Historic Structures

John D. Appleton House, Brighton Michigan

Date added: May 3, 2011 Categories: Michigan House Greek Revival

John D. Appleton, the builder, came to Brighton in 1839 and earned his living as a carpenter and joiner. He built this home which was close by the Presbyterian Church and later built a large "public house" opposite the Brighton Hotel. This was known locally as the "Appleton Block." the Kelley family, into whose hands the home came in the mid-1880's, were substantial citizens of Brighton. The first Kelley, Aaron H. Kelley, arrived in Brighton in 1837 from Dixboro, Michigan and built a water-powered saw mill which Kelley operated for some time. He was an early merchant of Brighton and owned a farm near there. The site of the J. D. Appleton house was that of the first store in Brighton built by William Noble, Jr.

The original portion is 38'-10" wide by 36'-6" in depth, plus a portico 8'-3" by 22'-8 1/2", and a rear wing 16'-8" wide by 12'-2" in depth. The front is five bays wide, each one-story wing taking up one bay. The front faces west.

Exterior walls are framed with corner posts and intermediate posts about 8" by 8"; these project into the interior. Intermediate studding is of 4" by 4" and 2" by 4" members, with corner braces of 4" by 4" pieces. The larger timbers are morticed and pegged together. The exterior facing may have been shiplap, though it is now covered with asbestos composition shingles.

First floor: Originally there was a central entrance and stair hall with two rooms on each side connected by wide openings, and a rear kitchen wing on the north side. Alterations have been made.

Second floor: Alterations to this story make the original arrangement problematical. This story extends over the central portion of the building behind the pediment. Perhaps there was a single room across the front, and the rear was divided into two smaller L-shaped rooms with the hall in the center.

A straight flight of stairs (14 risers) ascends from just inside the front entrance. It was originally of the open-well type with an open string on one side, with two 5/8" by 7/8" plain balusters per tread, simple moulded handrail, octagonal newel shaped somewhat like a baluster, and moulded nosing. The lower end of the other side projected part-way across a wide opening. Now a closet on one side and a partition on the other make this virtually an enclosed stair. A short section of railing remains at the second story. A simple basement stair, now unused, is under the main one, and appears to be modern.