994 Penniman Ave

18 Jan

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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)

 

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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.

195 Liberty Street

15 Jan

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195 W Liberty St. Built in 1871. This is the Starkweather building built by George Starkweather. This was the first commercial building built on Liberty St. Starkweather was very instrumental in bringing the Rail Roads to Plymouth and in anticipation of the business that the RR lines would bring to Plymouth, he actually carved Liberty Street through his own property and built this structure to house his Dry Goods store. After building his store, he lived upstairs with his family until 1875 when he built his house diagonally across the street (711 Starkweather) which still stands today. In addition to his Dry Goods store, Peter Gayde’s Grocery was also in this building. Gayde and Starkweather were very good friends, good enough to where Peter Gayde built his home right next door to the Starkweather home. Although the Starkweather building has served as home to a number of businesses through the years, since 2003 this has been the home of Hermann’s Olde Town Grille. This structure has been so well preserved that we definitely recommend paying a visit to Hermann’s to dine and/or enjoy spirits in the ambiance of a great piece of Plymouth history. Check Hermann’s website at:  www.HermannsOTG.com

Below is a historic photo of the Starkweather building circa 1905 courtesy of the Plymouth Historical Museum:

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1395 Park Place

8 Jan

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1395 Park Place. Built by Cass Sheffield Hough in 1927. This was the first home built in the Hough Park neighborhood and was the home of Cass and his first wife Margaret. Cass was born in 1904 here in Plymouth and was the Grandson of Lewis Cass Hough (an original founder of Daisy Air Rifle Co).  At an early age Cass was very interested in aircrafts and became one of the earliest licensed pilots in Michigan in the 1920s. He graduated from the Culver Military Academy in 1921 and then graduated from the University of Michigan in 1925. Cass went to work as the Sales Manager of Daisy Air Rifles. In 1939 Cass joined the US Army Air Corps. During World War II he flew regular missions escorting bombers over Europe and was assigned by Gen. Jimmy Doolittle to head a unit to solve operational problems. The group of talented pilots developed lightweight external fuel tanks, the P-38 Droop Snoot, bomb sight, 2,000-pound bombs and rocket-propelled bombs to penetrate German submarine pens. Chuck Yeager is better-known for being the first man to break the sound barrier in level flight in 1947, but Hough and perhaps some others broke it much earlier during dives.

After WWII, Hough rose to chairman of Daisy Manufacturing and served as member, acting director, and chairman of Michigan Aeronautics Commission. Today Col. Cass Hough is also enshrined in the Aviation Hall of Fame. In 1976 Cass authored the book “It’s a Daisy” telling the detailed story of the Daisy Air Rifle Company. Mr. Hough passed away in 1990 at his Florida home but is forever resting in peace here in Plymouth at the Riverside Cemetery. We are proud to have his well preserved home as a part of our great community of Plymouth.

Below is a photo of Cass Hough as a pilot during World War II and a photo of Cass in 1950 at his desk serving as President of the Daisy Air Rifle Company here in Plymouth.

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9460 McClumpha Rd

7 Jan

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9460 McClumpha Rd. Built circa 1858 was the home of Thomas McClumpha. Thomas was born in New York in 1816 to William & Betsey McClumpha. Thomas and Wife Margaret moved to Michigan in November of 1838 and eventually settled in Plymouth around 1857. This home was where Thomas & Margaret raised their kids: Elizabeth, Sarah, Ida Belle, and William. Not only was Thomas a farmer but he also served as an elected official here in Plymouth and was dedicated to serving our community well. This road carries the family’s namesake.

The years took its toll on this old farmhouse and in the early 70’s this home was in rough shape. This house was saved and restored by David and Janet Sibbold where they resided from 1975-1988. The Sibbold’s were also in collaboration with the Hulce family in building the New England Corners condominiums where this home sits as the cornerstone of that development. Today this home blends in so well with the surrounding homes that it’s difficult to tell that there is a 160 year old historic home with many stories to tell quietly sitting in this developed corner of Plymouth.

