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Development News

Sanford House on John Street brings old house charm to modern recovery


The new owners of 221 John St. in Heritage Hill are paying close attention to detail in the rehab of the historic mansion, which was originally built in 1891 and boasts hand carved wood finishes, nine bathrooms, and seven and a half bathrooms. 

When renovations are completed this June, the home where lavish, turn-of-the-20th-century parties were thrown by the first owner, Dr. Charles Hazeltine, will reopen as an addiction recovery center for men. The incoming “Sanford House on John Street” will serve as a residential and outpatient drug and alcohol treatment center for men and will have a 20-person capacity.

“Basically every surface in that house in being touched with the idea of preservation and return to its original grandeur,” says Rae Green, a lawyer and addiction counselor who decided to restore the home and reopen it as Sanford House on John Street following the success of she and her husband’s first recovery and treatment center for women, Sanford House on Cherry Street. 

“There was a beautiful stained glass window that had started to bow because of the leaded nature with which stained glass windows were made in 1800s…it’s being taken apart like a puzzle and being put back together,” she says. “Those are the depths we’re going to in order to touch and preserve every inch of the house.”

With much of the millwork and flooring intact and restorable, an expert team of craftsmen will also work to restore all 88 windows, refinish both interior and exterior woodwork, update the landscaping, and install new bathrooms and a new roof.

“The structure and the nature of the house lends well to a residential treatment setting,” Green says, highlighting floor plans that call for a house manager office, first floor handicap bedroom and bathroom, a larger kitchen and dining room, several group therapy rooms, outdoor porches and decks, a doctor’s office and secure medication storage, and a basement fitness room to boot. 

Fitness, Green says, will be among the many techniques utilized for the couple’s evidence-based gender specific recovery methods, which she says is about giving women and, in this case, men, a sense of environmental safety and freedom required to have the kind of honest conversations with each other that ultimately lead to healing. 

“The tendency is that when men are in a group with the absence of women, they can also speak more freely, although the topics might be different,” Green says. “…There’s that freedom within a gender specific setting, the pursuit of mutual goals and concerns.” 

For more information on the upcoming Sanford House on John Street or Sanford House on Cherry Street, visit Sanford House online at www.sanfordhousegr.com

Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Sanford House Grand Rapids 
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