The historical John Warrenner home currently sits on the property of Eckert’s Greenhouse on Ryan Road in Sterling Heights.

The historical John Warrenner home currently sits on the property of Eckert’s Greenhouse on Ryan Road in Sterling Heights.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Homes over 150 years old still stand in Sterling

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published February 1, 2019

 A plaque hangs over the front door of the historical John Warrenner home on Ryan Road in Sterling Heights.

A plaque hangs over the front door of the historical John Warrenner home on Ryan Road in Sterling Heights.

Photo by Deb Jacques

The history of the John Warrenner home on Ryan Road in Sterling Heights goes back to the 1800s. But to its current owner, Karl Eckert, it’s the place where his dad set up a hobby woodworking workshop and made furniture.

“My mom and dad bought it in 1961, so we’re basically the second owners,” he said. “It’s original, so when we moved here in ‘61, this was the last part of the Warrenner farm. John Warrenner was the person my mom and dad bought it from. 

“He never updated the house, so there are two stoves, no running water. Electricity, yes. But they never really updated anything.”

The Warrenner home is far from the only historic house with a long history in Sterling Heights. For instance, the 19th century Upton House, near City Hall, still grabs plenty of attention. 

According to Sterling Heights librarian and historian Debbie Vercellone, around 30 city-designated historical homes — dating back to 1936 or earlier — remain standing.

She said the Sterling Heights Historical Commission declared certain homes as historical through the Residential Date Plaque Award program, which was established in 1992. More than 30 awards with accompanying plaques were given out to homes in the 1990s, she said. 

Vercellone explained that another series of recognitions began more recently under the Historical Marker Project, but only one home has been honored so far. She described the aim of the overall initiative.

“It’s so they don’t forget the past or where the city came from, or the people that started the city,” Vercellone said. 

The city’s website tallies 34 historical homes and has photos of 32 of them, as well as a plaque award list of 33 properties that Vercellone provided. Four from her list are labeled as demolished, but the list shows that 12 of the remaining homes date back to the 19th century.

According to Vercellone, the oldest existing home on that list is a pioneer home that was built around 1850 along Utica Road. The most recently built home on that list was built in 1936 on Clinton River Road.

According to Vercellone, the Warrenner home was built around 1868 or 1869, and she said it is a highlight. 

“There’s the Warrenner house on Ryan that I really like,” she said. “It was built around the same time as the Upton House. I like that they’re trying to maintain that. It’s not currently occupied, but they’re trying to keep it looking nice.” 

Today, Karl Eckert said, the home serves as a storage facility on the grounds of his business, Eckert’s Greenhouse. 

He said the only recent improvements to the home are a paint job, storm window installation and a steel roof. Besides that, the home is still as old and original as ever, basement cistern and all.

“It’s probably one of the top five houses in Sterling Heights, that is, for being old,” he said.

Find out more about Sterling Heights’ historical homes by visiting www.sterling-heights.net/gallery.aspx?AID=14. Find out more about Eckert’s Greenhouse, 34051 Ryan Road in Sterling Heights, by visiting www.eckertsgreenhouse.com.