314 Hiawatha Street

314 Hiawatha Street

A 1950’s split-level ranch house is typically not what one expects to encounter on a historic home tour. But for Brent Welsh and Adam Levengood it was exactly the type of “historic” rehab project they were looking for. After renovating a vernacular upright and wing house on North Hamilton in Ypsilanti, the two were eager for a change, and they decided to pursue a preservation project on a mid-century house. Their aim in putting their house on today’s tour is to spotlight a house from that era.

The 1958 house at 314 Hiawatha was built alongside a near identical house, a common and economical building trend of the post-war era that continues today. Raymond and Mary Whiting spent nearly fifty years in the home, raising their two children, Gerri and Mary Ann there. In 2006 the house was sold by the widowed Mary. It suffered through a string of owners, and when Welsh and Levengood purchased it in 2009 it was a poster house for neglect and deferred maintenance. They have spent the past two years rehabilitating the house from top to bottom, doing most of the work themselves. They’ve achieved their goal of preserving as much of the original design as possible.
The entire house is open today, including the open-concept main level, with a modern new kitchen; the extensively renovated lower level, with new bath, guest room, and den; and the upper level, with three restored bedrooms and a bathroom with original tile. The house is decorated with a mix of contemporary, mid-century, and Danish modern furnishings, which complement the simple modern style of the house. The extensive gardens that surround the house were all planted within the past two years. The backyard plantings take their inspiration from the estate gardens at the Casa Loma castle in Toronto.

Photo by Lynda Hummel