29. George P. and Laura Ford/MacNichols House, Queen Anne, Malcomson and Higginbotham, Built 1896
The George P. and Laura Ford MacNichol house is an excellent example of a late Queen Anne style residence (when built the style of this house was called French Renaissance Revival), associated with industrial leaders. The house is also significant as a residential work of the prominent Detroit firm Malcomson and Higginbotham, also responsible for construction of Old Main on the campus of Wayne State University in downtown Detroit, and the Ford-Bacon House across the street, used by the Public Library today.
Wyandotte’s first white settler, John Biddle, originally had his house on this corner as well. Built in 1836, Eureka Iron purchased it in 1853 and used it as worker housing. Ownership changed several times, there were one or two fires, before the last owner moved the building north, now the 2nd house from the SW corner of Spruce and Biddle.
The current house was built in 1896 for George and Laura Ford MacNichol, Laura was the sister of Mary Bacon, daughter of Edward Ford, and granddaughter of Captain J.B. Ford (1811-1903). J.B. Ford founded the Pittsburg Glass Company and the Michigan Alkali Company. His son Edward was co-founder of the Michigan Alkali Company and founded the Ford Plate Glass Company in Toledo, which later became the Libby-Owens-Ford Company. Shortly after the house was completed the Fords moved to Ohio.
George Pope MacNichol (1870-1930) was a medical doctor by training and believed to be a financial officer with the Michigan Alkali. The size and splendor of the house are an expression of the power and influence of the MacNichol family.
Later it became known as the Jeremiah Drennan residence. Drennan was a postmaster of Wyandotte. The Drennan daughters remained in the home until the 1960s. When the house was purchased by Yvonne Latta, who sold it to the city for the purpose of preserving it as a museum in 1977.
Projecting bays and a corner turret is capped with a steeply pitched hipped-roof with intersecting gables. The wide eaves are supported with projecting rafters, the large gable ends and the third floor of the turret are sheathed in wood shingles, while the remainder of the house is sheathed with clapboards.
Each gable-end contains a Palladian window. A one-story porch starts in the middle of the north elevation, curves around the corner turret to the east elevation and terminates in a circular plan at the southeast corner of the building. The porch roof is supported by pairs of Tuscan columns on tall clapboard bases. Each column set is separated with geometric latticework between the cornice line and a spindle balustrade.
The Wyandotte Historical Society was organized in 1958 for the purpose of preserving Wyandotte’s history and built heritage. A museum was first established in 1967 at 301 Maple Street. Later the MacNichol house was acquired and administrative offices were located here. In 2001 these offices moved to the Marx house, also owned and operated by the City of Wyandotte. Both the Marx House and MacNichol’s house remain open for public tours today. The MacNichol house serves as a house museum today and a favorite place for weddings and other celebrations.