214 North Huron Street

214 North Huron Street

 

This stately Italianate house was built between 1851, when the property was deeded to grocer Frederick Andrews, and 1856, when it first appeared on the city map. It retains its characteristic Italianate features, like the elaborately detailed entryway and the low roof with wide overhanging eaves supported by decorative brackets. The bay windows and the wonderful enclosed porch on the south side that wraps around the back of the house are later additions.

Most fortunately, the essential interior character of the house has survived multiple uses, including being divided into apartments, housing the Boys and Girls Club in the 1960s, and serving as a continuing education center for Washtenaw Community College in the 1970s.

Former Ypsilanti mayor Cheryl Farmer, who is also a physician, has owned the house since 1988, when she purchased it from Paul and Gerry Woodside. The couple had undertaken a four-year renovation that was nearly ruined by a 1984 fire. Dr. Farmer built on their efforts by removing temporary walls to open up the porch and creating a second interior staircase to access the second floor. She had the original banister restored and the bathrooms completely redone with period fixtures.

Everywhere in Dr. Farmer’s house are paintings by her father and grandmother, glass art by her sister, and family furniture, including many items given to her by her parents when they broke up housekeeping to live year-round in Hawaii. Examples are her mother’s piano, a bed made by her father that he gave to her mother on their twenty-fifth-weddinganniversary, and a pier mirror, also made by her father that was a fiftiethanniversary present. Tourgoers will be visiting the terrific second-floor furnished apartment, which was not open in 2000 when the house was last on this tour.

Dr. Farmer’s parents stay in the apartment when they are in town. The view out the back windows is to Riverside Park and the river. Tree aficionados will enjoy the huge copper beech just beyond the porch.