In 1993 'The Brookby Estate: A Grand Design was held benefiting the Grand Rapids Symphony. Most of the text and color photos are from this time period. Other information as noted.
"Brookby House" under construction c. 1926.
|Scaffolding covers most of the front of "Brookby House" except for the north wing which can be seen in the far right of the photo.|
|"Gibson's" was a local fine-dining establishment that provided the food during the event.|
|Scaffolding covers the entire east side of "Brookby House" and a few workmen can be seen on the roof. The north wing of the house is at the right. A piece of equipment, possibly used for tilling, is at the left of the photo.|
|The east side or rear of "Brookby House" that faced Fisk Lake. On the right is the north wing and on the left scaffolding covers part of the structure.|
In January 1928 John Wood Blodgett(financier, lumberman, and philanthropist) moved into his new home at 250 Plymouth SE. in East Grand Rapids, Michigan. Minnie Cumnock Blodgett, his wife(nationally known for her work in public health and welfare) had worked closely with architect Stewart Walker of the New York firm of Walker & Gillette, to design one of the finest examples of Georgian Revival architecture in the Midwest.
|Entrance front in 1993. Note the switch to black painted shutters.|
|Cut stone blocks line the brook that bisects the property.|
|Mature landscape c. 1993. It took the Olmsted Brothers eight years to complete project.|
New England concerned with the preservation of colonial architecture inspired an interest in recreating this style across the country during the first two decades of this century.
While the architectural statement made by the Georgian style is readily evident there are other design influences worthy of mention. The house has a few features reminiscent of Palladian lines from the French including Palladian windows, elegant limestone columns and elaborately
carved pediment doorway, double wood entrance doors and leaded glass transom.
|Library - Note the cockleshell carving over "secret" door leading to Breakfast Room. Matching door on opposite side led to the phone room.|
Mrs. Blodgett, working with New York interior designer, Miss Gheen, bought Georgian fireplace mantels, Georgian chandeliers and light fixtures, Chippendale and Hepplewhite furniture, tapestries, oriental rugs, antique fabrics, and English and Chinese accessories to create a setting which appeared to have been transported intact from colonial Virginia.
|Ladies Reception Room|
|Breakfast Room - Sunrise view overlooking the lawn down to the lake.|
When guests arrived for an extended visit it was commonplace for them to travel with several large trunks. The elevator was installed to facilitate moving those trunks to the guest rooms on the second floor.
Unfortunately, Mrs. Blodgett was able to enjoy her beautiful home for only three years. She died unexpectedly while in New York in 1931. John Wood Blodgett lived on alone at Brookby until his death in 1951, when John Wood Blodgett, Jr. took up residence until his death in 1987. His widow, Edith, continued to make "Brookby House"her home until 1988. Edith Blodgett recently passed away.
***When "Brookby House" was for sale(1987) text from a sales brochure***
|"Brookby House" 250 Plymouth SE East Grand Rapids, Michigan|
|Arched gate opened to the main street. To the right of gate was a vegetable garden. In 1943 Mr. Blodgett's Victory Garden was given top honors by the Michigan Horticultural Society.|
|Another view of the front entrance.|
|Compare this garden side view to the 1940 photo above. Gardens were well maintained throughout the decades.|
|Beginning of brook for which "Brookby House" was named. Stone arched bridge designed by the Olmsted Brothers.|
|View from terrace - Fisk Lake.|
|Looking west to the house.|
|A curved walkway from the garden to the lake allowed for a ever changing perspective of the house and landscaping.|
|From left to right - Library windows, Breakfast Room - Dining Room. Scrolled ironwork frames a bedroom balcony above.|
|View to west.|
|Clipped hedges frame the formal garden.|
|Sketch showing entrance hall .|
|Door at center opens to library. To the right is a men's cloak room with a barrel-vaulted ceiling.|
|Decorative plaster-work, paint and gilding over door to living room.|
|The space could be cleared and used as a ballroom.|
|The living room is huge. This alcove within it allowed for cozy conversations overlooking the lake.|
|Library. The purple curtains were lined with contrasting gold fabric.|
|Ladies Reception Room - Chinese mural reflected in the mirror.|
|Dining Room - One of the embedded Chinese lacquer screens can be seen in the background to the right.|
|Trellised Service Porch.|
|Master bedroom spanned the whole of the 2nd-story's south wing with lake and garden views.|
|During the showcase Mr. Blodgett's bedroom was turned into a office/study. Besides the tub in his private bathroom there was a beautifully tiled walk-in shower.|
Third Level: Full attic with poured concrete floor, large cedar closet, several enclosed storage rooms, and a handsomely finished Trophy Room with dormered alcove, beamed ceiling, closeted half bath.
|Boiler is the size of a boxcar. Other rooms on this level were for laundry and storage.|
GATEKEEPER'S HOUSE: Trellised entrance - new asphalt
roof. LR w/FP, DR w/French doors to screened Porch, Kitchen, 2 Bedrooms, Bath, UP: Studio Room.(not pictured)
|Chauffeur's home - Gardeners home.|
CHAUFFEUR'S HOME: All brick, LR, DR, Kitchen, 2 stair-
ways, 3 Bedrooms, 2 Baths (tile), hardwood floors.
GARDENER'S HOME: LR w/FP, DR, Kitchen, 2 Bedrooms,
Bath, Office or UR. (greenhouse originally attached to the Gardener's Home was dismantled and given to Windmill Island in Holland, Michigan by Mrs. Blodgett.)
|7-car garage for Mr. Blodgett's Packards.|
Assessed Valuation: $435,500
The property languished on the market until 1993 when a fundraiser benefiting the Grand Rapids Symphony was held. Unique for a showcase house tour, designers were given the opportunity to select furniture and fabrics of their choice, carte blanche, from the entire Baker Furniture collection(valued at half-a-million).
Purchased by Grand Rapids developer Sam Cummings, the outbuildings were separated from the main estate and now are private residences. After fourteen years at "Brookby House" Mr. Cummings donated property to Aquinas College.