Standing in Richards Park looking North West, I spy something…..light blue. It’s a large stately Victorian Queen Ann house, built around 1885. This home boasts notable features such as its steeply pitched gabled and hipped roof and front porch with groupings of classic wood columns. Highlights also include an original fireplace, oak woodwork, pocket and French doors, and two staircases.
This beautiful private residence at 404 Lincoln Lake was built for Thomas and Mary Doyle. Thomas Doyle was known as a timber man of great ability. He estimated timber in many states. He worked for Blodgett & Byrne and also for the Muskegon Lumber Co. He traveled much of his career, including to the Pacific coasts, British Columbia and Vancouver Island in addition to his twenty years spent working from Arkansas.
At the time the home was being built, Mary Doyle suffered from asthma. It was believed that sleeping in a room with high ceilings would alleviate the distress of this disease. The main floor north bedroom was therefore built with very high ceilings while the north porch was often used by the family for sleeping during the hot days of summer.
Following the death of Thomas and Mary, their daughter Bertha and her husband Roland Shivel, an attorney, lived in the home around 1917. Roland had an office in Grand Rapids and one in his home for local clientele. A half bath was used as a phone booth for privacy. Bertha Doyle Shivel died unexpectedly in 1940 at the age of 55 from a heart attack suffered at home.
Though others came through the house in the meantime, in 1961 this large beautiful home was occupied by a large and giving family for nearly forty years. In fact, George and Delores (Dode) Dey gave so much to their community that they were jointly honored as Person of the Year in 1990 by the city they loved. George owned Dey Machine and Tool Works, but also drove school bus for 28 years. Dode served as secretary for the Chamber of Commerce for 22 years and made quilts for the annual quilt raffle at the Fallasburg Fall Festival. In her spare time she chaired the Lowell Sesquicentennial Celebration in 1980. George and Dode served the community with the Lowell Area Arts Council before there was such a thing. In bringing the Art Train to Lowell, George helped established the council. After George died in 1994 the LAAC dedicated the “George Dey Memorial” stage at the Fallasburg Fall Festival. Dode was a long-time volunteer at the Lowell Area Historical Museum. She never missed a Thursday when our Museum accessioning group got together to work. She loved identifying photographs and sewing numbers onto artifacts. She told stories about our town. Dode has since also passed away.
The current owners of this home, Mark and Val Fleet bought the home in 2004. They have completely rewired the entire home, sandblasted and repainted all radiators, replaced all second floor windows as well as redecorated the bedrooms. The front porch has been rebuilt and the property enhanced with new landscaping. Mark Fleet has an appreciation for building that comes from his knowledge and experience after working over 32 years as building official and inspector for the City of Grand Rapids, and 17 years for Vergennes Township. One nod to the past, Mark left some of the older ‘ripple’ effect windows so that the viewer can almost look thru to the past.
Houses become homes when memories and love are built and shared. Knowing the history of your home and the people who have dwelt there makes you the caretaker of the past and the keeper of memories.
Images: the house at 404 Lincoln Lake, Dode Dey holding City flag.