2017 Restoration/Preservation/Beautification Awards
Jacob J. Deal came to Michigan from New York State in 1854, then went on to Jonesville in 1858, where he opened a blacksmith shop. Deal did all kinds of custom work until 1865, when he sold the shop and erected two small buildings on West Street, where he started building wagons and buggies. Jacob Deal had one surviving son, George, who became his father’s partner in 1891. The business was then renamed J.J. Deal and Son. George became interested in horseless carriages, specifically delivery trucks. Eventually Deal began assembling “autobuggies,” which developed into the Deal automobile in 1908.
George built this home in Jonesville in 1901. It's probable at that time that the wood for the home was cut in the yard to the necessary specifications and installed immediately. As it dried it solidified into a powerfully strong material. It certainly had "strong bones." Bob Norton fell in love the first time he looked through it. However, he needed to convince his wife, Kathy, that this house was meant to be in their family. At first she only saw a sadly neglected house. It took four visits before she finally shared Bob's vision. They purchased the home and set about creating a "2017 house in a 1901 shell" of impeccable strength and style. From August 2015 to September 2017 the Nortons worked with a fleet of contractors and subcontractors to bring the electrical, plumbing and heating systems up to date while restoring the woodwork, floors and style to their original excellence.
After the Deals and before the Nortons, this home was the original non-profit Manor Foundation for housing and educating special needs students from ages 6-18, which had been founded in 1930. Eventually the Manor expanded into a multi-building complex on East Street in Jonesville. The Manor closed on Mar. 1, 2013.
In 1840, the Hon. Ebenezer O. Grosvenor arrived in Jonesville. He was in the mercantile business and established the Grosvenor Savings Bank. His house was built of locally fired bricks, a sign that Hillsdale County had the ability to build without having to rely on outside sources for the materials that went into a fine home. Ebenezer's influence extended to the state of Michigan. He served two terms as Lt. Governor and eight years on the State Building Commission, which was responsible for the building of the State Capitol. Four generations of Grosvenors lived at the house in Jonesville before it became a rooming house. Restored now to its former glory, it is now the Grosvenor Museum, a treasure in the county.
This 1893 barn was lovingly restored by Scott and Shelly Howard, under the watchful eye of a worried neighbor who was certain Scott would end up dead in an accident as he worked on it. A section of the barn, added later, was no way consistent with the style of the barn. It had to go. Scott took it on one day spending a good portion of the morning lying on his stomach sawing at it in an effort to make it release its hold on the rest of the barn. Shelly received a frantic call at work from their watchful neighbor, who said, "Scott's going to die today. You need to get home." Oblivious to his neighbor's dire prediction, Scott came down from the roof for a break. As he rested he heard a sound from the barn. As gracefully as a carefully imploded building, the offensive addition to the barn gently collapsed into a tidy pile..
In 1923 twenty-five stanchions for milking cows were added to the barn. Milking was done until the 1970s.
Now the main floor of the barn serves as a dream "man cave" for Scott, where he can putter to his heart's content. Kathy has her play area in the bottom portion, where she stores "stuff" and furniture ready to be restored.
State of Michigan Historic Marker
On Sat., Oct. 7, an official State of Michigan Historic Marker at Lewis Emery Park was dedicated.
Lewis Emery volunteered the use of his land for training the 18th Michigan Regiment in 1862, and the men went into encampment to learn how to be soldiers. The camp was located at the top of the hill to the east of the current entrance to Lewis Emery Park.
The 92 acres that would become Lewis Emery Park were a swampland until the 1930s. In an effort to end the Depression, the government set up public works projects that would employ the out-of-work men. The government eventually offered construction jobs to almost one-third of the nation's unemployed. In Hillsdale, assisted by some of these workers, five ponds were dug for the raising of bluegill and bass, and the swamp was turned into a place for anyone to enjoy.
Thanks to the efforts of Bill and Barb Smith, we are honoring the historic significance of Emery Park.
Hillsdale County Fair
From the sweltering beginning of Fair Week until the more seasonal weather at the end, the Hillsdale County Fairgrounds Museum had many interested and interesting visitors.
Will Carleton Farm Festival
An absolutely perfect day (if you ignore the brief and shocking showers in the afternoon) brought many visitors to the Farm Festival and Sharron Watkins Memorial Cruise In, which was organized by the Bicentennial Car Club. Along with the old tractors from the Center Adams Antique Power and Machinery Club, the old cars were a good match.
Family members of the late Sharron Watkins gathered to honor her memory, along with those of us in the Society who were fortunate enough to get to know her.
The Vanished Hillsdale Sixth Reunion was marked by a presentation by Dan Bisher on early settlers and settlements. The VH Facebook page has a video of Dan's presentation.