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Grosse Pointe City

February 5, 2014

Historical Cadieux Farmhouse moving to new home nearby

By K. Michelle Moran
C & G Staff Writer

GROSSE POINTE CITY — The historically significant Isadore Cadieux Farmhouse has found a new home, and it’s not going far from its current one.

Now located at 16939 E. Jefferson, at the corner of Notre Dame and Jefferson, the house will be relocated to a vacant lot at 533 St. Clair, roughly two blocks away.

After reviewing a recommendation from City Planner John Jackson, of McKenna Associates, the City Council voted unanimously Jan. 27 in favor of a variance that permits the house to be relocated to the St. Clair lot, owned by Leslie Kaye, who will become its new owner and occupant.

The house, one of several neighboring residential properties owned by Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe, had stood in the way of a planned parking expansion at the hospital. But hospital officials, recognizing its importance, started looking for a new home for the house last year, offering to pay the expensive costs to move the structure.

The decision comes after hospital officials pursued several other possible locations for the building, including one in Grosse Pointe Park that was ultimately rejected by that city’s council.

In keeping with Jackson’s recommendations, council approval did come with several conditions. Because a 20-inch-caliper tree in the right-of-way will need to be removed, Jackson said the variance applicant would be responsible for paying to replace it. City Manager Pete Dame said a tree of that size and maturity “is not replaceable,” so they need to substitute for it with several trees that will equal that diameter. Jackson said tree replacement alone is expected to cost about $2,000. Other conditions include paying for the costs to oversee traffic and temporarily relocate utilities, notifying adjacent residents of the move and the need to take all cars off those two blocks of St. Clair, and providing a schedule to the City at least two weeks in advance.

“They have told us there are not going to be any interruptions in (utility) service,” Jackson said.

The movers who’ll be relocating the house did the same work for the Cook Schoolhouse in Grosse Pointe Woods, so “they’ve done this before, (and) they’re familiar with the area,” he said. There isn’t expected to be any damage to the roads, but should that occur, the applicant would be responsible for fixing it, he said.

Jackson said the move is expected to start in April, after the ground thaws. He said it will take place over two weeks and in two stages, with the original, historical portion of the house being moved separately and after moving a new addition with a master suite and garage that were built circa 1991, when the house was previously saved and restored by a group of local residents led by Elaine Hartmann. Despite the relatively short distance the house needs to travel, each structural move will take about four hours on the road, Jackson said. There will also be a one-week lead time to get the house lifted off the foundation, he said. The historical portion will be moved about two weeks after the newer portion.

To avoid rush-hour traffic, Jackson said the house movers are expected to work only between 9 a.m.-4 p.m., and they’ll be limited to scheduling moves only on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. They’ll take Jefferson to St. Clair, and the moves will require a series of temporary road closures involving one block at a time along Jefferson and St. Clair, respectively, as the house approaches its destination, he said. The major roads of Jefferson and Maumee will be closed for about 15 minutes each during the move, Jackson said.

“There’s a lot of logistics involved,” he said, noting that the details have taken weeks to hammer out.

Michael Hoeflein, the program leader for real estate development and planning for Beaumont Health System, spoke on behalf of Kaye and Beaumont, and said the hospital agreed to all of the City’s conditions.

“Beaumont has agreed to coordinate and pay all moving costs,” he said.

Local historians had been hoping this house could be saved for future generations. 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. Features include Michigan pine floors, a narrow staircase with handmade balusters, and old glass windowpanes that feature imperfections such as bubbles.

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.

“This was a dream we had from the beginning,” Grosse Pointe Historical Society Past President Susan Hartz said of finding someone like Kaye who would accept and care for the house. “I think it’s a marvelous solution. The location is perfect.”

She said the house should fit perfectly on the narrow St. Clair lot.

“We’re really thrilled at the Historical Society that this has come to pass,” Hartz continued.

City Council member Jean Weipert said she was confident Kaye was going to be a “wonderful caretaker” for the house.

“I think it’s a wonderful plan, and I’m thrilled that the City is going to be the recipient again of this house. … It’s a happy ending to this story,” Weipert said.

Elizabeth Maniscalco, who lives near the St. Clair lot, was among those who welcomed the upcoming move.

“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” Maniscalco told the council. “I’m really happy. It’ll save the Cadieux home … and (the historical structure) will match all of the other frame houses (in the area).”

Third-generation Grosse Pointer Linda Barlow, who has known Kaye for years, said the home’s new owner will “be an asset to the community and to the house.”

“It’s a plus-plus, win-win for the community,” Barlow continued.

City leaders acknowledged the importance of preserving this house, after years of seeing significant homes and estates torn down to make way for new homes and subdivisions.

“So often, we destroy our past,” City Council member John Stempfle said. “Now, we’re saving it.”