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Heritage Hill house restored: ‘Best of both worlds’

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — After decades of neglect and the tragic deaths of three children in a massive fire, a historic home in Grand Rapids’ Heritage Hill neighborhood has been reborn.

The owner has restored 426 Lafayette Ave. SE to the way it looked when it was first built more than 100 years ago.

“I had no idea that it had such a rich history. I figured it had to have a pretty decent history just because of the size of this house and when it was built,” said property manager Jared Behrens of American Realty.

The home was split into apartments in the 1960s and 1970s, furthering its decline. Then, a fire in 1994 caused extensive damage to the structure, as well as killing three children.

426 Lafayette Avenue SE, Grand Rapids
A historic photo of 426 Lafayette SE.

A lot of the original architecture was destroyed in the fire or was otherwise unsalvageable, but some pieces are still standing.

“It’s an original old door to this house,” Behrens showed 24 Hour News 8 during a tour of the house Monday. “There’s a lot of things in this property that you just can’t find, but this door is another perfect example of it.”

The windows and sash cords are another example, and some of the hardwood floors are also a step back in time.

“The foundation, the walls that you see, the exterior walls here are the original stones that were put here back in the 1890s when this place was originally built,” Behrens said.

426 Lafayette Avenue SE, Grand Rapids
The restored 426 Lafayette SE.

But there are some new additions to the five-bedroom house: chandeliers and a kitchen with stainless steel fixtures and granite countertops.

And there’s craftsmanship around every corner.

“As far as the trim, you will notice that it is natural woodwork, larger molding — something typical of the era when this home was built. But then we also have the new things, the technology, the newer furnishings, the fixtures,” said James Eerdmans, who owns the building. “Kind of the best of both worlds.”

He says he’s looking to rent the house out at between $4,000 and $4,500 per month. An open house is on Oct. 28 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Everyone is welcome.

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