March 13, 2014

History Lessons on our MCM, Part II

When I wrote the first installment of our home's history, I knew I'd eventually uncover more information regarding the design of the home, plus the lives of the people who built the house. I had visited the library, made phone calls, and did a plethora of internet research.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, my phone rang with the info I had been looking for - an actual architect's name. One of the original owner's sister, Mary, whom I chatted with before Christmas, called me back with some follow up information from our first conversation.

Krisjanis Grants. 

Kris Grants is what the original owner's son remembered his name to be, however when I asked on the MidModMich Facebook group page, Pam of West Michigan Modern knew exactly who I was referring to, as she knew of another Grand Haven home designed by the same architect. She informed me his name was Krisjanis Grants, born in Latvia in the early 1900's, and had lived in both New York City and California at one point, but also registered here in Michigan.


And so it seems I've reached the end of my "research project" of sorts. We have the architect's name. I know he designed a huge, lovely MCM near Lake Michigan, plus this home, and the home of the original owner's brother in Spring Lake. That's three homes right here, and while I still don't know the connection, I'm going to keep searching for more info.

The last part of the big, overall puzzle, would be to chat with the men who lived here as children. The original owner, Ted, built this home himself. Ted had two sons - both living out of state now - but I'd love to talk to them. I've reached out to them via email, but to no avail.

Ted's sister, Mary, mentioned they lived in the garage for a long time (up to three years?!) while they worked on the inside of our home. She said Ted couldn't afford to finish the entire house all at once, so worked on it for years. She remembered them having an outhouse in the backyard before the indoor plumbing was finished - I wonder what our neighbors thought of that!!! She did say the bathroom was first - and she remembered the "crazy round tile" they used. She said it wasn't her favorite (she actually said it was ugly, because everyone else had 4" square tiles and she was so confused on where they would have found that tile in the first place!), and we actually uncovered some of it under multiple layers of blue paint in the old laundry room.

She also told me a bit about his second wife, and what she remembered of her children. She actually lives just down the road - I need to swing by and chat with her in person; I'm hoping she remembers a lot more random stories and will share with me.

So, we have an architect's name. That's a bit to go on, I suppose! The search for more stories continues. I would LOVE it if the original owner's sons showed up at my house in a few months for a cocktail on the patio and dove into their childhood here - maybe I should start sending some snail mail.

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Grand Haven, Michigan, United States