Wilmarth Property (Chester Clark House), 1101 Burcham Dr. (1905)
Chester Clark House, November 2003. This view is from the southeast, with the original structure to the left and the 1940s-era addition to the right. Photo Credit: Kevin S. Forsyth.
This site is the last remnant of a farm known as the Wilmarth Property which dates back to 1859. An historical marker at Old Marble School mentions a “Mary Wilmarth House” from that year, which apparently is no longer extant. The farm extended from this site as far east as Hagadorn Road, and is believed to have been operated from a farmstead somewhere along that road.
The house at 1101 Burcham Drive was built in 1905 as a residence for the Wilmarth sisters, who were (in the vernacular of the time) “maiden ladies.” Although the lot itself is laid out very much like a farmstead, with the house facing a courtyard/driveway, and a small barn set back further from the road, this group of buildings is not believed to have been used to work the farm.
Chester F. Clark (1899–1957, M.S.C. DVM ’29) joined the College in 1929 as a Technician in Animal Pathology, gradually improving his academic rank in that Department. In 1946 he resigned his position as Associate Professor to be appointed State Veterinarian of Michigan. Three years later he returned to the College as Professor and Head of the Department of Surgery and Medicine, and served as Dean of Veterinary Medicine from 1951 until his death.[Minutes, 20 Sep 1957 et al.]
Dr. Clark purchased this house (from an intervening owner who dug out the basement) in the mid-1930s for his family. In subsequent years, many changes transformed the original, boxy structure:
- The existing “east side entrance and porch bonnet [were] added probably during the 1930s.”
- The addition to the north was built in the early 1940s, replacing “the original barn and outbuildings (chicken coop, summer kitchen).” Around that same time the existing barn/garage was added; the Clark family “used to keep a cow and chickens in it.”
- The original front porch and entrance, facing Burcham on the south side of the house, were removed in the early 1950s and a fireplace and chimney built in their place. A bay window on the west side and a picture window on the east side were also installed around this time.[Nichols, email of 18 Jun 2007]
Today the house is owned by descendants of Chester Clark, but is used as rental property.[E.L. Planning Commission minutes, 10 Nov 2004]
The lot lies at the southwest corner of what is now the Lantern Hill subdivision, which was developed in the 1950s as a faculty housing cooperative. Note that original Historic Commission documents list this site as 1107 Burcham, which is the lot just to the east.