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Rio Vista: 1900

Rio Vista: 1900

Wayne County, Mich., circa 1900. "Rio Vista, Grosse Ile." On the porch is our host for this brief visit, William Livingstone. Detroit Publishing Co. View full size.


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Family Tie to Rio Vista

My mother grew up in this house, and my maternal grandparents lived there for decades, until the early 1950's. There was an inground icehouse out back, and grapes, which the family stomped in a big cast iron vat after a harvest. There was a coal fired furnace in the basement that my grandfather would stoke, and then clean out the clinkers after the coal was spent. My grandparents had a friend who at a cocktail party was leaning against one of the tall windows in the living room. The latch gave way and she fell out through the window and landed unharmed, thanks no doubt to her cocktails, on the porch outside.

It was a magnificent house. When it went up for sale in 1950 or 1951, I believe the asking price was $29,000!

I lived across the river in Trenton.

Sadly it is quite typical of the area to "uglify" a house like Rio Vista.

Tall Windows

They must have been wonderful for creating a draft in the house during hot summer days. On a cool summer evening it must have been great to sit on the porch and rock away.

I want one just like it

Wow, what a beautiful house. It's a shame that the exterior has been altered. I'd like to have a house just like it, but with energy efficiency and technology updates, of course.

Gothic Revival and Victorian Decline

The house, designed by Gordon Lloyd, was built in 1859 for Anthony Dudgeon, a wealthy merchant who was also a state senator. Later in the 19th century William Livingstone, the stern-looking man seen here and in a previous post, bought it as a summer home for his family, calling it Rio Vista.

As a side note, the Livingstone family's main residence was a mansion in Brush Park that was the first commission of the noted architect Albert Kahn. Around 1990 it was moved a block west, and began a long, slow decline due to an inadequate foundation. Eventually it developed a pronounced sag (for years it was affectionately known as "Slumpy"). Eventually it fell into such dangerous disrepair that restoration was not possible, and the place was demolished in 2007.

Livingstone Channel

This badly needed shipping channel in the Lower Detroit River was named after William H. Livingstone. He was instrumental in the eventual construction of this unusual feat of marine engineering. Sections of the Detroit River were dammed off and dredging for deepening the channel was done on dry river bed. The channel was completed after four and a half years work and opened up for lake shipping on October 19, 1912. The first vessel down the channel was the William Livingstone, piloted by the man himself. Detroit Publishing has a series of photos showing the channel under construction.

Love Site

Just wanted you to know that my day would not be complete without viewing your photos. I love them and look forward to each day's offering Thank you so much for providing this little spot of joy each day.

Surviving, but Altered

Here is a photo from last year by Andrew Jameson. As you can see, much of the original Gothic Revival detailing (including part of the porch, porch millwork, original doors and window sash, second-story balustrade and wood shingle roof) are gone. Happily, the elaborate chimneys, gable bargeboards and quatrefoil window in the attic survive.

Well Maintained

I wish the original wooden "gingerbread" was restored. The "wrought" aluminum balcony and porch supports, while probably lower maintenance, are stylistically inappropriate. Still it is good to see a fine old home in such wonderful condition.

Creeper in the doorway!!!

Watch out, Dad!!! Or is it my overactive imagination? Yet our host appears to be thinking we are the creepers--I feel like I should comb my hair. Who was mowing the lawn, and where is he? Has he stopped his chore to visit the outhouse? Is that spots on the negative or leaves on the lawn. I love this bucolic image, but it sure is creepy.

What a lawn

I'd like to meet the guy who keeps it so nice using the push mower at the right of the house.

Loss of Constancy

Where is the boy in the striped shirt?

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