As some of you know, I am from Saginaw, and have lived here my whole life (I even do a website about Saginaw HERE). Traveling around Michigan, I see so many beautiful old abandoned houses in other towns around the state. Saginaw has it’s own historic abandoned mansion near downtown that is well known by the people of Saginaw as the “Cat Lady’s House” because the most recent owner was Rosemary DeGesero, and she would walk her pet leopard Chichu on a chain around Saginaw.
The House was originally built in the late 1870’s by lumber baron Charles Lee, who had a sawmill near the house along the Saginaw River. In 1911, after Charles Duryea moved to Saginaw, he used one of Lee’s sawmill buildings near the house to build what he called a “Motor Buggy. After Lee’s death, the house was purchased by Dr Michael D. Ryan, and he became the first resident physician at St Mary’s Hospital in Saginaw. While working for St Mary’s, he would walk to lumber camps and sell the hospital’s $5 insurance plans that would provide medical treatment for one year. Dr Ryan was one of the last “ horse and buggy” doctors traveling to outlying lumber camps in the Saginaw Valley. During the great fire of 1893 Dr. Ryan joined in the bucket brigade on the roof of St Mary’s Hospital dousing embers from the fire, saving the hospital from the treacherous flames.
Dr Ryan’s daughter, Rosemary married Roy DeGesero and they lived in the house raising their family in the same house she grew up in. When the Saginaw Daily News building was demolished in 1960 some of the terracotta lions were given to her, and prominently displayed on the front porch. Rosemary was and eccentric and interesting person, she loved the theater and often helped out at Pit and Balcony. She was known for her love of cats and had several of them and was known by those who did not know her name as “the cat lady”.
Sadly Rosemary died in 2012, a few years after moving to New Jersey to live with her daughter. The house went up for sale at that time and the City of Saginaw purchased the property ,and is the current owner. Unfortunately they did absolutely no maintenance to the house, and after several years of neglect the city has decided to demolish the home.
UPDATE: The house is currently for sale by the City of Saginaw. if no one purchases it by the end of October with a plan to restore it then it will be demolished. if you are interested in purchasing the historic home click HERE for info
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