When you walk onto this block of Webster Avenue in Muskegon, you are struck by these homes. You wonder if some architect wished to caricature Queen Anne styling, perhaps for a horror movie set. And then you wonder if the architect commission depended upon the number of pieces of wood he could use to build two immense residences. This block is the most magnificent exposition of Queen Anne residences to be found in Michigan. It consists of the Charles H. and Julia E. Moore Hackley home at 484 West Webster, the Thomas and Margaret Ann Banks Hume home at 472 West Webster and a large and architecturally appropriate carriage barn linking the two homes. Charles Hackley, born in 1837, arrived in Muskegon at age 20, apparently with only less than ten dollars. At that time, Muskegon was becoming an important shipping point for lumber. It was cut throughout Michigan but much of it was shipped to Chicago and other ports using Great Lakes ships. By the late 1870s, railroads were successfully competing with ships for the lumber trade.
Hackley was one of several dozen Michigan residents who rose to the ranks of richest men in the nation through the lumber industry. By the later 1850s, Hackley was establishing a mill to process lumber. The logs would be transported by water to his mill on the Lake Michigan shoreline where he would process them and then ship the product to Chicago and other ports. He closed this mill in 1894 since lumber was no longer available. When he died in 1905, Hackley was worth 12 million dollars or more than 300 million in 2012 dollars. But lumber had a limited ability to sustain economic growth in Michigan. Certainly by the early 1890s and, perhaps, earlier, Muskegon leaders recognized that the lumber boom would not last forever. At first the easily accessible first growth pine was cut. Later, the much more difficult to access pine was cut, often after rail lines were laid down to get at trees that could not easily be floated to a mill on a river. Charles Hackley was among the first to recognize that Muskegon’s economic base was changing. Muskegon used the nickname “Lumber Queen of the World” in the 1880s, but after the economic downtown of 1892, that title no longer fit. Hackley used the fortune he amassed in the lumber industry to provide capital for what became an array of thriving manufacturing firms in Muskegon. Hackley’s businesses included the Shaw Electric Crane Works, the huge Amazon Knitting Company with their very large building in downtown Muskegon that was recently renovated for use as residences, the Sargent Manufacturing Company, the Stand Malleable Company, the Chase-Hackley Piano firm and the Hackley National Bank. Muskegon, at the turn of the Twentieth Century, provided the nation with an example of how a city could reinvigorate its economy after its original economic backbone disappeared. This was largely due to Hackley’s capital and investments.
These are exceptionally irregular homes with octagonal towers, many elaborate chimneys, numerous porches, gables in several places and domes resembling those of an Orthodox church. You will also see porte-cocheres and greatly varied roof lines. There are an immense number of carefully carved posts, spindles and large, large horseshoe openings found only on the largest and most expensive Queen Anne homes. The tremendous amount of woodworking was done by the Kelly Brothers manufacturing company of Muskegon. Inside the Hackley home, you will find seven tiled fireplaces and 15 leaded glass windows made by the Well Glass Company of Chicago. The complex polychromatic paint schemes used throughout the exterior of these homes has disappeared from the architect’s repertoire. Apparently Charles Hackley wanted everyone to know about his importance and his wealth.
Charles Hackley purchased property for these homes in 1887 and immediately sold some part of it to Thomas Hume. Thomas Hume migrated from Ireland to Muskegon in 1872 and got hired as Charles Hackley’s bookkeeper. He moved up rapidly, and from 1881 until the death of Hackley, he was the junior partner in Hackley’s enterprises.
The Hume home is larger than the Hackley home since the Hume family included seven children. There is somewhat less elaboration of detail on the Hume home than on the Hackley home. Architect Hopkins designed the Hackley home to be a retirement site. However, he designed the Hume home to be the place of residence for the Hume family with their numerous children. Thus there are much larger interior open spaces in the Hume home.
Between the two homes, is a large structure known as the City Barn. Each of the property owners had coachman so this large structure not only linked the two homes but provided ground level space for the horses and coaches and apartments on the second level for the coachmen.
Hackley became a generous philanthropist. He donated funds in 1888 for the Hackley Public Library—a very massive Richardsonian Romanesque structure of Maine granite located in central Muskegon. He also funded Hackley Park, helped to establish Hackley Hospital and started the Hackley Art Gallery, now known as the Muskegon Art Gallery. He funded Hackley Manual School, an institute that eventually evolved in Muskegon Community College. And he built the Hackley Hose Company for the city’s fire department. In his real estate development efforts, he became one of the founders of the new city of Muskegon Heights.
After the death of Charles and Julia Hackley in 1905, their daughter inherited the home and lived in it briefly. Then she converted it into a boarding house, but then gave it to the local chapter of the Red Cross in 1943. They used it as their headquarters until 1971 when a movement started to restore the home to its original glory and turn it into a museum honoring the city's past. That has happened and the two homes along with the carriage barn make up the Lakeshore Museum Center. The restoration of the Hume home is underway but may not yet be complete.
I know very little about the architect. He was born in New York state in 1834 and eventually developed a practice in Grand Rapids. I do not know why Charles Hackley selected him for this unusual commission. Nor do I know of any other buildings he designed.
Architect for both homes: David S. Hopkins
Date of construction: For the Charles H. and Julia E. Moore home: 1887-1889
For the Thomas and Margaret Ann Banks Hume home: 1888
Architectural style: Quintessential Queen Anne
Use in 2012: Owner and maintained by The Lakeshore Museum Center
State of Michigan Registry of Historic Sites: Hackley Home: Listed April 24, 1970
Hume Home: Listed August 13, 1971
State of Michigan Historic Markers: Put in place in 1988
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