Marquette Homes Great-Grandpa Jay Earle White Built
Today, January 2nd, is the birthday of my great-grandpa Jay Earle White (1880-1963). So in his honor I’m posting the section from My Marquette that lists the houses that he built.
While none of my ancestors were fortunate enough to live in the grand old mansions of Ridge and Arch Streets, my great-grandfather, Jay Earle White, was busily building homes for people throughout Marquette in the early 1900s. Amazingly, he learned carpentry through a correspondence course.
I don’t know how many homes my great-grandfather built, but in the late 1990s, my Great-Uncle Jolly drove around Marquette with me, letting me know which houses he remembered his father building, some of which my great-uncle helped to build as a teenager in the 1920s. Most of the houses Jay Earle White built are in the residential East side of Marquette. Some of the homes he built are long gone, but those that remain, according to my great-uncle’s recollections eighty years later, are listed below with approximate dates for when they were built. I have not verified the accuracy of all these dates but simply submit them as my great-uncle best remembered them.
- South Side Pioneer Road — a home on this street was built in 1927 for Fred Odett.
- 307, 323, and 325 College Avenue — these houses are just a couple of blocks from Marquette General Hospital, St. Luke’s at the time, and were built as homes for nurses.
- 400 Crescent Street — built about or slightly after 1927.
- 537 Center Street — built for the Duquettes. It is next door to my grandparents’ house at 1622 Wilkinson Avenue.
- 710 Front Street — built for Dr. Youngquist in 1924.
- 714 Spruce Street — the Huetter Flats, built in 1924, at the time a “modern” apartment building. Known today as “Spruce Manor,” it is still an apartment building. A building was located here as early as 1900 which was also apartments.
- 810 Front Street — built for John Robinson.
- 1041 Pine Street — built about 1925 or 1926.
- 1111 and 1116 High Street — built in 1927 for Charles Gustafson.
- 1119 Pine Street
- 1222 N. Front Street — built for Leo Tonn
- 1820 Wilkinson Avenue — built in 1938 by Jay Earle White for his own family.
My great-grandfather did a lot of other carpentry work including working as a cabinet maker at what was then Northern Michigan College. Great-Uncle Jolly told me his father never wanted to belong to the Carpenters Union because his work was so good people would pay him $1.00 an hour, and the union carpenters only made $0.75 an hour, so the union carpenters took up a collection to pay his carpenter dues so they wouldn’t have to compete with him and he’d get what they were paid.
I wonder whether my great-grandfather ever considered that the houses he built would still be standing well into the twenty-first century. Over time, hundreds of people must have lived in these homes. His work lives on in his homes as well as in his family long after he is gone.
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