523 SOUTH JEFFERSON Avenue
(Constructed for Mr. & Mrs. C.M. Hill)
Architect: Fred W. Hollister, Saginaw, Michigan
c. 1907 alterations to house and 1911 garage: W.T. Cooper & Son, Saginaw, Michigan
Builder (House, alterations and garage): Stephen Winkler, Saginaw, Michigan
In scale alone, this large Queen Anne style home testifies to the success of Saginaw’s lumbering industry and the riches reaped from Michigan’s forest. Completed in the summer of 1887, 523 South Jefferson was constructed for Clarence and Susie R. Hill. Among his many business interests, Clarence Hill was a partner in the firm of Hill and Caskey. A newspaper article published at the time the home was constructed stated - “As cotton is king in the South, so is pine the regal head of Michigan’s natural wealth, and the numerous mills of all kinds that dot the river’s bank, from which many thousands of homes are supported, all attest the secret of this valley’s wonderful growth and general prosperity.” (“Large Enterprise: Owned and Controlled by The Lumber Firm of Hill & Caskey.”The Saginaw Evening News, May 12, 1887).
The architect for the house was Fred W. Hollister, a well-know Saginaw architect. His work included the design for the 1884 Saginaw County Court House.
Constructed on a natural berm, the house rises two and a half stories from a rusticated limestone foundation. The composition is dominated by a three story tower with a domed roof. Each floor of the house is covered in a different material - the first floor is brick veneered, the second floor is sided. On the third level, the wood covering each of the gables is different. On the third floor of the tower is an elaborate date plaque recording the year of the home’s construction, 1886.
Clarence Hill passed away in 1901; Susie Hill lived in the home until her death in 1949. About 1907 she undertook a complete remodeling of the home. A large porch was added on the North side of the house, the service wing in the rear of the home was expanded. Railings and trim were subtly reworked and edited. With the exception of one parlor and the entrance hall, the interior was reworked - one newspaper account describes it as being rebuilt. W.T. Cooper, the architect for this remodeling campaign, carefully and respectfully reworked the existing design and details into a new composition. In 1911 he designed the garage at the rear of the property.
After Susie Hill’s death in 1949, 523 South Jefferson was divided into five apartments.
523 South Jefferson is one of the last of Saginaw’s great wood frame lumbering mansions. Neighborhood Renewal Services of Saginaw acquired 523 South Jefferson in 2004 and has undertaken basic stabilization steps. The Friends of Hill House have formed to preserve and restore the house.
“Large Enterprise Owned and Controlled by The Lumber Firm of Hill & Caskey.” The Saginaw Evening News. 12 May 1887
“Mrs. Susie Richardson Hill, 94, Succumbs.” Saginaw News. 24 November 1949
“Idyllic Retreat Inspires Architect.” Saginaw News. Thursday, 16 March 1967
Leonard, James W. Industries of the Saginaws: Historical Descriptive and Statistical. East Saginaw: J.M. Elstner & Co.