This stately home, built in 1848, has long been a landmark for Ypsilanti residents and may have been designed by the architect who designed the 1840’s Greek Revival house at 218 North Washington Street that has been owned by the Ladies’ Literary Club since 1913.
The architecture of the Normal Street house, with its double verandas of fretted columns, is reminiscent of the Greek Revival style of the antebellum South. The facade has a beautifully balanced design of French doors above and below; the Italianate details were later additions. The house probably started as a rectangle, but successive alterations have changed the roof line. Tourgoers will notice as they proceed through the house that many additions helped to enlarge the informal living space.
William Cross, a wheat farmer and businessman from Genesee, New York, had the house built. B y 1862 it was sold to Frank Smith, and it was his family that sold the residence in 1914 to its most well-known resident, P . Roger Cleary, founder of Cleary College. Mr. Cleary’s pride in his penmanship, learned as a child in Ireland, led him to establish the college with a business curriculum.
The Cleary family prospered and was pleased to move in to a home that accommodated their four children so easily. But, as so often happens, the children grew up and left home. The death of Mrs. Cleary in 1939 coincided with the need for housing for the multitudes of new workers at the bomber factory during the war. Mr. Cleary divided his home into four apartments: one for himself, one for his son Owen’ s family, and the other two for renters. It remained a house of apartments until 1977, when it was bought by Luann and Howard Booth, who began a restoration.
The present owners, Roberta and Ian Andrews, purchased the house in 2001 and have completed its return to a single family home of great charm and freshness. There is plenty of room for two sons and some very large dogs. The entire house will be open for tourgoers to see.
Photo by Lynda Hummel