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W.G. Bartholomew House (832 Elmwood)

Mysterious Origins


832 Elmwood, Kalamazoo

One of the more striking homes in the Stuart Neighborhood is also one whose origins are shrouded in mystery. At 832 Elmwood and surrounded by a picket fence, lies a Greek Revival cottage, possibly built in the late 1830s, making it one of the city’s oldest homes. The unpretentious structure, designed with Greek temples in mind, possesses a low-pitched roof, a flat façade, three decorative friezes, and a diminutive portico surrounded by two Doric columns. Greek Revival homes south of the Mason-Dixon line tend to have columns that stretch across the entire length of the structure and are full-height, whereas those in the North and Midwest, tend to be more spare in their design.

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1873 Kalamazoo County Atlas shows Bartholomew’s house on the corner of Elmwood and Woodward Avenue. Local History Room

According to historians, the home likely rests atop a different foundation than it originally did. It is also believed to have been built at a different location, and then moved to its current location around 1872-1873, when W.G. Bartholomew was its owner. Why was it moved?

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1873 Kalamazoo County Atlas shows Woodward’s house on the corner of W. Main and Woodward Avenue. Local History Room

The theory is that the home was originally occupied by Aaron Trask, at the corner of Woodward and W. Main Street. Trask’s daughter Louisa was married to Frederick E. Woodward. Woodward and his father-in-law owned the strip of land along Woodward Avenue, between Elm, Stuart, Main and West North Street. Trask died in 1846, six or seven years after the home was likely built. By 1873, the Kalamazoo County atlas shows that Frederick’s home is at the corner of Main and Woodward Avenue. Bartholomew, a cabinet maker, was living on S. Park Street in 1871-1872 according to the city directory. But a year later, he’s listed as living on Woodward Avenue. The speculation posits that Bartholomew purchased the old Trask house and then moved it north to Elmwood, making more room on Woodward’s property. But the most substantive clue comes from Woodward’s obituary, printed in the Kalamazoo Gazette on 21 May 1895.

“Mr. Woodward purchased a tract of land with his wife’s father Aaron Trask, deceased, and who lived at the corner where is now located the Woodward home. The house is now located at the corner of Elmwood Street and Woodward Avenue…”

Written by Ryan Gage, Kalamazoo Public Library staff, February 2024

Sources

Local History Room Files

Subject File: Houses – Kalamazoo – Elmwood, 832

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