I spy with my little eye…a beautiful block of homes that contain a wealth of Lowell history, both in the events that happened there, and the people who called these houses home. While this may describe many areas in Lowell, the 700 block of Water Street, now Riverside Drive, stands out in several historic ways.
706 Riverside was built by Martin N. Hine around 1863. He also built many of the early buildings in Lowell, including the no longer standing Central school and the then Congregational Church building, now Believers Baptist Church. Hine later served as Postmaster.
In 1909 the house was sold to Edwin Fallas, son of one of the Fallasburg founders, William Fallas. Edwin owned a canning factory in Lowell. His daughter Isabel married Lawrence W. Rutherford at the Fallas home in 1908, when this was the only house on the block. Later Rutherford would take over the canning factory, renaming it L.W. Rutherford & Sons.
In 1935 Walter Gumser bought the house. Gumser served in World War I and was superintendent of the Lowell schools for close to 40 years. He was also a state representative candidate in 1956.
718 Riverside Dr was built by Cliff Hatch in 1916 for Dr. Solomon S. and Susie Irene Lee. Dr Lee was a prominent physician and surgeon. The Lee’s loved their community. Upon his death, Dr. Lee bequeathed a large sum of money to the City of Lowell which is dedicated to improving the park system.
This house was also home to Arnold and Evelyn Wittenbach. Arnold's brothers owned Wittenbach Sales and Services and he served as Mayor of Lowell.
724 Riverside Dr was built in 1911 for Lowell Resident William Stowell. Throughout the years it has been owned by a number of Lowell citizens including Susie Childs, Carl and Lottie Kronenberger, C.H. and Gladys Runciman, Chuck Lippert, Roger Brown, Mike and Toni Blough.
724 and 718 Riverside have been connected through time in a couple of ways. First, Susie Childs of 724 Riverside sold the house to her son in law and daughter, Carl, and Lottie Kronenberger. Daughter Susie Irene Lee built next door at 718 Riverside. In 1920 sisters Lottie and Susie Irene Lee are living side by side on Riverside Drive. Second, these properties were the site for the traditional Monday evening Showboat press night party since the Showboat’s birth in the 1930s and continued into the 1960s. Many notable celebrities and statesman such as Louis Armstrong and then Vice President Gerald R. Ford have been photographed in the backyard and were on a first name basis with the Runicmans. Governor’s night was held for years during Showboat week and Michigan’s Governor, prior Governors, and local governmental officials would participate. Other notable showboat entertainers who were guests here include Steve Allen, Dinah Shore, Milton Berle and Boots Randolph.
Lowell has many beautiful homes, and this block is an example of well-preserved monuments to Lowell’s history. The celebrity faces that have visited Lowell thanks to the showboat are numerous, and this one historic block has witnessed it all!
Showboat party at 724 Riverside
724 Riverside Past, Present,