Sep 14, 2005

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Barr-Cappelletti house on the corner of Allegan and Maple in Saugatuck


Riley-Stack-Ellis house at
203 Heirloom Lane in Douglas

All Saints' Episcopal Church on the corner of
Hoffman and grand in Saugatuck



Last week we suggested that the American Civil War (of 1861-65) changed the course of American history in many ways, including housing and the home environment, for the war-generation and forever after.

For a variety of reasons, the period after the Civil War was the high point of what we could call the “Home-Sweet-Home” era. The economy boomed, new worlds had opened up for the returning veteran; the reform impetus for the war was extended to everyday-life, such as drinking and rearing of children, and the “home-sweet-home” became a way to create a more refined and aesthetic way of life. “Respectability” was something that could be learned, taught, and BOUGHT.

Here are three post-Civil War buildings—two houses and a church—all on the upcoming (September 17th Heritage Festival Home Tour). The church, All Saints Episcopal, Saugatuck, is not only one of the very best “Carpenter Gothic” style churches in the Midwest—it is a mirror of the economic boom of the village (its benefactors were lumber barons and the carpenters were shipbuilders)—and its pastor was one of the few Civil War chaplains to a “Colored” regiment.

The two houses are very modest Italianate houses—by the standards of the day—but for Saugatuck and Douglas they were quite the fashion. The Italianate style was all about a taller house with a big roof with a wide overhang and (usually) decorative brackets and fancy window trim—along with tall windows, big porches, and bay windows—all usually painted in several dark colors. Inside the rooms were larger and there were more of them—dividing up family activities (for example, a dining room and a sewing room)—and plenty of room for highly decorative furniture. Post-Civil War America saw a shift in housing away from mere survival toward comfort.

All three of these structures are among a group of seven buildings featured on the Heritage Festival Home Tour on Saturday September 17th, from 11a.m. to 5 p.m. The tour begins at any of the houses—or at the tour headquarters at the Old School House at 131 Center Street, Douglas... Watch for the signs—and Welcome Home. More information at                                                 By Jim Schmiechen

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