Grosse Pointe CityApril 9, 2013
New home sought for historic farmhouse
By K. Michelle Moran
C & G Staff Writer
GROSSE POINTE CITY — A significant piece of local history could be lost, if a new home can’t be found for the Isadore Cadieux Farmhouse.
Built in the 1850s by Isadore Cadieux (also spelled “Isidore” in some records) and owned by him and his two brothers, Charles and Richard, the house is believed to be one of the oldest and final remaining examples of French frame architectures from the ribbon farm era in the Pointes and Detroit, according to data collected by Grosse Pointe Historical Society Board Trustee Liz Vogel. It might well be the last original French farmhouse in the Pointes, she said.
But Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe — which has purchased all of the adjacent homes on Notre Dame, from Jefferson to the hospital entrance on Notre Dame, including the Cadieux Farmhouse on the corner — needs that property, in order to expand parking. And so hospital officials, working with the Grosse Pointe Historical Society, are trying to find someone who’d be willing to take the house and put it on a parcel of land somewhere else. Dr. Donna Hoban, Beaumont Grosse Pointe’s physician-in-chief, said the hospital is willing to give the home to someone and underwrite the costs of moving the 800-square-foot building, estimated at around $150,000.
“With the Cadieux Farmhouse, we’d like to save that house, and I think the community wants to save that house,” Hoban said.
“We’re willing to pay the moving costs,” she continued. “It’ll be a tough move, but we’re willing to move it.”
This isn’t the first time the house has stared down a wrecking ball. According to Vogel’s research, it was nearly demolished in the late 1980s but was saved and restored in 1991 by a group of local residents and businesses. Led by Elaine Hartmann, the group — called the Cadieux House Restoration Corp. — purchased and renovated the home, preserving as many of the original details as possible, including the Michigan pine floors, a narrow staircase with handmade balusters and old glass windowpanes that feature imperfections, such as bubbles. As part of the renovations, the house was updated for modern living, and a master suite and garage were added on. The GPHS donated $10,000 toward the purchase of the house and hosted a public open house after the work was completed in September 1991.
Doug Boehmer bought the house later in 1991 and owned it until Beaumont purchased it in 2011. Hoban said the house was occupied until just a few months ago.
“It’s a perfectly livable home,” she said.
Among the unique stories attached to the house is that of Ida Cadieux — Isadore’s daughter — who reportedly scratched her name into one of the glass panes in the living room with her engagement ring to demonstrate that diamonds were capable of cutting glass.
Besides local residents, Vogel said the cities could also opt to adopt the house and possibly move it to one of their parks or a similar space. The house was built in Detroit and delivered by barge to its original location, at the foot of Bishop in Grosse Pointe Park, but got moved to its current home at Notre Dame and Jefferson in 1870, she said.
“I see this as a community concern,” said Vogel, calling the house a treasure for all of the Pointes, not just any particular city. “This is really one of the last remaining farmhouses from the ribbon farming era.”
The GPHS acknowledged the house’s significance early on, awarding it one of the first of the society’s bronze plaques, used to designate historically important homes. The Cadieux Farmhouse received the fourth such plaque in 1987, a year after the annual program began.
Vogel praised Beaumont officials for recognizing the importance of the structure and making a concerted effort to save it.
“They’ve been a great partner,” she said. “They know the value of the home.”
With the hospital looking at starting demolition of the houses in late summer, Hoban said they need to hear from prospective new owners “as soon as possible.” Although the hospital is willing to start demolition at the other end of the block to give the Cadieux Farmhouse more time to find a new home, she said they’re worried demolition on some neighboring structures could damage the tiny house.
“We’re committed to finding somebody for it,” Hoban said. “I want the community to know that we want to save this home. It’s a little piece of history. … And I hope someone steps forward and would like to acquire it.”
Local historians and hospital officials alike are hoping to find a taker for the house in the coming months, whether that’s a public or private entity.
“We want people to be aware. … If it’s not moved, it will see the wrecking ball,” Vogel said. “If there’s a way to save it, we want to save it.”
Hoban said anyone interested in taking the house should contact Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe President Rick Swaine at (313) 473-1421.