Historic Structures

Charles T. Gorham House (Brooks House), Marshall Michigan

Date added: August 25, 2011 Categories: Michigan House Greek Revival

The city of Marshall, Michigan was founded in 1831 and named in honor of John Marshall, then Chief Justice of the United States.

In 1832, the first schoolhouse, a two-story log building was erected. In 1835, the first brick building (as well as the first in Calhoun County) was erected. This was the "National Hotel", and the building still stands. On March 7th, 1859 Marshall was organized into a city.

The colonial house, located at the corner of North Kalamazoo Avenue and Prospect Avenue, was previously owned and occupied by Mr, Charles T. Gorham, and was built by Jabez Fitch of New York about 1840. It is said to have been designed by Richard Upjohn, the noted New York Architect.

Mr. Gorham bought the place in 1851, and it is said that every Governor of the State, down to Hazen Pingree, was entertained in the house.

At the west side of the house and south of the main entrance, stands a large oak tree, under which the Rev. John Pierce and General Crary in 1834, planned the Michigan Public School System. These plans were adopted in 1835 by the State of Michigan, and subsequently by many other States.

The Harold C, Brooks house (Charles T. Gorham House) is built of brick, painted white, the wall face under the portico being laid up in Flemish Bond while the side walls and rear are laid up in garden wall bond, or a header course laid every fourth, fifth or sixth course, indiscriminately.

The window and door sills and lintels are of stone, probably local, dressed and tooled vertically.

The wood oolumns to the portico are understood to have been brought from Detroit by ox-team. The workmanship on the flutings and especially on the ionic capitals, is exceptionally fine, no bad cracks or splits being perceptible. The wood mouldings on the cornices and returns are in good proportion. The wood frieze on the main cornice on the East and West walls has been slightly curved to bend over the open portico. The ceiling of the portico is sloped up from the front to the brick wall, but this is not apparent on the horizontal aspect of the frieze on the exterior.

It is not certain that the West porch is of the same date as the East porch which was evidently built with the house, but the columns at least appear to be of similar date.

The side windows and also fanlights of both entrances, including the side windows and half moon in the portico tympanum, are ornamented with delicate wrought iron grilles of pleasing design - a small eagle with outstretched wings decorates the half moon. Incidentally the glass in these windows appears to be "grisaille- - a finish on glass not very common at that period.

The Living Room, which now extends across the South front, was originally divided in two by a wood partition. The cornice pilasters and parts of the wall panelling are original, but the fireplace mantels and the bookcase are modern.

The Hall and staircase are simply designed, the handrail, balusters and newel being of walnut, also the treads.

The semi-circular portion of the Guests' Room on the First Floor was an addition made about 1910, at the same time the original windows in the Dining Room and Sitting Room over, were altered into French windows.

In the Service portion, an extension in wood has been made on the East porch exposing one open semi-circular arch and another peculiar semi elliptical hump-backed arch.

This house stands on a knoll rising sharply from a gradual slope, a few blocks from the main artery of the town, which is the highway between Jackson and Battle Greek - North Kalaxnazoo Street forming a valley between the two knolls.