The Perry and Clara McAdow Home

The Perry and Clara McAdow Home
First Unitarian-Universalistic Church of Detroit

4605 Cass in Detroit's once troubled, but now reviving, Cass Corridor

Perry (Bud) McAdow was born in Kentucky to Scottish immigrants early in the Nineteenth Century. As a young man, he decided to seek his fortune in California in the Gold Rush that began in 1848. However, he did not strike it rich there, so he moved back toward the east, living in both St. Louis and Salt Lake City for some years. In 1861, he decided to try to make his fortune in remote and sparsely populated Montana, but his trip by steamer up the Missouri River to Fort Benton, Montana was not a happy one. The boiler on his steamer exploded, the boat burned, so he had to hike the last 350 miles into Montana.

He was one of the first settlers in the area that is now Billings, Montana and one of the founders of that metropolis. He arrived in July, 1861, and in December of that year, he and his prospector colleagues discovered gold in the area known as Gold Creek. He could not retrieve the precious metal because of the stormy winter weather, but he and his colleagues went back in the spring of 1862 for the gold. In that year, Bud McAdow and his follower gold miners discovered placer gold in Pioneer Gulch. News of that discovery set off a great migration of prospectors to Montana. The following year was also a highly successful one for McAdow since he discovered a rich lode of gold in Alder Gulch, Montana. Although he became rich with his discoveries of gold, McAdow was an entrepreneur and merchant. In Montana, he successfully speculated in land, in timber and lumber milling and in water rights. Apparently, he purchased land and subsequently sold it at a profit to the Northern Pacific Railroad when they built their lines through Montana. He was a land developer in Billings and, I believe, an area of that city carries his name to this day. In 1886, McAdow once again had great luck and discovered gold once more, this time in the Judith Gap area of Montana. He is the best known of the Montana gold prospectors.

He married in 1884, and five years later, sold his extensive holdings in Montana confirming his status as a very rich person. He and his wife vacationed in Florida but, as is the case for many of us who visit the Sunshine State, he found Florida disappointing and yearned to live in a very cosmopolitan, booming metropolis. So he and his wife migrated to Detroit. Apparently, they wished to be accepted by the social elite of Detroit, and decided that this would be facilitated if they built an impressive home in one of the city's prestigious neighborhoods. Thus they commission the architects from Scott and Company to design and build the impressive residence that you see here on Cass.

This is a striking single-family home. As you examine at it from the east side of Cass, you will see Corinthian columns at the sides of an impressive porch and a balustrated parapet at the third level. The exterior is very extensively decorated with many protruding windows on all sides and numerous impressive and eye-catching dormers at the roofline. In my view, it is decorated far too much, but I do not share, apparently, the Victorian tastes of the late Nineteenth Century. The decorations and elaborations detract from the basic beauty of this home.

Perry and Clara McAdow lived in this home for some years, but in 1913, it was sold to the First Unitarian-Universalist Church of Detroit. They held services in this home for two or three years until Donaldson and Meier completed the abutting church. Since the completion of that house of worship, the McAdow home has served as a parish house for the church.

Architect: Scott and Company
Architectural Style: Greatly embellished Victorian
Date of Construction: 1891
National Register of Historic Sites: Building #80004405 Listed July 3, 1980
State Register of Historic Sites: P4493 Listed December 14, 1976
State Historical Marker: Erected April 29, 1986. This is visible in the Cass Avenue of this Victorian mansion.
City of Detroit Local Historic District: Confirmed: November 26, 1980
Use in 2003: Parish House for the First Unitarian-Universalistic Church
Photo: Ren Farley, July, 2003

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