505 North Hamilton Street

505 North Hamilton Street

Owner Barry LaRue suspects, based on its exterior design, that this Queen Anne house was built between 1885 and 1889. The Alton E. Lewis family lived in the house for many years. The family probably bought it in 1901, when the Lewis brothers started the Michigan Ladder Company, which is still in business in Ypsilanti today. Alton Lewis put an addition on the front northeast corner of the house to expand the front hallway and add a staircase. The garage to shelter the new-fangled “automobile” was constructed around 1915.

Alton died in 1936. After the death of his widow, two unmarried Lewis sisters, Sara and Caroline (Carrie) lived in the house. Carrie outlived her sister, dying in 1967. The house became a student rental until a Mr. Mulder bought it in 1983. He died broke and, although his house was paid for, he was behind on his taxes. Barry and Kim bought the house from the county in October 2009. Today the house has a new roof and front porch, a rebuilt chimney, and new plumbing, wiring, and attic insulation. A highlight of the renovation was the removal of the ghastly cement tile the Lewis sisters had installed in 1955, obliterating at the time all vestiges of the house’s former charm and style. Much work has been done on the inside, which today consists of two very nice apartments. The one on the ground floor is occupied by Scotty James, who works at Materials Unlimited, and the one on the second floor by Bee Mayhew; her husband, Jim Roll; and her daughter, Samantha. Bee owns the popular Beezy’s restaurant on North Washington Street.

Many current features of the house, including doors, trim, light fixtures, and other details were either salvaged from the home itself or from other homes in Ypsilanti. Barry LaRue is often seen around town on trash day placing an old door or window frame into his truck to be reused at a later time and place.

Photo by Lynda Hummel