Photographer's Note

" Info of kalamazoo club park"

During the last quarter of the 19th century, when Kalamazoo was called "the most elegant town in the Midwest," it had three men's clubs: the Kalamazoo, the Academy, and the Cosmopolitan. On February 22, 1904, the three clubs merged and because they immediately purchased the former Nathaniel Balch Home on the corner of Rose and South streets facing Bronson Park, they named their new organization the Park Club.

For twenty years, the club occupied its Italianate building on that prominent corner. But in the prosperous period of the early 1920s, the club began to contemplate a larger and more up-to-date facility. They considered constructing a multi-story club and commercial building on the site. When the bids came in at a half-a-million dollars, the members quickly decided to purchase for $50,000 the former William Lawrence mansion next door which for 15 years had been the home of the Odd Fellows Club.

In 1889, William Lawrence, the owner of the Lawrence and Chapin Foundry, (the building on North Rose Street which has been renovated for First of America across from the new Arcadia Campus of the Kalamazoo Valley Community College) moved the original frame Italianate house off the site facing the park to lot four blocks west on Academy Street. He then built in the fashionable Queen Anne style, one of the most imposing homes in town, probably spending $30 to $35,000 on its construction.

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