South Street, W., 516: James F. and Carrie Gilmore House
Location: 516 West South Street, Kalamazoo
Survey ID: R-2
Designation: James F. and Carrie Gilmore House
Style: English Tudor half-timber
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.
One September Saturday in 1908, the Gazette mourned the passing of James F. Gilmore, calling “the memory of his well-lived life… the grandest heritage that he could have left to his family, his friends and the community that proudly claimed him as a citizen.” The paper went on to comment on the “pretentious dry goods establishment” Gilmore had built since the 1880’s as a result, said the paper of his “exemplifying the Golden Rule in all his dealings with the public.” In passing the paper mentioned, “one of the saddest features of his death is the fact that within the past few months Mr. Gilmore had just completed one of the most beautiful residences in the city and was preparing to move into it….”
The house that brought this praise belonged to the architectural category loosely called “Tudor” or English “Half-timber.” Many Americans at the turn of the century believed that American culture could be rooted in the English past. The Tudor style, similar in many respects to the “Queen Anne” designs popular twenty years earlier, seemed to fill an architectural need matched in other areas by the resurgence of Shakespeare’s plays, and of “old English” literature, as well as by the “Craftsman” temperament that put a high value on the life style of an earlier day. The massive grouping of the two front bays, with their studied asymmetry, elaborate “half-timbering,” and textured stucco, gave a feeling of the rugged days of the “Elizabethans.” The Gilmore home was an early example of the style that would be increasingly popular in the next two decades in such prestigious areas of Kalamazoo as Spruce Drive and Grand Avenue.
Carrie Gilmore did move into the new home, though in the next decade it passed to J. Stanley Gilmore and his family who occupied it until after World War II. In the middle ‘fifties, the Red Cross organization made its headquarters there. Carrie Gilmore continued as President of the department store, ultimately marrying William E. Upjohn, President of the Upjohn Company, who had occupied the home next door in 1905.
Kalamazoo County Tax Rolls:
not available for period
Kalamazoo City Directory:
1906 Clarke Williams, 516 W. South (older house on lot)
1907 James F. Gilmore, 516 W. South
1908 504 (corner house); 512 “vacant”; 516, James Gilmore 512 appears only once
1909 Carrie Gilmore, widow of James F. 516 W. South (1909 photo shows house)
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 Files
Houses – Kalamazoo – South, W., 516
Kalamazoo: Nineteenth-Century Homes in a Midwestern Village
- Schmitt, Peter J.
- Kalamazoo City Historical Commission, 1976, pages 222-223.
- H 720.9774 S355