Beginning in 1913 the City of Ypsilanti acquired the land that is now Riverside Park piece by piece until it was one stretch of land running from Cross Street to Michigan Avenue. However, before the entire stretch of land was acquired it was necessary for the city to provide ways for people to enter the park without crossing private property. For this reason, one of the historic houses of the city was demolished to provide such an entrance. This entrance can still be seen, between the Ladies Library building at 130 North Huron and St. Luke’s Church at 120 North Huron Street. “Agreement was reached today between B. F. Schumacher, receiver for the First National Bank, and representatives of the city for the purchase of the Wardle property on North Huron Street next to the Public Library as an entrance to Huron Park,” reported The Ypsilanti Daily Press of Wednesday, June 26, 1935. “The city is purchasing the property,” continued the account, “at a cost of $1,975 and is selling the house to a wrecker from Flint for $75. Wrecking of the house began this morning under the supervision of Ernest M. Maddux, sanitary inspector.” “During the past year,” noted the account, “Mr. Maddux has cleaned up the river bank from Edison Park (as the Michigan Avenue end was known) to the Public Library and has removed several dilapidated buildings to make the park a beauty spot.” The Ypsilanti Daily Press gave a history of the ownership of the property on Thursday, July 18, 1935, beginning with Romaine La Chambre, who was granted a patent by the United States on June 1, 1811. This was part of the original plat, French Claim 391. This became the property of Gabriel Godfroy and his wife Monique in 1824, then it belonged to Salmon Champion in April 18, 1829, then Charles W. Lane and his wife Wealthy Ann purchased the property in 1845. Isaac N. Conklin owned it in 1855, as did Cornelius Cornwell on April 6, 1868, and by his wife Eliza D. Cornwell on November 18, 1876. “Whether the house was built by Mr. Cornwell or by the Lanes or an earlier owner in not revealed by the abstract,” noted The Ypsilanti Daily Press. “Mrs. Jane T. Finley acquired the place February 10, 1883; she and her husband, Florus Finley, and their sons Mark and John are well-remembered Ypsilanti People,” reported the account. The house was sold by Mrs. Finley to Harrison Fairchild and his wife Margaret on February 26, 1902. The property was left to Margaret by her husband. Then on March 20, 1916, it was acquired by Waldo Wardle. After that, the house was the property of the banks. “In wrecking the house,” the account noted, “the nails were found to be such as blacksmiths made in early times by hand. They were irregular in length and blunt at the ends.” “The ultimate price of $75 realized from this house,” concluded the account, “is in strong contrast to the historical and architectural importance it once possessed.” (James Mann is a local historian and author, a volunteer in the YHS Archives, and a regular contributor to the Gleanings.) Photo Captions: Photo 1: Mrs. Harrison Fairchild shown in front of the house at 126 North Huron Street in 1908.
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Ypsilanti Historical Society