Hon. Charles E. Stuart House

Left: Photo by Sara Keller, April 2010
Right: Picturesque Kalamazoo (1909) p. 61
  • Location: 427 Stuart Avenue, Kalamazoo
  • Survey ID: R-31
  • Designation: Hon. Charles E. Stuart House
  • Date: 1858
  • Style: Italian Revival

The following material is from the 1973 Initial Inventory of Historic Sites and Buildings in Kalamazoo and was made available for use here by the Historic Preservation Coordinator of the City of Kalamazoo. See Introduction to an Initial Inventory for details about how the survey was conducted.

Already recorded by the State of Michigan as an historic site, this fine old mansion was once the family home of Senator Charles E. Stuart. Stuart, born in New York in 1810, came to Kalamazoo when he was 25 and formed a law firm with Governor Epaphroditus Ransom. In 1847, local voters sent him to the State Legislature, and in the winter of 1852-53, elected him to the U. S. Senate. During his term as Senator, he bought considerable acreage in the area around Mountain Home Cemetery. Then, in 1858, he built the fashionable Italian Villa on what later became Stuart Avenue. Shortly after he finished, he hosted the visit of Stephen A. Douglas to Kalamazoo, and later opened Douglas Avenue in his honor.

The Stuart home was one of a number of fine estates to the West and South of Kalamazoo at mid-century. Set in formal gardens, topped by an "observatory", it contained six magnificent rooms on each floor. Stuart imported Italian marble for his fire-places, paneled walls in mahogany, supplied a library for himself and a ballroom on third floor for his social evenings. He even installed the village's first indoor bathroom. When the Census-taker stopped by in 1860, he recorded an extended household including Stuart's retired father, his wife's father, two servants, a farmhand, and another couple. Stuart was then among the wealthy men of the village, listing assets of $45,000.

Stuart lived on in the house for a quarter of a century, practicing law and taking part in local political issues until he was incapacitated by rheumatism as the 1880 Census-taker noted. In 1883, the Stuarts moved to Cedar Street in the village. Samuel Browne, a local horseman, bought the Stuart home as a gentleman's farm; In 1904, it passed to Charles Hayes, a local real estate speculator active in establishing the area around Henderson Park on West Main hill. Prominent attorney Harry C. Howard bought the house in 1924 and occupied it until his death in 1946.

 

Maps:

1861 shows
1873 C. E. Stuart

 

Kalamazoo County Tax Rolls:

1854 Charles Stuart lot 28, sec.16, N of road,
W of Woodward,
E by Corporation bndry; 21 acres
3000 value  
1855 Charles Stuart sec. 16, 42 acres 4000 25.08
1856 Charles Stuart N part, lot 28, W of Woodward,
12 acres
3000 18.99
1857 Charles Stuart W 1/2 of lot 28, 12 acres 3300 42.75
1858 Charles Stuart lot 28 W of Woodward 2200 50.46
1859 Charles Stuart lot 27, homestead, 8 acres 3500 62.95
1860      
1861        
1862 Charles Stuart lots 14-23, Stuart's Add., sec.16 3500  

           

U. S. Population Census Rolls:

1860 Charles E. Stuart, 50, farmer, $40,000 real, $5000 pers. b. NY; Sophia, 48; Charles, 13, Catherine, 10; Adam Ferguson, 26, grocery merch., 1500 real, 5000 pers. b. NY; wife, 23; Charles Stuart, 78; George Parsons, 78; Charles Butler, 28, farmhand; Mary Russ, 25, servant; Hannah Goodwin, servant.

1870 Charles E. Stuart, 60, lawyer, 30000 real, 10000 pers.; Sophia, 58; Charles, 24; Lizzie, 26; Kate, 19; George Parsons, 88; Charles Stuart, 88, retired physician, b. NY; 2 farm hands, 2 servants.

1880 Charles Stuart, 79, lawyer, former U. S. Sen., incapacitated by rheumatism, b. NY.; Sophia Stuart, 78, wife, b. NY.; 1 farmhand, 1 servant, 3 horses.

This report was converted from a typewritten document to a digital text document in September 2004. Other than punctuation and spelling corrections, and the addition of BOLD type site address and names, no changes were made. Minor formatting changes were made for use on this website, but the text was not altered. Original survey dated 1973.

Additional Sources

Books

Kalamazoo: Nineteenth-Century Homes in a Midwestern Village

  • Schmitt, Peter J.
  • Kalamazoo City Historical Commission, 1976
  • H 720.9774 S355, pp.99-100

Portrait and biographical record of Kalamazoo, Allegan and Van Buren counties [Michigan]...

  • Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1892
  • H 977.41 P85, pages 204-205 (biography of Hon. Charles Edward Stuart)

Articles

"Old Colonel Stuart house now Harry Howard residence" 

  • Kalamazoo Gazette
  • 28 May 1944, page 7, column 5

"WM fraternity marked as state historical site" 

  • Kalamazoo Gazette
  • 12 September 1966, page 14, column 2

"National rating for Stuart house" 

  • Kalamazoo Gazette
  • 6 May 1972, page B5, column 4

"Stuart house 'magnificent'" 

  • Kalamazoo Gazette
  • 16 July 1974, page A10, column 1

History Room Files

Name File: Stuart, Charles E.

Subject File: Houses - Kalamazoo - Stuart, 427