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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

The Home at 439 East Fulton Street


An impressive Georgian style home at 393 E. Fulton was built by William S. Howard, an official with the Grand Rapids and Indiana railroad.  Howard lived in the house from 1894 to 1901.  The next known owner, beginning in 1908, was Robert E. Shanahan.  Shanahan was one of the founders of the Bissell Carpet Sweeper Company and served as its secretary and general manager at the time of his death.  He was born on a farm but achieved a business education before he started with Bissell, having studied for a year at the Conrad Swensberg commercial school.  Shanahan died in 1922 but his widow, Mary Ellen, continued to occupy the property through 1943.  

439 E Fulton Sanborn map circled

Mary Ellen subsequently sold what was then 439 E. Fulton to Harry and Gertrude Widdicomb.  Earlier in their lives, the Widdicombs built the residence that was on the corner of Fulton and Prospect where the Cook Administration building now sits (See the Article, 411 E. Fulton, in Related Items).  Harry died in 1957 and Gertrude remained at the address until 1963.  The home was demolished for the Sneden Center. 

The 1912 Sanborn Insurance Map shows the Howard home, fourth from the left, circled.

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