994 Penniman Ave

18 Jan


994 Penniman Ave. Built in 1925. This home was built by Elizabeth “Bessie” Rattenbury and was the childhood home of the well-known Plymouth business woman and beloved philanthropist Margaret Dunning (daughter of Bessie). This home was constructed by Gottschalk Home builders which built many homes in Plymouth. Margaret lived in this home for more than 90 years; she was nearly 105 years old when she died in May of 2015. Being a car enthusiast, this 2,337 square foot home also has a heated six-car garage that housed some of her most prized, award-winning vehicles, some of which can now be found at the Gilmore Car Museum.

Margaret was a graduate of Plymouth High School in 1929 she also attended the University of Michigan and Hamilton Business School. In the early 1930’s she worked at the Ford Phoenix Mill plant here in Plymouth located on Northville Rd. From 1935 to 1940 she was a bank teller and assistant cashier for the First National Bank of Plymouth after that she worked for the Plymouth United Savings Bank. During WWII Margaret volunteered driving a truck for the American Red Cross motor pool. After the war in 1947 Margaret and her mother purchased an apparel store on Main Street and renamed it Dunning’s. In 1950 she moved Dunning’s department store to Forest Ave in downtown Plymouth. Dunning served on the board of Community Federal Credit Union in Plymouth from 1962 to 1984 and was president of the board for 19 of those years. Through the years she served on different boards, volunteered and benefitted a number of causes.

As a philanthropist, Margaret helped many causes that benefited our community and beyond. Both the Plymouth Historical Museum and the Plymouth District Library bear the Dunning name. As benefactor of the Plymouth Historical Museum, Margaret was very active with the museum; in addition to being a financial contributor she was an advocate for preserving Plymouth history.

At the time of this post the home is property of the Margaret Dunning Foundation and is currently on the real estate market for sale. We can only hope that this uniquely historic home finds a new owner that will appreciate and preserve its elegance. Acquiring this home is about the closest a person could get to owning the home of “Plymouth Royalty.” This home has graced Plymouth’s Penniman Avenue for some 92 years and we look forward to having it continue to be a part of our community for years to come.

Below is a photo of Margaret Dunning during WWII as a Red Cross driver (left) photo of Margaret in 1965 as President of the Credit Union (center) photo of Margaret in 2014 with the author of this page Jim Salamay (right) and photo of Margaret with her prized 1930 Packard 740 (bottom) (from American Road Magazine)



On a personal note: Margaret offered her support of our “Plymouth Discoveries” and encouraged us to continue to keep up our efforts and offered her personal memories and to help however she could. Her admiration of our page and her personal support had been one of the motivations for us to continue our research and to share the great history we have here in our wonderful town. Plymouth has been blessed to have such a wonderful member of our community. God bless Margaret and may she rest in peace.

8 Responses to “994 Penniman Ave”

  1. Steve werner January 18, 2017 at 9:27 PM #

    Thanks for another interesting piece of Plymouth history have lived here for 32 years and driven by it hundreds of times and dud not realize it was Ms. Running shoes home. Again Thank You.

  2. Tom Dusbiber January 18, 2017 at 10:31 PM #

    I recall reading a few years before her passing, that she received a scholarship from the Fram filter company to go back to U of M to finish her degree.

  3. bluesthecat January 19, 2017 at 12:06 PM #

    I restore antique radios and probably around 2010 Margret Dunning called me and said she had a table radio she wanted repaired. It turned out it was a 1946-47 era Detrola, made in Detroit (the company existed 1931-1948). She drove herself here in one of her later model Cadillacs. I think she was 99 at the time! Amazing woman.

    • stew oldford sr May 4, 2017 at 12:49 PM #

      i own a HALLICRAFTERS RADIO SX42 bought at jl hudson in 1950. is it worth repairing ? margarets girlfriend was my english teacher at PHS in 1950.

  4. Jan Carney March 2, 2017 at 7:23 PM #

    Margaret Dunning graduated from PHS in 1929, not 1927

    • jamessalamay March 2, 2017 at 7:38 PM #

      You’re right! Thanks for noticing my mistake.

  5. Janiece Hamlin April 24, 2017 at 1:13 AM #

    Thank you for your informative article and photos. Would there happen to be any interior photos of Margaret’s home available?


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