LOOKING BACK: If these wall could talk: 45 Madison, Mount Clemens

Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published August 6, 2020


MOUNT CLEMENS — Ever wonder what stories your house could tell if its walls could talk? The Crocker House Museum’s new Porch Walk event, to be held from noon to 4 p.m. Aug. 15 and our long established Cemetery Walk has inspired me to know more about the homes of Mount Clemens and the people who lived there. There is no doubt that we have many beautiful homes in Mount Clemens and many that date back well over 100 years. But the most prominent type of historical home we have in the Clem is of Folk Victorian architecture. These were built when machine-made parts and ornamentation were available. This style can be a mischung of styles that were common back in their day but were basic homes built for basic people. And it is the story of our folk that is most interesting. Let’s start this “If These Walls Could Talk” series off with a sneak-peak into one of the homes that will be featured on this years’ Porch Walk.

Henry Pingle, of German descent, married Miss Lizzie Nichol in 1887. In 1891, he purchases a plot of land on Madison Street in Mount Clemens and, one year later, builds their lovely Folk Victorian home there. Henry is well known and highly respected in the community and works as the courthouse janitor in town. Henry and Lizzie have four children together. It is on July 7, 1903, that we find a news article in the local paper about their 13-year-old son, Eddie. He begged his parents’ consent to allow him to go swimming in the river with his friends. Unfortunately, the boy drowned, and the newspaper comments about how sad it was to watch poor Mr. Henry Pingle look on while divers and officers searched for the poor boy’s body.

Sadly, they lose their son, Claud, on the Clinton River, as well. On July 18, 1915, he dies in a boating accident. Then their son Arthur dies of a heart attack, while sitting at the dining room table, at the young age of 23 just two months later. Perhaps all of this is what contributed to Henry Pingle’s death the following year, leaving Lizzie a widow at the young age of 47.

Yes, these walls have some sad stories to tell. Perhaps, though, it is a lesson in perseverance. A story we need during these difficult days of the COVID-19 pandemic. For we find Lizzie creating new and happy memories in her home by often welcoming guests to enjoy a cup of coffee with her. She was known to do the chore of stretching lace curtains for others and was also known for her lovely garden. Thankfully her daughter, Elsie, and Elsie’s husband, Martin Baarck, who was a hardware merchant, lived very close by at 26 Kendrick Street. They eventually move back to 45 Madison to live with Lizzie. Their son, Donald, and his wife, Lydia, eventually live in the home, and now their son, Gary, and his wife, Carol Ann, live there. They continue to enjoy Lizzie’s lovely garden and also continue to make happy memories with their children and grandchildren visiting their ancestral home.

Do you have a story about your home to share? If so, please contact Crocker House Museum director, Kim Parr, at info@crockerhousemuseum.org.