by Vicki Priest (c)
The Jenkinson House, or Jenkinson-Cady-Secory house in Port Huron, had been called out in Buildings of Michigan (Kathryn Bishop Eckert,1993:352): “This beautifully painted and restored house is Military Street’s largest and most ornate Queen Anne structure.” With such an accolade coming from a former State Historic Preservation Officer, one would think that it would have been listed in the National Register of Historic Places by now, but no. However, that will soon change (“soon” by bureaucratic standards, anyway).
Research on this house had been conducted in the past, but further research, fact-checking, documentation, and much writing went into the current nomination process. Once finalized for listing, the detailed nomination form will be available to the public, but in the meantime here are some property history highlights.
- The house is one of three known “Hyde Park Villa” homes built in the U.S., the pattern having been designed by Chicago architect George O. Garnsey. The other two houses are already listed in the National Register (The David Syme House in Illinois is part of the Sycamore Historic District, and the Shearer-Cristy House in Wisconsin). None of the three houses are exactly like the pattern, depicted below, nor are they identical to each other. Garnsey was a popular regional architect, published the early and widely read American Glossary of Architectural Terms, and was the editor of the trade journal National Builder.
- Built about 1888 to 1889 by “capitalist” and former lumber dealer John Jenkinson, probably after he caused his Lapeer Avenue house to catch fire and partially burn down in May 1888. He died in 1904 and his wife and adult children chose not to live in the house.
- Albert Stevenson and his family live in the house next, from about 1907 to 1918. Albert and his brother Elliot (who was a Port Huron mayor) founded the American branch of the Independent Order of Foresters (IOF). Elliot, then Albert, were the managers of the organization in Port Huron, and Albert was editor of The Forester. Albert was also a founder of the German American Savings Bank, later U.S. Savings Bank (closed during the Great Depression). Albert’s dairy farm in Kimball Township suffered two major fires (1917 and 1918), which is probably why he moved out in about 1918.
- Burt Cady, the most active and widely known of the home’s residents, lived in the house with his family next. He is exuberantly praised in historical biographical documents from 1912 and ca. 1926. To keep this short, we’ll just say that he was an attorney who served as a State Senator, Port Huron Postmaster, Prosecuting Attorney of St. Clair County, city attorney, chairman of the St. Clair County Board of Supervisors, Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, Republican Central Committee Chairman, director and president of the Port Huron YWCA, and on many other business and non-business boards. He was responsible for bringing former President Taft to Port Huron, where Taft made his only Michigan speech during the 1920 presidential campaign. Taft was entertained at the Jenkinson-Cady-Secory house afterwards. The Cady’s lived in the house until about 1949.
- Afterwards, the house was mostly vacant until the Secorys, Lew and Lynne, purchased it in 1969. They have restored much of the home, which needed loving repairs and the removal of some past ill-matched renovations.
Eckert, Kathryn Bishop. Buildings of Michigan. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.
Fuller, George N. Local History and Pioneer Sketches of St. Clair and Shiawassee Counties. Lansing: Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society, ca. 1926.
Garnsey, George O. “The National Builders album of beautiful homes . . . V.I.” University of Houston Digital Library. 1891. http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/aapamphlets/item/1279/show/1157 (accessed August 8, 2016).
Goodspeed Publishing Company. “George O. Garnsey.” Industrial Chicago: The Building Interests, 1891: 603.
Jenks, William Lee. St. Clair County, Michigan; Its History and Its People. Vol. II. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1912.
Leonard, John W. The Book of Chicagoans. Chicago: A.N. Marquis & Co., 1905.
Pierce, William D. “A History of the Secory House at 1820 Military Street, Port Huron, Michigan.” No date.
Port Huron Times-Herald. “Entertained Mr. Taft.” Port Huron Times-Herald, October 19, 1920: 2.
—. “Former Chief of Nation Hi[n]ts at Many Abuses; Election of Harding is Predicted by Taft.” Port Huron Times-Herald, October 18, 1920: 1, 2.
Port Huron Weekly Times. Port Huron Weekly Times, May 10, 1888: 8.
Zack, W. Joseph. “The Pattern Book Revolution and its Influence on the Development of American Architecture.” DeKalb: Northern Illinois University, 1981.