503 SOUTH JEFFERSON
(Constructed for Mr. & Mrs. J.C. Caskey)
Architect and builder unknown
Two massive wood frame Queen Anne-style homes dominate the 500 block of South Jefferson: 503 and 523 South Jefferson. Constructed in 1886 for business partners in Hill and Caskey, Manufacturers and Dealers in Lumber, an 1887 The Saginaw Evening News article declared that the men had each “recently erected as handsome residences on Jefferson Street as can be found in the city.”
503 S. Jefferson was constructed for J.C. and Jennie Caskey. J.C. Caskey arrived in East Saginaw in 1883 and started working for C.M. Hill. By 1885, he had become a part owner of the firm of Hill and Caskey and prospered.
Elaborately picturesque, with a richly ornamented covering of wood siding, paneling and trim, the house advertises and celebrates the lumber industry that funded its construction. On the upper floors are panels of richly worked stucco. Reflecting the period’s eclectic borrowing and combining of designs from many ages and cultures, some panels are incised with Asian-inspired abstracted floral designs and others are ornamented with patterns borrowed from America’s Colonial past. Some are encrusted with found objects - shards of glass, bottles and pebbles - reminiscent of Nathaniel Hawthone’s description of the stucco covering the exterior of his fictional House of Seven Gables “. . . conceived in the grotesqueness of a Gothic fantasy and drawn or stamped in the glittering plaster, composed of lime, pebbles, and bits of glass . . . ”
The opulence of the exterior sets the tone for the richness of the interior. Richly detailed with carving, stained glass panels, patterned oak floors and plaster cornices, the main rooms on the first floor consist of a hall, front parlor, study and dining room. A different species of wood is used in each room.
By 1891, Saginaw’s great lumbering boom was over and Caskey and his family moved to the west coast and sold 503 South Jefferson. Later, the home was owned by the Habeck family. They constructed a series of garages along Millard and Baum for their wholesale grocery business.
The current owner of the house is in the process of restoring it.
“Large Enterprise Owned and Controlled by The Lumber Firm of Hill & Caskey.” Saginaw Evening News 12 May 1887.
Saginaw Evening News 20 July 1887.
East Saginaw and Saginaw City Directories