Below is the street view of the South East corner of McClumpha and Ann Arbor Rd where this home sits (at New England Corners).

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511 N. Holbrook

14 Nov

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511 N. Holbrook built in 1867 by Henry Robinson. Henry was born in 1833 in England and immigrated to the US and chose to move to Detroit. In 1862 Henry joined the efforts of the Civil War and became a part of Company G of the Michigan 24th Infantry in the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic). At age 30 he was actually the oldest in his regiment. In April of 1863 Henry received a disabling head injury from an exploding shell at Fitzhugh Crossings which was part of the Chancellorsville campaign during the war. After recovery, Henry served in the Veterans Reserve Corps and in 1865 was honorably discharged. After his discharge he moved back to Detroit and then chose to settle with his wife in Plymouth. When Henry and his wife Helen moved to Plymouth in 1867 they built their home at the corner of Holbrook and Caster Street where they raised 4 Kids (William, Herbert, Helen, & Marion). Henry and his family can be found resting in the Riverside Cemetery. We are happy to see that the home of this Civil War Soldier is still standing strong and is an attractive asset in “Old Village” Plymouth.

46000 W Ann Arbor Trail

7 Nov

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46000 W Ann Arbor Trail. Built in 1847 by Moses Allen. Mr. Allen purchased this property in 1829 from John Tibbitts and built a home just West of this house which he sold to his son John Allen (now re-located to 46645 W. Ann Arbor Trail). This home sits on a field stone foundation and has an addition that was also built in the 1800s. In the mid to late 1860s this home was purchased by John S. Kellogg who was the Son of John Kellogg one of Plymouth’s first pioneers. Census records of 1880 show that John S. Kellogg was a widower and lived here with his 3 kids (Henry, Nettie, & Minnie). In 1916 this became the home of Frank Rambo who was a Realtor and had an office located on Penniman Ave. Today this home is in great condition and we are proud to have this home stand the test of time and continue to be a great historical part of the Plymouth community. An interesting note is the fact that home records show this house to have been built in 1925… What a big surprise to discover otherwise!

701 Church Street

2 Nov

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701 Church Street. Current structure built in 1937 but the church originally assembled in 1833. In our opinion there is an intriguing and amazing story when it comes to this place of worship. There is literally a book written about the history of this church which is deeply woven into the overall history of Plymouth.  This is the First Presbyterian Church of Plymouth and some of the previous congregation members include some of the most known and prominent members of our community, even members who’ve had streets named after them like Penniman, Starkweather and more. One of the first homes that the original members met at is still standing at 1496 Penniman Ave where it intersects with Sheldon Rd (North East corner).

Now for the amazing part… So the first chapel was built in 1846 and unfortunately it burned to the ground in 1936 with an amazing phenomenon that some will say was possible with the work of a higher power. When the original church burned down, there were many witnesses who saw the sight of a Bible and Lectern that were virtually untouched right below where it originally stood on the altar of the sanctuary. Keep in mind that the roof had also completely burned down and fell to the ground. Well these amazing facts were also featured on a publication of Ripley’s Believe It or Not.  Today you can see this awesome bible that survived the fire encased and preserved inside the church. When we had the opportunity to see this Bible for ourselves, we found it to be an emotionally moving experience and encourage you to stop by and see it for yourself if you get the chance!

There is much more to the story of this church but we’ll let you read the details of their story by reading the book which is available at the Plymouth District Library. It’s a Sam Hudson book and it made for a good read. We’re just glad to share just a couple the great historical details with you and hope you will appreciate the history of the place like we did.

Visit the First Presbyterian Church of Plymouth webpage at: www.fpcp.net

Historic photo taken circa 1901 and is courtesy of the Plymouth Historical Museum. The photo (below) of the Bible is the actual Bible that survived the destructive church fire of 1936.

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