Wyandotte Museums Campus History
The Ford Mac-Nichol Home | 2610 Biddle Avenue
Completed in 1896, Ford-MacNichol Home is the main exhibit building of the Wyandotte Museums’ campus and houses the majority of the artifact collection. In this historic house setting, a vivid picture of early 20th century Wyandotte is recreated with elegantly appointed rooms and rotating exhibits on local history. The home is used for tours, various events, and private rentals.
The site of this elegant Queen Anne-style mansion, located at 2610 Biddle Avenue, has an important and prominent place in the history of our city long before the current house was built in 1896. The land was originally the homestead of Major John Biddle, the first notable American of European descent to settle here. His Georgian style home, named “Wyandotte” was completed in 1835. His home was moved when construction began on the Ford-MacNichol project.
The current home was built by Capt. John Baptiste Ford and his son Edward as a wedding gift for Edward’s daughter, Laura. The Fords owned and operated the J.B. Ford and Michigan Alkali Companies - pioneers of the early chemical industry in Wyandotte. J.B. Ford was also the father of plate glass manufacturing in North America.
Jeremiah Drennan, a local lawyer, purchased the home in the early 1900’s. The Drennan Family lived here for 60 years, making them the longest private owners. In the 1970’s Yvonne Latta purchased the home and saved it from demolition. She was instrumental in the restoration of the structure, doing much of the work herself. In 1977, the home was purchased by the city with a grant from the Michigan History Division of the Department of State, along with funds provided by the Wyandotte Historical Society, local businesses, civic organizations, and individuals. The Ford-MacNichol Home is on the State and National Register of Historic Places.
The Burns Home | 2624 Biddle Avenue
The 1908 Burns Home is the most recent addition of the Wyandotte Museums. The home houses the offices of the Wyandotte Museum, the Wyandotte Historical Society, the City of Wyandotte Special Events Office, and the Museum’s collection of local history archives and genealogical information.
This classic American foursquare was originally built in 1908 by the Burns Family. They lived at the site from 1879 to the mid-1920’s, occupying two separate structures during that time. The family’s first home to occupy the site, similar in footprint to the Marx Home, was demolished after the patriarch of the family, Robert T. Burns, passed away. In its place, a new, modern construction was built in 1908 – the American Foursquare that currently occupies the site. After a few other owners, the Stahl Family moved in the home sometime after 1933. In 2007, the City of Wyandotte purchased the home from the estate of Patricia Stahl.
The Marx Home | 2630 Biddle Avenue
The historic Marx Home, built in 1862, is a community space wherein groups can meet using the first floor of the building for presentations and gatherings. Many of these groups are part of the Wyandotte Museum support groups. Along with regular group meetings, the Marx Home is used for art exhibits, receptions, live performances, and a series of monthly programs organized by the Wyandotte Historical Society. For a listing of Society programs, please click here.
Built in 1862 for Warren Isham, the Marx Home is listed on the State & National Register of Historic Places. Characterized by the low pitch roof, bracketed eaves, elongated-round headed windows with hood moldings and the unique widow’s walk on the roof, the Marx Home is one of the last remaining examples of a brick Italianate home in the City of Wyandotte. Although each succeeding generation of owners left their mark on the house and site, the basic structure and architectural features have been preserved. Research also indicates that the site was much larger in previous years and contained outbuildings, gardens, and an orchard.
The home has seen numerous owners throughout its history. By the time it was sold to John Marx in 1921, it had changed hands six times. John Marx was the son of George Marx, who started Wyandotte's first brewery, The Marx Brewing Company, in 1862. The company, located at Oak Street and the Detroit River waterfront, carried the slogan, "A QUALITY BREW SINCE '62", and was known for the superb Pilsner beer it produced. By 1937, the company had closed its doors.
In 1974, Leo Marx and Mary T. Polley, son and daughter of John Marx, gave this building as a gift to the City of Wyandotte. After years of research and restoration the home was formally opened to the public on September 29, 1996. Many groups, organizations, and individuals took part in the restoration of the Marx Home, and the building serves as an example of the community’s hard work and dedication to historic preservation.
The Old Timer’s Log Cabin | 2815 Van Alstyne
The rustic cabin standing in Wyandotte's historic Bishop Park was built in 1942 to serve as a meeting place for the Old Timer’s Club. Originally located closer to the water front, the building was the headquarters for the Wyandotte Centennial in 1954. In 1991, following a petition drive to save the historic structure, the city turned the building over to the Cultural and Historical Commission. Outfitted for use, the Log Cabin is available for future generations to enjoy and can be rented for families celebrating birthdays, graduations, reunions, and other festive events. It can also be rented out to various non-profits, including scout groups, and religious and cultural organizations.