Heritage Hill's 162-year-old Pike House restored to grandeur

By: Deborah Johnson Wood

In 1844, Abram W. Pike had four massive Greek columns dragged by ox cart from Port Sheldon (where the columns were once part of a hotel) to the construction site of his home at 230 East Fulton Street. Pike, a successful trader and businessman, knew the columns were architectural treasures. However, he didn't know the drawings of his house plans would be immortalized in the Library of Congress as Grand Rapids' first example of early Greek Revival architecture.

The building is on the National Register of Historic Places. In January, it became the new offices of Design Plus, an architecture, engineering, and design firm.

"The firm wanted to maintain the building's historical design and integrity, so I went through the building with a historian," said Lorene Roskamp, a principal with Design Plus and interior designer of the project. "We identified parts that were original to the building—moldings, wood flooring, opaque glass ceilings, a ceramic fountain, and other things."

The Grand Rapids Art Gallery, now the Grand Rapids Art Museum, purchased the house in the 1920s and used it as a gallery for 50 years. The structure was expanded to 17,000 square feet with the addition of galleries and an auditorium.

Roskamp kept the original living room as a reception area, combined the second level galleries into an architectural studio, and added 70 workspaces throughout the building. The ceilings, floors, and fountain were restored. Replica crown moldings and wood trim were added. The firm is planning an open house to show off their new digs.

"We saw the move [to The Pike House] as another opportunity to demonstrate the firm's dedication to the redevelopment of downtown," Roskamp said. "We've been downtown for 27 years and we wanted to stay downtown."

The architect for the renovation was Vern Ohlman, Design Plus.

Source: Lorene Roskamp, Design Plus

Photographs © Brian Kelly

Deborah Johnson Wood is the development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be reached at [email protected].

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