On Saturday 7th September as we drove into Muskegon, a city of 38,000 in the State of Michigan more or less opposite Milwaukee on the eastern shores of Lake Michigan, and drew to a stop outside the Hackley and Hume Houses I thought I had arrived in pre-revolutionary Russia!
The Hackley House
The Hume House
Look at the pictures and you will see what I mean. But I could get no satisfactory answer from the tour guide as to why the houses were built in this particular style. But otherwise we had a most interesting tour of both houses and were able to compare and contrast the house styles and the lives of their former inhabitants.
Our guide referred to Muskegon as the city that built Chicago due to its huge influence and reliance on the lumber (timber) trade. Needless to say that was what Charles Hackley and Thomas Hume were involved in.
“Victorian love of ornament may have reached a new height in the 1888 home of Muskegon’s great benefactor and richest lumber baron, Charles Hackley. Together with the house of his partner next door and the elaborate, prominent carriage house they share, it forms a remarkable urban ensemble, almost Oriental (we thought it Russian) in its turretted silhouette and rich colors and textures. Houses of this size and splendor were usually made of brick or stone, but Hackley and Thomas Hume, his friend and business partner since 1875, built with the material that made their fortunes. It is said to have taken years for German woodcarvers to finish the Hackley House’s fanciful, fascinating carvings of birds, dragons, bats and a portrait of Hackley himself.”
Taken from Hunt’s Guide to West Michigan (above).
The Prominent Carriage House
Charles H. Hackley carved in wood
The Hackley Carved Fireplace
Ornate walls, ceiling and door in the Hackley House
Staircase at The Hackley House
The Hume House was being Prepared to Show a Wedding Party
Charles Hackley was a generous benefactor to the city of Muskegon and many buildings and sites still survive today as evidence of this. We visited the park, the library and the art museum, all very near the houses, but there’s also a hospital, a school and other philanthropic institutions.
The Hackley Library
Welcome to The Hackley Library – the Hackley Park is behind
Inside The Hackley Library Today
The first floor mezzanine has a glass floor to allow as much natural light into the building as possible.
The Muskegon Museum of Art