This huge, towered Richardsonian extravaganza is the only stone residence of its size in Muskegon. The house is of random rock-faced gray granite set on a foundation of Joliet, Illinois, limestone. The hipped and gabled roof is covered with red tile. The house measures 94 × 60 feet in plan, is 62 feet high, and contains 31 rooms. W. K. Johnston of Muskegon designed it for John Torrent (1833–1915) and his wife, Caroline. One of the leading lumbermen of the city, Torrent came to western Michigan from Watertown, New York, by way of Ontario, Canada. Torrent and Charles H. Hackley were rivals in business and in public life. Thus, when Torrent decided to build his home, he was determined that it would be grander than Hackley's wooden Queen Anne house ( MU7). Indeed, the Torrent house cost $250,000 to build, as compared to the expenditure of a little more than $50,000 required for the Hackley house. Moreover, the Torrent house stands prominently on the public square fronting the Hackley Public Library ( MU2) and the school grounds ( MU6). The house is a monument in stone, but as an expression of the owner's love of the forest, it is finished inside with almost every kind of wood imaginable—mahogany, cherry, rosewood, bird's-eye maple, California redwood, sycamore, red birch, oak, and pine. In its size and costliness, and its extraordinary design, the house is nearly comparable to the stone house erected for lumber baron David Whitney to the designs of Gordon W. Lloyd in 1890 in Detroit ( WN58). Today it serves as an annex of Hackley Public Library.
You are here
John and Caroline Honner Torrent House
If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.
SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.