The central portion of this handsome Victorian home was built in the late 1850s. Several prominent Flint families lived in it before Robert J. Whaley purchased it in 1884. Whaley a local lumberman and banker, remodeled the house extensively. Three bays, the library alcove and a west-end addition were among the exterior changes. The interior was enhanced by adding ornate woodwork and colorful tiled fireplaces. In 1925, Whaley’s wife endowed the house, making it a home for elderly women. In 1975 it became a public museum.
Robert J. Whaley was born in Castile, New York, in 1840. He moved to Wisconsin with his family in the 1840s, then returned to New York. There he met and married Mary McFarlan of Flint. Whaley and his bride moved to Flint in 1867. Here, he joined his father-in-law in lumbering and later banking. He purchased this gracious structure in 1884. Serving as president of Flint’s Citizens Bank for forty-one years, Whaley was also a trustee for the Michigan Charitable Schools, a Mason, an Elk and a 1912 Democratic candidate for state treasurer. He died in 1922.
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