318 West Forest

The exterior of this lovely Italianate house, probably built in 1876, has been painted a cheerful yellow. Passersby are drawn to the house—which looks both imposing and approachable—by its stately style and sunny demeanor.

The records at the Ypsilanti Historical Museum for 318 West Forest are sketchy. Josiah Rosencrantz acquired the land from the United States government in 1825. A mortgage was recorded on October 12, 1876, and the dollar value of the property jumped significantly—a strong hint that a house had been built on it. The year 1876 also makes sense for an Italianate-style house.

After years of sordid neglect, the house has fallen on good times. In 1998 Ave Maria College bought the property, transforming it into a home for the college president and his family. The main floor of the house is used for public receptions; and it has a pleasant, open room at the back where students gather.

Tourgoers will love seeing the attractively decorated and comfortable interior. The fabulous new kitchen on the main floor will thrill any homeowner, not to mention any caterer. The president’s quarters on the second floor are open for the tour. The space includes a living/dining area under a vaulted ceiling, a master suite, a small office, and several other rooms.

Ave Maria College has rescued an important Italianate treasure in Ypsilanti. When the college bought it, the house was condemned and in a state of “horrific, unimaginable filth and squalor,” says Dave Kelley, an Ave Maria vice president. The Ypsilanti Heritage Foundation is delighted today to bring tourgoers into a house that so well exemplifies successful historic preservation.

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