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John and Caroline Honner Torrent House

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1891–1892, W. K. Johnston of Johnston and Johnston. 315 W. Webster Ave.

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.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Kathryn Bishop Eckert
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Citation

Kathryn Bishop Eckert, "John and Caroline Honner Torrent House", [Muskegon, Michigan], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/MI-01-MU5.

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Michigan

Buildings of Michigan, Kathryn Bishop Eckert. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, 383-384.

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