The board of Jonesville’s Grosvenor House Museum is seeking $200,000 to restore and renovate the historic house.
The Grosvenor House was built in 1874 by Elijah E. Myers, the same architect who designed Michigan’s state capitol building. Over the years, however, the house has fallen into disrepair, board member Ann Johnson said.
Johnson said the sandstone foundation blocks are crumbling, causing the brick to crack from the basement to the second floor.
Creger Construction, out of Hudson, Michigan, submitted a bid of $102,000 to restore the chimney; remove and replace badly eroded brick from the walls; install sealer to exterior brick; remove 16 basement windows and install new affixed vinyl windows; and replace woodwork where necessary.
Creger Construction will be providing all of the materials and labor necessary for the renovation, in addition to cleaning out the gutters and repair any damage done to the yard during the renovation.
Johnson explained the museum board hopes to have extra money in the event of unexpected expenses and to prepare for the future.
Johnson said the board does not know how long the renovation will take and want to leave room for price inflation in the budget. The extra money will also pay for a seal for the bricks, which left unsealed will need repairs every 10 years.
“We need to protect the maintenance now so we don’t need to fundraise $100,000 every 10 years,” Johnson said.
The Grosvenor House was designated a Michigan State Historic Site and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. Kerry Cavanaugh, president of the Grosvenor House Museum, said the board believes preserving Jonesville history is the most important goal of the renovation.
The museum also has the long-term goal of repairing and opening the carriage house for visitors.
Cavanaugh said that the museum board had received $2,125 in donations as of Jan. 17. This money includes individual donations as well as money received from Jonesville’s 100 Women Who Care organization.
The museum board hopes to hold fundraisers throughout 2020.
Johnson said the museum board is thinking of fundraising ideas, including a living history event at Jonesville’s Riverfest on May 16.
“One of our issues is that we are a small board with only a few volunteers, and we have big ideas and needs and a limited few to carry them out,” Cavanaugh said.
The Jonesville Eagles have approached the museum board about holding a fundraiser for the house, according to Cavanaugh.
According to board member Ann Johnson, the house was originally built for $37,500, but it would cost $5 to $6 million to duplicate Myers’ work today. There are eight marble fireplaces and intricate woodwork in the Italianate style.
The Grosvenor House Museum was originally the home of Ebenezer Grosvenor and his wife Sally Ann. Grosvenor served the Michigan State Senate for one term as the lieutenant governor of Michigan and two terms as the state treasurer of Michigan.
Paul Hosmer, a museum board member and Hillsdale College physics professor, said he believes the house is a special heritage point for Jonesville.
“It is a beautiful Italianate mansion, worthy of preserving in its own right,” Hosmer said. “But also locally, it represents significant aspects of Jonesville’s history. The Grosvenor House is an important part of the record and the ‘poem’ of Jonesville and those who live here, as belonging to this place, have a kind of relationship and duty to it.”
Johnson agreed that preserving the house is significant for future generations.
“If we lose the house, we lose that history,” she said.