711 Hemphill

711 Hemphill

William Passer, a somewhat mysterious fellow, built this petite charmer in 1926 at what was then the edge of town. Passer then disappeared from city records, leaving the house vacant. It would be almost twenty years before the present neighborhood developed around it. William Reninger, assistant professor at the Normal College (now EMU), rented the house in 1928. It sat vacant after that year until 1935, perhaps due to the Depression. And then, in a ten-year span, the house changed tenants almost every year. In the last sixty years, its most persistent residents were city councilman Bill Nickels and his wife, Karen, who owned the home from 1965 to 1973. The Nickels carried out some of the renovations that you will see, such as the present garage, the backyard pool, the siding, and the rearrangement of the basement stairs. Few other changes had been made until the present owners, Mary Potts and Tim Pulice, added their artistic flair.

The style of the house is Dutch colonial, a popular revival in the early twentieth century. It is characterized by a roofline of four angles, which was so commonly used for barns. The house still has its original windows, with decorative mullions on the top sash. Tourgoers will be viewing only the ground floor today. Mary is a professional photographer and a former artist at Detroit’s Pewabic Pottery. She and Tim have decorated with rich colors and her own art and that of her friends. Note the portrait of Tim in the dining room that Mary created with a rubber stamp. She also put her considerable pottery talent to use on the backsplash of the newly renovated kitchen. On display in the dining room is her collection of green pottery by Michigan potter Robar. Daughter Zoë, four, has added her own touches to show that there is room for everyone in this modest but delightful house..

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