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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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D. A. Blodgett Home and ICCF, Before and After

by ICCF and GRHC

published: February 20th, 2009

The D.A. Blodgett Home for Children opened in November of 1908. Formerly known as the Children’s Home, it had occupied the Isaac Clark homestead at the same location since 1893. The Mary Free Bed Convalescent Home followed in the 1950s with an addition to the front and another to the east side in 1973. The 3.7 acre site was purchased in October of 2004 from Bethel Pentecostal Church by Fairmount Square LLC, a local real estate consortium that included ICCF. In December of 2005 ICCF bought from Fairmount Square the central portion of the property which included the land that the D.A. Blodgett Home occupied and enough space surrounding the building to accommodate parking. (Find more information to your right in Related Items)

In 1951 Mary Free Bed removed the Corinthian columns at the front of the Blodgett building when an addition was constructed at the front of the property. Once that addition was removed the "naked" front of the building stood exposed from May of 2006 until October of 2007 when new classical columns restored the appearance of the original façade.

The building required extensive restoration after years of neglect and vandalism. The room at the NW corner, originally the library and directors’ room, became the new board room.

The auditorium, located on the second floor, hosted programs for the children which often included visiting vaudeville performers, circus troupes, and celebrities from radio and movies. Today the beautifully restored auditorium is available for local programs, meetings, and celebrations.

The Victorian gardens in front of the D.A. Blodgett Home for Children were symmetrical and provided beauty for the residents of the orphanage as well as for the neighborhood. The current gardens, created from the wasteland that followed demolition, were designed to achieve the same effect.

Restoration of the D. A. Blodgett Home by ICCF began with the demolition of the Mary Free Bed additions in January of 2006 and was completed in May the same year. The project was finished in October of 2007 and ICCF moved in to the beautiful historic building. They celebrated with an open house in November of 2007, ninety-nine years after the staff and orphans moved into the beautiful new D.A. Blodgett Home for Children.

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