John Marx Home/Theophilus Langlois Home

2630 Biddle, Wyandotte, Michigan

Before the arrival of British and United States military, the Wyandot tribe had a village at the location of Wyandotte, Michigan which is eleven miles south of Detroit on the banks of the Detroit River. This was the site where Chief Pontiac planned his bloody 1763 siege of the British fort at Detroit. After the arrival of US forces, the tribes of Michigan were forced to sign treaties ceding most of their land claims. By the 1830s, almost all Indians had been removed from the state. The Wyandot, in 1814, signed their treaty, gave up their claim to this land and moved to where Flat Rock, Michigan is located—about 10 miles south of Wyandotte. Subsequently, they moved or were expelled to Kansas and then to Oklahoma.

John Biddle was one of the first white settlers in this area. During the War of 1812, he served as a major in the Army, so he became familiar with this area and decided to settle here rather than returning to his native Pennsylvania. In 1835, he established a large farm at what is now the intersection of Biddle and Vinewood. He named his farm Wyandotte in honor of the tribe that lived in this area before his arrival. The main street continues to bear his surname. In 1854, Biddle sold his farm to Eder Ward who founded the Eureka Iron Works, the first firm to successfully use the Bessemer process to produce steel. This was a major step forward in the industrialization process and contributed to the emergence of the steel belt that once surrounded the Great Lakes. Indeed, quite a few steel firms still capitalize upon coal, iron ore and shipping facilities that made metropolitan Detroit a steel and iron center by the end of the 1900s. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, Wyandotte became a chemical and then a ship building center.

Dr. Langlois was born in Grosse Ile in 1840, but went to Quebec for his education and graduated from the College of Joliette in 1862. He returned to Amherstburg to serve as a school principal, but quit that post to enter the Detroit College of Medicine. After one year of medical training, he began his practice in Wyandotte and quickly became a prominent civic leader. He served as mayor, as chair of the city’s water board that built the waterworks and as chair of the Board of Education. Dr. Langlois died at the age of 86.

The appealing home that you see is a two-story brick Italianate structure that Dr. Langlois had erected for his use in 1872. As was typical in that era, a heavy stone foundation protrudes from the ground and serves to support the substantial home. The three tall bay windows face the city’s wide main street. The architect designed windows that are topped with attractive rounded hoods, using light colored limestone for decorative purposes. A bracketed entablature surrounds the double door entryway at the northern end of the front. At the rear, there is a single-story addition. At the top you will see a good-looking hip roof with very nice ornamental ironwork protecting a flat space that might be used for sunbathing on those few days when Michigan’s sun shines brightly. Dr. Langlois was clearly able to convey his financial success and prestige in this residence.

John Marx, Wyandotte’s city attorney, purchased this classical Italianate home in 1921 and his name is sometimes identified with it.

Architect: Unknown to me
Architectural Style: Italianate
Date of Construction: About 1872
Date of Restoration: 1976
State of Michigan Registry of Historic Sites: P25370; Listed January 16, 1976
National Register of Historic Places: Listed August 13, 1976
Photograph: Ren Farley; February, 2006
Use in 2006: Residential
Date description prepared: August, 2006

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