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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

The Home at 455 East Fulton Street


 Theodore F. Richards, president of Priestley Express Wagon and Sleigh, was listed at 409 E. Fulton for the first time in the 1890 city directory with the notation that he died Jan. 31, 1890.  It is possible that he passed away just as his new home was being completed.  He was 62 at the time of his death.  He had an interest in the Widdicomb furniture company and Harry Widdicomb was his neighbor on the block.  Richards’ widow, Julia, remained at the address until 1907.  The site was then vacant until 1913 during which the address changed to 449 E. Fulton. The next owner was Charles Sligh, founder of the Sligh Furniture Company, and a Grand Rapids Press article from the time described his “new residence” on East Fulton. It was probably at this time the address changed to 455 E. Fulton.

Whether the home was actually new or a major renovation of the Richards home, as one source indicated, is unknown. Sligh died in 1927 and his widow remained in the home until 1943 when the next owner became Fred W. DeVries.  DeVries immediately converted the space into multiple apartments.  His widow administered the apartments from 1956 to 1960.  In 1961, the building officially became Davenport’s Mabel Engle Hall, though Davenport students likely lived there earlier and the dorm’s director, Florence Post, had lived at the address since 1959.

The 1912 Sanborn Insurance Map shows the Richards - Sligh house, fifth from the left, circled.

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