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.

1820 Wilkinson - My great-grandparents' home

            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.

    Dr. Youngquist's house

  • 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.

Huetter Flats

            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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5 Comments on “Marquette Homes Great-Grandpa Jay Earle White Built”

  1. Frances Says:

    This is really interesting, Ty! I’ve often heard your mom talk about building projects that her father worked on…Uncle Jolly’s recollection is add’t info for me!
    Thanks for compiling all this.

  2. Lex Says:

    I live in your great grandfather’s home!

    I remember looking at it and loving the woodwork. Simple, yet clearly well made with care. There was a simple solidity in the house that drew me in. The previous owners bought it from Mr. White’s sons and only lived here a year.

    I knew that Mr. White built the house and that he was a carpenter (like my own great grandfather), but I did not know he built so many houses in town.

    Perhaps this sounds strange, but I think about Mr. White on a regular basis. I think of him as here in the wear on the bannister and the two divots worn into the front threshold. And I believe I may have found a picture of him and his wife in the basement, which I keep on the front windowsill with a 1938 penny a friend gave me as a housewarming gift.

    It’s incredibly neat to learn more about him. You have my email address, please feel free to use it!

    • Thanks for the comment, Lex. I’m sure he would be happy to know that you appreciate his house. I don’t know if you’re familiar with my book My Marquette, but there are photos of him in that which you could compare to the photo you found. I’ll try to find one I can email you also. Best wishes and thanks for the post.

      Tyler Tichelaar

      • Lex Says:

        I looked at the back of the photo (which i hadn’t done for quite a long time), and it is not of Jay but a man named Merritt White pictured with a woman who’s name is not legible anymore. I’m not familiar with the book, yet. I am, however, starting to dig around the blog and will be picking up a copy of the book. I’m also looking forward to taking a tour of the city with your great-grandfather in mind.


      • Hi Lex,

        Merritt White was one of my great-grandpa’s older brothers. His wife’s name was Carrie.

        I’ll be at the TV6 Craft Show at the Superior Dome Dec 5-7 if you want to stop by – then I can autograph my book for you, or they are available downtown in most of the stores and pre-signed. You’ll find out a lot more about my family in it.

        Best wishes,

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