. Yesterday's squint shot showed some of the contents inside. I am just so very curious about this piece of luggage I guess I'm going to have to bug Paul Harmon one more time to head up to the third floor of his building and inspect the contents a bit closer. As I look at the handle, though, I begin to wonder just how much this was really used. The leather is somewhat worn but not as much as I would expect for as old as it looks. I guess this will be one of those mysteries we will never solve.
And, speaking of mysteries . . . tomorrow and for a few days, we will be looking at quite a find as my friend and I dug through a bin of discarded wood and trim. Check it out tomorrow.