150-year-old Northville structure to be injected with new life
If the walls of the structure located at 342 E. Main in Northville could talk, oh, the stories they could tell.
Earlier this month, the Northville Planning Commission unanimously approved the preliminary and final site plan, with conditions, for the historic building at 342 E. Main, a former house that is being repurposed for professional office space.
The Italianate-style building had its heyday as Dr. Yarnall’s Gold Cure institute and more recently was owned by Ron Bodnar, who operated a Copy Boy Printers there and added a rear addition to accommodate the business. Local business owner Dennis Engerer purchased the house in May 2022.
According to the Historic District Survey, the property at 342 East Main Street is significant under National Register Criterion A for its role in the Northville’s community development and healthcare. Additionally, the building is significant under Criterion C for architecture.
In his application to the Planning Commission, Engerer noted that he had spent a year cleaning up this property. He believed that when complete, this property would provide a beautiful gateway to the city.
At its April 4 meeting, the Planning Commission called for specific reviews to be conducted by the DPW director and city engineer to ensure that: the driveway width is acceptable (since the building can’t be moved); the driveway at the loading/unloading zone allows enough room for other vehicles to pass a parked truck there; and the grading plan/spot elevations along the driveway from the public sidewalk meet the ADA slope standards to provide barrier free access.
Due to the small footprint of the parking lot/landscape area, the commissioners are permitting shrubs planted on site to count toward tree removal mitigation.
Typically, when the ordinance is applied in this manner, species such as arborvitae shrubs are used because they grow tall and provide shade.
However, due to limited space and the risk of salt damage in the winter, the commissioners were agreeable to alternate shrubs that could frame the space and support the historic elements of the building.
They asked for a modified landscape plan based on concepts discussed at the meeting.
The building renovation plans were developed by Greg Presley, of Presley Architecture. Eric James, of Land Design Studio, created the landscaping plans.
Presley, James and Engerer had presented a concept plan to the Planning Commission in February and the owner said he was willing to work with any conditions required by the Planning Commission.
The city planner advised Engerer that he must also obtain approval for the project from the Historic District Commission. That was accomplished at the HDC meeting on April 18.
The commissioners accepted the application as complete and moved to grant Certificate of Appropriateness, with conditions that the applicant will return with paint colors, roofing materials, doors, porch features (balustrades, posts, decking) at a future meeting.
The HDC deferred evaluation of the revised landscape plans to the city planner. The next step in the process is a detailed engineering and building plan review and approval before any construction begins on the site.
The house was built in 1873 by Northville pioneer Lewis H. Hutton. Mr. Hutton came to Northville in 1854 and manufactured buggies, wagons, and sleighs. He also owned and managed Northville Mills.
In 1897 Lewis Hutton sold the house to Dr. Yarnall for $3,000.
The interior was updated with new paint, wallpaper, and wainscoting in every room. From 1897 to 1918 the building housed Dr. Yarnall’s Gold Cure institute, serving as a sanatorium for those struggling with alcohol and smoking addictions.
At the time Yarnall owned the building, the house had front and side porches and the windows were surmounted by pediments.An arched sign extended over a paved pedestrian path in front of the house.
Following Yarnall’s departure, the house became a private residence. One of the original addresses appears to have been 212 East Main Street. The house was converted to apartments by the late 1920s. As of 1931, the house was occupied by two families, George E. and Cora Shoebridge and Mrs. Susie J. Calkins.
Thanks to City of Northville Communications Director Liz Cezat for contributing this article and photos to SocialHouseNews.com.