Carder-Van Deusen House

  • Location: 527 West South Street, Kalamazoo
  • Survey ID: R-4
  • Designation: Carder-Van Deusen House
  • Date: 1866
  • Style: "Colonial" revival remodeling of earlier Italian

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.

As the Civil War ended, Isaac Moffatt, called "General" by his friends, sold his modest home on South Street to Edwin Carder, a successful furniture dealer looking to move from his home on Walnut Street to the fashionable area on the west side of the village. Carder razed the old Moffatt house and built an elaborate Italian Villa on the site. Much of it is visible beneath later face lifting. The basic block of the house with its tall narrow windows topped with ornamental hoods, the projecting bay on the right side with its classic pilasters, and the massive door itself belong to that earlier era of post­war affluence. 

Carder came to Michigan in the 1830's, but didn't settle in Kalamazoo until 1848. He succeeded almost immediately, combining the furniture business with undertaking. He and his family lived in a succession of homes in the area of Rose and Walnut Streets, then decided to move up to South Street, where they would live for the next decade and then move again. The 1870 Census-taker found him at forty-nine, living on South Street with his English-born wife, Sarah, and four children, with an estate listed at nearly $60,000. 

In the spring of 1876, the local tax assessor credited Dr. Edwin Van Deusen with the property, Dr. Van Deusen made several changes to the front facade, adding particularly the massive front portico to give the whole building the fashionable "colonial look" popularized by the Philadelphia Centennial of 1876. Van Deusen turned the title of the property over to his wife, Cynthia, in 1878. In that same year he retired from the post he had held for more than twenty years as Superintendent of the Insane Asylum, and moved into the home he would occupy until his final illness almost twenty years later. 

Van Deusen had graduated from Williams College before he was twenty and earned a Master's degree there three years later. He then went on to the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York in 1848, finishing there two years later. He became Superintendent of the Michigan Asylum for the Insane in 1855, though the legislature had not yet established it. 

When Kalamazoo was named the site, Van Deusen made several trips here and in the fall of 1858, moved to the new hospital on the edge of the village. Under his direction it formally opened a year later, and he continued as Superintendent until failing health brought on retirement in 1878. During that time he pioneered in practical care of the mentally ill, particularly in working to abolish restraints and in establishing the “colony" system. He was especially interested in recognition of early symptoms of mental illness, and in his research and writing, said a later Superintendent of the hospital, he "struck a blow for preventive medicine which has made us his debtors for all time". 

Though for a time, as the Gazette would later note, "he lived the quiet life of literary leisure at his pleasant home in Kalamazoo," he soon turned to professional and philanthropic activities. He served from 1881 to 1885 on the Michigan State Board of Corrections and Charities. He was a steady member of St. Luke's Episcopal Church and gave the rectory building for that parish. He also donated heavily at the time that Bronson Hospital was established. In addition, he supported the Children's Home and provided the massive building for Kalamazoo's Public Library. At this death in 1909, the Gazette gave major coverage to testimonies and memorials and called him "the greatest philanthropist of Kalamazoo County".

Upon Van Deusen's death, the home passed to F. Ford Rowe, who occupied it in 1910 according to the city directory. Rowe was then President and General Manager of the Gazette--Telegraphy Company according to one directory entry, he continued to live there until about 1924, when Donald Osborne and his wife, Myra, moved in. Mrs. Osborne kept the house when her husband died a few years later, living there until the 1950’s.


1853 earliest hse.
1861 earliest hse.
1873 Edwin Carder on E 1/2 3
1883 seems to show
1890 hse. E1/2 of 3

Kalamazoo County Tax Rolls


Isaac Moffet or Moffatt

E 1/2 of lot 3, sec.16


1866 undetermined  E½ of lot 3
1866 Isaac Moffatt, personal


1866 Edwin A. Carder, personal  (in 1865, Carder homestead on W.   Walnut)   


1867 E. A. Carder, Homestead E 1/2 of lot 3, sec. 16


1868 E. A. Carder  E 1/2 of lot 3


1869 E. A. Carder E 1/2 of lot 3 homestead


1870 E. A. Carder



1871 E. A. Carder



1871 Carder & Gilbert (furniture)  stock


1872 E. A. Carder E 1/2 of lot 3, homestead


1873 E. A. Carder E 1/2 of lot 3


1873 E. A. Carder & Sons..(1st use) stock of Furniture 


1874 E. A. Carder E 1/2 of lot 3


53.25 Myron Carder Undertaker
1875 E. A. Carder E 1/2 of lot 3


1876 E. A. Carder  No homestead listed
1873-1875 Edward H. Van Deusen personal property, no homestead


1876 E. H. Van Deusen E 1/2 of lot 3, sec.16


N 9/16 of A of 2


1877 E. H. Van Deusen E 1/2 of lot 3, N 9/16 of 2


1878 Mrs. E. H. Van Deusen



1879 same 


(city-wide assessment Jump)
1880 same


personal 16,000

Kalamazoo City Directory

1878, E. H. Van Deusen                    Asylum

1881                        “                        59 South

1883                        “                        527 South

1885--1907              “                              “

1908 Vacant                                           “   “


1910 F. Ford Rowe                              527 South

U.S. Population Census Rolls:

1870 -- Edwin A. Carder, 49, Furniture dealer 28500 real, 30000 pers. b.-Conn.; Sarah, 48, b. England; Myron 25, Furniture; George 20, apprenticed to upholsterer; Abbey, 17, at school, Sarah, 7.

1880 -- Dr. Edwin H. Van Deusen, 51, Physician, B. NY; Cynthia, 44, wife, b. NY; Mary J. 12, adopted, at school, b. Michigan. 2 servants.

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.


History Room Subject File

Houses - Kalamazoo - South, W., 527


Kalamazoo: Nineteenth-Century Homes in a Midwestern Village

  • Schmitt, Peter J.
  • Kalamazoo City Historical Commission, 1976, pages 112-113
  • H 720.9774 S355

Kalamazoo Lost and Found

  • Houghton, Lynn and Pam O'Connor
  • Kalamazoo Historic Preservation Commission, 2001, page 229.
  • H 720.9774 H838


"A Different Kind of House" 

  • Business Digest, March 1989, pages 32-36.