Albert M. Todd House

  • Location: 620 W. South Street, Kalamazoo
  • Survey ID: R-12
  • Designation: Albert M. Todd House
  • Date: 1873 with later gable and porch
  • Style: Italian Revival with Queen Anne modifications

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.

This once stately home served as residence for successful Kalamazoo businessmen for several decades before becoming the Delta Upsilon Fraternity home in 1953. It is perhaps best remembered as the home of the Albert M. Todd family who lived there from 1891 until 1940. 

George T. Bruen and his brother-in-law, Delos Phillips, seem to have built the present structure on the site of an earlier one in 1873. They had purchased the property in 1872 from Stephen Wattles, real estate speculator and proprietor of the "Sheridan House" on Main Street. The Wattles family occupied a much older structure on the southeast quarter. In the next months, Bruen and Phillips sold the portions of their property fronting on Academy Street (or "Cow Alley" as it was popularly known), and they built a new and larger home near the center of the lot. They chose the fashionable Italian Revival of the day, with its regular features, (four rooms to the floor), heavy classical lintels over the windows and low-hipped roof. An 1883 "birds-eye" drawing of the city shows the present structure much as it stands today. Later owners added a Queen Anne gable and balcony over an elaborate "Eastlake" porch. Still later residents modernized the window lights. 

Bruen, his wife, and three sons occupied the house along with Delos Phillips, his wife Lizzie, and their four daughters. Bruen operated a dry-goods establishment on Main Street, and Phillips sold musical goods and manufactured the "Star" organ at his shop next door. 

In 1885, however, Bruen and Phillips sold their interest to Lorenzo Egleston. Egleston preferred to list himself in the city directories simply as "Capitalist." He had come to Kalamazoo some time earlier from LaSalle, Illinois. By the mid-'seventies, Kalamazoo voters elected him a village trustee. In 1878, he bought out an earlier steel spring factory. Under the heading of L. Egleston & Company, he would employ a hundred hands at his new building on Eleanor and Park, and produce two million pounds of carriage-springs (a $150,000 annual business in 1879). Egleston left $50,893 in "personalty and money" and $20,000 in real property to his wife and daughter on his death. His daughter, Amelia Stanbro, of Chicago sold the family home in May 1891 to Albert Todd, mint farmer from Nottawa. 

Todd, then in his early forties, came to town with a flourish. In the same year he built the "Todd Building" at the corner of Rose and Kalamazoo Avenues. He brought with him his interest in mint and other essential oils and soon made Kalamazoo the center of mint production for the United States. Born in Nottawa in 1850, he attended Northwestern University for a time, married Augusta Allman in 1876, and two years later spent the summer touring the mint works of Europe. With information gained there and experimentation of his own, he perfected techniques that established the A. M. Todd Company as a major industry. The Kalamazoo Telegraph reported in 1894 that "the Mint King" was distilling oils from 10,000 tons of peppermint each year, and that he controlled fully half of the world's supply. Todd built a chemical reference library of awesome proportions and fitted out the Todd Building with an elaborate laboratory for his experiments. He continued to operate there until 1929, when the company moved to new headquarters on Douglas Avenue. 

Todd raised a family of four sons and one daughter at the South Street home and eventually turned much of the business over to them. He devoted increasing attention to political and reform questions after the end of the century. Unsuccessful as a Prohibitionist candidate for Governor in 1894, he was the only Democrat elected to Congress from Michigan in 1896. Later he showed an interest in the socialist questions of the day and took a leading role in founding the Public Ownership League of America in 1916, serving as President and honorary President until his death in 1931. In this connection he found time to author two essays: "Municipal Ownership in Europe and America" and "The Relationship of Public Ownership to Social Justice and Democracy". He was identified with a variety of similar groups like the London Fabian Society, the Peace Society, the Co-operative League, the League for Industrial Democracy, as well as with a number of civic, artistic, and bibliophilic societies.

Always interested in rare books and other art objects, Todd brought back paintings, rare books and other works from a number of trips to Europe, Asia, Africa and Mexico. He saw to it that many of the art works found a place in the public schools, at Western Michigan Normal School, and in other civic buildings. 

Todd passed away at his home in October, 1931, at the age of eighty-one. His wife, Augusta, continued to live on South Street until her death in 1940, when the house passed to others. Joel Shepherd [whose wife Suzanne was Albert M. Todd's granddaughter] and his family occupied it in the late forties, and in the early fifties it became a fraternity house.

Maps:

1873  SE 1/2 of K
1883 seems to show
1890 Center, S 1/2 K

Deeds Office:

Dec. 20, 1872 (liber 39, 202) "Phillips & Bruen" buy all lot K from Stephen H. & Juliet Wattles for $9000; and agree to pay off $6000 mortgage taken through Henry Breese on June 10, 1872 (liber 13, 599) backed by lot K and village lots 15, 16, 35 (Sheridan house lots)

Feb. 23, 1885 (liber 68, 250, 251) Lorenzo Egleston buys S1/2 of K except 26' to Jonathan Parsons ($3500 for W1/2, $4500 for E1/2 from George Bruen and Delos Phillips in two deeds)

Dec. 29, 1890 (liber 77, 246) Amelia Stanbro, et. al., inherits from father Lorenzo Egleston; probate of will, Dec. 31, 1890. Lorenzo Egleston lest $503,893 in "personalty and money" and $20,018 in real prop. Amelia, only child, got real prop and 1/2 personal; Jeannette Egleston, wife, got 1/2 personal.

