This sandstone house sits just outside of downtown Ionia. It’s hard to miss when driving through town and the historical marker in front tells the story of the house and the man who built it.
John Celsus Blanchard (1822 – 1905) epitomized the American “self-made man.” He left his home in Cayuga County, New York, at the age of fourteen for the western frontier. Blanchard worked as a laborer in Detroit, Livingston and Shiawassee Counties before walking sixty miles to the U.S. Land Office at Ionia. Using $50 of the $53 he had saved, he purchased forty acres of land in 1837. Two years later he began “reading the law” as a student in the law offices of Roof and Bell in Lyons. His appointment as Ionia County prosecuting attorney in 1850 began a distinguished public career. That year Blanchard and his wife, Harriet, moved to Ionia where they devoted themselves to civic affairs and became generous benefactors to churches and schools, including Albion College.
The brick walls of this substantial Italianate House are veneered with variegated sandstone selected by John Blanchard from the Ionia Sandstone Quarry, which he co-owned. The house stands where the Blanchard’s first Ionia home was located. In 1880 they moved that house to the back of the lot and began constructing this elegant residence, completed in 1881. The house looks much as it did when Blanchard’s lived here and retains many original interior features, such as brass chandeliers, faux marble fireplaces and walnut shutters. In 1974 the Ionia County Historical Society purchased the house. The Blanchard House is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The one thing that has intrigued me is that fact that it has two front doors. A set of double doors and a single door. I am wondering if that is the door to his office. I did a little research but could not find the answer online. If you know what the extra door is used for please post a comment below.
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