Friday, November 18, 2011

At Home in Rochester: Lorenzo D. Morse House

In the summer of 1880, a farmer and businessman named Lorenzo D. Morse came from Lapeer with a plan to build a new brick business block on Main Street in Rochester. At the same time, he contracted for a large residence on Walnut Street, next to the Congregational Church.  The house was built for Morse by contractor John Ross, who was responsible for the construction of many of Rochester's well-known 19th century structures, including the Rochester Elevator, the Universalist Church, the Congregational Church, and the William Deats house. According to a news item in the Rochester Era in June 1880, Lorenzo Morse himself was responsible for the design of his new house, which cost $2,470. The newspaper praised the building as being "first-class."

Morse and his wife lived in the home at 311 Walnut Street for just over a decade, and then moved to Detroit. Lorenzo Morse sold his house in 1892 to Joseph Partello, who was superintendent of the woolen mill at that time.  When Western Knitting Mills took over the woolen mill in 1894, Partello sold the house to William Clark Chapman, the newly-arrived secretary and treasurer of the company. The following year Chapman made several improvements to the house, including the addition of a wrap-around porch, which is visible in the 1907 view of the house that is shown here.

In 1916, Chapman and his wife decided to build a new house at their Walnut Street location, so they moved the former Morse house and relocated it on another lot that they owned at 311 Pine Street, directly behind their Walnut Street lot.  The Lorenzo D. Morse house still stands today at 311 Pine Street, and is now 131 years old.

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