May 19, 1891 (liber 81, 611) Albert M. Todd of Nottawa buys S1/2 lot K from Amelia Stanbro of Chicago for $9500.

Kalamazoo County Tax Rolls:

1867  S. Wattles  lot K  1600  35.72
1868 same lot K homestead 1600 67.33
15,16,32 and Sheridan hse thereon 2000
1869 same 1700 & 2500 80.33
1870 same 2500 & 3000 41.18
1872 same 39.00
1873 Phillips & Bruen  Lot K less 26 1/2' to Parsons 2500 37.13
1874 Phillips and Bruen 6 1/2R SE 1/4 of K 2400 42.60
Delos Phillips 55' NE 1/4 of K  500 8.88
Wm. Ritchie 55' NW  1/4 of K  200 3.55
1875 Phillips & Bruen  6 1/2 R by 10 R SE K   2200  52.39
1876 same same 1700 44.67
1877  same same 2000 54.00
1878 same same 2000 43.10
1879 same same 3600 36.91
1880 same  same  4000 36.62
1881 same same 4000 40.00
1882 same same 4000 40.00
1883 same same 4000 30.00

Kalamazoo City Directory:  

1871-72  Stephen Wattles, propr, Sheridan House and Billiard Saloon,154 Main, At Rose  
1873

Bruen & Phillips (Phillips makes Star Organs; Bruen with Kidder & Bruen) 78 South St.  

1876 same
1878 George T. Bruen (68 South) (John M. Edwards, 66 South)  
1881 same now Bruen & Skinner Dry Goods (est. 1864)  
1883 same 624 W. South
1885-86 Lorenzo Egleston 624 W. South "Capitalist"  
1886-87 same
1889
1891 no listing
1893 Albert M. Todd no job listed  
1895 same "Essential Oils" Todd Block. 624 West South  
1899

Hon. Albert M. Todd, est. 1869, propr. Campania Farm, Pearle, Mich; distilling chemist, grower, distiller &  refiner of highest quality essential oils; the most extensive peppermint works in the world. Todd block 624 W. South  

1904

Albert M. Todd (Augusta; Albert J., Allman A.; Ethel M.) 624 W. South A.M. Todd Company Ltd. (Albert M. Todd, Chairman, Wm. A. Todd, Sec.; Albert J. Todd Treasurer; chemists, Distillers, manuf. of essential oils)  

1906-1910  same
1911 same but add Paul H. Todd, Sec'y of Albert M. Todd  
1912

Albert J. Todd (Mary H) 118 Catherine Albert M. Todd (Augusta; Allman; Ethel; Paul H.) 624 W. South  

1913-1914   same
1915 Albert M. (Augusta; Paul)  
1916-1919

same (Am. Todd Co.; Am. as Pres.; A. J. VP & Treas.;   Allman, Ass't Treas. Paul Todd, Sec.)

1921

Albert M. (Augusta); Paul Todd (Adeline) 624 W. South  (Albert J. Mayor of Kal.)  

1922-24 same
1926

Albert M. Todd (Augusta) 620 W. South, new address, Paul now elsewhere  

1927 same and add Albert W., student  
1929 Albert M. Todd (Augusta) no job. (Albert J. now pres, Todd Co.)  
1931 same
1934 Augusta M. (widow, Albert), Albert W., Student  
1935-39 same (Paul Todd, Mayor; Albert J. Pres. Todd Co. and VP American National Bank  
1942-43 Elmer Griffin (Pearl) no job
1945-50 Joel Shepherd (Suzannah) Joel Shepherd Fuel Co. 620 W. South  
1952 vacant
1953-54 Zeta Delta Epsilon Fraternity  
1958 Upsilon Fraternity  
1971 Delta Upsilon Fraternity  

Albert Todd dies February 21, 1926 [the article for this date is actually for James A. Todd.  Albert Todd's obituary appears in the Gazette on 6 October 1931, page 1, column 5]; See Kalamazoo Gazette and Who's Who in America

U.S. Census Rolls:  

1880   George F. Bruen, 41, Dry Goods Merchant, b. Michigan; Mary J., wife, 37, keeping house, b. Michigan; Henry J., 15, son, at school, b. Michigan; Frank H. 13, son, at school, b. Michigan; Dwight A., 7, son, at school, b. Michigan; Katie Connor, 19, servant, b. Michigan   
1880 Delos Phillips, 40, music dealer, b. N.Y.; Lizzie P., 36, wife, keeping house, b. Michigan; (Luella), 13, daughter, at school, b. Michigan; Lizzie M., 7, daughter, at school, b. Michigan; Olive, 6, daughter, at school, b. Michigan; Mary F., 4, daughter, at home, b. Michigan; Aggie Donahue, 20, servant   
1894 State census: Albert M. Todd, 44, chemist, b. Michigan; Augusta M., wife, 40, housewife; b. Michigan; William A. Todd, 15, son, at school, b. Michigan; Albert J., 13, son, at school, b. Michigan; Ethel, 8, daughter, at school, b. Michigan; Paul H., 6, son, at school, b. Michigan; Allman, 5, son, at school, b. Michigan; Ray Linderman, 20, servant  

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.

Sources

History Room Subject File

Houses - Kalamazoo - South, W., 620

Books

Kalamazoo: Nineteenth-Century Homes in a Midwestern Village  

  • Schmitt, Peter J.
  • Kalamazoo City Historical Commission, 1976, pages 118-123 (includes several interior photographs)
  • H 720.9774 S355