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135-year-old mansion on Heritage Hill offers historic setting for renters By Jim Harger

GRAND RAPIDS, MI - Those wanting to live near downtown and the Medical Mile have a growing list of compact and modern apartments from which to choose as developers build furiously to meet the demand.

For those who want the more traditional experience of living in an old house, there's Heritage Hill and its assortment of rental apartments.

This 4-bedroom unit at 326 Cherry Street SE is one of the larger and older rental houses on the Hill. Located half a block from Mercy Health's St. Mary's Campus, The green craftsman style home offers an ideal location for a medical professional and family.

Offered at $3,950 a month by Keller Williams Rivertown Realty, a career in medicine is probably called for anyone wanting to live in its traditional parlors and sit on its shaded front porch.

The big apartment is the larger of two units inside the clapboard house that was built around 1882 by Oscar Wilmarth, according to data collected by the Heritage Hill Association.

Unlike many of the big houses built on the Hill in that era, it was a rental in its early years. In 1902, it was purchased by E.A. Mosely, a longtime tenant who lived there until 1905.

Another tenant was Samuel H. Peck, proprietor of the Cody Hotel, a fashionable hotel which sat where the Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts now sits at the corner Division and Fulton Avenue. "Buffalo Bill" Cody, a cousin of the Grand Rapids family, was a frequent guest and provided the huge buffalo heads which once adorned the hotel's lobby.

By 1969, the big house had been converted to five apartments. Subsequent owners restored the house's floor plan to its current configuration where most of the first two levels are devoted to a large apartment while the third floor is a smaller rental.

The small entrance, designed to keep out windy winter drafts, has a blue flower-patterns tile floor that is found elsewhere in the sunny family room out back and on the hearth of the coal-burning fireplace in the living room.

The tile was made by the same company that made the flooring tile in the old City Hall, which was demolished in the late 1960s, according to Heritage Hill historians.

Most of the oak flooring on the main floor appears to be original to the house while the millwork around the eight-foot pocket doors bears sunflower carvings. The steam radiators in the house are topped by carved granite tops.

The front parlor in the house includes a mandolin stained glass window that is original to the house. A keyhole window on the landing to the second floor also is original to the house but was repaired and replaced by its previous owners.

The kitchen has been remodeled and includes a reproduction tin ceiling and cabinets that were installed sometime during the past 30 years. The bathroom on the main floor includes a clawfoot tub that may be original to the house.

Walk up the ornate staircase to find three bedrooms - four if you count the dressing room next to the master bedroom.

The master bedroom in the corner includes a fireplace, stained glass window and window seat that are original to the home. The room includes one of several unique round steam radiator found in the houses.

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